How Much Can Wikipedia Be Relied Upon?

An item at Gawker titled “Wikipedia’s Jimmy Wales Out Of A Job” caught my attention today.  I’ve always taken Wikipedia articles wiith a “grain of salt”, especially those about people or corporations, but I have frequently used Wikipedia in citations in my own blog items, when it seemed the Wikipedia article would add dimension to what I am describing, or bolster an opinion.

But hearing now, and this is not the first time, about all of the machinations that go on surrounding Wikipedia content and contributors it all makes me wonder if I ought not use citations based upon Wikipedia articles, or at least without posting some sort of overall disclaimer on my blog.

What do you think?

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5 Responses to How Much Can Wikipedia Be Relied Upon?

  1. I link to Wikipedia all the time at my blog, and I’m a case-hardened skeptic.

    I’ve had a blogger’s (free) subscription to Britannica for the last year but have only linked to it once or twice because of the hassle for readers.

    On things I actually know a little something about (music, IT wonkery, cooking) the Wikipedia articles I’ve checked out are at least adequate and often very good indeed. They’re also often spotty and eccentric.

    The article at Gawker references Wikipedia’s internal politics, which sound extremely messy and unpleasant. I also know a little something about politics and mostly-volunteer organizations (rescue squad and homeless shelter on my personal volunteer resume) and this kind of thing is *often* messy and unpleasant, if much lower-profile.

  2. Big Fella says:

    Thanks for the comment, Barry. I like to use Wikipedia like a dictionary, it is a quick and easy way to get at least an introductory idea of something I am not already familiar with. But despite being a common resource for finding and sharing information of the people, it is a living, breathing product of the masses that is constantly in flux, that, even with its self-policing, needs to be viewed pragmatically I think, given what I know of some of actions of some people to try and manipulate articles there.

    I will agree, though, overall, it has been a great resource for learning about many different topics, and does serve as my “desk top encyclopedia”. I suppose though, if I wanted readers to really take me seriously as a writer through my blog items, I need to do more than just rely on Wikipedia for all of my citations, which I will be happy to do, just as soon as all the library books in the entire world are available, in full, for search and retrieval on Google. 😉

  3. Stanley says:

    Don’t worry about using Wackypedia as your main fact source. When you use something that is factually incorrect some smart ass gotcha specialist will take great delight in pointing our your failings to you – hey, did you happen to notice that typo of “your” for “you” that you put in the last line of your blog entry above? ;-D

  4. Big Fella says:

    What typo, smart ass?

  5. Stanley says:

    Damn historical revisionists! ;-D

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