Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Crowdsourcing = Collaboration...But Not Necessarily Smart Collaboration

I agree with Nicholas Carr's claim that we celebrate the amateur, instead of trusting the professional online. One of the greatest examples of this that comes to mind is Wikipedia, as Carr points out in his blog. Wikipedia is an online encyclopedia that anyone can contribute to.

I was a student assistant in high school and would sometimes have to proofread students' papers in class. One of my pet peeves is when students (or anyone, for that matter) quote Wikipedia in their papers. How do you know that the information you are quoting is accurate? Who is the
author of this information? Was this really the most reliable source of information you could find to use as the main reference in your paper? You can probably tell by my mini-rant that this used to bother me quite a bit.

If Wikipedia was a reliable and trusted source, and contained accurate information 100% of the time, I would argue that it is a great resource and tool for collaboration. However, because anyone can contribute to it (whether they possess the knowledge or credentials to post on the topic), it will never be a trusted source in my book.

Here is a link to an article from USA Today about a man whose biography listed in Wikipedia is inaccurate. He attempts to find out who posted the information and how to have it removed from the site. I found the article to be quite interesting, and I think it might make you think twice about using Wikipedia as a primary source of information.

In my opinion, crowdsourcing is just another tool for collaboration. I do not think you can argue that crowdsourcing is always good - because sometimes the information provided by crowdsourcing is purely inaccurate.


  1. Ashley,

    When talking about Wikipedia, I really disagree with your argument/rant. Discussed in the articles is the ACTUAL process behind most of the information in these Wikipedia pages. It really matches the publishing process for textbooks/encyclopedias. In fact, they referenced a survey that Wikipedia is more accurate than a particular encyclopedia.

    Although we are taught through our entire childhood that books are to be trusted, you have to look at books the same way you referenced Wikipedia. Expert writes and someone fact checks. Books cannot be corrected, though, and reference Textbooks are allowed to have much more bias than Wikipedia at times.

    I am not saying to trust Wikipedia fully, just trying to put it in perspective and judge the information you receive. NOTHING is perfect.

  2. I agree with Josh. Any piece of information you use as a reference should be checked thoroughly. There are plenty of books out there that don't have decent citing or have incorrect information.