Mentioned by Royal and Kapila (2009), Wikipedia is a rapidly increasing tool and a great way to retrieve all sorts of information as it is a free online encyclopedia. This comes with a great amount of convenience as it is a fast and easy quick stop to retrieve information. Being a popular resource for others, Wikipedia also comes with a downfall. Royal and Kapila (2009) indicated that Wikipedia is frequently being criticized due to, “its user-generated posts.” This has lead to many users of Wikipedia not have much reliability towards it and the completeness of information is frequently being questioned (Royal & Kapila, 2009). Also, due to the fact that the posts on Wikipedia are user-generated, people are paying close attention to the level of accuracy within the information that is being posted. Royal and Kapila (2009), indicate that “many feel that Wikipedia’s policy of letting anyone create and edit content causes the information to be inaccurate, misleading, or generally incorrect, both purposefully and accidentally.” With that said I have taken a look at a post on Wikipedia and analyzed the talk section of the post. The topic in which I have chosen to analyze would be one very close to home so that I can already go into the post knowing a bit about the topic. The topic i hose was simply Early Childhood Education (ECE).
Before jumping into the talk section, I decided to check the article posted in order to see the type of information posted. Being a RECE and a student that has been studying early childhood for three years and counting now, I actually found the article misleading in a way as it was not well focused and/or anal. I did not find any inaccurate information; however, the lack of detail within the article can easily lead someone with very little knowledge of the topic with many assumptions. With this post being user-generated of course, I was easily able to catch biases within the article. It was mentioned within the article that play is a theory; now that I cannot seem to wrap my head around. My knowledge within ECE is quite vast and so when I read the article I was not pleased with how the information was presented. Again, to someone who lacks knowledge within the topic, all of the information provided would most likely appear to be exceptional.
Moving on, once I began to take a look at the talk section of the post, I immediately noticed some comments questioning some of the information within the article in which I was impressed with. An example of this was within someone’s writing was, “Infants and toddlers experience life more holistically than any other age group.” knowing myself, I would immediately as how and need support to back up the point. I later on noticed on the talk page that someone else had commented upon that saying, “This sounds nice. But what support is there for this? How do we know that they don’t experience life as holistically as every other age group?” Another thing I found humorous as I am writing this op/ed piece was when someone commented upon this quote, “…many do not seem to understand the importance of educating young children” by saying, “This seems like op/ed material, not encyclopedia entry.” Throughout the talk page, I noticed a lot of critical thinking amongst some of the writers. It was nice to see that they were double checking on what was being written and there were many suggestions in order to make the article better. I noticed that a few of them were in grad school for ECE, while others were RECEs, and some had very little knowledge within the topic of ECE, yet they had many suggestions in order to make the article better such as asking to put direct links to other relatable sites to the topic. Furthermore, I also noticed that there were a few ECE grads questioning upon some of the information such as what the different developmental domains were and the age in which early childhood education goes up to. This lead to a lot of questioning as the ECES all appear to have been taught slightly different information. Regardless, I was glad to see that they were all answering one another’s questions and working well collaboratively to put together the article/post with the most accurate information.
Back to one of my previous thoughts now, to someone with very little knowledge within the topic, this site may just be the right search tool to find information. However, as an RECE and a student continuing to learn about ECE, I believe that the article posted on Wikipedia could have been more detailed. I would personally never use or recommend this site to anyone who is searching within the topic of ECE.
Be sure to check out these blogs in regards to the same concerns of Wikipedia on different topics:
Royal, C. & Kapila, D. (2009). What’s on Wikipedia, and What’s Not . . . ?: Assessing Completeness of Information. Social Science Computer Review. 27, 1. pp 138-148.
Wikipedia Site used: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Early_childhood_education
Image retrieved from: http://howtoblog.org/how-to-make-a-blog-that-beats-wikipedia/