U.S. senator: It's time to ban Wikipedia in schools

Here's the newest from Sen. Ted Stevens, the man who described the Internet as a series of tubes: It's time for the federal government to ban access to Wikipedia, MySpace, and social networking sites from schools and libraries.

Early in January, Stevens introduced Senate bill 49, which among other things, would require that any school or library that gets federal Internet subsidies would have to block access to interactive Web sites, including social networking sites, and possibly blogs as well. It appears that the definition of those sites is so vague that it could include sites such as Wikipedia, according to commentators. It would certainly ban MySpace.

The bill is, in part, a rehash of a similar bill introduced last year, the Deleting Online Predators Act, also called DOPA. That bill passed the house, but got bogged down in the Senate. Many people are calling this year's bill "Son of DOPA" because of its similarity to last year's bill.

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Wikipedia is VERY useful if you want to get a general idea on something. It's basically the online version of asking someone a quick question. It sometimes also has links to the references which then are the real useful parts.

Davo said,
Wikipedia is VERY useful if you want to get a general idea on something. It's basically the online version of asking someone a quick question. It sometimes also has links to the references which then are the real useful parts.

Well said, I dont think I would ever Acedemically cite it as a source for anything, but its not a bad place to get a general idea about a topic and to occasionally find some more legitimate sources or leads.

Fred Derf said,
The most important internet filter that kids need to have is the gray matter between their ears.

The same can be said for politicians. Only in their case, a sufficiency of gray matter is what they need, and should be a requirement to run for public office. :dead:

Ahhh censorship... the best thing to happen to schools since the Mac. Of course, that's only if you want students to be closed-minded and not able to think for themselves. How about you tell students that Wikipedia is a freely editable source and information there should be verified or backed up by other sources?

No, that's too easy.

As far as MySpace, the godsend for child predators, how about we make that the network administrator's job? After all, school districts have the responsibility to protect their students.

Now taxpayer money can go towards other things. That was too easy.

This is what I call irresponsible journalism. There is nothing about this bill that is specifically against wikipedia, its against "interactive websites" which wikipedia COULD fall under. As the summary says says, the language is vague, but the vagueness allows for further refinment later.

The old coger knows what he's doing... even if he does think the internet is a sieres of tubes :P

Meanwhile, could someone please change the title; the current one compleatly misrepresents the real news here (even though the artical misrepresents itself)

Wikipedia is an amazing source of information - why would you ban this? I reference it all the time to find information. I realise that it cannot be 100% trusted al lthe time, but how does this differ from any other medium these days - publishing costs fell throught the floor years ago.

And yeah, some blogs are massively useful A lot of tech ones for example.

Sod it, let's just burn the books, maybe the Nazi's were right.

Schools? what does that include colleges and universities? because if so that would be idiotic! A college level person should be smart enough to handle those sites... and heck like my college, if you banned that, it would also get banned in the residance halls too since they all go through the same network... why ban something from "home" usage in the dorms?

If you ignore the sensationalist heading and actually read the article then you honestly have nothing left to get excited about.

Yeah I agree with the ban of social networking sites... I don't expect anyone would have any useful information on their MySpace profile... Don't think anyone would be stupid (or otherwise) enough to ban Wikipedia other than those librarians that absolutely despise its existence - no it shouldn't be cited, in some cases, but it is a good way to get some general information on a topic.

I actually hope that blogs aren't banned, some people DO post useful information on their blogs, along with forums.

wctaiwan

Wikipedia? No way. It's awesome, and the kids use it a LOT.


Myspace, bebo, etc? GOOD IDEA, absolutely no use in schools - i'm a network admin, and i've been a student. So I know the dangers that are presented. It is so not a good idea to have these things available in school. Use them at home!

Just another example, following in the footsteps of the Boston ATHF debacle, of how out of touch some of our elected officials are. These idiots need to stop hanging out with lobbyists long enough to figure out what's really going on in the world. Heck, I'm pretty sure that Stevens thinks YouTube proves he was right about the internet all along!

Did any of you (#1 - #6) even read any part of the article, or did you all just read the headline?

Nowhere does it say Stevens wants to ban access to Wikipedia, just that his bill is so vague that Wikipedia may fall under the given definition. The headline is the problem, it's journalistic sensationalism only fit for gutter rags.

Wikipedia shouldn't be banned, i can see why social networks should be banned but any good ICT department can manage that at a school, don't they realise interative content in some ways could be very helpful for example a forum which allows opinions of others to be gathered.

Wikipedia is an amazing source of information they would be fools to ban it. I agree with myspace though as it's not geared towards education.

By banning Wikipedia, it's pretty much like putting a ban on education.. So i think this is a stupid bill to pass.. But i do agree with putting a ban on myspace..

Why should it be banned or even stated to be an illegitimate reference like some institutions say. ANY information be it first party or third is liable to be incorrect. The fact Wikipedia had hundreds of people checking the articles constantly is a lot more of an editorial job than many first party sites likely do on their content.

Like any source it should be checked via other sites. Instead of wasting money trying to pass these regulations they could spend the money to educate students on research techniques and not to simply rely on Wikipedia (or any other site) as their sole source of information. Wikipedia also has the resource links at the bottom and throughout articles that can be invaluable foe taking you to other essential sites without hoping to pull up a good "google" and wasting your time there.

Hell my lecturer last semester let us cite Wikipedia thank god.

Smigit said,
Hell my lecturer last semester let us cite Wikipedia thank god.

Wikipedia is great and all, but it is as about as trustworthy citing it as citing some random website on geosites. Despite their efforts, a majority of the articles are bias, poorly written, use crappy sources for information, or just plain wrong.

AfroTrance said,

Wikipedia is great and all, but it is as about as trustworthy citing it as citing some random website on geosites. Despite their efforts, a majority of the articles are bias, poorly written, use crappy sources for information, or just plain wrong.

being allowed to use it doesnt mean you dont back it up with other sources. EVERY article is subject to bias as its human written and noone should get references from one spot be it CNNN or wikipedia or whatever.

When I say they said we can use wikipedia as a source that wasnt to say we could use that as a single source of information. Of course we had to cross check what we actually wrote its a no brainer.

I guess it depends on the subject, but I can't think of any subject where referencing Wikipedia would be acceptable. I did science so using the internet at all was a no-no. Except of course for online databases of journal articles, which are just pdfs of real printed articles.

And bias isn't the real problem. Wikipedia hasn't ever been published, and the authors are various anonymous people. You shouldn't even use printed encyclopaedias. They are second-hand summaries, you should be using primary sources.

And I don't see the point of listing Wikipedia as a reference if you cross checked it with real work.

AfroTrance said,

Despite their efforts, a majority of the articles are bias, poorly written, use crappy sources for information, or just plain wrong.

Im sorry but that is incorrrect. There is about only a 5%-10% of article which are bias (and more and more are being locked out because of this eg. Apple & MS, "god", etc). The rest have 99.99% of true information.

AfroTrance said,
I guess it depends on the subject, but I can't think of any subject where referencing Wikipedia would be acceptable. I did science so using the internet at all was a no-no. Except of course for online databases of journal articles, which are just pdfs of real printed articles.

And bias isn't the real problem. Wikipedia hasn't ever been published, and the authors are various anonymous people. You shouldn't even use printed encyclopaedias. They are second-hand summaries, you should be using primary sources.

And I don't see the point of listing Wikipedia as a reference if you cross checked it with real work.

If you did science, then you'd know that all articles "published" are also written with a certain bias, the bias being a researcher's particular interest in the subject and the need to research it enough to publish your findings so that everyone else can also read about it. A lot of very good articles on Wikipedia are very well referenced from established sources and online journals. Just because they don't reference the traditional Print media doesn't make them less credible.

And maybe you should define "published" more clearly. As someone who has worked in the Publishing Industry, I'll have you know that Paper is not the only medium for making information accessible to anyone. Or else you wouldn't even be reading this article. And you've knocked a lot of people's "Real Work" of taking the time to add/edit content on Wikipedia. Just because the author(s) are not visible for each edit, it doesn't mean there is no truth to the content.

On a more serious note, the only worry about referencing is Plagiarism and the only reason citing websites isn't looked very highly upon is that students blatently copy material claiming original work without citing sources, and use a single source for most material. Anybody can lookup an online article easily through a computer rather than sitting for hours in a library searching for references from books or printed journals. That in my opinion is convenience, and cannot be considered less credible. However, the use of a single source is the real worry.

Rant Over.

AfroTrance said,
I can't think of any subject where referencing Wikipedia would be acceptable.
The course was an IT or computer systems engineering course I took. hell I cant even remember which of my 2 degrees it belonged too.

As has been pointed out Journals and the info within are still viable to be incorrect or biased. And while Wikipedia hasn't been published I dont see that as an issue. As I said earlier, cross reference and check the information yourself. And if you cross referenced you still may want to cite it for referencing, particularly if you are quoting the text from that article not from the other source.

Also it depends what you are writing here. In a formal document or something you may want to avoid it, but theres other assessment items that are alot more casual in their nature where using something like wikipedia isnt that big a issue. Obviously it was ok for the course I did above which had something to do with data algorithm design so using wikipedia to find out how a specific algorithim works wasnt the end of the world in the lecturers eyes since the assessment was more programming geared than theoretical knowledge based.

Not argueing that its the best place to look it isnt but its a great start and this is for university coursework. The article is in relation to schools and I would have imagined such a site would be one of the best starting point for younger students. If teachers dont want them using it don't ban it, simply tell them they cant take the info from there, must cite other sources and recomend they follow the "related links" at the bottom of the wikipedia page to find said info + sources.

Then again I guess theres a difference between a science and an engineering/IT degree, which is why I think there are times Wikipedia is fine to use and why it shouldnt outright be banned accross the board but left for individual teachers/schools to decide.

rIaHc3 said,
Im sorry but that is incorrrect. There is about only a 5%-10% of article which are bias (and more and more are being locked out because of this eg. Apple & MS, "god", etc). The rest have 99.99% of true information.
Total BS. Your 'statistics' are obviously made up.

If you did science, then you'd know that all articles "published" are also written with a certain bias
As I said, "bias isn't the real problem."

And maybe you should define "published" more clearly.
Published in a journal or book, with the authors' names clearly on the work, so that the work can be peer reviewed. And, Wikipedia can be edited at any time. You might reference it and then it gets edited and completely changed... how could your lecturer check the reference? Published articles are set in ink.

And you've knocked a lot of people's "Real Work"
I haven't been knocking Wikipedia. I am saying how at university level, it should definitely not be used as a reference.

Also it depends what you are writing here. In a formal document or something you may want to avoid it, but theres other assessment items that are alot more casual in their nature where using something like wikipedia isnt that big a issue.
I wouldn't even bother referencing for a casual assignment. And it is teaching bad habits. I guess America is more 'relaxed' about these things?

Then again I guess theres a difference between a science and an engineering/IT degree
I guess that is it. Many of the IT/eng subjects at my uni had exams worth 85%, and the rest of the marks were little assignments or tutorials.

AfroTrance said,
Total BS. Your 'statistics' are obviously made up.

Your statistics are not "obviously made up" because..?
Not trying to start a bickering war, but rather point out that both your claims have no factual basis. Let's all agree to disagree on the exact numbers.


Published in a journal or book, with the authors' names clearly on the work, so that the work can be peer reviewed. And, Wikipedia can be edited at any time. You might reference it and then it gets edited and completely changed... how could your lecturer check the reference? Published articles are set in ink.

Since Wiki is a version controlled technology, you can always access a specific version of a wikipedia page. They are all kept in the system, down to the first revision. In fact, there is a permanent link on every page that refers to the current version. Furthermore, since it is not set in ink, if a new fact is discovered about the subject, the page will be updated to reflect this. While reading a journal-published article lends it a certain respectability, it does not guarantee that the information provided in it is still valid, or that advances on the topic have not been made, rendering the article obsolete.

The fact that a wikipedia page is adaptable is exactly a form of peer review, albeit a more direct one. If a knowledgeable person reads a certain article revision and finds details missing or incorrect, she can edit the article. Given the amount of users who frequent the site, most articles (with the exception of naturally biased topics such as religion) settle into an accepted version. If someone decides to vandalize a page, the changes will be undone.

As for reliability of information, many of the more serious articles cite various published sources. Just as you would not necessarily trust a conference paper that cites very few sources, you should only trust well-researched wikipedia articles. It is simply another form of publication- the field is evolving.

Lastly, wikipedia is an encyclopedia. Just as you cannot master a topic by reading the Encyclopedia Britannica, you should not expect the wikipedia article to provide you with expert-level knowledge. There is certainly no replacement for reading the original paper if one wants to know the in-depth details of a technique or an idea, but wikipedia is very useful for gaining a rather-reliable overview of a topic. I would say that this level of detail is generally sufficient for a class programming assignment.

Ummm... Yeah. That is already the case. Schools can refuse to block those sites, but the caveat is that they would lose the federal funding tied to it.

Sort of a "if you want the money, you gotta follow these sets of rules". Schools are free, in theory to refuse the money and not have to follow the rules.