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.
Blogger. Retrieved March 21, 2012, from http://esbrown2012.blogspot.ca/
NOAON.A.Sharp/NOAO/AURA/NSF. (1994) The Horsehead Nebula.[jpg] Retrieved March 21, 2012 from http://www.noao.edu/image_gallery/html/im0057.html
Wikipedia. Retrieved March 21, 2012 from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Horsehead_Nebula