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Should Schools Block Sites Like Wikipedia?

Cliff posted about 7 years ago | from the concerned-about-its-accuracy dept.

Education 545

Londovir asks: "Recently, our school board made the decision to block Wikipedia from our school district's WAN system. This was a complete block — there aren't even provisions in place for teachers or administrators to input a password to bypass the restriction. The reason given was that Wikipedia (being user created and edited) did not represent a credible or reliable source of information for schools. Should we block sites such as Wikipedia because students may be exposed to misinformation, or should we encourage sites such as Wikipedia as an outlet for students to investigate and determine the validity of the information?"

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545 comments

Of Course They Should (5, Insightful)

eldavojohn (898314) | about 7 years ago | (#18724829)

Should Schools Block Sites Like Wikipedia?
They should make a big deal about blocking Wikipedia--announce it to the student body. Then tell students that they are forbidden from accessing it at all. Pick some other sites too, like MySpace or Hotmail or a news site like CNN or the BBC News.

Then turn around and in the students' social studies classes, teach them about free speech and the horrors of censorship. Be sure to explain what rights an American Citizen has and how many people have demonstrated or fought and died for these rights to remain intact.

Then sit back and wait. Wait for the students to put this together and realize that they don't have to put up with your censorship shit.

When someone holds a demonstration, make a big deal about it and herald them for being an American Citizen. Ask the rest of the students why they waived their right to read Wikipedia as free speech. Who cares why they wanted to read it or even whether they wanted to read it all, just ask them why they waived a right they knew they had. Make them think about it.

Then, if you've got enough time, ask yourself why you've been waiving so many rights in the name of The DMCA, The Patriot Act & The Patriot Act II. Why did you waive your rights in the name of national security and the comfort of huge corporations?

Go ahead, take your time.

If you're advocating blocking Wikipedia in a serious manner, please do explain how you're going to--at the same time--teach the students about the rights they have. It will entertain me, the excuses that fascists come up with always have.

"It's for your own good." just doesn't suffice, in my opinion. Who's determining what's "my own good" again? Oh, you want to. Right. It's called 'responsibility' and it comes with living so let the students have a helping of it.

As for the person asking the question, I don't know about you but I went to a high school where the first thing we were taught is that we are responsible for the information we present in a paper. The student is responsible for citing sources & verifying that the source is reliable. If you can't do that, you're going to end up reading The Onion with either hilarious or catastrophic results. This is a valuable life lesson, let the students learn it early when the consequence is a bad grade instead of a lawsuit. If you told the students Wikipedia is not a reliable source of information, give them an F if they use one single reference from it. How can they argue with you, the instructor?

I wish I had mod points (3, Insightful)

TheThiefMaster (992038) | about 7 years ago | (#18724891)

That is one insightful post.

You, sir, are a genius.

You are one of the few that "gets it".

Re:I wish I had mod points (1, Offtopic)

TheThiefMaster (992038) | about 7 years ago | (#18724945)

Yes, I know how ironic it is that by making a post like that (and having it modded down as off-topic or similar) it will lower my karma, making me less likely to get mod points in the future.

Re:I wish I had mod points (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18725417)

No, it's ironic that you're now getting pity points, or something.

No need for stream of consciousness posting, okay? Write when you have something to say.

Re:I wish I had mod points (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18725461)

Your irony is ironic.

Re:I wish I had mod points (-1, Offtopic)

drinkypoo (153816) | about 7 years ago | (#18725547)

The slashdot system rewards mediocrity and conformity. Step out of line? Get modded down. Be less likely to get mod points. Luckily it also rewards being a smug but clever bastard, or I would lose my karma bonus :P

Re:Of Course They Should (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18724913)

You should see a doctor about that knee, it keeps jerking uncontrollably.

Re:Of Course They Should (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18725357)

You should put that hammer down. My knee was just fine until you whacked it.

Re:Of Course They Should (4, Interesting)

nizo (81281) | about 7 years ago | (#18725025)

Then, if you've got enough time, ask yourself why you've been waiving so many rights...


How about, "the faster we hit rock bottom, the sooner the mobs with pitchforks will rise up?"

Re:Of Course They Should (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18725335)

Bread and circuses.

Re:Of Course They Should (4, Interesting)

JordanL (886154) | about 7 years ago | (#18725055)

I work in a large school district IT Department. We block plenty of sites, including MySpace and Facebook, (though we don't block Wikipedia).

Generally, the feeling among us here is that if we receive a complain about a website, we will examine it. We won't block non-porn sites until we receive complaints, and the website has to have no educational value for us to consider blocking.

Re:Of Course They Should (5, Insightful)

MankyD (567984) | about 7 years ago | (#18725783)

You seemed to have misunderstood this statement:

"It's for your own good." just doesn't suffice, in my opinion. Who's determining what's "my own good" again? Oh, you want to. Right. It's called 'responsibility' and it comes with living so let the students have a helping of it.
Just because a few people complain doesn't mean that blocking is good. Furthermore, to say that sites like MySpace have no educational value is to imply that no student will ever have a need to research and report on them - them being a huge, culture-changing phenomenon. Sure, I'll agree as much as the next that MySpace and FaceBook aren't, at face value, educational, but who am I to say that others won't learn something from them?

Re:Of Course They Should (4, Insightful)

JordanL (886154) | about 7 years ago | (#18725905)

Your argument makes sense in a corporate environment where we depend on managers being effective at understanding how their subordinates work, but in schools teachers do not understand how students do. The playing field is not level.

Teachers depend on IT to do the work they want to do but don't know how to: stop the students from using the computers to waste time every time they turn around. People don't pay tax dollars so that we can let students post whiney blogs about how few people are friending them on myspace. Obviously IT can't decide case-by-case to block, so we have to make smart blocking rules.

It's not like this is an Orwellian scheme of oppression, this is about making effective efficient classrooms that don't waste taxpayer time and money on things students have every capability to do at home in their free time. It's not like we block e-mail or anything, this is no brain stuff. People can still go to Digg and Slashdot and blogspot, etc. These all have SOME redeeming qualities.

Public education has nothing to do with sending gossipy messages over myspace though, no matter how much of a phenomenon it is.

All that said, Wikipedia does not fit our guidelines. Regardless of accuracy, Wikipedia is nothing but an educational source.

Re:Of Course They Should (2, Insightful)

Reality Master 101 (179095) | about 7 years ago | (#18725069)

Then sit back and wait. Wait for the students to put this together and realize that they don't have to put up with your censorship shit.

Um, I'm not in favor of this policy, but your post is just silly. Schools have a responsibility to educate the students, and part of the responsibility is providing good learning materials. The Internet is a cesspool of bad learning materials (not necessarily Wikipedia), so of course the school is concerned about what the students are exposed to while AT SCHOOL. I don't see the government breaking down the doors of student's home and seizing their computers because they don't like Wikipedia.

"It's for your own good." just doesn't suffice, in my opinion. Who's determining what's "my own good" again? Oh, you want to. Right.

Damn right. Until you're an adult, society and parents in various proportions WILL determine what's good for you. Can't wait until you're an adult? Impatience is a sign of immaturity.

It's called 'responsibility' and it comes with living so let the students have a helping of it.

It's called responsibility for adults. Kids have requirements that adults decide for them. Kids can certainly have input into the process, but adults make the ultimate decisions.

If you're advocating blocking Wikipedia in a serious manner, please do explain how you're going to--at the same time--teach the students about the rights they have. It will entertain me, the excuses that fascists come up with always have.

By your logic, telling a five-year-olds they can't eat candy for every meal is also being a fascist.

Re:Of Course They Should (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18725589)

By your logic, telling a five-year-olds they can't eat candy for every meal is also being a fascist.

Thank you for responding, now I don't have to...

Re:Of Course They Should (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18725603)

Can't wait until you're an adult? Impatience is a sign of immaturity.

Man, I am an adult, and as an adult I have to say that's one of the most bullshit arguments I've seen presented on slashdot in a long time. So much so that I think you should win a prize. FOAD.

Re:Of Course They Should (2, Insightful)

Atzanteol (99067) | about 7 years ago | (#18725729)

Schools have a responsibility to educate the students, and part of the responsibility is providing good learning materials

Since when does that include blocking access to materials the school doesn't like or deem "good learning materials?" If I'm reading fiction in class should it be taken from me because it's full of nonsense?

Re:Of Course They Should (1)

Reality Master 101 (179095) | about 7 years ago | (#18725793)

Since when does that include blocking access to materials the school doesn't like or deem "good learning materials?" If I'm reading fiction in class should it be taken from me because it's full of nonsense?

Nice straw man. Nobody spoke of taking away some book you brought in to read as fiction.

A better example is a science teacher teaching evolution from a standard science book, and you decide you want to ignore the teacher's book and read your creationist book instead, and use that as the basis for your science papers. You can read whatever you want on your time, but when at school, you use the school's learning material.

Re:Of Course They Should (2, Insightful)

BenjiTheGreat98 (707903) | about 7 years ago | (#18725071)

Then sit back and wait.

They're too involved in their IPods and X-Boxes to care. Don't sit back for too long. You may be waiting around for nothing.

Re:Of Course They Should (1, Insightful)

sanjacguy (908392) | about 7 years ago | (#18725245)

Except that students have mixed rights. They can't vote - they get that right on turning 18. Same thing with drinking in most states. If a student skips school in some states, it's the parents that get hauled before a judge

Schools are for learning, first and foremost. A student's freedom of speech is limited by the other students right to learn.

Censorship is bad, but you're not violating the student's freedom of speech, the school is violated wikipedia author's freedom of expression. They also violate the same rights of hate groups and adult entertainment. They do so because the single goal of a school is to provide the best education possible. Sometimes, that means limiting choices.

Re:Of Course They Should (1)

Atzanteol (99067) | about 7 years ago | (#18725813)

They do so because the single goal of a school is to provide the best education possible. Sometimes, that means limiting choices.

There is so many things wrong with this that I don't even know where to begin... WTF? Do you seriously believe the best way to learn is to run through life with blinders on?

Re:Of Course They Should (1)

mysidia (191772) | about 7 years ago | (#18725829)

A better reason to block Wikipedia would be that page vandals can possibly upload porn and articles vandalized frequently have obscene or maliciously incorrect text inserted, which the school might feel needs to be blocked; Wikipedia is not censored for the protection of minors, so, to avoid allowing kids to see obscence content, should it harm them (or should their parents disapprove), blocking, if you block other sites that contain obcene content is rather reasonable.

A suitable alternative to accessing arbitrary Wikipedia articles directly would be to provide a method of requesting printouts of certain articles (with links), such that a teacher would review the article before granting the student access to the copy.

I think it ok that they block Wikipedia, if they have good cause to do so, it's just that the stated reason is not good at all.

Censorship is bad, but you're not violating the student's freedom of speech, the school is violated wikipedia author's freedom of expression. They also violate the same rights of hate groups and adult entertainment. They do so because the single goal of a school is to provide the best education possible. Sometimes, that means limiting choices.

No, but you are denying them their right to learn. Since there is information in Wikipedia articles that will not easily be found elsewhere. About every book on the Fiction shelf in the local library contains content that is just unreliable as your average Wikipedia article.

But articles on Wikipedia that follow the policies cite other sources, those links can be extremely useful, even if you don't use Wikipedia itself as a reference, it LEADS you to a reliable reference, much like a card catalog in the library can lead you to references based on subject. But you don't cite card catalog descriptions in your formal papers, at least not without verifying them in some manner.

Also, anyone can make a website that appears to be an encyclopedia, they can even include Wikipedia article content or less-reliable information like intentional spurious errors.

If there's a reason to block Wikipedia it's not that it is an unreliable source, as millions of online sources of info that are not reliable, many more sources are unreliable than reliable, and there is no good reason to single out Wikipedia as unreliable.

Re:Of Course They Should (1)

zstlaw (910185) | about 7 years ago | (#18725451)

Schools should be able to block sites that they do not feel contribute to the education of their students. The school is providing the internet access, there is no constitutional RIGHT to have internet provided to you full and unfiltered. The right to free speech covers YOUR right to speech, not the schools need to let you hear whatever speech you would like.

The school had internet and they wish to control access in a way that suited their needs. The school is in the business of education, not a provider of internet access. I expect they were trying to fight rampant plagiarism.

"According to a 1998 survey by Who's Who Among American High School Students,four out of five college-bound high school students admit to cheating on schoolwork" (from www.plagiarism.org/faq.html)

Personally I think it would be better to switch to electronic documents and check papers for plagiarism using an online service like turnitin.com. That way the students still have access to a great resource but they can not copy other people's work. All teachers should be using tools like this to help catch cheaters. But I could see how less tech savy school administrators might think the problem was wikipedia rather than the students. Certainly the school has more control over the internet access than it has over the students. And when a school can't pay for books, how can it afford a $50-100 per teacher license at turnitin?

You're missing WHY the students are giving up that (3, Insightful)

BarryJacobsen (526926) | about 7 years ago | (#18725505)

You're missing why the students are willing to give up their right to wikipedia: if teachers can't check wikipedia at school it's much harder to notice that they just copied their paper from wikipedia :P

Oh bloody please (5, Insightful)

Moraelin (679338) | about 7 years ago | (#18725733)

Geeze, it never ceases to amaze me the chest-thumping some people do about their rights, without even knowing what those rights are. They think their amendments apply to anything except the government, and gives them some right to troll a board or to read Slashdot/Wikipedia/whatever at work/school/whatever.

Learn your _real_ rights, lemming, because believing in such stupidities is how you lose those rights. Since you ask that, yes, ask yourself why so many rights were so easily taken away. Because 90% of the population doesn't even know them. They think the constitution gives them a right to troll a privately own message board, or to slander the neighbour, or to cheat on WoW, or whatever. Joe Random Voter doesn't even comprehend that those rights, or that they apply to the government (au contraire, he thinks his free speech applies to everything _but_ his government), or what they really were supposed to protect. He's too busy exercising his imaginary rights, to care about the _real_ ones.

Here's the actual first amendment text: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."

Get this:

- It's about laws passed by Congress. Wake me up when Congress makes a law that forbids you to say something at all, not when an IT department blocks Wikipedia on their network. I don't see anywhere there that students are forbidden to read Wikipedia at home, or that police will take anyone to Guantanamo for reading Wikipedia. Just that it's blocked on the school network. That's it.

- It's _only_ about your relationship to the Congress and laws. It doesn't mean anyone else than Congress should have _any_ obligation to you. Not even public schools or government departments owe you jack shit on their premises or network. Whether it's free speech, or the right to peacefully demonstrate, or to petition for redress, get this: noone else has an obligation to provide you with the means or time for it. Your boss or school do not have to participate in a demonstration, don't have to pay for your bandwidth to exercise your free speech, nor let you spend your work/class time surfing the net. They don't have to do _anything_ for you. It doesn't even say they can't fire you for it.

- "freedom of press" only applies to those who own the press. It just says that noone will lock-up the Wikipedia owners for being anti-Bush. It does _not_ say that anyone has an obligation buy and deliver the New York Times to your doorstep, or Wikipedia to your desktop. If your boss or the school principal doesn't want to carry those packets to you, tough shit, it's up to you to get them in your free time.

- sorta unrelated, but that's another confusion that chest-thumpers do: no, it also doesn't mean anyone has to publish or carry your speech either. If you want to see your stuff in print, buy a newspaper. If you want them on a server, buy a server. And if the IT department doesn't route your precious corrections to Wikipedia, tough shit, get your own Internet connection at home.

And spare me the emotional demagogue bullshit about people who died for those rights. Get this: noone fought for your right to have the company's/school's/whatever IT department carry your packets.

And no, aggression, isn't a substitute for competence, btw. Just calling everyone who might disaggree a "fascist" preemptively, doesn't excuse you for not having a clue what you're talking about.

Geeze...

Re:Oh bloody please (-1, Troll)

John Miles (108215) | about 7 years ago | (#18725773)

Just that it's blocked on the school network

Which is funded by Congress. The school administration does not have the right to censor Wikipedia, for the same reason they do not have the right to organize prayer services.

Take your own advice, and maybe a night school class on Constitutional law.

Re:Oh bloody please (1)

Moraelin (679338) | about 7 years ago | (#18725815)

_If_ it was that simple, government employees couldn't be blocked from surfing for porn at work either. I mean, hey, a government-funded IT department doesn't have the right to censor, right? Au contraire, they have every right to give you only the access they consider necessary for your work.

damn skippy they should... (1)

rbochan (827946) | about 7 years ago | (#18725791)

...because they show pictures of boobies [wikipedia.org] . And won't SOMEONE THINK OF THE CHILDREN!!!11!!oneone!!OMGWTFBBQ!!!!!

Of Course Not (5, Insightful)

p0tat03 (985078) | about 7 years ago | (#18724869)

Wikipedia is not the only unreliable source of information out there. Hell, blocking it risks creating an atmosphere where students become complacent and trust every source they come across - after all, everything they're exposed to has already been vetted by an external body!

No, we need to teach students how to recognize good sources and bad sources, how to research, and what citation means. Failure to do so will just create yet another generation of research-i-tards that can't find information to save their life.

Re:Of Course Not (2, Insightful)

dunezone (899268) | about 7 years ago | (#18724981)

No, we need to teach students how to recognize good sources and bad sources, how to research, and what citation means. Failure to do so will just create yet another generation of research-i-tards that can't find information to save their life.
Exactly, as a current college student I have realized that Wikipedia, although an excellent starting point, is not necessarily an unreliable source but not a credible source. As for turning a paper in with a cited source being Wikipedia, you will not be punished but the professor will note that you should use a better source for information. Personally, if you just scroll to the bottom of a Wikipedia page you can find all the sources of information, and those are where students should be focusing on.

Re:Of Course Not (4, Insightful)

MightyMartian (840721) | about 7 years ago | (#18725023)

Nature debunked the whole damn clear a year or two ago. Wikipedia is no worse than old time stalwarts like Brittanica. What this does demonstrate is that school boards are often people who working demonstrations of what comes out of a failed educational system.

Wrap it in a frame. (2, Funny)

khasim (1285) | about 7 years ago | (#18725161)

Yep, blocking it is stupid. But you should be reminding the kids that anyone can post anything on the Internet.

So just wrap a frame around the Wikipedia pages with the words "Any doofus can put anything up on the Internet. Don't be dumber than the doofus."

reliable sourcing (1)

cpt.hugenstein (1025183) | about 7 years ago | (#18725165)

Although the content on wikipedia may be a half truth often the articles cite other resources from where the information was collected which helps to build a web of data. As long as students are informed on how to select accurate resources for their data there is no problem. Wikipedia is an excellent source for small trivia and quick, though sometimes incorrect information (thanks Colbert).

Re:Of Course Not (5, Insightful)

alphamugwump (918799) | about 7 years ago | (#18725619)

If I had a choice between Wikipedia and those history textbooks they use in gradeschools, I'd use wikipedia. Oh, sure, it may not be completely accurate. But it also hasn't been filtered for "political correctness" by the school board. There are several "classic" omissions: The Aztecs violently conquered everyone in the region, and carried out mass human sacrifice. Helen Keller was a vocal anarchist. Henry Ford sent money to Hitler. That sort of thing.

Wikipedia has this too. It has a slight liberal bias, a strong nerd bias, and a bias towards the special interest groups who edit their own pages (read: BDSM, Wicca, etc.). But usually, there's more of a chance of it including crackpot stuff than leaving important stuff out.

And, of course, compared to the rest of the internet, wikipedia is pretty good. If you're blocking wikipedia, you might as well block everything. Most likely, they're blocking wikipedia but allowing Uncyclopedia, Wikichan, Encyclopedia Dramatica, Conservapedia, etc, etc. Oh, the irony.

Also, believe it or not, not every homework assignment is a term paper. Wikipedia is a good reference on math, chemistry, and physics. Oh, I wouldn't cite it. But I would use it to look up the definition of a "ring", or the molecular weight of Tyrosine. Sure, maybe they got it wrong. But am I going to worry about it? No.

Just Wikipedia? (4, Insightful)

DragonWriter (970822) | about 7 years ago | (#18724907)

The reason given was that Wikipedia (being user created and edited) did not represent a credible or reliable source of information for schools.


Virtually the entirety of the web (and, for that matter, a lot of the non-fiction, dead-tree books you'll find in most school libraries) are not a "credible or reliable source of information for schools". OTOH, schools ought to be teaching students to evaluate sources that have the kind of systematic problems that frequently encountered sources like Wikipedia has, and how to use them (e.g., as a gateway or refresher) to get value, and when not to use them, and not to use them exclusively. They ought not be blocking access to information on the basis that it is not up to some gold standard of reliability.

Now, there may be other valid reasons for blocking access to Wikipedia, but the reliability and credibility one is, from my perspective, pretty stupid.

(If there is a problem with students too-frequently citing—or plagiarizing—Wikipedia, the solution to that ought to be appropriate, well-communicated grading standards when it comes to appropriate sources and appropriate use and citation of those sources.)

Re:Just Wikipedia? (1)

maxume (22995) | about 7 years ago | (#18724963)

They should be running everything the teachers say through a filter too, I had some real crackpots say some really crazy shit in some of my classes.

Re:Just Wikipedia? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18725743)

Hey now, the school library carries all sorts of good research materials. Why, this article about the moon in our encyclopedia is just fascinating. Did you know that some scientists say we may even be able to visit the moon? Can you imagine? Using some kind of "rocket-ship," they say...

Ridiculous (3, Insightful)

Ramble (940291) | about 7 years ago | (#18724929)

This is ridiculous, I can't count the times Wikipedia has given me a reliable, quick and advanced source of information. If anything they should link it from the homepage.

It's about quality (2)

orclevegam (940336) | about 7 years ago | (#18724931)

There seems to be this prevailing opinion among schools that the information on wikipedia is of such poor quality as to be considered outright lies. Yes there is some mis-information present on wikipedia, but the same could be said of virtually any source of information. Wikipedia, like any source should be cross-referenced with other sources, but it also serves as an excellent initial source of information, and is often one of the most up to date sources you can find. In reference to modern events, both political, and scientific, it represents the best resource short of dedicated peer journals (which are often hard to find, and even harder to search). Finally, censorship of any kind on the internet, particularly in schools which are usually understaffed and poorly designed in terms of IT is a joke that can be easily circumvented by students with basic computer skills and motivation to do so.

Re:It's about quality (1)

rilian4 (591569) | about 7 years ago | (#18725683)

There seems to be this prevailing opinion among schools that the information on wikipedia is of such poor quality as to be considered outright lies...
Not true. What schools usually say (I work for one in IT) is that wikipedia, while quick and efficient, is not a RELIABLE source of academic research information.

Wikipedia, like any source should be cross-referenced with other sources, but it also serves as an excellent initial source of information, and is often one of the most up to date sources you can find. In reference to modern events, both political, and scientific, it represents the best resource short of dedicated peer journals (which are often hard to find, and even harder to search).
Well said..but (read on)

Finally, censorship of any kind on the internet, particularly in schools which are usually understaffed and poorly designed in terms of IT is a joke that can be easily circumvented by students with basic computer skills and motivation to do so.
Not so well said. Censorship of things like pornography in a school setting is absolutely necessary. The funding for our having a network at all where I am is given with the stipulation that said network will be used for educational purposes. Drooling over porn doesn't count. Reading through journals on how to hack into the school's network is also against that mandate. When students go and look at such "non-educational" content, it has shown in my school to be extremely disruptive and distracting to nearby students who then proceed to disrupt the rest of the class or area.

That said, most schools do have very lax security and are a joke to penetrate the filters. I actually recruit trustworthy students to test my security in my presence and try to break it..I've found and fixed lots of loopholes that way.

My school district does not block wikipedia but the teachers do not allow it as a legitimate source on research papers.

Primary sources are preferred (1)

uab21 (951482) | about 7 years ago | (#18724939)

...School boards make decisions on what reference materials to provide for their students all the time. They appear to be attempting to bias towards primary sources, rather than secondary/tertiary. Primary sources are generally the better place to go (unfortunately there is no primary source link in the article...so I'm stuck with rather unsatisfying hearsay...point made?).

People are generally up in arms over banned books because they limit exposure of the students to someone else's idea of 'dangerous ideas'. This, on the other hand appears to be encouraging students to know the source of their knowlege first, which is commendable - although I think that a policy of allowing access, but prohibiting reference in a paper to Wikipedia would be more effective. I often use Wikipedia as a good starting point to drill back to the primary sources.

The kneejerk 'blocking is bad' reaction may be justified, but they do have a point...just fell down on implementation

Re:Primary sources are preferred (3, Insightful)

shalla (642644) | about 7 years ago | (#18725551)

Generally, school librarians make the decision what reference sources are available based on a school collection development policy, curriculum, and available funds. Not school board members. There's also a difference between making available print and electronic resources, which cost money, and arbitrarily deciding to block access to Internet sites that are considered educational in nature but not to others.

Blocking access to one source of information and not to others is setting a particularly poor example on how to evaluate the source of information. Many Wikipedia articles are very well-written and contain citations that back up the research. I'd like to see some of the news stations do the same.

Usually there's some sort of challenge policy available for books in a school library. I don't see how reviewing a ban on Wikipedia would be any different. If I were a parent in that school district, I'd be over there asking about challenging that decision under the same policy.

What is credible? (4, Interesting)

pembo13 (770295) | about 7 years ago | (#18724953)

I would like to see the same board underline how cooperate owned news media, and human written reference material are that much more reliable that partially peer reviewed, but publicly refutable medium. I am in no way denying the obvious problems with Wikipedia.

Re:What is credible? (1)

garcia (6573) | about 7 years ago | (#18725869)

I would like to see the same board underline how cooperate owned news media, and human written reference material are that much more reliable that partially peer reviewed, but publicly refutable medium.

They can't. Someone up the food chain saw that Wikipedia isn't being allowed as a secondary source in college Foo and they decided they would be cool and block it outright too. This does nothing but incorrectly educate the student into believing that Wikipedia isn't correct.

Now, what they should have done (in secondary schools they usually have a librarian teach this) is sit the students down and have a discussion about using primary and secondary sources and how using a variety of different ones is what makes a good research paper. While a single primary source might be all that's available, several secondary sources should be used to back up the information presented.

But why bother with that when you can just knee-jerk ban it instead of actually using it as a tool to teach better research methods?

An indefensible decision. (4, Insightful)

Creosote (33182) | about 7 years ago | (#18724955)

This is the worst kind of micromanaging by people who apparently don't understand research or teachers.

No matter how poor a source Wikipedia may be (and in a moment I'll address that), it should be the decision of the classroom teacher whether and how to accept it as a legitimate source, just as the classroom teacher is the arbiter of whether a citation from Weekly World News counts for as much as one from the New York Times. It is the classroom teacher who should be the one explaining the difference to the students.

Second, we all know that Wikipedia is often an excellent first source of basic information on a topic. Me, I've got a Ph.D. and a book published with a university press, and I constantly refer to Wikipedia to ground myself in things. Which is not to say I'd cite it as an authority. Again, it's the classroom teacher whose responsibility it is to explain the difference.

I expect this is the first of about 1000 comments that will make essentially the same points. I hope that some sense of this can be conveyed to the school board in question.

Re:An indefensible decision. (1)

Registered Coward v2 (447531) | about 7 years ago | (#18725797)

the classroom teacher is the arbiter of whether a citation from Weekly World News counts for as much as one from the New York Times.

Interestingly, WWN fact checks its stories and requires two independent confirmations; such as when Senator Nunn's office allowed that yes, he was in fact a space alien. Of course, some folks can't tell humor from real news; unlike Nunn's staff.

Re:An indefensible decision. (1)

DerekLyons (302214) | about 7 years ago | (#18725831)

Second, we all know that Wikipedia is often an excellent first source of basic information on a topic. Me, I've got a Ph.D. and a book published with a university press, and I constantly refer to Wikipedia to ground myself in things.

Someone as educated as you claim to be should be aware of logical fallacy of Argument From Authority [don-lindsay-archive.org] . Your education is impressive, but your endorsement of Wikipedia is about as useful as $CELEBRITY shilling for $CONSUMER_PRODUCT.

Anybody... (1)

sanjacguy (908392) | about 7 years ago | (#18725005)

Anybody can create a webpage. Anybody can edit a wikipedia entry. This means members of the "Flat Earth Society" can edit the entry on planetary circumference. If a student is trying to get some basic data, there's a good chance it's in wikipedia. If it's controversial, i.e. Global Warming, a student might get conflicting viewpoints. Would you like to explain BOTH sides of the abortion issue to a first grader? That's good for a high school or college level paper, where basic research skills have been grasped. It's not good for Middle School/Junior High and younger. There's a reason why 2nd graders don't read Tolstoy, and there's a reason why High Schoolers shouldn't get credit for a report on "Clifford, the Big Red Dog".

Re:Anybody... (1)

msuarezalvarez (667058) | about 7 years ago | (#18725191)

Are you sure you are posting on the correct story?

Re:Anybody... (1)

sanjacguy (908392) | about 7 years ago | (#18725691)

Sorry, allow me to elaborate. Schools have a responsiblity and a right to block anything the interferes with the learning environment. Remember, it's already established that students do NOT have all the rights adults have - they can't vote, can't drink, have to go to school, etc. I don't like censorship, but there's somethings that should be in schools and something shouldn't be. As to the natural question, how does Wikipedia damage the learning environment, that all depends on what you're trying to teach. Lots of kids do reports in school - and sometimes the goal isn't to learn about the country of Austria, it's about learning how to do research. If your goal is to teach kids how to do research, a library is better because it doesn't tend to have synopsis of anime shows or articles on breakdancing. Given that a openly known member of the Democratic Party can edit the Wikipedia entry on the Republican party and vice versa, it's not exactly what you want as a researchable source. You can't quote from it, and it changes from day to day.

Why Wikipedia? (1)

MarkPNeyer (729607) | about 7 years ago | (#18725013)

Because you can't trust it completely? That is true of every source. I think the rise of wikipedia is a great thing, if it teaches people to be skeptical of any source they use. I've been saying this for a while. [markpneyer.com]

Re:Why Wikipedia? (1)

QuantumRiff (120817) | about 7 years ago | (#18725301)

I agree, there is one very obvious place where traditional sources fall flat. Go look at Britannica's website, use their search function to do some research on iSCSI. Yep, no results found. Compare to This [wikipedia.org] page that flat out states it needs citations, references, etc, yet is still chock full of good information about the protocol.

Traditional methods of publishing lag by significant time. Want to research the Darfur Crisis, Try to find out about it in the books in your library, oh, wait, none there, I guess we can't write the paper for another 5-10 years till the school board decides to buy new history books, where it Might get a paragraphs mention.

Ermmm... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18725021)

(being user created and edited)
*Looks at article*
*Looks at slashdot*

(being user created and edited)
*Looks at article*
*Looks at slashdot*

(being user created and edited)
*Looks at article*
*Looks at slashdot*

Wikipedia is an excellent source for information (4, Insightful)

rizzo320 (911761) | about 7 years ago | (#18725041)

The reason given was that Wikipedia (being user created and edited) did not represent a credible or reliable source of information for schools.


I swear, Funk and Wagnall's, Britannica, and World Book must be stepping up with the lobby money. This isn't the first time I've read about the "inaccuracy" of Wikipedia recently.

Regardless of whether the information is accurate or not, Wikipedia is an excellent source because many times it has references listed a student can use as a basis for his/her own research. Teachers should not allow any type of encyclopedia to be used as a source, since, its supposed to be generalized knowledge on a subject. In fact, a great feature of Wikipedia is that editors have the ability to post a warning on an article stating that it needs to be cleaned up or that references need to be found to support the article.

Banning Wikipedia doesn't accomplish much. Encyclopedias, even in their paper form, have never been the most accurate sources for information. Compare a World Book article to a Britannica article on the same subject, and there will be notable differences. It all depends on the author, and the sources used to write the article.

I've found entries in Wikipedia on topics I have not found anywhere else, and many times followed an external link to a site that has more information on the topic. It would be a shame to take that ability away from students.

Re:Wikipedia is an excellent source for informatio (2, Insightful)

rbochan (827946) | about 7 years ago | (#18725881)

I swear, Funk and Wagnall's, Britannica, and World Book must be stepping up with the lobby money...

Yep, because things like World Book are _bastions_ of good information* [rr.com] .

*(Yes, this is an excerpt from the actual World Book Encyclopedia(TM) that I grew up with... absolutely no propaganda there... nope, not none.)

Re:Wikipedia is an excellent source for informatio (1)

DerekLyons (302214) | about 7 years ago | (#18725891)

The reason given was that Wikipedia (being user created and edited) did not represent a credible or reliable source of information for schools.

I swear, Funk and Wagnall's, Britannica, and World Book must be stepping up with the lobby money. This isn't the first time I've read about the "inaccuracy" of Wikipedia recently.

Ah, the old chestnut: I love something and thing it's the greatest thing since sliced bread, so when The Man comes down against it - it must be a conspiracy.
 
I find it far more likely that as the reputation of Wikipedia spreads, so does awareness of it's deep and systemic shortcomings and problems. (As well as the weakness of arguments in favor of it.)

A better alternative to blocking (1, Insightful)

heretic108 (454817) | about 7 years ago | (#18725065)

A better alternative to outright blocking would be to pass all Wikipedia hits through a proxy which, when articles are retrieved, modifies the returned HTML code to insert under the article heading the following words in large boldface: "This article may contain severe bias and/or inaccuracies".

I have seen a few pages on Wikipedia that contain downright inaccuracy. I've edited them myself, only to see my changes promptly reverted out by a few misinformed zealots who keep the pages on their watchlists.

The prevailing philosophy at Wikipedia is that a falsehood with higher-profile references is better than truth with lower-profile references.

If I were not an expert in the subjects concerned, I would have no way of knowing that the articles were inaccurate, and would tend to believe them.

All this said, my opinion is that outright censorship is reprehensible, but accuracy warnings are absolutely essential.
Also - there are a great number of pages on Wikipedia, such as pages on science subjects which by their nature do not arouse into debate or controversy, which are extremely accurate, well-written and well-researched.

Re:A better alternative to blocking (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18725355)

The prevailing philosophy at Wikipedia is that a falsehood with higher-profile references is better than truth with lower-profile references.
No, the prevailing philosophy is that a well supported claim is preferrable to a poorly supported claim. If the only support you have for your claim is "it's true because I said so, and I think I'm an expert", then your claims have no business being taken seriously by anyone. If you're not able to back up your claims with evidence, then you're not an expert.

Re:A better alternative to blocking (1)

ResidntGeek (772730) | about 7 years ago | (#18725687)

Can you name some of the inaccuracies you found? It'd be good to know for the future; never know when I'll come across one of those articles.

Books aren't reliable either (1)

Chemisor (97276) | about 7 years ago | (#18725081)

Publishing a book is not really that difficult. There are thousands of complete idiots who have done it and will do it again in the future. If schools really think that all material that is not absolutely reliable should be off-limits to students, they might as well just ban access to all available information, books, journals, and the net.

Re:Books aren't reliable either (1)

orclevegam (940336) | about 7 years ago | (#18725353)

Don't forget to drop the students in sensory deprivation tanks as well, our senses lie to us all the time.

Re:Books aren't reliable either (1)

Scorchio (177053) | about 7 years ago | (#18725643)

Peer-reviewed journals can also be wrong. This was an important lesson I learned at university. Helps you really think about what you're reading, rather than just accepting everything as the gospel truth. Maybe - just maybe - the reason why your work isn't showing the same results as a paper you're referring to in your research is because the paper contains a mistake.

no critical thinking leads to more of the same (5, Insightful)

Tumbleweed (3706) | about 7 years ago | (#18725141)

Wikipedia is probably not that different in accuracy from the textbooks most schools in the U.S. are using. Here's the deal: teachers need to teach critical thinking more than rote memorization of facts. If they're not teaching kids to question the textbooks (and the teachers themselves!), then they're already guilty of what they're afraid of using wikipedia would do.

Wikipedia is *great*, as is the web and internet in general, for nothing more than bringing up aspects of a topic that someone wouldn't suspect even existed. Check out a topic on wikipedia and notice aspects of a topic that wouldn't occur to you - then research those aspects using whatever sources you want.

The advantages of Wikipedia far outweigh any data inaccuracies - that it's constantly updated, and has a far wider range of viewpoints being represented than any textbooks.

If you teach critical thinking to the kids, then you downplay wikipedia's weaknesses while leaving the strengths.

IMO, though, so think about it for yourself. :)

Wikipedia should block the schools (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18725147)

I've seen plenty of vandals from school IP addresses on Wikipedia. Clever little things like randomly inserting "poop" into articles -- hahahahahahaha! "poop"! I said poop!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Oh, sorry.

hmm (3, Insightful)

Loconut1389 (455297) | about 7 years ago | (#18725151)

because googling will offer much better accuracy-

just read the cites on wikipedia and find the books yourself, dont cite wikipedia.

only if they also block FOX CNN and MSNBC (2)

RichMan (8097) | about 7 years ago | (#18725177)

"only if they also block FOX, CNN and MSNBC"

Seriously, is wikipedia any more correct or incorrect than any other source of information.

Absolutely. (3, Funny)

Z0mb1eman (629653) | about 7 years ago | (#18725213)

Schools should absolutely block Wikipedia and sites like Wikipedia.

In fact, schools should do one better. They should start by blocking ALL WEB SITES. Next, they should whitelist and allow only sites on which ALL the information has been verified as 100% accurate by the school staff.

This information checking should be done independently by every school throughout the nation. To avoid bias by the teachers for their favourite subjects, the fact checking should only be done by IT staff.

Further, the results of fact checking shall be collected in a centralized, proprietary database, contracted to the highest bidder. Sites shall only be added to the whitelist once they have been unanimously approved by ALL the schools.

To avoid changes to the verified content, a parallel "intranet" system shall be created with static copies of the verified pages, and only these shall be accessible by students.

Damn, I should be a school board policymaker!

Re:Absolutely. (2, Insightful)

orclevegam (940336) | about 7 years ago | (#18725463)

Further, the verified pages should be printed and bound, perhaps in a book form. Then the schools should setup a system where they can trade copies of the books between each other at request. Lastly they should construct special rooms in each school for the specific purpose of housing these books. Of course, with the number of books involved they'll need a system to organize all of them and allow for quickly finding a book. I propose a system where we divide everything into 10 main categories. Then within each of those categories we further subdivide into 10 subcategories. Finally, within each subcategory there will be 10 sections. Using this amazing system, all human knowledge can be conveniently indexed.

Holy Crap (1)

Null Nihils (965047) | about 7 years ago | (#18725217)

This is messed up on so many levels. I don't know where to begin!

FIRST of all, they might as well block the entire Internet. I can put up a web page claiming to be by Smarty McPants, Ph.D, that says smoking is good for you. I can even Googlebomb it up so (for a while, anyways) any relevant search shows my page in a top spot. Just because something is on the Internet does not make it credible! Are they going to block Google too?

Heck, I could print out a booklet on my bubblejet that looks authoritative, but that doesn't make it true! Establishing credibility and using multiple sources is a required part of the research process! There is never, ever, any single source you can refer to as definitive when you are looking at a subject in depth.

SECOND of all, Wikipedia has a (loosely enforced, but enforced nonetheless) policy of citing sources. So while it may not be super-reliable given that a vandal could have been by in the past 30 seconds, it is still a valuable research tool... given you know how to use it (ie. a copy-paste of the article does not count as "research" by any stretch of the imagination).

LASTLY, what exactly is "reliable" anyways? Plenty of textbooks have errors by the handfuls. And really, if they are going to block Wikipedia, they'd best block Fox News too. There are huge examples of innacuracies and lack of research from Fox, like the story about how Barack Obama went to "terrorist school".

The idiots who made this policy obviously don't know anything about the Internet, or information, or research. And we wondedr why the educational system is failing and the US is falling behind in the science sector!

Gaaahh!

schools should block NOTHING (1)

swschrad (312009) | about 7 years ago | (#18725269)

nothing at all.

educational supervision and guidance should handle the issue, assuming you are getting teachers who are worth hiring.

part of life's journey is running across the odd "mein kampf" or Imus webcast. just like seeing the dirty old man flashing under the railroad bridge on the way to Billy's birthday party, seeing 20 contenders on the local TV news for your presidential primary, and watching the second world trade tower fall live on TV.

shit happens. you need to learn what it is, and how to cope.

banning the only fully current, if occasionally torpedoed, online encyclopedia is not how you develop coping skills. it's part of the way to develop useless little hothouse flowers who can't think for themselves.

Block out the entire internet. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18725275)

Schoolchildren should not be using computers anyway. Research shows that computer use has a negligible-to-negative impact on children's performance in school. Schoolchildren should not have access to the internet. The internet is for porn and filesharing.

What About At-Home Use? (1)

syntap (242090) | about 7 years ago | (#18725291)

If any site is blocked at the school, does policy then follow that students are forbidden to use Wikipedia as a referenced source for any report or essay? And what is the penalty for doing so? Or can they reference it but must do so not as a factual reference but more as they would for quoting an editorial piece?

The most important lesson, trust no-one (1)

SmallFurryCreature (593017) | about 7 years ago | (#18725311)

Especially those that agree with you. The reason is very simple, if you accept as fact something because it is what you like to hear, you are far more likely to accept lies.

If you are a X-winger and read a X-wing newspaper a lie told by that newspaper has a far greater chance of being accepted. Same goes in reverse, if someone says something that you do NOT agree with, you owe it to yourselve to have a healthy distrust, of YOURSELVE!

Always be willing to accept that what you think is true is wrong, and that what you think is wrong is true.

NEVER trust a single source of information to give you the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

So Wikipedia is an excellent tool for teaching. Teach students to ALWAYS check the correctness of information, just because you read an article in a "respectable" newspaper doesn't mean you don't have to check the facts.

And if you encounter something you think is false, still be willing to check it out, just in case your information is in fact wrong.

If you manage to teach students this, you might even be able to teach some the next step. Just because A is a lie does not make B a truth. Just because the US lied about WMD does not mean Saddam told the truth. Just because the axis powers were scum does not mean that the allies were/are the nicest guys on the face of the earth.

You might even get people to understand that because someone is the enemy of my enemy does NOT mean they are my friend, and even that someone who doesn't agree with you is NOT necesarlly your enemy.

OR we could just spoonfeed students the accepted facts and be done with it. After all it worked for thousands of years.

Re:The most important lesson, trust no-one (1)

bigstrat2003 (1058574) | about 7 years ago | (#18725849)

If you are a X-winger and read a X-wing newspaper...

Star Wars has nothing do do with this, dude.

It would be better to use it as a tool.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18725339)

...to teach students how to research and verify information.

Pick a page and independently verify it from "more reliable" sources. Write a new page as a project. There are some great possibilities here.

Check the citations. (4, Informative)

Ash-Fox (726320) | about 7 years ago | (#18725361)

The reason given was that Wikipedia (being user created and edited) did not represent a credible or reliable source of information for schools.
Just check the citations on the Wiki entry to see if they're from a credible source?

Seriously, it's not like they didn't give you a easy way to verify if something is credible.

or should we encourage sites such as Wikipedia as an outlet for students to investigate and determine the validity of the information?
What investigation? The citations are right on the page.

If they aren't there, one is better off looking at other sources for information.

Perhaps the schools should buy some accounts for the entire school to access sites like Britannica? -- I get the feeling they're too cheap to-do so.

Misinformation? (4, Insightful)

theghost (156240) | about 7 years ago | (#18725393)

If you're going to start keeping students away from sources of misinformation you're probably going to have to fire a lot of teachers.

Schools should start their own wikipedia (1)

RichMan (8097) | about 7 years ago | (#18725399)

Schools should start a wikipedia about their local area.

Step 1: accounts and passwords are created, additional account creation is blocked
Step 2: demonstrate all edits are traceable to an account
Step 3: you are responsible for your account security and all edits done by your account

Step 4: release
Step 5: edit and disipline

That will teach a lot.

Block Google (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18725433)

You can find even more disinformation via google. And consider, I just now pulled up a random phrase out of the blue -- "darfur history" -- and gave it to google. The wikipedia article is #1.

And, oh my gosh, if you click on google's "Cached" link you get a copy of the wiki article, bypassing any attempts at blocking the terrifying wikipedia monster. Complete with the disclaimer "This article documents a current event; Information may change rapidly as the event progresses" which warns people to think twice before believing it, unlike what other media outlets do. Teaching kids to question what they read???

Furthermore, if I enter "why school boards are stupid" I get 1,770,000 links that explain why.

Forget wikipedia. Google must be stopped.

I can see the point (2, Insightful)

hey! (33014) | about 7 years ago | (#18725521)

even though this is the wrong way to teach information literacy.

Part of me wants to say that if you block the Wikipedia, you really should have a simple white list. These are the sites you are allowed to visit, because we've checked them out and they are reliable.

But the thing is, the Wikipedia really is extraordinarily useful. And therefore very, very easy to misuse. Overall the Wikipedia is remarkably reliable. In a some cases its pretty mediocre, and obviously in a few cases it can go horribly, terribly wrong.

Overall, its a tremendous benefit to have Wikipedia. But you have to bring a skeptical attitude or you can get burned. The truth is you really ought to bring a skeptical viewpoint to the Wikipedia, but many schools aren't in the business of teaching skepticism. Knowing how to handle a site like Wikipedia is part of media literacy. You should use same skills you would use to evaluate a network news show, or a book, your American History textbook, or even an "official" encylopedia.

So, what this really amounts to is admission that the school is not prepared to teach its students critical reading. They really ought to teach that, but if they can't, then students might in some cases be lead wildly astray by Wikipedia. Perhaps for this sort of school, a white list would be better, or maybe even just giving up on net access altogether.

Like blocking Google in 2003 (1)

michaelmalak (91262) | about 7 years ago | (#18725537)

Wikipedia is the new Google -- the new jumping off place when trying to gather information about any new topic. In the past Wikipedia deemphasized external links under the premise that Wikipedia should be self-contained and pressable onto a CD. That's gone out the window and now at the end of every article is a list of human-filtered external links. Plus any Wikipedia article is loaded with keywords that provide fodder for further searches on Google.

As more evidence that Wikipedia is the new Google, these days whenever I search on Google, the Wikipedia entry is in the top three hits.

Blocking Wikipedia in 2007 is like blocking Google in 2003 or blocking AltaVista in 1998.

Yes absolutely (1)

91degrees (207121) | about 7 years ago | (#18725617)

Because blocking sites works so well. Esecially CC licenced ones.

I'm sure the students will go for a much more reliable source, such as Answers.com. Or google's cache of wikipedia. Or Wikpipedia itself via a proxy. Or wikipedia on their home computers.

God forbid that learning about reliability of sources should be part of the education curriculum.

Wikipedia is like Linux (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18725695)

It will always have enough quirks to make it unacceptable. Just like linux has only 1% market share Wikipedia will have only 1% reliable information. You must remember that if you are paying thousands to get a degree you should be learning to use sources that are reliable. If you think wikipedia is reliable then your job will be outsourced to countries where they ban wikipedia and have properly educated people and you will be flipping burgers for the rest of your life.

Wikipedia makes people stupid. The most visted articles are about sex and Naruto.

ummm (1)

hurfy (735314) | about 7 years ago | (#18725735)


If even the teachers are blocked what is stopping them from copying or paraphrasing from wikipedia and then cite a fake source the teacher can't easily check.

And like others said it IS a good start point and usually has several other references listed. I suppose it would be better to GOOGLE for some references ?!?! How can it be any worse than the card catalog at the library, those certainly were not guarenteed to be credible, you had to determine that on your own.....just like you should with what the wiki says....

Maybe they can dumb it down a bit more and predefine the sources and the data and see if everyone can correctly copy the page number for the reference footnote.

Unless it is a source more likely than not to give bad info ii can't see blocking it like that. Perhaps a lesson on primary and secondary sources, etc.

Even then i could quote from several prestigous peer-reviewed journels that had bad info at some point.

Now if we can convince /. (and others) that a blog is NOT an authoritative source of stories........

Students shouldn't just use one source! (2, Insightful)

Matt_Bennett (79107) | about 7 years ago | (#18725761)

They should not block Wikipedia, for sure, but if the child gets something wrong from their research, they should be marked down since they didn't do their research properly. Even Encyclopedia Britannica can be wrong- if they find a discrepancy between two sources, they should be required to investigate additional sources until they at least gather a consensus, and properly attribute it. Making a single observation and declaring it the absolute truth is faulty science, no reason that online research should be any different.

Re:Students shouldn't just use one source! (1)

Rukie (930506) | about 7 years ago | (#18725893)

Wikipedia blocked? That is horrible. Wikipedia is a part of the real world, something that a school should prepare you for. As you go throughout life people will always have misinformation. I know that even though I try to say nothing false, I can say things that are wrong. You cannot trust one single person to be correct, just as you cannot trust one single source to be correct. When you write a paper for some thorough report, everything you make a comment about should have more than one source. Why? Multiple sources are much more credible than single sources. I think blocking wikipedia is like trying to tell a 15 year old boy that girls aren't important. Personally, I would contact your school board and represent some of the opinions of our fellow slashdotters. Although wikipedia can give incorrect information, it is definitely a great start on a research project because it can you give the general idea of something before you delve deeper into a topic. I definitely agree with Matt here that if a student gives incorrect information on something, he should be docked, unless he can prove it from multiple sources (not just one). Anyways, thats my two cents.

One way of getting kids to do their homework! (1)

argent (18001) | about 7 years ago | (#18725801)

Do they ban google as well? How about about.com, or lycos, or dmoz?

I guess if the only place kids can use the Internet for research is at home or the public library, that'll save money on that pesky school library and Internet connection.

The school district should contact Wikipedia... (1)

georgewilliamherbert (211790) | about 7 years ago | (#18725859)

I'm amazed and confused that a school district would do all that without having the decency to contact the Wikimedia Foundation first. To the original poster: please have your district's officials get in touch.

Wikipedia is not a primary reference for anything other than itself. It's entirely appropriate for teachers to tell students that it's not a primary source. This is true of encyclopedias in general. Actual primary sources should be citable/referencable.

Wikipedia, as a summary of a subject, and a pointer to related subjects, and list of primary source references, is reasonably accurate, to within a near-tie with accuracy found in commercial encyclopedias. And it includes primary source links more consistently than commercial encyclopedias...

who's next? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18725883)

The reason given was that Wikipedia (being user created and edited) did not represent a credible or reliable source of information for schools.
Based on this criteria, I suppose they'll have to block Slashdot too. Come to think of it, they'll also need to block anything our politicians ever say.

Block Wikipedia (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18725909)

Wikipedia is a POS. It's only a little more reliable than what's scribbled on a bathroom wall, and much less persistant.

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