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Young Writers Society
Grammar & Research
How to use Wikipedia Effectively
Fri Dec 12, 2008 2:35 am
Time and time again, I see people using wikipedia, trusting its credibility, and using it. It's probably one of the dumbest things I've seen peope do. Don't get me wrong, I do use wikipedia, and there are some good ways to use it, but you have to be careful.
Here are two basic tips to use wikipedia to its full potential and preventing yourself from getting bad information:
1) Check the Citations
When you're reading wikipedia, there are occasionaly small numbers inside brackets, usually after a fact of some importance. If you click on it, it will take you to a special section at the bottom of the page: the citation area.
This area has every single source cited for the information in the article. In other words, this is where the information of the article came from. See how wikipedia is getting useful? Just click some links, and you should find more reliable information.
However, you have to be careful. If a link takes you to an error page and you can't find any reliable information in any of the citations, definetly don't trust the articles information.
Even if the citations are all clear, you should also pay attention to tip #2.
2) Find More Sources
So you have some information you collected form the wikipedia article or the cited sources. Who says that it's reliable? That's where tip #2 comes in.
You can use a search engine like Google to find more sources of information. That's OK, but there are better ways.
One option is books and magazines. Published material, I find, is reliable 90% of the time.
Follow these tips, and wikipedia is actually not too bad!
And on the pedestal these words appear:/'My name is Ozymandias, king of kings;/Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!'/Nothing beside remains.
— Percy Bysshe Shelley
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