For more articles addressing the issues related to Wikipedia, see the References section of Wikipedia, Wikipedia in culture, Criticisms of Wikipedia, and Reliability of Wikipedia. The References section. Nothing else. Don’t cite the freaking article.
When you think about it, nothing is stupider than pointing out that Wikipedia not reliable.
It SAYS – IN ITALICS AND BOLD – THAT IT IS UNRELIABLE OR CONSIDERED UNRELIABLE, A “STARTING POINT” INSTEAD OF A BE-ALL END ALL, AND NOT TO CITE WIKIPEDIA. Instead, it tells you to go to the bottom of the page, read the references, and “summarize and cite those reliable sources” there.
By “reliable”, you obviously don’t mean 100% infallible, as academic review of paper and other online encyclopedias have revealed errors, some “glaring” and potentially “harmful omissions”. If you mean “believe nothing on Wikipedia”, that means that it IS in fact reliable, BECAUSE IT SAYS IT’S NOT. Did you see the catfight between Britannica and Nature? Basically, Nature says Wikipedia has a similar rate of “serious errors”, Britannica says their study sucks, and insists that they were right, and Nature defends its study and we end up not knowing who to believe. Some encyclopedias trust experts to not lie to them and don’t always fact-check an article, or make mistakes when they do, and thus, you may actually “die of a misprint”.
And it already admits that it isn’t reliable. If anyone trusts anything unconditionally and/or uses only one source, even if that source ISN’T Wikipedia, it is FREAKING DUMB and they need to be taught how to research things. Um, three reliable sources, anyone? Wikipedia doesn’t want you to trust it. It wants you to look at it for a quick, general overview. By saying “I don’t trust Wikipedia”, you are saying “I don’t trust a project with articles vastly varying in quality, some of which have been judged mostly factually correct most of the time, others completely false, written by a whole bunch of random people – mostly educated white American males, some of which have post-secondary and/or doctorate credentials, and many others who are blithering idiots”, and it’s about high time you realized how loaded your statement is. You cannot be an expert by the “click of a mouse”. You also need to type something.
You also have to understand that Wikipedia articles, and Wikipedia users for that matter, unlike the subjects of the truths that we hold to be self-evident, are not created equal. We have rankings for that very reason. Only feature-level articles even “approach the quality of a professional encyclopedia”. Others have a host of problems, often tagged by well-meaning editors. For more detailed criteria, see WP:Featured article criteria. The common vandal, the long-term abuser, the POV pusher, and the COI editor are all vastly different creatures. These people and the vast amount of well-meaning volunteers do not deserve to be tarred with the same brush. Also, the common retort that “anyone can edit” is not fully correct: that applies only to unprotected pages and templates. Protection at various levels restrict editing to registered, autoconfirmed, confirmed, and users who are administrators. This is not an infallible system, FAR from it, as IPs might have good info, and even admins have been known to go rogue and edit with a personal agenda (but this is the exception, not the rule), much less the commoner.
I am a WikiGnome, which means I fix the most mind-numbingly boring and frankly STUPID problems, including such intricacies as DATE FORMATS, DUPLICATE SENTENCES, UNNAMED PARAMETERS, MISSING PERIODS AND OVERUSE OF CAPITALS. If you can’t spell words right or punctuate your sentences properly, what right do you have to write an encyclopedic article? I know the learning curve is steep, and the mess of policies and guidelines and templates blur together, but still! If you are not an actual expert, and if you are just bad in general, you might write a sloppy, disgusting mess of an article, violating WP:BEANS, WP:COI, WP:NOTE, WP:OR, MOS:everything, and every other conceivable policy, and we have to clean up after you. It’s annoying. Why do I do it? It’s fun. For me. Also Wikipedihol.
Blatant vandals and trolls are actually not that much of a problem. Changes are saved in the page history, and unconstructive ones can be easily spotted and reverted, especially if they’re on many editors’ watchlists or being stalked by a page curator or a patroller of recent changes. We have pending changes, Twinkle, STiki, Huggle, undo, and rollback in our (users with over 1000 mainspace edits) arsenal. If one edit is particularly egregious (e.g., reveals personal information), it can be oversighted – deleted from public view, kept even from high-level Rouge Admins or Bureaucrats. Subtle vandalism is much more insidiously harmful, but we have a taskforce for that. Sockpuppetry and meatpuppetry are real problems, and the best way to get yourself banned or blocked is by editing highly contentious articles tendentiously, and make dozens of thinly veiled sockpuppet accounts to harass and edit war with people, which people do on a regular basis. Should you need to see any more evidence of the damage that subtle, intelligent, and well-established vandals can do, just see this page and this article.
I KNOW IT HOW MUCH IT SUCKS. I MIGHT EVEN KNOW BETTER THAN YOU HOW MUCH IT SUCKS. We’re scaring away the professionals, it contradicts itself because there’s no one author, our citation templates are confusing, the site has been repeatedly accused of being (probably rightly) systematically biased, sexist and transphobic, and there have been so many scandals involving academic dishonesty, “censorship”, and libel, that’s all people report anymore. Co-founder Larry Sanger left and made Citizendium, a site where you have to use your real name, provide your credentials, and actually be an expert in whatever topic you write for. (The problem with Citizendium is the same as the ill-fated Nupedia: peer review is too slow, and generating quality content for free is not everyone’s favourite thing to do.) One citogenesis incident made it into print. One hoax article (read, completely, and I mean completely made up) about a war that never existed made it to Good Article (GA) status, and you don’t know how hard that is, but it is hard. The hoaxes have been removed and documented, the offending users have been banned, and Jimbo Wales is still the Almighty Jimbo. I know, though, in my heart of hearts, that there are more lurking in the shadows. It’s far from perfect, it’s far from complete, and it never will be.
Unfortunately, even such a flawed resource is easily the largest, most up-to-date/constantly updating, and the most comprehensive encyclopedic project in the world. The English version of Wikipedia has over 5,000,000 articles and ranks consistently as the 7th most visited website in the world. (What?! Only 7th? Step up your game, Wikipedia!) And it’s getting better. Anyway, people will continue to use it as a resource (Because it’s free!), people will continue to blindly trust it, people will continue to complain and vandalize and climb the Reichstag dressed as Spiderman, but it’s not going away. So what is left to do? Do you give up on life?
Come. Join us. Fix it.