Wikipedia as a Credible Source

I just laughed out loud while watching 30 Rock.  I wish I could show this episode to my students, who don’t understand why Wikipedia is not a cite-worthy source!  In the scene, Jenna (Jane Krakowski) announces that she is going to be playing Janis Joplin in a movie and will be employing the “method method of acting”, so she will only respond to Janis or Miss Joplin.  So the writers tell her to study Wikipedia, as “people are always discovering new things about Janis Joplin”.

As soon as Jenna leaves the room, they pull up Wikipedia, click edit page, and begin adding insane “facts” about Joplin.  Ordinary things like, Janis Joplin speedwalks everywhere and was afraid of toilets.

And that, my students, is why you should never cite Wikipedia as a source!  :)

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10 Responses

  1. [...] entry is fully written in it’s author’s blog. Read all about this here. This entry was posted on Thursday, January 22nd, 2009 and is filed under Uncategorized. You can [...]

  2. This is hilarious!

  3. I know! That was so funny!

  4. That’s so funny. There is a teacher at my school who needs to see that. Sad, but true.

  5. Funnier still, the Joplin page had to be locked due to the large number of “questionable” edits shortly after the airing.

  6. ah, when technology is used for evil, not good ; )

  7. I think I actually had to explain that to Kyle when he was a freshman in expos.

    I also had that discussion with high schoolers. I told them to read the wikipedia article and use it as a starting point. If nothing else it gives you an overview on the topic and a good start to a reference list.

  8. Oh, ha! I loved that episode. You’re right about Wikipedia, though.

  9. Ironically enough, librarians secretly love Wikipedia. Maybe it’s because we know what the “References” section is for.

  10. Maybe not your only source but it’s often a good jumping off point to lead you to other sources and links. Also, the “Discussion” tab on all the Wikipedia entries are almost more informative than the articles. Have you seen the “Everything Is Miscellaneous” video on youtube? Interesting perspective on this.

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