Thursday, June 23, 2011

Wikipedia and other User-created content sites.

So tonight I had no idea what to blog about! Unable to find anything interesting enough in the news, I decided to go through my content random collection of magazines. Some of those magazines inculde Brio (no longer published), a newspaper called Tibits, Seventeen magazine, Weekly Reader (a magazine my school gave us as a kid every week. I was able to save some of them), and a magazine my high school gave us the other year called The New York Times: Upfront.

Going through the five or six magazines I saved of Upfront I found an interesting article about Wikipedia. The short article talks about what happened when a French composer named Maurice Jarrie who died in march, Shane Fitzgareld added a fake quote to Jarre's Wikipedia bio. Fitzgerald says it was "simply an expierment to see how the internet affects media accuracy." And the results should leave those using the internet for research more cautious about everything they read and learn on sites like Wikipedia. Until Fitzgerald came forward, the media had started to post the quote on "newspaper web sites around the world".

This story brings a thought to mind. If I'm correct, an old saying goes something like "don't believe everything you hear". Whether-or-not this is a quote or whatever, I think it has a point. On sites like Wikipedia where user can add any information they'd like (although I'll say that Wikipedia does do a pretty good job of monitoring it's content) you have to be cautious about what's true or not.

So what can I do to ensure I'm getting the right information? You ask.

This one simple tip: use other sources to back up your information. Here's what I learned in school while doing research papers. While we're not allowed to use Wikipedia as a source, we are suppose to use multiple sources for our papers. I've been taught that if something seems wrong or incorrect, find another resource to back that piece of information up. If you can't find anything else on the information, don't include it.

A while back, I was still beginning my research on Aztecs and Incas for one of my books, and I chanced upon a site called Crystallinks that has extensive information on Aztecs and other cultures. While I was reading through this, I noticed that some of it seemed far-fetched or odd to me. And so I didn't particularly trust the information. But nevertheless, I kept the site in mind while I found books in my local library and other sites. Reading through these books and other sites, I found that many of the things written on Crystalinks could be backed up to my delight (since there was some things about the Aztecs I wanted to use in my story).

While you may be wondering why I would want to get correct information for a fantasy novel, I'll tell you that because I'm including Aztec and Inca culture into my books to shape the culture of the world (along with other cultures too but mainly Aztecs and Incas) I want to get the information right. I love reading novels, even if they're fantasy, where the author has clearly done research.

Anyways, while doing research papers my teachers have told us that when using the internet to find information, websites endings in "dot edu" are probably the most reliable websites. But that just a tip they gave us. If you want to be sure of something, I suggest you find a book on the subject. While books can be faulty too, they are usually the most reliable tool one can use.

And if you're looking for good sites for research or just for something to do, I've provided a list of sites and books to check out. To see just click on the "Resources" tab. And yes, I'm advertising something on my blog.

Resources used for this post:
September 7, 2009. The New York Times: Upfront. Vol. #142 No. 1 

So, Readers, have you ever come across an untrue piece of information? If so what did you do about it and how did you discover it wasn't true?

Debate Question of the Day (Note: please refrain from bashing or causing arguements): Do we still need to learn how to write in cursive?

Today's Video: Cat barks like a dog 
In this amusing video, a cat is barking like a dog and when it notices the person standing behind it, it stops barking and starts meowing. As if it's saying "That wasn't me! It's was the neighbors dog!...See? I can't bark."
Hahaha...silly cat.

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