Can Open Source History be a Reliable Source?

Online Sources and Wikipedia

I agree with Rosenzweig’s opinion about the importance and usefulness of Wikipedia as an online source. Throughout the article, Rosenzweig repeatedly compares Wikipedia to other encyclopedias like Encarta and Britannica, along with American National Biography Online. Through this end, I believe Rosenzweig shows the pros and cons of Wikipedia but in a very positive way. However, early in the article, Rosenzweig describes Wikipedia’s Achilles’ heel to be the quality of writing. The reason this occurs is due to amateur writers contributing to the website. In this case, I agree with Rosenzweig about this flaw but also disagree with his belief about the reliability of the contributors.

Reliable?

Although it is great that the website gets updated all the time, it is difficult to know who edited certain articles. I don’t think IP addresses are sufficient enough to make a source reliable. Nonetheless, Rosenzweig gives a good solution by implying, “if every member of the Organization of American Historians devoted just one day to improving the entries in her or his areas of expertise, it would not only significantly raise the quality of Wikipedia, it would also enhance popular historical literacy.”[1] At my old high school, any information from Wikipedia could not be used in papers and I believe it is because of this reliability factor. However, I believe Wikipedia is moving in the right direction. Through the updates and many changes throughout the last few years, it is slowly becoming a reliable online resource. If only more professional historians would contribute to this resource then many more schools in at least the US would be able to use Wikipedia and increase the popularity of this online resource and thus, allowing it to be a reliable resource.

References

[1] Rosenzweig, Roy. "Can History be Open Source? Wikipedia and the Future of the Past." http://chnm.gmu.edu/resources/essays/d/42

  • Nice Job with all of my suggested corrections!-Olga