Online publishers share one understanding — Wikipedia is not a valid source of information. Since its content is created by users, it cannot be trusted to be accurate. Wikipedia has no value.
But wait a second! Is that statement really true? Might Wikipedia actually have value after all?
I’d argue that yes Wikipedia does have value, and in a blog post published earlier this year, Gartner GVP Anthony J. Bradley offered a similar opinion.
In his post, Anthony argued that Wikipedia offers several elements that give it value: transparency, mass collaboration, and hyperlinking. In my opinion, Wikipedia’s value comes via those hyperlinks — specifically, the hyperlinks found in the Sources section of Wikipedia articles.
While it’s hard to know just how accurate any Wikipedia entry is, the site is a great place to find primary sources. Read through a Wikipedia article, and you might find direct links to news articles, expert publications, and more that offer the details and information you need for a specific piece of content you’re writing or study you’re conducting. When a Google search delivers a myriad of unrelated and low-quality results for keyword searches, a well-sourced Wikipedia article can uncover some great sources for information. Often those sources will lead you to even more original content and sources. Just scroll down and click on the links in the Sources section of a Wikipedia article to do exactly that.
Bottom-line, don’t discount Wikipedia just because it’s the cool thing to do. There is more on that site than meets the eye. Would I bet the farm on anything I find on Wikipedia? Absolutely not. However, it’s a great place for exploratory research. You never know what direction it might point you in. Just don’t take it at face value. As with any research through a secondary source, you need to confirm your findings by going to the primary sources.
What do you think? Do you discount Wikipedia or find value in it? Leave a comment and share your thoughts.