Comedian Stephen Colbert is a U.S. senator, and Lawrence has a sister city in China, according to Wikipedia.org, a free encyclopedia that invites anyone to post and edit information about anything.
Students frequent the site for basic facts or to cite it as a source for papers.
The regurgitation of inaccurate information, even in college classrooms, has some schools re-evaluating their Internet policies and some facing pressure to restrict access.
A history department at Middlebury College in Vermont made a move this month to ban Wikipedia.org as a legitimate citation.
In January, U.S. Senator Ted Stevens, R-Alaska, introduced Senate Bill 49, which would require schools and libraries receiving federal Internet subsidies to block access to interactive Web sites such as Wikipedia as well as social networking sites such as Facebook.com and YouTube.com.
The Lawrence school district, which subscribes to a free service called Squid, recently banned YouTube.com from all schools at the request of an elementary school.
Paul Dawson, assistant director of information technology services for the school district, said high school principals could decide whether to request the block.
"We don't want to be the Internet police," he said.
Linda Hyler, ninth-grade English teacher at Central Junior High School, allows her students to use Wikipedia, but she teaches them to be wary of its credibility.
"It's like I tell them, if it doesn't look right or smell right, it's probably not," she said.
Hyler was quick to mention that most sites and even printed encyclopedias can't be trusted either. She said printed encyclopedias are wrong 20 percent to 30 percent of the time, too. A student brought a book to her once, she said, that claimed the Grand Canyon was in Colorado.
"I try to make kids aware," she said. "Just because you see it in print doesn't make it so, and just because I tell you, it doesn't make it so."
There is little debate that social networking sites MySpace.com and Facebook.com offer any educational value.
But Kelly Barker, history and politics teacher at Southwest Junior High School, found YouTube.com to be a "great resource" when looking at political campaigns in his class, he said.
"I understand how YouTube can be a problem because there are videos kids should not be viewing," he said. "But from a teacher's standpoint, I think we needed to have a discussion before deciding it's not useful."
- Erin Castaneda is a journalism student at Kansas University.