Wikism: The Myth of a Phenom

Wiki is definitely one of the most famous sites in the internet. It is basically a site that allows easy creation and editing of any number of interlinked web pages (wikipedia). And its free as far as I know. And as we may very well know; people love everything easy and free.

Adding the fact that its very convenient to use, and there you have one of the most famous sites of the 21st century.

And of course like all phenomenal things in this world, there’s always a bad side. Wiki’s no exception. Issues with credibility and validity of information rears their ugly heads when wiki is concerned. But even so, people still use wiki, and most likely, will still deem the information valid even with all the lack of credibility. Why is this so?

1. “Wikis have everything so everything here must be true”

Everyone and anyone can write and edit wikis, and that’s no exaggeration. From your great grandfather to your little sister, from the top scholar of this world to an uneducated ingrate, anyone that has an access to an internet connection could write and edit wikis. Even you.

This system enables wikis to have a pseudo-infinite amount of information. People type down “what they believe is true” and then show it to the whole world. Imagine if this is to happen on a global scale. This is what people like about wikis, they almost always have the information you need.

And because of this convenience, people have used it often enough to create the illusion that it’s just as credible as your everyday encyclopedia. The fact that wikipedia is one of the most popular wikis further enforces this.

Everything's in Wiki

2. “More often than you may think; people who use wiki have no clue about what they search”

Whenever there’s something I don’t know, I go to wikipedia. And there’s thousands of other people in the world who think like I do. Is there a problem to this? I believe there is.

If you don’t know anything about a certain concept; its hard to doubt any information that “seems credible to you”. And in the world wide web, wikis are one of the most “seemingly credible” things you can find.

If by some chance that someone put up wrong information in the wiki (deliberately or otherwise). It just risked misinforming thousands of people who rely on wiki for information. And human error is not something new to us.

Even more at risk are students who are fund of copy pasting from wikis without reading the articles. There are people in this world who will deliberately misinform people either subtly or otherwise. If you ever fall victim to these people, there will be hell to pay.

3. You never know who is who

The first time I used wikipedia, I thought it was an official encyclopedia and that everything on it is valid. Maybe its due to the fact that you never know who writes in wikis and even if you do; who cares?

The anonymity that wikis provide to its “contributors” contributes to the illusion of credibility of wikis. If you knew that the person who provided the information you read was just a regular guy from across the street, would you have believed him? People clamor for an omniscient being that could provide everything to them in a silver platter. The fact that electronic communication makes people less human in the way they communicate contributes to our perception that the person behind the information is someone credible enough to talk about the subject.

The question is; what if they’re not who you think they are?

Who knew?

And the moral lesson? Never let technology rule your lives. In this modern day and age, where people in organizations collaborate in the web, ultimately depending on it for efficiency and survival; we should always remember that we are the ones using the technology provided to us, not the other way around.

We should also take note not to embrace every piece of technology with open arms. As I’ve said, there’s always the bad side to good things in life. We should take our time in testing these technologies for it may be detrimental to our cause in the end. This is especially important in organizations where a single misstep would prove fatal. Misinformation and bad rep is something you never need. What’s even worse is you don’t have anyone to blame. Never say I got it from a wiki so I thought its true.

Still, organizations can benefit from using wikis and the pros actually outweigh the cons. Wikicollaborations enable real-time, anonymous group communication among the members of the organization without the wall of hierarchy to hinder you from saying your piece of the matter. This presents opportunities, and possible breakthroughs that are very important to organizations.

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6 Responses to Wikism: The Myth of a Phenom

  1. xydc says:

    When I was in high school, I used Wikipedia in almost all, if not all, of my assignments or projects. I always use Ctrl+C and Ctrl+V! It was only in our Communication 1 class that I learned that Wikipedia is not a credible source of information; so I started avoiding it. I also learned that if the sources are not cited well, then the information may not be credible, too. However, I believe that it is not bad to use Wikipedia at all; provided that we also have other sources to validate the things written in the FREE online encyclopedia. You are also right when you said that people have the tendency to think that they are smart when they have shared something in Wikipedia. Its consequences, however, may be detrimental to other people who use the wrong information they share. Therefore, it is important that we read the content first before using it and to cite the sources well.
    Things are different with organizations. Real-time is beneficial because we live in a fast-paced world which means that a lot happens in a second especially online. If there are internal problems, for example, organizations may easily be able to address these because it breaks barriers and connects with other organizational members without time delay.

    • melem1 says:

      I also use wikipedia. And as you said, its all about validating what you see instead of taking it as it is. Its really a very useful tool in the end. Haha I like the emphasis on “FREE”. It really sums up every reason I have for using wikipedia.
      I agree with what you said about organizations. Real-time networking is necessary in order for an organization to cope with current times. My point is that having these communication technologies at our disposal does not necessarily mean that we have already achieved greatness. So what if you can communicate with everyone in the org? Relying on what you have is completely different than Using what you have. Good people and communication skills decide your fate in the end. Likewise, we shouldn’t rely on wikipedia but use it effectively to achieve our end.
      Thank you for the comment Xy πŸ™‚

  2. Rhea Lorenzo says:

    I must admit I’m one of those people who depend on Wiki every time I need information about something. And I did that copy-paste thing high school students love to do. πŸ˜› But ever since “plagiarism” got hammered into my head with all the writing we have to do, I started being critical with what I see on Wiki. Yes, I still open and read what’s there, but this time, I check the information by looking up their sources or by researching the concept and looking for online books or credible sources. It’s true, though, that despite the risks in using Wiki, organizations and even individuals must realize the benefits of using Wikis. It’s just that we always have to double-check and be critical. πŸ˜€

    • melem1 says:

      I know this is going to get me in trouble but I’m guilty of trusting wikipedia too much. Its just too hard to doubt things you don’t know about. And I’m sorry for being too lazy to find “credible” sources. The sad truth is you often need to pay to get to the good credible stuff. Not paying would give you incomplete info about what you want to know. If you have a site that offers free credible stuff just let me know. I could use that. Thank you for the reply Rhea πŸ™‚

  3. Jet Tumang says:

    I think the very nature of wiki, which is inter-subjectivity, would be a good counter to the problem of misinformation. One thing that we should see is that wikis are created not only by one man/woman, but by a multitude of people. If someone posts something wrong, people knowledgeable would surely react and correct the misinformation done. Although pretty risky, the existence of wiki editors and credibility checkers should heighten the trust we have for wikis.

  4. I personally believe that wikipedia is a somewhat credible source of information. Wikipedia has a staff of editors who check and validate the articles posted on the site. Although the reliability of these evaluations is still something that needs to be looked at. Also, some of the “less important” articles that are not less often viewed may be less subject to evaluation therefore increasing the probability of false information being published.

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