What is Wikipedia

Wikipedia is not exactly an encyclopedia and nobody should rely upon Wikipedia for an accurate answer or an accurate article on anything. Wikipedia tries to be as accurate as anyone can make it but sometimes scholars are defeated in their goals of adding value as their edits and improvements are incorrectly removed or altered.

An encyclopedia is an accurate reference work containing facts and Wikipedia is a collection of articles relating to everything and sometimes written by teenagers doing a project.

The concept of people maintaining a vast collection of knowledge is a noble dream and worth supporting, but one must never lose sight of the simple fact that the information on Wikipedia is damaging as sometimes fact is mixed with fiction in a manner that misinforms students and others that consult the publication for facts or answers.

Google frequently overvalues the value of content on Wikipedia and in doing so does cause damage to the Google search results as users only later find out that Dr Google did not answer the question correctly.

There are many thousands of examples but one easy one is a simple search on Google.com for the words ‘decorative arts’

The top result is Wikipedia which says:’The decorative arts is traditionally a term for the design and manufacture of functional objects.’

So, notwithstanding language, the answer just starts out wrong and incorrect. In fact the word decorate (according to the free online dictionary) is to make beautiful. So the Wikipedia answer should have been something along the lines of to design or create beautiful and functional objects, or to beautify functional objects. the South African deco site says: ‘Decorative Art, Art Deco, serving an esthetic rather than a useful purpose’

A very good argument can be made therefore that one should not promote or use Wikipedia for research but that school children should use Wikipedia for projects but then also it will be depressing if you have too many errors in your report and not due to any fault of yours.

So, maybe the best answer after all is that one should avoid using Wikipedia, except possibly as a starting point or additional background after one has already established the authoritative answer to a fact as it is just too embarrassing to look like a complete fool when adding small facts to research only to find out that it is completely incorrect.

Hopefully Google will also at some point devalue the authoritative answers to not always list Wikipedia as the answer to many searches.