Professors Ban Students From Citing Wikipedia

Dennis Faas's picture

The problem with having an encyclopedia to which anyone can add information is just that -- the fact that anyone, including non-credible sources, can add information. ;-)

While Wikipedia has become a hit for both typical Internet users and students, it has failed to strike a chord with professors. Professors and other educators have developed concern about the reader-produced Wikipedia, noting the inaccuracies found throughout the website.

Recently, the history department at Middlebury College in Vermont has decided to take a stronger stand against students using Wikipedia. It voted this month to ban students from citing Wikipedia in papers and other academic work. The faculty is planning on explaining the new policy to students and the reasons why the website may not be a trustworthy source. (Source:

Don Wyatt, chair of the history department, explained the rationale behind the decision. "As educators, we are in the business of reducing the dissemination of misinformation. Even though Wikipedia may have some value, particularly from the value of leading students to citable sources, it is not itself an appropriate source for citation." He added that the reason behind the ban is that Wikipedia is unedited, not because it is online. (Source:

Does this mean the beginning of a Wikipedia versus educators battle?

Not quite. In fact, Wikipedia spokesperson Sandra Ordonez said that the company does not oppose Middlebury's point of view. "That's a sensible policy," said Ordonez in an email interview. "Wikipedia is the ideal place to start your research and get a global picture of a topic, however, it is not an authoritative source. In fact, we recommend that students check the facts they find in Wikipedia against other sources. Additionally, it is generally good research practice to cite an original source when writing a paper, or completing an exam. It's usually not advisable, particularly at the university level, to cite an encyclopedia." (Source:

However, Ordonez was quick to add that while there is no guarantee that Wikipedia's articles are 100% correct, the company is shifting its focus from growth to improving quality.

Further, she noted that "most articles are continually being edited and improved upon, and most contributors are real lovers of knowledge who have a real desire to improve the quality of a particular article." (Source:

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