Friday, April 11, 2014

Wikipedia

I link to Wikipedia articles a lot in my Blog.  I don’t ever use it for my writing because my posts would be much wordier than they are and I prize brevity; and because the audience I am writing for is not so compulsively interested in learning all that there is to know about a subject – who has the time?  Not me!  But I do like to give my readers a place to go for more information about a subject that I write about, if they are interested.

But why Wikipedia?

I understand that Wikipedia is controversial.  But that is a mistake.  Anyone can write a Wikipedia entry.  But every entry will be edited and re-edited by many other contributors world-wide.  It is the rare Wikipedia entry that will not go through 100 revisions.  And end up pretty reliable.  Lots has been written about Wikipedia reliability, too.

Finally, my killer argument for loving Wikipedia articles.  A Wikipedia article is itself never a “source” for any information (as “the internet” is also never a source; "I found it on the Internet" is as empty of meaning as "I saw it on TV") as it is never a primary source.  But every (most ...) Wikipedia article has a References section (with Notes and Further Reading) which points to a gazillion primary sources for virtually every assertion in the article.  So in the end it is a great way to get at primary source material.  And it is far superior to any other non-primary source that I know of to get you to primary source material for anything you want to do research on.

Viva Wikipedia!