Ever since it became popular, there’s been a lot of discussion whether or not Wikipedia is a reliable resource. What is your experience? Do you find that online resources like Wikipedia, Amazon Reviews, or Yelp are reliable sources of information?
I use Wikipedia all the time, and really like the site. It’s a great way to find general information, quickly. Most of the time, I actually find my wife or I has a random question about an actor or band, or anything, and I’ll just whip out my iPhone and pull up Wikipedia. When looking for serious research, though, I’ve always been instructed to be skeptical of Wikipedia. For my uses, I do go there fairly as a decent starting point. I think the general information is often accurate, but only as a way to receive direction for more in-depth research.
Crowdsourced information, like on Yelp, is pretty helpful. Users obviously have different tastes, but that sort of site is good when comparing topics or just trying to see what is available. If I am looking to buy a generic item on Amazon or a shopping site, I definitely consult customer reviews.
In the past, I’ve been warned to avoid any sources that are self edited. When I noticed some of the articles for this class were from Wikepedia, I began to put more stock in Wikipedia. If I am looking for topics at work, sometimes Wikipedia is the only source that has an answer. Then I can take Wikipeida’s answer, and do more in-depth research. As for yelp, I’ve used it only more recently for restaurant reviews, and it has been fairly accurate. I feel it is a good source of first hand info.
The thought has crossed my mind now and then, about the reliability of Wikipedia; however I can’t say that it has ever stopped me from using the site. In fact, when researching a topic online I tend to look for the Wikipedia entry, primarily because it is often comprehensive in the information. It’s my first stop for information, not my only. As a very curious person, I often research the information that I find on Wikipedia further; not because I am concerned about inaccuracy, but more often than not I am motivated to find the original source of information. Growing up, I remember the black leather bound collection of Encyclopedia Britannica at home that I often used for homework. While I believe there is value to owning hard copy encyclopedias, I believe there is more value in having recent information. For an academic exercise- I don’t think Wikipedia should be the only source of information, but can be incorporated. For general awareness of topics- Wikipedia is a great resource.
I am a closet Yelper. I will often read Yelp entries and use them to help inform decisions about where to go get Indian food for dinner- or find out the best aesthetician in the area. Yelp magnifies what people rely on most, recommendations and experiences of others. Yelp and sites like it are a great resource for recommendations. However, like any form of research- you must read several entries to find out if the terrible review is an outlier or mis information.
I agree with the article that Wikipedia is a great starting point for research papers but should be used cautiously. Typically, when starting any project, I tend to go to Wikipedia first to learn about the topic since I think it generally provides good background information. The sources cited are good reference points and typically become the articles that I will use for my paper or to learn more about the topic. I think using Wikipedia itself as the primary reference should be cautioned against, but using it as a starting point is fine and appropriate, but the user should be wary of what is discussed in the Wikipedia articles.
I do think that Yelp, Amazon review or any other user review service is actually very beneficial and I find that I use them quite frequently, especially with new products or services. I use Yelp a lot of times to learn about new places or to find something when I am in a new area. I think they are all useful services; however, I do take the users reviews into consideration, but people have to be careful about trusting them completely.
I think when Wikipdeiaa’s own creators publicly state that not all sources are accurate, then there may be cause for concern about the reliability of informaiton (http://www.dummies.com/how-to/content/is-wikipedia-reliable.html). I think it could be used a source for rsearch or learning about a subject, however it should be used in conjuntion with other material.
Reviews, i think, are a different animal. While the information can be manipulated (either by competitors in a negative sense or by a company itself in a positive way), I think if one pays special attention to the median reviews rather than the outlyers (very negative or very positive), they paint a more accurate picture. I consider how many reviews are posted in deciding to try a new restaurant or new product. If there are only1 or 2 reviews I ignore them entirely. If there are a lot of reviews I’ll pay more attention to the average ratings and/or comments.
I’ll start by saying that I LOVE Wikipedia. One of my favorite activities when I am bored is just to get lost on Wikipedia and click from one link to the next so forth and so on. Wikipedia is my first stop whenever I am beginning my research for a project, paper, etc. From the very beginning we have been told not to trust Wikipedia, or to cite Wikipedia as a resource. I feel however that the majority of the information on Wikipedia to be at minimum relevant, and more likely, accurate. Also, at the bottom of a Wikipedia article they give their citations which I find to be an excellent starting place when compiling research and sources for a paper, project, etc .
I do not use yelp, but I certainly do read the Amazaon reviews when I am looking at different products I might potentially purchase. I think a user review is the most honest and reliable source of information. If I am reading a product review that was released by the company an obvious amount of skepticism will come with it. I agree with Michelle that when navigating these reviews it is best to avoid the outliers and try and pay attention as close attention to the median, in order to get the most accurate portrait of the product.
Like many of you, my experience so far using Wikipedia has been a positive one. I find the information to be reliable and agree with the article that it is a good current source of background information. I tend to use Wikipedia as a starting point when doing any research project, and then go to a citing for a more in depth analysis. I think as users, we need to be mindful that the information comes from a variety of sources and we need to investigate the source before relying on its contents. Luckily, I have not run into any problems so far.
I have never used Yelp before but periodically have read numerous Amazon reviews before making a purchase. I like that the first reviews seen are the worst review next to the best review, and that most reviewers are thorough in their observations. I do have to say at times it gets very difficult to make a decision because for as many good ratings there are on a particular product, there are the same amount of bad ratings. I would have to agree with Michelle that to get the most benefit, people should use the average rating when deciding whether or not to purchase a
I use Wikipedia just like I used to use the hardback, bound encyclopedia – as a starting point for investigation. During my initial exposure to Wikipedia, I did not appreciate that this “electronic encyclopedia” was created by crowd sourcing. Now that I understand the development process, I am still not entirely certain of the motivation or incentives of the contributors, and since I have a suspicious nature, I worry this lack of financial remuneration or personal notoriety may lead to less than reliable or detailed information. That said, I have found the material to be of satisfactory detail and breath of exposure without any misleading information thus far.
I, like all my classmates, feel that further investigation is warranted on a topic where Wikipedia was used as a background search. The true value of Wikipedia is the easy access to this background information as well as the numerous, easily obtainable, links and references within the material. The trade-off between my reservations about the reliability of this information and the ease of access makes Wikipedia now my first point of reference for any background material.
I have had no exposure at all to Yelp and only occasional exposure to Amazon reviews. I have used the latter to make certain that any prospective purchases have not received any negative reviews. Thus far, I have not been hoodwinked into purchasing a “dud” product.
I have extensively used information from Wikipedia, Amazon review and Yelp and find this information credible for the most part. I have spent many hours at a strech reading Wikipedia articles on history and find all this valuable information in such an easy format and for free.
Same with Amazon review, from the books to the speakers I buy, reviews help me make decision and I have not being disappointed so far. At the same time not all my decisions are based off of reviews, about 20% of the cases I do rely on my own information and go against reviews as I am very sure of what I want.
I like using Wikipedia since it is so accessible and user friendly. Keeping in mind that it is an open source platform I don’t entirely rely on the information provided by the site. A great feature of Wikipedia is that it is constantly being updated, while the printed encyclopedia is current up to the last published edition. I find that clicking on the “reference links” to be an effective and easy way to expand my research on a topic.
In terms of opinion based sites such as “Amazon Reviews” and “Yelp,” I cannot comment on the reliability of Amazons Review or Yelp since I had not had a chance to use either one.
Anecdotal evidence suggests to me that information today on Wikipedia is far more credible than it was even seven years ago when I was still in college. As the user base continues to grow, it would seem so too does its ability to ‘self-heal’. Articles with bogus information, especially those that are visited often, seem to stand far less chance of going uncorrected for any meaningful period of time than they once had. While the quality of information may indeed be improving, I do echo everyone’s sentiments that it still lacks the purity and authenticity of an article written by a scholar or expert, and should be used somehwat sparingly in guiding research.
For matters perhaps less academic, crowd sourcing is an undeniable force that has personally impressed me time after time through Yelp. Some of the best restaurants I’ve tried recently have been a direct result of the ‘find nearby’ feature on my iPhone’s Yelp app that have led me away from the tourist traps to lesser-known, albeit highly rated restaurants that turn out to be amazing. In this more personal, transparent platform, users can directly rebut other users’ reviews and recommendations, adding to the reliably and usefulness of the information.
I have a mixed opinion about Wikipedia. I love it! and I would say that this is not a reliable source. I love it by simplicity, availability, and how briefly the concept can be explained, so I use it for general information. When it comes to more complicated concepts or definitions, I never start with Wikipedia. I do not use it for academic purposes and I think it should not be cited as a resource. It states general facts and gathers information from different sources; it does not confirm to its accuracy.
Wikipedia gives an opportunity in locations where state/government institutions do not have funds to run their own websites. They are able to post information in several languages and I had situations when Wikipedia was the only source of information about an institution.
I love reading reviews on Amazon.com. I start reading reviews from the top, the ones that other readers found the most helpful. I usually try to figure out why consumers were happy or upset – because of their personality or a product. In general reviews are more about usability; sometimes we can find professional reviews that give deeper insight into a product. I use Yelp to find more information about restaurants.
Right now I agree with Kenneth Arrow that online information is “socially useless but privately valuable”. Is it a reliable source of information? It depends how we want to look at it and trust it. If we trust a book or an article in the newspaper, why not to trust an on-line content. When we trust an author, we say that information is reliable. When online content is created by an anonymous author, we doubt if we can trust this information.
I’d call Wikipedia, along with Amazon reviews and other crowd-sourced information generally “reliable”. I’m sure there are cases where there are parties who try to influence this type of information for commercial purposes, but if there is a large pool of input, I generally trust it. In some ways I would say that I would consider Amazon reviews to be more reliable than Wikipedia entries if the pool of input is significantly larger. However, the article on the reliability of Wikipedia defines “reliable” more formally, with a focus on information accuracy. There is a difference between product reviews based on opinion, where there is no correct answer, and how many states are in the United States. Overall, I agree with others’ comments that Wikipedia is a good resource for research, even if just used as a starting point.
I agree with the class that Wikipedia is a good starting source to familiarize you with a topic. I find the articles/topics it links to my first search helpful. From what I have read on the site it seems accurate, but topics I am usually researching I have limited (and would not know if some of the specific details were correct). I only use it for school when the professor is accepting of its credibility.
I am not on yelp often. I only end on yelp if I am searching for an address. When I end on the site I do read the reviews. I read the reviews on open table when booking reservations, same for Amazon. However, if there are a limited number of reviews I try to judge if it is worth it or not. I consider my most reliable source (when possible) from friends/family. These are people I already know their baseline/expectations and how I differ from them and what level I can place on their review.
I am agree that Wikipedia is pretty reliable source and to me personally, an inevitable start off point for any research. I dare to say that I have been using it for various assignments, as also have been somehow sceptical about it, but after I have compared lots of sources, most of the time I have not had any misinformation or wrong data. On the other hand, the reviews on Amazon are entirely different category to me, and they can be written sometimes with marketing purposes, so the credibility I give to them is lower than Wikipedia, for sure.
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Department of Management Information Systems | Fox School of Business | Temple University
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