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Education The Internet

Professors To Ban Students From Citing Wikipedia 507

Inisheer writes "History professors at Middlebury College are tired of having all their students submit the same bad information on term papers. The culprit: Wikipedia — the user-created encyclopedia that's full of great stuff, and also full of inaccuracies. Now the the entire History department has voted to ban students from citing it as a resource. An outright ban was considered, but dropped because enforcement seemed impossible. Other professors at the school agree, but note that they're also enthusiastic contributors to Wikipedia. The article discusses the valuable role that Wikipedia can play, while also pointed out the need for critical and primary sources in college-level research." What role, if any, do you think Wikipedia should play in education?
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Professors To Ban Students From Citing Wikipedia

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  • My idea (Score:5, Funny)

    by Vengeance ( 46019 ) on Friday January 26, 2007 @02:47PM (#17772630)
    I'm tempted to plant some *really* wrong information on any given topic, when I become aware of a term paper that's been assigned on it.

    You know, things like 'Bonito Mussolini was named after a kind of tuna fish. He was born in the year 1726 and died of natural causes 800 years later'.
  • by udderly ( 890305 ) * on Friday January 26, 2007 @02:52PM (#17772754)

    Encyclopedias are meant as guides to further, substantive reading, not end-sin-themselves.
    Good thing that they don't end sin; what would we do on the weekends?
  • Uh oh (Score:5, Funny)

    by Sponge Bath ( 413667 ) on Friday January 26, 2007 @02:52PM (#17772764)

    You mean the Everywhere Girl is not responsible for the German bombing of Pearl Harbor?
    I feel disillusioned.

  • by forkazoo ( 138186 ) <wrosecrans@nospam.gmail.com> on Friday January 26, 2007 @03:06PM (#17773108) Homepage

    BINGO. Encyclopedia's are reference materials, basically intended to give you a background on a particular subject -- from there you can research further. Its a giant yellow pages for researchers.

    Add to that the volatility of wikipedia (e.g. you can't reference its contents, since they're always in flux), and its a poor resource of term papers.
    1 - Yes, I agree that considering wikipedia as a source is stupid, just like referencing an encyclopedia is stupid. Wikipedia *specifiaclly bans* original research, so it certainly can't be called a primary source for anything except information about itself.

    2 - Actually, you can cite an article's state at a specific time, which will always get you back to that same version. So, the state of flux isn't a problem to anybody who bothers to research how best to cite wikipedia. OTOH, anybody who researches how cite well enough to be able to cite wikipedia properly, probably knows that they shouldn't do it in the first place. :)

    3 - The students didn't already know to reference Wikipedia's references listed at the bottom of the article instead of the article itself in order to inflate their reference count? Slackers.
  • by Intron ( 870560 ) on Friday January 26, 2007 @03:15PM (#17773278)
    That's odd. There was no ban on citing websites when I was in High School. (late 60's)
  • by a4r6 ( 978521 ) on Friday January 26, 2007 @04:07PM (#17774396)
    Here's a fun trick you could play on students.

    1) Put up an article on wikipedia about a made up event. Let's say.. "The Battle of Werteppa"
    2) Tell the students to write a research paper on it, don't require any citations.
    3) ...
    4) Profit
  • by eln ( 21727 ) on Friday January 26, 2007 @04:21PM (#17774688)
    It's not like Wikipedia says the American Civil War began in 2005 and ended in 1066.

    Just give me a few seconds, and it will!
  • > especially when you take into account the ego of rulers in history and their willingness to eliminate any one who disagreed with their version of the truth

    In today's society we run them ragged at work, cause them to become overstressed, fire them for being uncooperative or a poor team player (while ignoring that they were deliberately overstressed), deny their unemployment, refuse to provide references to prospective new employers, cause them to become homeless, and then let the trolls and self-righteous in society beat them down. When they've been properly humiliated then we allow them to be recycled through "homeless outreach" programs which are a careful social reconditioning to reinforce their own lack of personal self-worth and allow them to be readmitted into largely ineffectual and useless positions in blue collar or, in the case of those who give good head, the lowest ranks of white collar America and thus cement them as disreputable for the rest of their lives.

    When done properly there's no basis for discrimination or defamation lawsuits and the problem is effectively taken care of.

    Would anyone like to have coffee with someone who can explain this thoroughly, providing eight years of experience and over three thousand archived online comments in support?

Adding manpower to a late software project makes it later. -- F. Brooks, "The Mythical Man-Month"