When Using Wikipedia, Always Check the References

WikipediaThere is simply no doubt that Wikipedia serves as a wellspring of information, but it is also important to realize that this information is not always accurately sourced. Longtime users of Wikipedia know that the site is a great place to start when searching for information, but it is also necessary to thoroughly research the sources that are used in the compilation of any page appearing on the site.

According to Adam Kutner, this is the best way to avoid being deceived by information found on the site. The editors and creators of these pages often do an excellent job of editing the pages to ensure near-total accuracy, but there are also statements that appear as fact that cite sources that are not as reputable as they should be.

As a matter of practice, Kutner suggests that researchers use Wikipedia as an initial source of information from which they can pursue and locate the original sources. This will allow for the use of more detailed information and will also help in determining whether or not the cited source can be trusted as accurate. A well-known newspaper reporting on an incident with an article that includes first-hand accounts can be considered reputable, while a lesser-known website that references a rumor heard from an anonymous source should probably be disregarded, or at least independently verified.

While Wikipedia has a lot to offer, it is important for users to understand the limitations of the site and to locate the original sources of the information.