1. kuanyin

    kuanyin New Member

    Sep 3, 2015
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    Use of Wikipedia Content

    Discussion in 'Research' started by kuanyin, Dec 14, 2016.

    I have written a manuscript that describes the biographies of 100 people over the past 200 years. You'll forgive me if I do not disclose the nature of these people.

    Anyway, because of the nature of each entry - average three pages - I researched many websites and ended up using material from Wikipedia. Now, my question to the forum is, is it legal for me to use Wikipedia text as long as I reference the website, etc?

    Many thanks in advance.
  2. BayView

    BayView Huh. Interesting. Contributor

    Sep 6, 2014
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    When you say you used material from Wikipedia, do you mean you took the actual words, or just the information?

    Wikipedia is no different from any other website, so I'm not sure why you're asking the question just about Wikipedia, but in general - if you take actual words from a source, you need to use quotation marks and cite it. If you take specific information, you don't use quotation marks but need to cite it. If you take general knowledge that would be available in lots of different places (who fought on which side of WWII, or whatever) you don't need to cite it.

    All of this is aside from the scholarly worth of your project, though. I'm not sure who your target audience is, but if you're planning to try to sell this manuscript, either to publishers or directly to the public, you have to ask yourself why anyone would pay for information they could have read for themselves on Wikipedia...
  3. malaupp

    malaupp Active Member

    Dec 15, 2016
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    Most of the time Wikipedia isn't the original source of the information. If you scroll down to the bottom of the page, you'll see the sources they used. You may be better off looking at those for your sources, as Wikipedia isn't the most reliable.
    BayView likes this.
  4. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Contributor

    Jul 5, 2010
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    California, US
    You can look at the terms of their license on their website, but I think if you use their text you have to release your use under the same permissive license they use.
    BayView likes this.
  5. Stuart B

    Stuart B Member

    Sep 20, 2016
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    It's probably safer to use wikipedia for research and write the information you want to convey from it in your own style/voice. Especially since info from wikipedia comes from multiple sauces and might have an inconsistent tone.
    BayView likes this.

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