Google it

by Rachel Cook

If I had a pound for everytime I said ‘Google it’, my piggy bank would need to be the size of an actual pig (and not one of the super cute Teacup Pigs. See below.)

Teacup pig
And second only to that phrase is ‘What does Wikipedia say?’, or words to that effect. The two go perfectly in hand – Google it and it’s guaranteed (pretty much) that Wikipedia will feature in the top 5 results. For many people, this makes it the first port of call when it comes to research, firstly because we’re intrinsically lazy and tend to only sift through the first page of Google hits, and then because it soon becomes clear that it’s a useful resource and an automatic choice. Need that facts, quickly? Wikipedia it.

Problems do arise however; as a collaboratively built database Wikipedia is known for it’s inaccuracies. Sometimes the results can be only inconvenient sparse, sometimes embarrassing inaccurate (as many students would testify) – but sometimes worryingly misleading as may have been written by sometime with more spare time than expertise.

I’ve learned from an interesting BBC article, however, that some are coming to realise the impact that Wiki has and that we are each empowered to change it. For example upon realising that a Google search of ‘Breast Cancer’  brings up Wikipedia as the second search result whilst Cancer Research UK is only eighth, the charity decided to take matters into their own hands. They have assigned a task force of experts to edit the Wikipedia page to make sure it is as accurate as possible, to ensure that those researching the condition are met with up to date, easy to understand and most imporantly factually accurate information. Seems like a great idea to me – I hope that more charities and health organisations catch onto the power of the omnipotent beast that is Wikipedia. 

Rachel

PS want more info? Google it.

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