In most instances when we Google search for things on the internet, the first answer we get comes from Wikipedia as much as we get a mouthful of information from them sometimes Wikipedia isn’t a great source. Below is a list of advantages and disadvantages that come with using Wikipedia for research purposes.
- anyone can edit
- easy to use and learn
- Wikis are instantaneous so there is no need to wait for a publisher to create a new edition or update information
- people located in different parts of the world can work on the same document
- the wiki software keeps track of every edit made and it’s a simple process to revert back to a previous version of an article
- widens access to the power of web publishing to non-technical users
- Wikipedia has no predetermined structure – consequently it is a flexible tool which can be used for a wide range of applications
- There are a wide range of open source software wiki’s to choose from so licensing costs shouldn’t be a barrier to installing an institutional Wikipedia.
Advantages in one context, may be disadvantages in another.
- Anyone can edit so this may be too open for some applications, for example confidential documentation. However it is possible to regulate user access.
- Open to SPAM and Vandalism if not managed properly. There are easy ways to restore a page however, and on WikiEducator you must be logged in to edit pages so this reduces vandalism by automated spam bots.
- Requires Internet connectivity to collaborate, but technologies to produce print versions of articles are improving
- The flexibility of a wiki’s structure can mean that information becomes disorganised. As a wiki grows, the community plans and administers the structure collaboratively.
- The usual guidelines for healthy computer use apply