A word on Wikipedia

Ladies and gentlemen, Wikipedia is great…

…but not for everything.

Here’s what I use Wikipedia for: background research.

For example, I used it this semester to find the context and narrative of law cases I was briefing, then I went back to the cases having some idea of which elements were important.

DO NOT use Wikipedia as a sole source for research. Just don’t do it. Read, digest, verify, rinse, repeat.

By the same token, if you’re a Seigenthaler or a Winer or even a Curry, why would you expect Wikipedia to be completely accurate and error-free regarding your biography, achievements, or inventions? Do you really believe that a user-maintained database of information can be any more ego-free (and thus reliable) than a mainstream media source?

Look, every creator/producer/editor has ideas and interests, whether it’s Wikipedia or the New York Times.

…and if you click on whatever a Web site tells you is “hot” or “new” or “interesting” in front of a full room of folks you’re trying to show off cool Web stuff to, well… you might want to think about talking about authority and credibility using examples like Technorati and Memeorandum rather than Wikipedia.


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