Wikipedia is a great starting point for research. The References and External Links sections provide some great places to find more detailed information on a topic. Wikipedia have also added a Citation tool that will generate a Citation for the page in numerous formats including MLA and APA. What is most interesting about this tool is the disclaimer that appears when you click on the Cite this Page link:
“IMPORTANT NOTE: Most educators and professionals do not consider it appropriate to use tertiary sources such as encyclopedias as a sole source for any information — citing an encyclopedia as an important reference in footnotes or bibliographies may result in censure or a failing grade. Wikipedia articles should be used for background information, as a reference for correct terminology and search terms, and as a starting point for further research”
If Wikipedia is still not reliable enough for you, Tim Berners-Lee raises several points about the reliability of information on the web in this BBC article. The article states“Sir Tim and colleagues at the World Wide Web consortium had looked at simple ways of branding websites – but concluded that a whole variety of different mechanisms was needed.” I feel this illustrates the need to educate students about evaluating the reliability of or bias that a website may contain.
In the article, Sir Tim was also promoting a new initiative aiming to make the web more accessible with an organization called the Web Foundation. The Web Foundation lists three objectives in its mission
- to advance One Web that is free and open,
- to expand the Web’s capability and robustness,
- and to extend the Web’s benefits to all people on the planet.
The organization seeks to reach its objectives by funding projects in the areas of Web Science and Research, Web Technology and Practice, Web for Society.