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Topic: Wikipedia  (Read 3601 times)

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Offline T

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Wikipedia
« on: July 28, 2015, 05:04:30 AM »
Hello everyone, I would like your opinion on whether wikipedia is a good website to learn about elements and molecules. I always thought that it was untrustworthy but many people on the forum seems to use it. Also are there any other good sites?

Thanks

Offline Dan

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Re: Wikipedia
« Reply #1 on: July 28, 2015, 05:20:01 AM »
It's generally accurate, but a textbook is better for learning because there is more explanation and examples in a textbook.

I would recommend against relying primarily on websites, since they are not as thoroughly scrutinized and reviewed as textbooks (Wikipedia is one of the best in this regard). Websites are fine for quickly looking up basic concepts, facts and trivia, but I think very few will effectively teach you chemistry.

Other websites tend to focus on narrower topic ranges. If you have a specific topic in mind, someone might be able to suggest a good website.
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Offline Furanone

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Re: Wikipedia
« Reply #2 on: July 28, 2015, 05:26:46 AM »
Generally speaking, Wikipedia, for most 'untargeted' topics such as the sciences, can be quite reliable and the more specific the topic, the Wikipedia entries tend to be written by the top experts in that field.

Wikipedia in its early years was regarded far less favourably than it is today due to its anyone-can-edit policy (I remember many, many years ago as a teaching assistant being instructed to deduct marks from lab reports when the student used Wikipedia as a reference, LOL). Now I think there are enough checks and balances in place, that for the most part the information can be trusted more than a lot of other internet sources where the information may be more one-sided and have a commercial slant trying to sell you something.

In general, now the topics on Wikipedia that can have unreliable information are those 'targeted' topics such as celebrities (eg. Justin Bieber) where certain people (immature youths) feel the impulse to edit the page for a laugh, but these pages get locked soon after. Also, contentious issues where an organization tries to maintain a certain image (eg. Church of Scientology) may try to manipulate its Wikipedia entry to push its agenda. Not to say it could not happen in science topics especially if you have different competing theories where the Wikipedia page will be written by different research groups trying to emphasize their theory, but usually the introduction entry on the page will be written in a way to let the reader understand that that topic has controversy and that any theory in regard to it is far from being universally accepted.

That said, another link you may be interested in trying to learn about general chemistry topics (which will be better focused and organized instead of the stream of consciousness flow of Wikipedia) is ChemWiki from UC Davis.

http://chemwiki.ucdavis.edu/

edit: but what Dan said is true --- Textbooks are always going to be a better source for more detailed & concise, information than anything you can find on an internet webpage.
"The true worth of an experimenter consists in pursuing not only what he seeks in his experiment, but also what he did not seek."

--Sir William Bragg (1862 - 1942)

Offline T

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Re: Wikipedia
« Reply #3 on: July 28, 2015, 05:31:34 AM »
I see, now I am trying to learn about organic reactions. Do you have any recommended sites for that? Also I am currently using chemwiki and chemguide (which I think are produced by the same people as they are quite similar).

Thanks everyone

Offline Irlanur

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Re: Wikipedia
« Reply #4 on: July 29, 2015, 02:37:01 AM »
Wikipedia pages in Chemistry are usually quite good. But I don't think you can learn with Wikipedia. If you already know about a topic and its context, wiki is a very nice reference to look up equations or sometimes even references. But it's definitely not a teaching site.

Offline kriggy

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Re: Wikipedia
« Reply #5 on: July 29, 2015, 04:20:53 AM »
Wikipedia is great for quick search of some random reaction OR if you know nothing about the topic. Then you can do quick wiki read to get some basic idea what to look for in books / articles. I use it frequently for that purpose but I wouldnt rely only on it and I would never cite wikipedia in report/thesis etc..

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