Happy 10th Birthday Wikipedia!

I am not sure what the exact date is, but Wikipedia is celebrating its tenth birthday this week. Being a student, Wikipedia did saved me a lot of time on a few occasion, but I do have to say I have never quoted directly from Wikipedia during my undergraduate study, and I don't think it will be any useful for my graduate study.

Quoting from Wikipedia is not as much as an academic crime as plagiarizing, but I think it is an academic etiquette. Some professional scholars are so afraid of the idea that anyone can edit and insert information that they completely reject the idea of an open source encyclopedia. My opinion is more moderate toward this debate. While I believe that no professional writing should quote directly from Wikipedia, it is a excellent place to start a research.

WNYC did a segment on Wikipedia turning ten a few days ago. In that segment, it said there was a study that shows, on average, science entries on Wikipedia have four errors, while the Britannica has three. I don't know how the study was conducted, but if the result were true, the Britannica seems like a waste of money. Paying money to buy a volume of books written by the so-called experts can only improve the quality of the information one is getting from the volume by one error. Keeping in mind that the Britannica is not a small sum of money, it seems like a very bad investment, specially when the alternative, Wikipedia, is totally free.

I am not trying to defend the credibility of Wikipedia here, I still think no one should quote directly from Wikipedia because the idea that anyone could insert false information at will just frightens me. The point I am making here is that Wikipedia does have its merits, people just have to know when is the right time to use it.