Middlebury College Levies Ban on Wikipedia

Middlebury College’s his-tory department recently made a dramatic step against a popular Web-based ency-clopedia. The history depart-ment issued a ban against the use of Wikipedia as a citation for their history papers. “Wikipedia is not an ac-ceptable citation, even though it may lead one to a citable source,” reads their new pol-icy according to the Burling-ton Free Press. “It is a useful beginning point that can point to bet-ter-vetted sources, or suggest possible research topics. …. It cannot serve as the end of the research process, and it can-not stand as an authoritative citation.” Neil Waters, the His-tory Professor and impetus behind the Middlebury policy, said in an interview with the Burlington Free Press. According to its own Wiki-pedia article, it was founded in 2001 by Jimmy Wales. Cur-rently, the server and base of operations for Wikipedia is Tampa, Florida. According to its own facts, Wikipedia has a self described 1.6 million articles in the Eng-lish section of their Web site.According to the Burlington Free Press, the Wikipedia Foundation responded to the announcement from Middle-bury with a statement that read. “We think that this is a sensible policy, Wikipedia is the ideal place to start your research and get a global pic-ture of a topic; however, it is not an authoritative source.” No organ within the Uni-versity of Vermont has made any move to follow suit with Middlebury’s history depart-ment at this time. “The UVM history depart-ment has no plans to issue a proclamation to our students forbidding the use of Wiki-pedia in papers,” said James Overfield, chairman of the UVM History department. “We think it’s amazing that an institution of Middlebury’s standing considers it neces-sary,” Overfield said. “I think that it can be a very helpful tool, but it should never be the only source for information,” freshmen Geor-gia Katinas said. “Even more than most en-cyclopedias, Wikipedia is a place to start one’s research, not an authoritative guide. But this is common knowledge; there’s no need to spell this out in an official policy,” Overfield said. However, Waters felt that a policy needed to be put in place for Middlebury, and did so for varied reasons. “One was the increasing appearance of Wikipedia cita-tions in term papers. Some stu-dents in fact explained to me that their high school teachers had encouraged them to cite Wikipedia,” Waters said, in an interview with the Burlington Free Press. Some students at UVM feel it’s an unneeded step for Mid-dlebury College to implement a policy for their students to tell them what they already know. “I don’t do it [use Wikipe-dia] and I get kinda irritated when teachers or whatnot print out handouts from Wiki-pedia, like it’s some kind of legitimate source,” freshmen Kerrie Keller said.