EDITING IN WIKIPEDIA
Editing in Wikipedia has been a very unique experience for me. For editing any Wikipedia article, I only had to create an account with Wikipedia which I did. Once done with creating an account, I searched through various Wikipedia articles of my interest. One of them was Healthcare in India. As I was reading it, I found that under the section health care system, there was mention of only the word “Catastrophic Health Expenditure” which is so prevalent in India. I decided to add this piece of information while editing a few things which I found were not explained properly. These can be easily seen in highlighted text of before and after screenshots. As a researcher while adding and editing, I referenced the content properly from a journal article.
However, the things that surprised me most was this that if I can edit this article with just creating an account, then anyone else can too do the same irrespective of the qualifications of that person. I am pursuing PhD but even a Junior Certificate student can also change the content there with no one there to stop him from doing this. With this in mind, I looked for ways if such a person who holds no qualifications in the subject area can be stopped, I could not find a solution to this. There is no way he/she can be stopped, I concluded!!!
This brings me to pop up the question, is the content on Wikipedia even 1% valid? Does it have any authenticity at all? The answer is “may be”. It perhaps just depends upon your stroke of luck. If you are reading an article, edited by an expert in field, you are getting right information. If it is being edited just by a random person, you are reading something which has nothing to support it.
The important thing which I learnt was this that while reading any article on Wikipedia, I must see from where it is referenced. What I found as I was reading was there were articles which were referenced to some news reports, blogs, websites which make the content on Wikipedia really suspicious for academicians as if you are writing a blog, it is your view, and it can’t be generalized. Similarly, if in a newspaper article, someone writes, Indian Health care sector is progressing very slowly, it is writer’s view, it may or may not be the fact. As an Economist, I would be very cautious about references from blogs, newspaper articles etc. I would accept the content as genuine only if it is coming from a journal article or proper research study.
For these reasons only, I believe accessing peer reviewed articles/ research papers which are available through various open access sources can provide a lot better and authenticated content than open websites which can be edited by anyone. I believe if Wikipedia can somehow incorporate that only people who hold a particular qualification can only edit a piece of information, it would be hugely beneficial for everyone. This would indeed require resources on part of Wikipedia to check and verify qualifications of the editors.