Reliable Wikipedia Alternatives to Search Accurate Information
Pinterest Stumbleupon Whatsapp
Advertisement

Wikipedia is the first website many of us go to when we want to learn about a new topic, double-check a fact, or do some preliminary research for a paper. Wikipedia is a unique tool Everything You Need To Know About Wikipedia And More Everything You Need To Know About Wikipedia And More Wikipedia is one of the most famous sites on the Internet. It's informative, as well as controversial, and having a page on there is highly sought after. Let's get to know it better. Read More that has changed how we use the internet and collect information.

But most of the time you could be getting better results on different websites.

Wikipedia has several rules for the content that can appear on the site. These rules exist to keep Wikipedia’s knowledge library accurate and consistent. However, the rules also have some negative impacts.

Wikipedia has an article about the systemic bias present within articles and in the topics that it includes. Wikipedia often excludes articles due to lack of “notability,” Wikipedia Is Deleting Notable Websites for "Reasons" Wikipedia Is Deleting Notable Websites for "Reasons" MakeUseOf doesn't exist any more, at least according to Wikipedia. Neither does The Next Web for that matter. And several other high-profile tech sites are also facing the chop... Read More making it difficult to learn about some subjects that don’t fit editor’s perceptions of importance. Also, there’s no guarantee that articles are current, offer a complete and unbiased approach to the subject, or are managed by experts in the field.

Wikipedia has structural changes from article to article, making it difficult to compare topics. The site also asks that authors cite every piece of information from a reputable source. While this rule is excellent for technical topics, it can lead to common-sense knowledge being disregarded or excluded from the commentary.

Better Choices for Casual Research

It’s easy to spend hours procrastinating on Wikipedia researching things you never knew existed. But if you’re interested in a specific topic (like a TV show or a historical event), other sites have more to offer.

For instance, consider the huge amount of information available on actors and TV shows on fan-created wikis on fandom.wikia.com. Wikipedia rarely (if ever!) devotes so much to specific character breakdowns and episode-by-episode descriptions. But these wikis have them in spades.

For many other topics, a simple Google search will quickly lead you to specific websites dedicated to your topic. These websites will offer similar (or better!) information than Wikipedia, and present it in more engaging ways.

For example, the Wikipedia article on “Vegetable” is pretty dry:

vegetable entry on wikipedia

But GreatGrubClub offers just as much information (even if it’s intended for children) and has a game to play:

fruits and vegetables on greatgrubclub

For casual learning at all ages, websites created by people who care about the topics are a lot more fun and interesting than Wikipedia.

Better Choices for Academic Research

Okay, but let’s say we’re not just researching random things to kill time.

What about when you honestly need to learn about a topic quickly and accurately? While Wikipedia can be an okay starting point Is Wikipedia Reliable? Here Are Some Tips on How to Find Out Is Wikipedia Reliable? Here Are Some Tips on How to Find Out How credible is Wikipedia? Is Wikipedia reliable? Can you trust the information that you find in a particular article there? Here are some tips on how to find out. Read More , the internet offers other reliable and specific options as well.

Wikipedia does not guarantee a complete or current exploration of your topic. For contentious subjects, it is unlikely that the article represents all expert understanding. For this reason, when doing academic research, it is always best to use scholarly research engines.

Many universities offer free access to database searches like JSTOR, PsycINFO, and EBSCOhost. If you don’t have access to these databases, Google Scholar is also a great free research resource 5 Ways To Get Your Hands On Academic Papers Without Losing Your Mind (And Money) 5 Ways To Get Your Hands On Academic Papers Without Losing Your Mind (And Money) For a lot of people academic journals are hard to get hold of. They are also expensive. But with the right tools, you can get your hands on any academic journals you want. Read More . You may also find that for understanding or comparing pure data WolframAlpha is a good choice for your preliminary research.

The Internet Is a Lot Bigger Than Wikipedia

“But we need Wikipedia for an overview of the topic!” the students yell from the back of the room.

I mean, sure. I’m a student too and I get it. Wikipedia is a great way to get a very brief overview of the topic and introduce key terms and topics.

You may find, however, that specific Wikis with different content guidelines provide better coverage of your specific topic. For example, individuals interested in sustainability studies may find Appropedia a better resource than Wikipedia. Try searching your general area of study + “wiki” to see if there is a similar online encyclopedia for your topic.

However, if you want a quality overview of a topic, consider reading an introductory online textbook chapter written by an expert. These chapters have a much higher quality of evidence and are more likely to be current, complete, accurate, and valid.

If textbook chapters aren’t your style, there are academic blogs, websites, and YouTube lectures about your topic as well. These are often curated by experts in the field, and can offer more insight and knowledge than a single Wikipedia article. It may take a little longer to find these resources, but the quality of information is worth it (and, you can cite them guilt-free in your paper).

Better Choices for Practical Insights

If you’re looking at Wikipedia for practical information on how things work or how to do something, you’re looking in the wrong place. When it comes to practical knowledge, the more available styles of teaching and doing you find, the better. After all, everyone does things a little bit differently, and it can be helpful to see the breadth of people’s experiences instead of a single explanation.

Teaching practical information often requires a different approach than a Wikipedia article. For this reason, if you are online to learn new skills, I highly recommend using a different site.

YouTube is full of tutorials and videos that can help share individual experiences with you. WikiHow is another site dedicated to providing readers with step-by-step approaches to any topic imaginable. There are also a ton of resources in the article below if you are interested in learning-specific skills online This Online Learning Guide Will Save Your Career This Online Learning Guide Will Save Your Career A survival guide to help you navigate the world of online learning and show you tools that will help you achieve your learning objectives. Read More .

Every entry on each of these sites will not always be accurate. So, be careful and use your discretion. However, taking the time to wade through the many resources out there is worth it. The resources on these sites can easily provide a better learning experience for practical skills and information than Wikipedia.

If You’re Going to Use Wikipedia, Here’s the Best Way

I don’t want to take away from what Wikipedia has achieved. Wikipedia is one of the largest and most successful crowd-sourcing projects online. And it does offer a significant amount of relatively valid information for free Wikipedia Has Millions In The Bank – Why Beg For More? Wikipedia Has Millions In The Bank – Why Beg For More? Read More about almost any topic imaginable.

However, even though Wikipedia is a good resource, it’s not the best that the internet offers. It’s significant that the site has evident biases, may not represent a complete overview of each topic, and may not always base itself on expert knowledge.

But if you’re going to use Wikipedia, keep the following tips in mind:

  • Always remember that you may not be getting the full story or recent evidence. This doesn’t matter if you’re just researching for fun. If you’re making an important decision based on your research, then investigate other sources as well!
  • Use the citation links at the bottom to investigate sources and find other related online resources.
  • Identify the key terms, important topics, and notable experts mentioned in the article. This can help you refine your research later.

What are your favorite non-Wikipedia online resources for research? Let me know in the comments!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  1. Sebastian
    November 18, 2017 at 2:47 pm

    It's funny. Many Wikipedia alternatives are Wikipedia style inspired, even the webpage design. :P

  2. L337
    January 25, 2017 at 9:01 am

    I started using Youtube and WikiHow some time ago. I rarely need to visit Wikipedia any more!

    • Briallyn Smith
      February 8, 2017 at 10:37 pm

      Thanks for sharing your experience, L337! I agree - YouTube is such a rich resource for expert insight!

      • L337
        February 8, 2017 at 10:44 pm

        Like when I had to do some life hacking nd the USB color fodes were off-putting. Went to youtube - solved it in 2 minutes.

  3. Becca
    January 18, 2017 at 8:54 pm

    You posed some really important points here! I agree Wikipedia can be a great quick overview of a topic, yet I have seen so many students use it as their "one stop shop" and end up citing incorrect, out of date, or skewed information without taking the time to double check their facts with more reliable/recent sites or literature. Looking at the sources and citations that the authors use at the bottom of their pages was a great tip! Doing this is a wonderful starting point for students when trying to get a perspective on their research topics. I also love the alternative resources you mentioned - very helpful.
    Thank you!

    • Briallyn Smith
      February 8, 2017 at 10:36 pm

      Thanks for your comment, Becca! It's great to hear about your experience with students - there's so many amazing resources out there that it's tough when student stop looking around the web after reading a Wikipedia page.

  4. Shaun Marshall
    January 18, 2017 at 5:00 pm

    Great Article Brialynn. Too often the general public doesn't stop to think of bias in research and reporting. Appreciate the heads up and ideas to help round out resources.

    • Briallyn Smith
      February 8, 2017 at 10:34 pm

      Thanks so much for your kind comment! :)

  5. Jry2001
    January 18, 2017 at 4:00 am

    Notability is not dependent on editor opinion, but rather how much coverage reliable sources provide to a subject. If everyone, from the New York Times to printed books to scholarly papers, is covering a topic, then editors cannot call it non-notable regardless of how much they dislike it.

    • Briallyn Smith
      January 18, 2017 at 5:05 am

      Thanks Jry2001! I didn't mean to insinuate that personal likes/dislikes were influencing which articles are allowed on Wikipedia, but rather that there *are* very real decisions being made about what level of notability is required (and what kind of coverage constitutes notability). These decisions, in turn, influence the completeness and scope of the material that Wikipedia is able to provide. Thanks for your comment :)

  6. Jry2001
    January 18, 2017 at 4:00 am

    Notability is not dependent on editor opinion, but rather how much coverage reliable sources provide to a subject. If everyone, from the New York Times to printed books to scholarly papers, is covering a topic, then editors cannot call it non-notable regardless of how much they dislike it.

  7. Jry2001
    January 18, 2017 at 4:00 am

    Notability is not dependent on editor opinion, but rather how much coverage reliable sources provide to a subject. If everyone, from the New York Times to printed books to scholarly papers, is covering a topic, then editors cannot call it non-notable regardless of how much they dislike it.

  8. Jry2001
    January 18, 2017 at 4:00 am

    Notability is not dependent on editor opinion, but rather how much coverage reliable sources provide to a subject. If everyone, from the New York Times to printed books to scholarly papers, is covering a topic, then editors cannot call it non-notable regardless of how much they dislike it.

  9. Wayne Bakowski
    January 17, 2017 at 11:57 pm

    This is a terrible article. You offer a multitude of alternatives, most people don't have the time or energy. It's a GREAT resource. You have a bias against the site. What is a better 'one stop site'? There is no other...Wikipedia has no videos on how to replace a faucet? (no kidding).

    • Briallyn Smith
      January 18, 2017 at 12:35 am

      Hi Wayne! Sorry that you didn't enjoy the article.

      As I mention in my first paragraph, Wikipedia is a unique site that has revolutionized the Internet, and I would never discount it completely! Like I said to Howard below, I don't have a personal vendetta against the site, and I definitely use it sometimes – I just think that for the majority of purposes it's worth taking a little extra time and effort and finding a specific site that is an *excellent* resource for your specific query vs. a single site that's a *decent* resource for a multitude of queries.

      Thanks for taking the time to comment – it's always great to hear other perspectives!

  10. sA Imhotep
    January 17, 2017 at 11:45 pm

    Nice article! Thanks!

    • Briallyn Smith
      January 18, 2017 at 12:32 am

      Thanks for taking the time to comment! :)

    • Briallyn Smith
      January 18, 2017 at 12:32 am

      Thank you for taking the time to comment and letting me know you enjoyed the piece! :)

  11. Howard A Pearce
    January 17, 2017 at 4:16 pm

    As a libertarian, I am very critical of the bias many sites similar to WIKI have. These other sites tend to support the "consensus" views of things with little variation. WIKI has done an interesting thing by tying sites and articles together to "portals" that express points of view which Wiki has taken the time to define and summarize for people. Other sites seem to merely describe everything as left or far left or right or far right.

    Structurally . I think its biggest asset is providing a clear and concise definition of concepts at the top usually as part of an overall summary of the concept and subject matter. Many times I find this summary sufficient for my needs without having to read 10 pages or whatever just to find out if I like the article or whether if it will interest me. These summaries are usually only 2 paragraphs in length. Too many other sites lack this format in my experience.

    It is also the only site in my experience that has been able to lead me accidentally or by it's own insight (the latter likely being the case) to concepts that my mind has been looking for but could not seem to grasp at the time.
    A perfect example it how is how Wiki tied the concepts of speech and press to the more general concept of communication.

    Of course I don't agree with everything Wiki prints but it certainly receives my vote for being the most unbiased one that I have used.

    • Doc
      January 17, 2017 at 10:35 pm

      What exactly do you mean by "Wiki"? A wiki is, generally, *any* website edited by its users; *Wikipedia* is a SPECIFIC example of this.

      • Briallyn Smith
        January 18, 2017 at 12:31 am

        Excellent clarification, Doc! I'm also unsure, but assumed he was referring to Wikipedia specifically.

    • Briallyn Smith
      January 18, 2017 at 12:30 am

      Hi Howard - it's great to hear about your experiences using Wikipedia – I'm glad it suits your purposes! :)

      I would caution that Wikipedia isn't necessarily less biased than other resources online – as seen in the link in my article, it has some evident and acknowledged biases – other online resources may be more reliable and complete when it comes to specific topics!

      That being said, I don't have a personal vendetta against Wikipedia! I have used it often, and acknowledge that it is useful :) I just think other sites are more useful the majority of the time!

      Thanks for your thoughtful comment, I enjoyed hearing your perspective!

      • Emily Odza
        March 12, 2017 at 5:41 pm

        Most academic journals are locked behind a pay wall. One exception is your public library membership (you can have as many library cards as you want, with few exceptions, within your state). Non-enrolled students or high school students or researchers should take advantage of the databases provided to them by taxpayer' funding. The definition of scholarly articles are those that are peer-reviewed and have better information than Wikipedia. Why discussions like this leave out mention of public libraries has always been frustrating to me. It shows that most adults have resorted to internet searches without the benefit of librarians' advice about which sources are highly regarded. Get some advice from a human! And use your library!

        • Briallyn
          March 13, 2017 at 1:31 pm

          Love it, Emily! Yes! Libraries are such incredible resources and librarians are the greatest (I would not have survived undergrad without them). Thanks so much for your comment :)