User voted 60.
3 votes
Oct 17, 2015

Wikipedia is often misunderstood. People sometimes snarkily say it's quantum information, in a superposition of right and wrong. However, the problem with truth is that it's very complicated and a lot of it is based on your perspective if it isn't outright subjective. Different theoretical perspectives or different stakeholder positions can markedly change how something is characterized.

Traditional encyclopedias almost always have a narrow view of the perspectives, one that is traditional and is therefore all too often dominated by the most powerful perspective. Class, race, gender, sexual orientation, national, and professional biases can easily sneak in. It's one voice, or a voice of a few editors.

Wikipedia opens up the process to a wide variety of voices. It still prioritizes expertise and actual sources: Unsourced statements will be removed. The truths on Wikipedia are less certain, but that is actually to Wikipedia's advantage.

Anyone who does scholarly work knows that you can never rely on one source, theoretical perspective, or methodology. Wikipedia is effectively a snapshot at any given moment of the disputes on the topic, which should be used to guide further research. Wikipedia is not a replacement for a traditional edited encyclopedia; it is something else entirely. It is a different kind of source, with its own merits and deficits. Anyone with good research skills knows to use Wikipedia with a grain of salt, as they would any other source.

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