Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Wikipedia Stub

I discussed the reliability of information on open and private Facebook groups in my previous blog entry. My classmate states her case in her blog  for Facebook as a professional source. Now I'm going to go over the reliability of Wikipedia. In class, our TA described three types of users that can typically be found on Wikipedia: the performer, the vandal and the gardener. We also covered the issues of Wikis being self-policing websites and this resulting in vandalism being quickly caught by it's users. Wikis are open because they provide users with revision history of recent site updates as a means to monitor recent additions. Some Wikis have what our TA called a "flagged revisions" system where users prevent changes from going live on the site until they have been reviewed.

When we were told to chose our own stub I knew instantly that I wanted to see the astronomy stubs and what Wikipedia had  to say about unexplored worlds. I chose to do a Wikipedia stub about the Horsehead Nebula. Wikipedia is an unreliable source of information when compared to peer reviewed articles. It is, however, as good as any printed encyclopedia as a reference for basic truths (like the composition and orientation of celestial bodies in space). I am going to be composing a memo for a scientific article based on Open Access and Open Source information so I've done research on the topic of free information. Systems like Wikis are self-policing, more accurate than pop science, and an excellent starting point for research. However, these informative sites are far from perfect with issues such as citation and reference reliability and readability of the articles.
 Seen above: A screenshot of my addition to the Horsehead Nebula Wikipedia stub

Seen above: The Horsehead Nebula consists of mostly hydrogen gas.

Blogger. Retrieved March 21, 2012, from
NOAON.A.Sharp/NOAO/AURA/NSF. (1994) The Horsehead Nebula.[jpg] Retrieved March 21, 2012 from
Wikipedia. Retrieved March 21, 2012 from

1 comment:

  1. It's so cool you chose to do an article on the Horsehead Nebula! I am secretly an astrophysics nerd, and really enjoyed your entry. The picture was fantastic as well, the nebula is one of the most beautiful things out there in my opinion. And since I am a horse fan, it's a double win for me! You're absolutely right about Wikipedia not being as reliable as peer reviewed articles for references in research. It's too bad they can't work some sort of a review system out where only professionals in the field can edit, or maybe it can't be changed by just anyone once the information has been verified.