Are the articles in Wikipedia always correct and up-to-date? Let's examine this example:


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A screenshot taken from Wikipedia about the entry for Peaster, Texas was taken earlier in the year.The first entry describes the history.Those statements (below) which have been highlighted will be changed by me because anyone can submit, add, delete, or change information in Wikipedia.Unlike printed resources like books, encyclopedias, and database content that must go through an “editorial process” that determines if the material is accurate, Wikipedia allows anyone to add content without “authority.” To show how I can manipulate Wikipedia by adding even more “incorrect” information, I will also include a print book (that does not exist) as my source for the changes made.Because anyone can add, delete, or change information to Wikipedia, it is a questionable resource as a “sole source” of information. (These changes are made on: Saturday, November 17, 2007 at 8:03 A.M.).

(The Correct Entry Reads:)

Settlement began in the 1870s when //Georgia// native H.H. Peaster bought 160 acres of land and built a house. The community that developed near the site of his home was originally called Freemont; in 1885 the name was changed to Peasterville. Throughout the twentieth century, Peaster has served area farmers as a school and church community. During the mid-1920s the town's population grew to approximately 300, but this was soon followed by a steep decline after the //Great Depression//. From 1975 to 1990, Peaster had around 80 residents. Current estimates put the population at approximately 100.



After "correcting" the information in Wikipedia, the contents now read as listed below:



(The INCORRECT Entry NOW Reads:)


Settlement began in the 1850s when //Georgia// native H.W. Peaster bought 160 acres of land and built a house. The community that developed near the site of his home was originally called Freemore; in 1885 the name was changed to Peasterton. Throughout the twentieth century, Peaster has served area farmers as a school and church community. During the mid-1920s the town's population grew to approximately 500, but this was soon followed by a steep decline after the //Great Depression//. From 1975 to 1990, Peaster had around 80 residents. Current estimates put the population at approximately 20. [Source: A History of Peaster by The Graduating Class of 1954. Fort Worth, TX: Longhorn Book Publishing, 1960.]


Date that this information was corrected by Wikipedia:(still uncorrected as of April 2, 2008)

Check for yourself:

Peaster, TX


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WIKIPEDIA MAKES NO GUARANTEE OF VALIDITY

Please be advised that nothing found here has necessarily been reviewed by people with the expertise required to provide you with complete, accurate or reliable information. Wikipedia cannot guarantee the validity of the information found here. The content of any given article may recently have been changed, vandalized or altered by someone whose opinion does not correspond with the state of knowledge in the relevant fields.


What does this mean?

Wikipedia is a collaborative online resource that allows for ANYONE to make changes to its contents.As a result, many individuals can change information without an authority to double-check the information for accuracy.

If you use Wikipedia as your only source for information, you may not be getting the correct information. You know that many webpages contain incorrect information because anyone can create one.The same is true for Wikipedia.

In many schools, colleges, and universities, Wikipedia is not allowed for research.While some of the information located there may be more up-to-date than information in print, it is important to understand that in order to use the information in Wikipedia, you must also verify it.That takes time!

Because good information is important for research, school libraries offer online databases to help you in locating valuable, accurate, and authoratative resources for your research.

Check Jon Udel's Heavy Metal Umlaut: The Movie to see an example of how Wikipedia articles are easily changed over time.