Discussion in 'General Writing' started by The95Writer, Apr 7, 2014.
What are your opinions on references Wikipedia? I notice Wikipedia is 'hated on' all the time.
Most of the time Wikipedia is correct, but it's not a "proper" source. In universities and other such places, it is a huge no-no. But it depends what you're referencing it for: a blog, a novel, etc. would be fine, and it could even be used for humourous purposes e.g. writing an article for a newspaper and stating that so and so is a "fact proven by Wikipedia".
Universities and formal projects = No way.
Informal projects, humourous articles, and other things = Most likely okay.
Wikipedia has some very good entries and some very wrong entries. I use it as a source of sources. People have often done the search for you and you can go to the links for original sources. It's always best to find original sources be it a news report or Wiki you are reading someone's opinion or interpretation of those original sources in.
i use it as a starting point only... if i don't find the info i need, or can't be sure of its authenticiy, since all wiki content is from volunteers who are not vetted, i will check out listed resources or do some creative googling...
no one should take all wiki has to offer as 'gospel'...
Yes, highly true. I am writing a non-fiction book and I assume that it may be frown upon.
Use it as a starting point, use the articles at the bottom.
That's what my professors told me: Wiki can be used to get you going, but not as a source itself because anyone can change it. Use reliable sources like official sites, that sort of thing. For my papers, it was always a site ending with '.edu' or '.gov'.
What others have said. It's useful for finding "real" sources, but you can't really cite it in a paper and I wouldn't use it in non-fiction either.
I have yet to meet someone who actually has ever seen all the wrong or bad entries in Wikipedia.
French author Michael Houellebecq thinks otherwise:
While he's still full of s... he makes some interesting notions there (I have a love-and-hate relationship with his books, but I still think all the accusations for misogyny and racism against him are just excuses by people who can't stand explicit sexual content in his work, can't figure out how to contextualize it, but are too "liberal" to acknowledge their own conservatism...)
Back to topic: @The95Writer
If you have to cite from wikipedia, always include date and time information in your citation. The reason for this should be obvious: while content of wiki articles can change literary from second to second, all the changes history is saved, so whoever wants to check the source needs to know what to look for.
However, I think you should always rethink the reasons for using an unreliable source in the first place. When discussing this problem with some colleagues, the first thing everybody agreed on is that while it's okay to use wiki in the research process, it's not a clever move to actually base your research on it. The most obvious parallel would be using private conversations: you can refer to them, but you can't expect anyone to take them as a serious source of information, simply because they are not verifiable.
The better way to use wikipedia articles (and this is completely my opinion) is to, first of all, understand that a good article is also a sourced article: that is, you can expect it to have a full bibliography and appropriate links to on-line sources. This should be a stepping stone in your research - use the sources directly, and make your own conclusions based on them. While many wikipedia contributors may be experts in the field, most of them are laics (at best hobbyists). So, think of wikipedia as a place where people interested in a subject put online their own opinions and conclusions, basing them on more reliable and verifiable sources.
Of course, if you just need definitions and guidelines, you can always use Britannica, which is a regular encyclopedia I don't think anyone would object to. They have some good articles and, if you have a chance to have full access to, can provide viable source of information (and citation). And don't forget not to be lazy and use our friend The Google - and don't be lazy to skip through the first 20 search pages to find interesting stuff...
And if the non-fiction book is about 'sources for scientific papers and non-fiction books,' it'd make sense to include Wikipedia and also use it as a source
@KaTrian in a way yes - I remember a friend's paper on emoticons in online communication, and he was naturally using an internet forum as his primary source. If I want to write about, for example, how wikipedia handles citations or copyright, I'm going to use wikipedia as a source But that would be using the text itself, not the information that text tries to convey... Or, if you like, writing about a discourse versus writing from a discourse. Going META
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