Wikipedia Advice for Parents/Families

More often than not, Wikipedia is where I go to find information about a particular topic. No matter if it is about sports, history, pop culture, or current events, I am likely to check out Wikipedia to find the quick info I need. The thing I like the best is the fact that the details are summarized and organized so well on the site that it is easy to find what I am looking for.

I believe that Wikipedia is one of the greatest resources currently available to us online. However, we must use a great deal of caution when searching for information. Hopefully this will be helpful to you as you browse the internet.

What is Wikipedia?
Wikipedia is an online encyclopedia completely comprised of contributions from the users. It is a free resource that aims to offer "the sum of all human knowledge" in order to further explore a wide range of subjects. There are no staff experts at Wikipedia. Instead, anyone can create or edit an article (with rigorous guidelines). It is one of the most popular websites on the internet, and the creators' intention is that the readers will "find huge educational value within this project."

What Are The Dangers?
Due to the fact that all of the information on Wikipedia is freely editable by anyone online, both inaccuracy and vandalism are problems that occur on a daily basis. While most of the info on the site is credible, there is some stuff that is questionable. However, a number of safeguards are in effect to keep it under control: Editors are encouraged to cite reliable sources, and there are ways to patrol for vandalism. The rigorous guidelines, as well as the system to catch and eliminate false or irresponsible content, prevents most incorrect information from being viewed. Still, we must do our part as responsible learners to know where our facts are coming from.

How Can I Be Safe When Browsing?
Younger kids should not be browsing alone, so please make sure they are supervised to help them know what they are researching. It is important to remind our children and students that the citations within the content should come from reliable sources.

Reliable sources:
- Well-known, legitimate, trustworthy sites (PBS.org, Time.com, OregonLive.com, etc.)
- Sites ending in .org, .gov, or .edu tend to be supervised by educational/government institutions
- News sources or information that can be found on multiple websites

Unreliable sources:
- Personal blogs/websites
- Opinion articles
- Publications expressing extremist or promotional ideas

The sources are located at the bottom of the page in the "Notes" section. You can usually follow these links to the original source where the information was found. There are also in-text citations throughout the page... they have a number inside of brackets like this [3] which will take you down to the specific link associated with it.

Even though Wikipedia is a great wealth of knowledge all in one site, we must be aware that there are some people that post inaccurate information. The best way to avoid relaying incorrect content is to check sources, make sure they are reliable, and document where you got your facts.

--Mr. Riedl


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