What is Wikipedia ?

Wikipedia – a free, open-source, multilingual encyclopedia consisting of heavily edited user-generated content on topics of nearly every sort. The largest encyclopedia in the world, It is administered by the Wikimedia Foundation, a non-profit group. One defining characteristic of Wikipedia is its insistence on not publishing original research, but rather being an authoritative clearinghouse of citations of other material already published on the Web.

Wikipedia is an open source, free knowledge base platformwhose purpose is to benefit readers by acting as an encyclopedia, a comprehensive written compendium that contains information on all branches of knowledge within its five pillars. It has a lofty goal: a comprehensive collection of all of the knowledge in the world.

Is it a reliable source.

Wikipedia can be edited by anyone at any time. This means that any information it contains at any particular time could be vandalism, a work in progress, or just plain wrong. Biographies of living persons, subjects that happen to be in the news, and politically or culturally contentious topics are especially vulnerable to these issues. Edits on Wikipedia that are in error may eventually be fixed. However, because it is a volunteer run project, it cannot monitor every contribution all of the time. There are many errors that remain unnoticed for days, weeks, months, or even years. Therefore, Wikipedia should not be considered a definitive source in and of itself.

The same applies to Wikipedia’s sister projects, as well as websites that mirror or use it as a source themselves, and printed books or other material derived primarily or entirely from  articles.

  1. It is  generally uses reliable secondary sources, which vet data from primary sources. If the information on another Wikipedia page (which you want to cite as the source) has a primary or secondary source, you should be able to cite that primary or secondary source and eliminate the middleman (or “middle-page” in this case).
  2. Always be careful of what you read: it might not be consistently accurate.
  3. Neither articles on its websites that mirror it site can be used as sources, because this is circular sourcing.
  4. An exception to this is when it is being discussed in an article, which may cite an article, guideline, discussion, statistic or other content from Wikipedia or a sister project as a primary source to support a statement about Wikipedia (while avoiding undue emphasis on Wikipedia’s role or views, and inappropriate self-reference).
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