Wikipedia is a free, open and multilingual online encyclopedia written by voluntary and anonymous contributors from around the world. Yes, it is a free encyclopedia that anyone can edit. "Wiki" describes an easy-to-use website where users can do collaborative editing. Originally, wiki is a Hawaiian word for "quick," and was first used by developer Ward Cunningham as computer terminology. Wikipedia was established by Jimmy Wales and Larry Sanger in 2001, and, up to present, it has become the largest and most popular Web-based reference source with 5,699,306 articles written in English.
A group of researchers studied more than 500 articles on the subject of Wikipedia and their finding reveals that scholars, librarians and students are the most common users. They come to Wikipedia either for light-topic information or for serious topics concerning health and legal background.
If Wikipedia is used appropriately, it will help you to do the research. Do remember verify whatever you find in another source. Here are a few tips:
To get the best judgment of Wikipedia articles, you have to know how Wikipedia works. To know how Wikipedia works, you have to create a Wikipedia article. To write a Wikipedia article, you may register an account and become a Wikipedian, or just simply let the computer use your IP address automatically. If you don't want to, no bother. Here are a few tips:
Citing encyclopedia articles in assignments is usually not recommended, and this is even more true when it comes to Wikipedia. The reason is very simple: One should not completely depend on information provided by anonymous contributors, because you do not know if the person who wrote or edited the article are qualified in that subject area or has the right information/knowledge. The fact that "any one can edit" makes Wikipedia a socialpedia and a randompedia. When one begins working on a research paper, that means you are entering the scholarly world, where validity and trustworthiness are highly valued, based on modern conventional principles and practices that have been developed for hundreds of years.
Wikipedia featured articles refer to those articles that are evaluated by editors as ones with best qualities, in terms of accuracy, neutrality, completeness, and style. There are 5,373 featured articles written in English language. If you intend to cite a featured article in your assigned paper, consultation with the professor is strongly recommended.
The counterpart of Wikipedia as a popular source is Scholarpedia, which is an online free encyclopedia reviewed and maintained by scholarly experts in mathematics and sciences from around the world. This is a source with credit. Explore Scholarpedia and you will get an instant impression, which is quite different from Wikipedia. What makes it different is also one of the reasons why we recommend you resources that our library subscribed.