Referring to Wikipedia

After I noticed that I had started referring to Wikipedia like I used to refer to the Internet Movie Database, I added a link to the blog template sidebar. Subsequently Jim Benson posted about Wikipedia in J. LeRoy's Evolving Web. He wrote that Wikipedia generally provides an overview, a Topic 101, the kind of high-level information that Google used to provide. Recently it provided me with a couple interesting location- and transportation-related posts.

I refer to Wikipedia not only because it's interesting but because it's convenient. Books take longer to obtain. Six months ago in a chat a friend who writes that he "would like to see footnotes on the nightly news and newspaper" expressed incredulity at my quoting Wikipedia, noting that it is not a primary source. While this is true, for him it means that it is not a reputable source. To me Wikipedia, with its intent to be a collaborative encyclopedia, is as reliable as "common knowledge," the sort of information someone might tell you in a discussion. Such information need not be perfectly accurate to be useful.

No comments: