Just a question I have, regarding the viability of us using Wikipedia as a source.

Some sites / educational bodies refuse to allow Wikipedia to be used as a source because 'anyone can edit it', so at any point in time there is no guarantee that its current state will:

  1. Stay the same, or
  2. Be correct (people like to mess things up and you could visit it in a time when its wrong)

Shall we allow Wikipedia as a source? Or should we advise that people use the referenced sources from Wikipedia as their source, as the number of people who can change referenced external sources is much more limited? Or shall we just say no to Wikipedia altogether?

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ It is definitely advisable to go beyond Wikipedia. If an answer uses only Wikipedia, it is shallow and will be unlikely to garner many upvotes. Tech reports, articles, books, first-hand knowledge are much better sources. As for allowing - let'em be, but use your votes to encourage deeper understanding of the problem than what can be gleaned from a resource that was designed with pornography in mind. $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 25, 2013 at 9:39

2 Answers 2


Wikipedia can be a perfectly fine resource if it provides a nice quote to support information you already know to be true (i.e. if you are the expert).

Where Wikipedia becomes a problem is if you are using it to, essentially, answer the question.

Question: "Why is it we haven't been able to solve <problem>?

Answer: Well here's what Wikipedia has to say about it: <quote>

That's not a terribly interesting site, nor is it one likely to be seen as a source of expertise.

An all-out moratorium on Wikipedia sources might be overkill (for ancillary support material, it's sometimes "good enough"). But you — as the experts curating this content — should be vetting the questions and answers; use your votes weigh in on content you find particularly insightful or authoritative. That is how you discourage the proliferation of lazy and/or poorly-sourced answers.

As discussed elsewhere — Multiplying possibly 'wrong' information:

First, should we be asking a lot of questions that can be answered by a Wikipedia article at all? If we are, I'm concerned that we're either (a) not asking terribly intriguing questions; the type you encounter in your day to day work, or (b) the answers are not backed by resources and experience of those actually studying or working in this field.

If we're just copying and repeating information found on every other site on the subject, this isn't really making the Internet a better place. I'm not ceding that point; it's just a concern we have to address when we take a closer look this site when we evaluate the private beta.

  • $\begingroup$ +1 "First, should we be asking a lot of questions that can be answered by a Wikipedia article at all?", IMHO if the answer is on Wikipedia, the question is out of scope here. $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 25, 2013 at 23:30

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