Modern Day Research

Jane is working on a research paper on emigrating to Canada.

“Hey! Isn’t this lucky?! I just found this thing that asked ‘what are some bad things about moving to Canada?’ and I’m supposed to list pros and cons on moving to Canada!”

I looked at the computer screen to see that she was looking at Yahoo! Answers.

“Um. I don’t know that I’d trust those as facts. That’s just someone’s opinion.” I scanned down the page. “See, they list tornadoes and stuff but then admit that there’s fewer natural disasters there than here.”

“Well, then where am I supposed to look?!”

“Why don’t you look at the Wikipedia page on Canada?”

“We can’t use Wikipedia.”

“Why not?”

“Because anyone can edit Wikipedia.”

“Not true,” Daddy jumped in. “Articles on Wikipedia are reviewed by the staff.”

“Well, not necessarily the staff. It could be volunteers. But it’s written and maintained by a group of people working to keep it as accurate as possible. At any rate, it certainly beats Yahoo! Answers,” I added, “where any yahoo…”

“…can answer,” he finished. “If you can’t use Wikipedia, what are you supposed to use?”

“The internet.”

I am amused that the teacher felt the need to steer them away from Wikipedia but failed to steer them toward something more reliable. I wonder how many other students are writing their papers based on blogs and question and answer sites. Or maybe they are taking a poll on Facebook. After all, the assignment said to use the internet.

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