Is Wikipedia the Bane of Internet Research?

nternet research

Wikipedia is a divisive source when it comes to Internet research. Many colleges and universities will not let students cite Wikipedia as a source regardless of the quality of the source page. Lots of people will use Wikipedia as a byword for Internet sources that are widely used but terrible. However, Wikipedia is not necessarily deserving of all of the criticism that it attracts. It is a website that has some utility, even in the modern Internet.

It is important to see if the Wikipedia page in question has any notices in the headers that say that the website needs more work or that there are citations needed. These problems can weaken the overall page. However, many other pages on Wikipedia actually are going to be full of accurate information in spite of the reputation that Wikipedia has attracted. Plenty of people get personal fulfillment from editing Wikipedia, including individuals who are genuine experts in a particular topic. It is possible to get useful information from the Wikipedia website.

For one thing, Wikipedia doesn’t have to be the only source that people consult in order to be useful. It is rarely a good idea to consult only one source on any research adventure. Wikipedia can sometimes give people the informative background that they need in order to consult with other sources. Wikipedia pages are also equipped with the sort of external links at the bottom of pages that actually can serve as important starting points for the individuals who are interested in learning as much as possible about a particular topic. In that regard, Wikipedia pages almost act as specialized search engines. People can take advantage of the research that other people did when it came to crafting the original Wikipedia page.

It is true that anyone can edit Wikipedia. However, it is also generally true that vandalism is going to be reported quickly and the research errors that remain unreported on the majority of other websites are almost always going to attract immediate attention on Wikipedia. The crowd-sourced nature of Wikipedia constitutes its greatest strength and weakness in many cases. However, it is still possible for people to be able to get something out of a reading of a Wikipedia page, even though it is still important for them to avoid relying on something that is subject to change and will not always have the barriers of a more professional website.

How to Determine Whether Given Sources of Information Are Good or Bad

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The Internet is the gateway to so much information that many people have a very difficult time separating the good information from the bad information, which is unfortunate and which can make it seem like the whole purpose of the Internet has been defeated. The content available on the Internet is almost unfathomably broad and diverse. No one could read all of the content available on even one topic if he or she tried, so Internet research is largely a matter of prioritizing specific sources over others. The question then becomes: how do you separate the useful sources from the useless ones.

There are a few simple keys to narrowing down search results and potential sources. For one thing, ‘.org,’ ‘.gov,’ and ‘.edu’ websites are sometimes more reliable than ‘.com’ websites because of the increased difficulty of getting that distinction and the fact that the majority of web users are going to use the ‘.com’ distinction for their fairly generic websites. Government websites and college websites have to uphold a certain standard when it comes to the accuracy of their information, and they are usually going to employ paid researchers to do all of the fact checking for them, making everything contained on their platforms that much more reliable. Some private citizens who create websites are going to do their own research and check their facts, but checking up on them to make sure that they did this is just going to create more research for people who are already struggling to narrow down all of their potential sources.

However, there is more to narrowing down sources than just looking at their designation. People who are doing in depth research are going to need to make sure that they look for signs that the people that they are consulting have done their own research. No one is born an expert on anything. The people who have written anything about any topic have theoretically received some sort of education on the subject. That education need not have been formal education, particularly in this day and age. However, the people who write about these topics should know what they’re talking about, and the people who don’t know very much about a given topic may not really be able to tell the difference between someone who is an expert and someone who is just very skilled at sounding like one.

One thing that can help narrow things down is to look for the presence of links. Content that has a lot of research behind it is going to be full of links back to the original research in many cases. Researchers can look at the quality of the websites that people consulted in order to create given pieces of web content. They can also look at the web content itself. From there, they will be able to get a sense of whether or not the web content is actually good. Many of the most dedicated individuals are actually going to show their work so the people who they are trying to educate can actually follow the research process that they created in an effort to educate themselves.

Some aspects of the content itself might help. For instance, content that is full of facts and figures is probably more likely to actually be valuable for the people who are trying to learn the truth of important matters. However, the facts and figures might be inaccurate, so the people who are researching a subject should be wary of the possibility of simply passing on biases and errors. It is also true that facts that seem to be presented in a clear and well-written way could also be inaccurate. Gifted writers can make even the most false information look completely accurate just through the power of their words, particularly in a medium as intimate as the Internet.

There is no easy solution to the problem of the fact that the Internet is so vast and that it is full of great information and information that could not be less accurate. Often times, researchers are just going to have to do their own fact checking and they’re going to have to chase and follow links themselves in order to figure out the information that is actually good and useful. There are no guarantees when it comes to better online searches. It is a skill that people are going to have to learn rather than a protocol for them to follow.

 

Using Different Search Engines

Different Search Engines

A lot of people are going to use Google as their search engine, and they may not even consider using other models. However, it is important to remember that there are other search engines out there, and that they may have indexed information that is not available on Google. Google may be the most prominent search engine in the world, but it is not the only tool for people to use to access information.

It is also important to realize that even Google can be streamlined. Lots of people will conduct straight Google searches. They might be better off trying to look on Google Scholar if they are interested in academic documents. Going on Google Books can help people get a sense of the published literature on a particular field. Google is going to link people to so much information that it is often better to try to limit a good portion of the information that is going to be made available.

People who are trying to do in-depth research should consider the possibility of consulting with other search engines if they really find themselves unable to find all of the information that they need. Some people use other sources when it comes to indexing pages, especially because there has been something of an ideological backlash against Google in recent years. Internet research is all about knowing where to look and how to narrow the endless supply of information down to the most useful pieces of data. In other cases, people will have to widen the search.

 

Getting Better Internet Search Results

Internet Search Results

It is difficult to get the best Internet search results in many cases. People are frequently going to find themselves with all sorts of sources that have little to do with a topic at hand, largely because the topic that they are trying to research is obscure or difficult to articulate in some way or another. However, there is actually a skill to conducting Internet searches, even though the process seems incredibly straightforward to anyone who has never really had to do an Internet search in depth.

For one thing, it is important not to make extremely vague search queries. The people who do this are going to end up with a lot of extremely generalized information that probably isn’t going to help them very much with whatever it is that they’re researching. Adding anything to make the searches more specific can make all the difference in the world when it comes to generating the most reliable search results.

For instance, people who are researching a particular industrial process should not just mention it by name. They should mention that they are looking for the process behind it or the applications for the industrial process. If they are trying to learn about the importance of the industrial process, they can conduct searches that relate to the benefits of the process. In some cases, doing searches about the benefits of a particular product or industrial process can tell a person more about that product or industrial process than almost any other search on the subject.

When people are looking for information about a medical procedure that they need, for instance, it is a good idea to mention specific details about the location. They can narrow down a lot of the potential results that way and get the outlets that are local enough for them. SEO experts will usually use location details in order to narrow down people’s search results anyway, so the people who conduct searches in this way are already taking advantage of everything that a lot of marketers are already doing.

People who find Internet searches frustrating should not feel embarrassed. There is a huge amount of content on the Internet and it is only expanding each and every day. It is getting easier and easier for people to find themselves with a lot of useless information that isn’t going to get them where they want to go. When faced with an abundance of choice, people are going to have to set specific standards in order to really narrow the results, which is what people are doing when they learn how to conduct a detailed Internet search.

Influence on Available Information

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SEO makes all the difference in the world in terms of the websites that are actually going to show up in the first ten results of an Internet search, and those are usually the first ten results that even the most diligent person will see. Lots of people will figure that those sources have to be the best sources, since they managed to show up in the search results first. In lots of cases, those results made it to the top of the proverbial pile just because the people in charge of the websites had excellent SEO.

In some cases, the best and most informative sources on a topic are going to be wallowing in obscurity at some point in the fifth or sixth search page, which is already far back enough to constitute obscurity in the competitive nature of Internet searches. However, lots of people fail to appreciate the extent to which the mechanics of SEO are going to be limiting them in terms of the research that they’re trying to perform.

For one thing, SEO does not select for accurate information or high-quality information. A website will appear at the top of the pile or close to the top of the pile largely because of the creative use of the right keywords. The very characteristics that make a piece of writing perfect for SEO can also make it decidedly imperfect when it comes to being actually informative and useful for the people who are trying to learn more about a particular topic.

Websites like eHow are going to show up in the top of the majority of search threads on almost any topic. These websites are notorious for being written by individuals who have only a passing familiarity with the subject. However, these pieces of content are going to be passed around on the Internet more often than the most informative pieces of content specifically because of the superior marketing techniques that eHow is able to use.

However, it should be noted that plenty of good websites with great information do use great SEO. It is also true that some of the people who write with good SEO in mind are going to put effort into making their content as informative as possible, particularly in the modern age. It is harder and harder to just toss around uninformative content that is stuffed with keywords. Google has gotten better at recognizing this sort of content. The SEO experts of today try to give people the best of both worlds, offering them informative content that has been marketed in such a way that they are sure to find it.

However, it is still important for people doing research to keep in mind the nature of SEO when they are evaluating the top search results that they’ve found. They should be more willing to delve further into their search results compared to the people who are just casually browsing through the Internet and looking for basic information on a topic. The best sources may be found much deeper in the search results. The first ten results may not be the worst, but there’s no reason to believe that they’re the best either.