Why is wikipedia being quoted so much?
Wikipedia itself says:
Wikis, including Wikipedia and other wikis sponsored by the Wikimedia Foundation, are not regarded as reliable sources.
Intriguing question. Fundamentally, what is a source?
Definition of a source
The word “source” when citing sources on Wikipedia has three related meanings:
* the piece of work itself (the article, book);
* the creator of the work (the writer, journalist),
* and the publisher of the work (for example, Random House or Cambridge University Press).
Any of the three can affect reliability. Reliable sources may be published materials with a reliable publication process, authors who are regarded as authoritative in relation to the subject, or both. These qualifications should be demonstrable to other people.
As such, wikipedia and wikis are not reliable sources per se.
However, from the same wiki:
Many Wikipedia articles rely on scholarly material. When available, academic and peer-reviewed publications, scholarly monographs, and textbooks are usually the most reliable sources. However, some scholarly material may be outdated, in competition with alternative theories, or controversial within the relevant field. Try to cite present scholarly consensus when available, recognizing that this is often absent. Reliable non-academic sources may also be used in articles about scholarly issues, particularly material from high-quality mainstream publications. Deciding which sources are appropriate depends on context. Material should be attributed in-text where sources disagree.
Bold added by me.
There are lists of sources below the end of most wiki articles which are referred to by [numbers] in the wiki article, as sources.
Wrt wikis on the natural sciences:
Wikipedia’s science articles are not intended to provide formal instruction, but they are nonetheless an important and widely-used resource. Scientific information should be based on reliable published sources and should accurately reflect the current state of knowledge. Ideal sources for these articles include comprehensive reviews in independent, reliable published sources, such as reputable scientific journals, statements and reports from reputable expert bodies, widely recognized standard textbooks written by experts in a field, or standard handbooks and reference guides, and high-quality non-specialist publications. Although news reports are sometimes inappropriate as reliable sources for the technical aspects of scientific results or theories, they may be useful when discussing the non-technical context or impact of science topics, particularly controversial ones.
The scope of this page is limited to the natural sciences, including astronomy, biology, chemistry, geoscience, physics, and interdiscliplinary fields.
Bold added by me.
What is a resource?
e : a source of information or expertise
Of course, there are other resources online but wikipedia has established itself as an accessible open and free resource (which is subject to constant discriminate revisions and updates). This is the strength of wikipedia, notwithstanding criticisms of it’s perceived weakness in being open.
Wikipedia depend on the the “wisdom of the crowd” for the reliability and accuracy of it’s articles.
The wisdom of the crowd is the process of taking into account the collective opinion of a group of individuals rather than a single expert to answer a question. A large group’s aggregated answers to questions involving quantity estimation, general world knowledge, and spatial reasoning has generally been found to be as good as, and often better than, the answer given by any of the individuals within the group. An intuitive and often-cited explanation for this phenomenon is that there is idiosyncratic noise associated with each individual judgment, and taking the average over a large number of responses will go some way toward canceling the effect of this noise. This process, while not new to the information age, has been pushed into the mainstream spotlight by social information sites such as Wikipedia and Yahoo! Answers, and other web resources that rely on human opinion.
In other words, there exist a “system of checks and balances” (negative and positive feedbacks) for these open systems which is the source of their strength and robustness, analogous to nature.
Also, there is the issue of copyleft instead of copyright wrt wikis.
In other words, copyleft is a general method for marking a creative work as freely available to be modified, and requiring all modified and extended versions of the program to be free as well.
This is the rationale behind why wikipedia is so often quoted.