In Students are told not to use Wikipedia for research. But it’s a trustworthy source, Rachel Cunneen and Mathieu O’Niel nicely unpack their case for the headline. In a online polylogue in response to that piece, I wrote,
“You always have a choice: to help or to hurt.” That’s what my mom told me, a zillion years ago. It applies to everything we do, pretty much.
The purpose of Wikipedia is to help. Almost entirely, it does. It is a work of positive construction without equal or substitute. That some use it to hurt, or to spread false information, does not diminish Wikipedia’s worth as a resource.
The trick for researchers using Wikipedia as a resource is not a difficult one: don’t cite it. Dig down in references, make sure those are good, and move on from there. It’s not complicated.
Since that topic and comment are due to slide down into the Web’s great forgettery (where Google searches do not go), I thought I’d share it here.