I’ve been meaning to write this post ever since I started this blog; when it comes to the democratizing potential of the internet (at least in spreading knowledge), Wikipedia often springs up as both as a positive (look how successful and surprisingly accurate it is!) and as a negative (look how unreliable it is!) example.
My point is this. No doubt there is a great deal of uncertainty involved in using Wikipedia, stemming from its openness, the relatively small number of admins, the questionable expertise of admins, etc,
the point of Wikipedia is to cite existing, verifiable sources. Original research is unwelcome. Therefore it is the authority of the sources that renders a Wikipedia entry good or bad, but the thing is you can always check these sources yourself, or indicate that they are missing. If an entry omits citing its sources, that is a bad article, period, and there is no excuse for accepting the information it provides. If an entry does cite its sources, then you can check the facts there, and decide whether you accept or reject these sources’ authority. Either way, complaining about the unreliability of Wikipedia is pointless.
Was this a bit too Captain Obvious?