The Power of Internet Users

One of the things that makes the internet so great is the ability for people to keep contributing to it. Without the constant and growing users, the internet would be a boring and plain place. Everyday we see videos and articles being published at a substantial rate, contributing to the vast amount of information being readily available for everyone to benefit from. Powerful websites have emerged such as Youtube, Reddit, and Wikipedia (to read up on the history of Wikipedia, check out this article from our reading) where ordinary internet dwellers can contribute, or find the next viral video, amazing photograph, or a unique fact about a famous person. However, with the massive amounts of people who use the internet, there are sure to be a few errors, slip-ups, or misconceptions that occur.

In Nicholas Carr’s blog post titled “The amorality of Web 2.0,” he talks about that good and bad of websites like Wikipedia, where internet users are the main contributors. He says that “in theory, Wikipedia is a beautiful thing.” However, he mainly talks about the problems of Wikipedia in his post. He states “in reality, though, Wikipedia isn’t very good at all. Certainly, it’s useful – I regularly consult it to get a quick gloss on a subject. But at a factual level it’s unreliable, and the writing is often appalling.” It certainly can be unreliable, but one can also check whatever they read has a source to it. This isn’t a full proof way to ensure what one reads is factual correct, but it can add some sort of credibility. Wikipedia can be unpredictable and that’s probably why many high school teachers and college professors don’t let students use it as a source.

Another extremely popular website where ordinary internet users can contribute anything is Reddit. Reddit is a bit more controversial than Wikipedia because users can literally submit any photo, video, article or any other link and other users can give their two cents on it. Here’s a fantastic article on all of the basics of Reddit for someone who maybe confused or never been on Reddit. Earlier this year, the Boston Marathon bombings really caused a storm on Reddit and users were trying to find out who the suspects were before the FBI did. I’m not sure if any Reddit user even considered the actual suspects, but there was a lot of users who were targeting the wrong people unfairly. This article from our reading talks more about how Reddit and another popular website 4Chan, tried to hunt down the suspects, but ended up harming some innocent people. In fact here’s one of the many threads on Reddit where users tried to hunt down the suspects, if anyone is interested in checking it out.

These user oriented websites have many upsides, but also plenty of downsides. On Reddit, Wikipedia and other sites, we can find out amazing things about our favorite famous person, or we may up finding false information. Regular everyday internet users generate almost all the content on these sites, in turn, have a lot of power. Also, it is  really simple to submit or edit something. That’s what makes them so great, but that’s why we should also be cautious when browsing them. With all this said, do you trust reading information off Wikipedia articles? If you were (or maybe are) a teacher, would you let your students use Wikipedia as a source? What do you think of Reddit and do you go on it yourself?


22 thoughts on “The Power of Internet Users

  1. I would have to say for the most part I do trust Wikipedia articles. I wouldn’t use Wikipedia as a resource in any project, but I would say so for looking up a quick description of something is the best way to use it. Its a good way to get a quick read on something. I have only seen obvious errors on the website once before. If I was a teacher I wouldn’t let a student use it as a resource. Like I mentioned, Wikipedia is great for getting the main idea across on something if you just read the first paragraph. As for Reddit, I can’t say I have an opinion really. I don’t use the site, though I have many friends who love it and find it very entertaining. I don’t think that information would be taken as creditable.

  2. I am not familiar reddit but as for wikipedia, I believe that under the right use is is one of the greatest websites ever created. No you should never use it as a source for papers, as most professors despise it, but you have to look at it for what it is. It is a massive site with information on almost anything you could ever think of. Sure it can give incorrect or, just not 100 percent accurate information at times. But I am a 24 year graduate of film school and senior at U of M, and I can honestly say I wouldn’t have made it through college without Wikipedia. It is where I always go when I need to find the basic information on a particular subject. You don’t rely on it but it is a great starting place for anything you don’t know about when starting a project or researching something. Or even just trying to quickly educate yourself on something you are not familiar with, chances are you will find enough accurate information to see how useful it is. I am sure some of you strongly disagree with my support of wikipedia but it is has been a very beneficial tool throughout my life. Just use it in the right setting and don’t rely on it for facts. If you need to quickly educate yourself on something you are not familiar with, there is no better tool in my opinion.

  3. I would not use Wikipedia for a source to write a paper for school, but instead just to look for quick information. I do not trust Wikipedia because so many users can easily change and input incorrect information. In fact, when I was in high school we were absolutely forbidden to use Wikipedia because my teachers did not find that to be a credible source. A lot of my friends who do get information from Wiki use the footnotes at the bottom of the page instead. I have never used it or been on the website. I think the people who took the initiative to search for the Boston bombers had no right to do so because that was not their job to do so.

  4. Well, after reading this I think that Wikipedia is something you can go to for general information. If you want to know who the president is or something a bit more public that many people know, then sure it’s an alright source. If you’re looking for something a bit more detailed, where you actually need information and you would like to site it as a source I would not recommend Wikipedia. It’s not reliable. Also, if I was a teacher I doubt I would let my students use it because it would not contribute anything of new knowledge to them that a credible website can. Personally, I do not use Reddit, and I have actually never even heard of it. I think it can cause a lot of problems for people if they try to get involved in things like that.

  5. I do trust Wikipedia to an extent. I look to Wikipedia when I want a quick answer or overview of a certain topic. Wikipedia can give good basic information and basic facts, but if one is looking for an in depth analysis or complete truth, wikipedia probably isnt the best source. I do not think teachers should honor wikipedia as a source always but there should possibly be a few exceptions. Some topics can be so rare or difficult to find true scholarly discussion and in these cases Wikipedia could possibly one of the only ways someone can find info on a topic.

    I think sites like reddit are fine for the public, but I would not look for them for any real substantive information. I have never used this sites, but I know the power of rumor and how far people can take it. If it goes unchecked it seems like the wild west of the internet.

  6. Wikipedia articles are excellent sources for great background information. Wikipedia monitors what’s posted on their site and with this monitoring it makes for a better source (it’s still nearly impossible for them to correct everything, because Wikipedia is a site where any fact about anything can be posted!). If I were a teacher I definitely would allow my students to use Wikipedia but I would require them to have multiple sources along with it. Whether a teacher says use or not, chances are a student will always revert back to the site that is easiest for them to gather all their information. I personally have never used reddit so I can’t comment on it.

  7. Sometimes, I do trust the information I get off a Wikipedia site. However, I always take it with a grain of salt. I think it’s pretty easy to tell if the Wikipedia site is legit or it has been messed with. As a teacher or a professor however, no, I wouldn’t allow my students to use Wikipedia. Not only because the information may or may not be credible, but also because it’s too easy. If students were able to use Wikipedia as sources, they wouldn’t need any other sources. As for Reddit — no, I don’t go on it, and I honestly had barely heard of it before this class. And since then I have been on it, and I find it confusing to use and messy.

  8. I use Wikipedia very often, but usually not for finding facts. I use it to find keywords or ideas about whatever it is I really want to know. This gives me more tools to use when I’m searching for something. I do think, that for the most part a lot of the information is factual. However, it does introduce a level of uncertainty in what you read; I would never quote the site. If I was a teacher, I would encourage students to start at Wikipedia, and branch out from there (like I do). I wouldn’t let them use anything on the site as a substantial or credible source though.

    I’ve never used Reddit. I found that is sufficient to be Facebook friends with some avid “Redditors” I know in real life. They post all the goodies from the so-called “front page of the internet”, and I avoid all of the wasting of time (besides the fact that I am wasting time on Facebook in the first place, but that’s another story entirely). I like the idea of Reddit, but with all of the creepy things that can be found on it (e.g. “Jailbait”) I’d rather avoid it altogether.

  9. I use Wikipedia all the time. If there is something I don’t know I can always rely on Wikipedia to get me up to speed. I do trust most of the information on Wikipedia even though anyone can edit and/or submit something. I think that sole reason is Wikipedia’s greatest strength and weakness at the very same time. The saying “Two heads are better than one” is generally true and when we come together in collaboration there are many benefits to this. To create a website with all this information would be too much work for one person alone. I think it is great that people can add to it because you get all the different insights from minds all over the world contributing to one topic. This also means that those looking mislead have a means to do so but that shouldn’t stop us from using it as a quick source. I can see why a teacher wouldn’t want students to use Wikipedia as a source but most of the time it is a good one. I think teachers want students to do more than “one stop shop” and find another way to look at multiple sources. As time goes on people will be more accepting of Wikipedia as a source.

    I don’t go on Reddit at all but my friend looks at it at least 3 hours a day so I am a witness to its addictive power. I know Reddit is notorious for putting anything and everything out there. The entries with the most activity are bumped up to the front page of Reddit so everyone can see. A lot of the time the ones that are on the front page are the ones that cause people the most anger which almost seems like they are glorifying it. I like the fact that Reddit allows everyone to have a voice but perhaps they should stop allowing the trolls to be the loudest.

    • Ya, Reddit definitely can be addictive. And you are spot on about Reddit pretty much posting anything and everything. The trolls on Reddit can be annoying as well, but you just have to learn to ignore them like any other website.

  10. I personally use Wikipedia as a starting point. I don’t think it’s a very reliable source, but it can give you sources that are reliable. If you’re writing a paper for a class or doing a research project Wikipedia is definitely a place that could lead you to good sources. I would never cite Wikipedia as a source, because what you read one day may not be there the next.

    If I was a teacher I would encourage my students to use Wikipedia as a starting point to help the brainstorm, but I would not let them use it as a source because like I said it’s not very reliable. Although a lot of the time the information you’re reading on Wikipedia may be true, there’s always that small chance that it’s not, because as stated above anyone can edit the information on there.

    I honestly have never even heard of Reddit until now. I don’t go on it, and I don’t know many people who do. From what I’ve read about it, it seems a bit like Wikipedia except users can communicate through the site. It seems like an easy way to get involved with the news and what’s going on in the world. It also seems like a social media site mainly focusing on the news.

  11. During my first foray into higher education, in the early 80’s, there was no Wikipedia. Research had to be done the old fashion way, at the library, manually searching information. I was hopeful this time around research would be easier. I was overjoyed that I wouldn’t have to spend hours in a library searching for a great quote; instead I could gather information with a few keystrokes at home while in my pajamas. What surprised me was how a majority of Professors scared the living daylights out of students when it pertains to the use of Wikipedia. I believe one said, if I recall correctly, “Any use of Wikipedia will result in a failing grade” Okay, maybe it wasn’t that harsh, but you get the picture. Even my son, a high school freshman told me that Wikipedia is not a source to gather reliable information. All this hasn’t stopped me from doing research in my PJ’s and I’m not saying that Wikipedia doesn’t have its uses. I like other students use it as a potential starting point for ideas, but then ultimately find other more reliable sources to use in my papers.

    As for Reddit, I haven’t yet developed a relationship with this particular “social news and entertainment website” from Wikipedia.

  12. It is great to have a free source of information like the internet where we can access information at any time and in any place; the only thing required for access like this is a computer with a connection to the internet. However, we have to know how to search for information over the internet because free unlimited access doesn’t necessarily mean all information over the internet is credible; many websites can guide us in the wrong direction. As you comment in your blog, it is easy for a contributor to add to and edit posted information in much-used websites like Wikipedia. In general, Wikipedia is a good source of general or background information; but, we should always cross-reference our sources. For example, if I don’t know the name of a song, I try to confirm the information that I found is the same by cross-checking it in at least three different website sources. Personally, I trust Wikipedia because there are enough people out there who will verify the information if something is in error. However, sometimes the information from Wikipedia is not clear enough and it is in those times that another source of information (like books) is required to make your information credible.

    If I were the teacher, I would let my students use Wikipedia as a suggestion, but I would forewarn them about the information they choose and to make sure they have checked it for accuracy.

    I haven’t used the website Reddit yet.

  13. I trust Wikipedia articles for the most part. I really only use it when I need the gist of how something works, a specific fact that is easily verifiable elsewhere, or want to understand why something is the way it is. I don’t think I would really use the information on Wikipedia for anything that important. My answer that question could really go either way. I guess I would say no though because it’s too easy to find the info. Doing thorough research helps kids learn more than having it all given to them at once. I have never used Reddit but to me it just sounds like a huge waste of time. I have better things to do (such as check Facebook ha-ha).

  14. I believe that educators who are banning the use of Wikipedia and Reddit are being lazy and not developing assignments that require original thought and analysis. Assignments that just require the regurgitation of facts or dates can easily be completed by equally lazy students using data gathered from these sites. However if assignments are created that require a student to provide and assessment and opinion supported by facts from any sources and if those assignments were evaluated by the quality of the analysis and their underlying sources, then there would be no reason to ban or limit the use of certain sites. The proper use of incentives along with the development of thoughtful assignments is what should be discussed here, not which sites should or should not be available to students.

  15. I personally like using wikipedia for general information and things that aren’t my main topic. If i just need a quick answer to some random fact, what are the odds someone messed with that one random page? Also i know that wikipedia checks its sources and deletes incorrect or misleading information. I personally would be okay with students using wikipedia as a source as long as they had others, and it was not their main source.

  16. In my opinion Wikipedia is an ok starting point to research something however its not always ideal for in depth research. If I were a teacher I would prefer that students used peer reviewed essays and or articles from reputable sources rather than strictly using Wikipedia. However, Wikipedia does serve as a great resource due to its broad database of information.

    As for Reddit, I personally think its a great website that gives people a place to congregate and exchange and discuss information. With websites like reddit its also important to understand that you are discussing things in a an open forum with people of many different education levels and backgrounds, which can give great insight and different perspectives.

    • Ya, Reddit definitely is a great website. I go on it everyday and spend a lot of time on it. I’m really surprised by the lack of people who don’t use it and never even heard of it in this class.

  17. It think wikipedia is an excellent source of information in a very casual sense, considering it isn’t published professionally and can be edited by anybody, you or me. But due to its openness it is also full of information, some rather in depth.

    I do go on reddit quite a bit actually. A lot of it is very interesting actually. While I may not agree with everything its users post, I still find it to be rather intriguing. It sounds cliche, but it really does seem to be the “voice of the people” from time to time, due to the fact anyone and everyone can put stuff on it.

  18. I think Wikipedia can be a good and bad source. In my experience as a student, Wikipedia has never been a main hub for my time. However, through using Wikipedia to check small facts like dates, names, timelines, etc…I have found a lot of good links to the sources used for the page. This has led me to some real scholarly articles and journals that would be accepted as a fine source any day, and they have.

    It’s almost like you have to take it with a grain of salt. Sure, it can be used for a lot of things, some even consider it a great source in some cases. However, you have to know that not all the information is 100% right. If you’re going to fact check something through Wikipedia really quick, look at other sites as well. Usually Wikipedia has the same information, sometimes more than other sites. But, sometimes you have people on there who think it’s funny to troll or to screw up information. If you then use that information, you look like the lazy idiot who didn’t fact check anything and took the easy way out.

    We all know scholarly articles, journals, etc. can be extremely dull, dry and bare facts. Wikipedia is a quick, logically drawn out source that makes it very easy to find information. Sure, it’s great when you need to find out Bill Cosby’s birthday, but for scholarly information it’s just a base. You can find great articles in the sources section of Wikipedia, but if you’re using information straight from the site, head with caution and double check your information with more reliable sources.

  19. For the most part I can’t really agree on Wikipedia as being a great source. While it allows us to get what we want quickly (it’s usually the first site that comes up after a google search of anything), its also too often unreliable. Because it is run by just everyday users and people the facts cannot be as reliable as most sites because it depends too often one when you read the article and if the fact checking has even occured. In a class I took, we were able to edit the page we wanted on Wikipedia and see how long it would stay up for.

    I remember for about 48 hours, the Wikipedia page for the 2011 NFL draft had; “Aurel Haxhillari Quarterback, Michigan” as the #1 overall draft pick (it’s quite amusing when you think about it). Imagine if you had been looking for that as an answer to your question? If you looked at the wrong time or in that 48 hour window, the information was way too unreliable to be worth anything.

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