Wikipedia is probably the most popular online encyclopedia. In fact, few would think of something else first when trying to make the connection with the name ‘online encyclopedia’. Wikimedia has taken good care of making sure that no other similar project would compete with theirs for the most part by having Wikipedia available in as many languages as possible.
The language feature makes the contents of that website accessible to everybody who has an Internet connection to their PC – provided that the particular content is already written in that person’s native language – not to mention that when googling, a link to Wikipedia would most likely appear on top of the results, provided that a Wikipedia user had written about the matter. That Wikipedia user could be anybody with Internet connection.
Therefore, a common approach is not to use Wikipedia at all when doing research on anything. That’s what teachers, professors and even participants in disputes like to say and believe.
Is that so though?
On the one hand, they are right. Believing everything that one has read or has been told is as irrelevant as believing that Santa Clause exists. On the other hand though, if the information we come across with on Wikipedia has a reference page, we can easily check how trustworthy it is. That’s a method that I used when I was writing about Thomas Dodd and his letters to his wife Grace, and it worked. Just make sure that you know how trustworthy the sources are. For example, a link to a newspaper website is somewhat more likely to be less trustworthy than a link to some institutions, such as the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and others.
It’s up to you to figure out which sources to believe in more than the rest. What’s most important is that Wikipedia appears to be Google in the Google search. Learn to appreciate that but always have a grain of doubt, no matter whether or not you apply the Wikipedia method.