Blog Post 3: What are the strengths and weaknesses of Wikis as information resources? (think informatics)

Informatics: how people relate to information science.

An additional title to bring in informatics could be: How do these strengths and weaknesses help or detract from people relating to information science?

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What are the strengths and weaknesses of Wikis as information resources?

Strengths:

  • Immediate publishing online
  • Ability for multiple authors to contribute to the wiki page
  • Authored by content “community” so has multiple vantage points and opportunities for corrections by different eyes
  • Authors can be anonymous for privacy
  • Limited formatting design options, so content is the focus
  • Easy to use technology; good for beginners
  • Easier for shyer individuals to participate due to content-focus

Weaknesses:

  • Authors can be anonymous, making the content iffy as a creditable source
  • Authored by content “community” so information can be easily overwritten
  • Unknown time/date of updates

So how do wikis help people relate to information science? Wikis are very easy to find – search any phrase and a wikipedia entry will be on the first page. This is because so many people click on the wikipedia entries.The word itself sounds so close to “encyclopedia” so is easy to find it credible just from name association. Thankfully, some wiki pages cite sources on their pages so those that are aware can verify the truth of the matter. Just how aware are they of the credibility though? How much further will they dig after viewing the wiki summary on their topic? Wikis lend to giving users confidence in information found in their official-looking pages, but in a sea of information it would be behoove the wiki owner to encourage a user to continue their search in credible sources found at their local or online libraries. Perhaps libraries could assist with giving more of a wiki front to information, drawing users to the quick spout of information and giving enticement to find out more.

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2 thoughts on “Blog Post 3: What are the strengths and weaknesses of Wikis as information resources? (think informatics)

  1. Christine R.

    That’s a good idea, having a wiki “front” for a library. I feel like I have seen wikis as part of some library webpages but off the top of my head I cannot remember where that was.

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  2. treatyoshelfblog

    I really like your suggestion about libraries presenting info more like wikis, but I do worry that it might set us up to possibly be considered untrustworthy…my thought process is that we tell patrons to be critical of wiki information because it’s not always correct, and then we present information in the same way, so if we’ve done our jobs well and conditioned them to be critical of wiki sites, they have a greater chance of not fully trusting the stuff we maintain and present. I don’t know if that makes any sense at all, but I do think you’re onto something. My library has been phasing out our reference collections because they are just too cumbersome when compared to wikis, and too difficult and expensive to keep updated!

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