Do's and Don'ts
- use Wikipedia to become familiar with a topic or as a starting point for research
- use Wikipedia to find more search terms or keywords for your research topic
- maintain a level of skepticism when reading Wikipedia articles
- cite Wikipedia articles in your bibliography for assignments or papers
- treat information on Wikipedia as facts, especially when concerning legal or medical advice
What is Wikipedia?
"Wikipedia is a multilingual, web-based, free-content encyclopedia project based on an openly editable model." - Wikipedia
This online encyclopedia is a collaborative, cooperative effort by volunteer writers to provide up-to-date information on any subject imaginable.
Wikipedia is one of the most popular reference websites online, with millions of visitors every month. There are more than 19 million articles and 82.000 active contributors.
Wikipedia was launched on January 15, 2001 by founder Jimmy Wales. It began as a website called Nupedia (no longer a website), a peer-reviewed free encyclopedia with highly qualified contributors. Contributors to Nupedia were resistant to the idea of a wiki format, so Wikipedia was formed. Non-English Wikipedias were launched in May of 2001.
The Five Pillars
Wikipedia is guided by the following principles, referred to as the Five Pillars:
- Wikipedia is an encyclopedia.
- Wikipedia is written from a neutral point of view.
- Wikipedia is free content that anyone can edit, use, modify, and distribute.
- Editors should interact with each other in a respectable and civil manner.
- Wikipedia does not have firm rules.
5 Pillars of Wikipedia by Guilia Forsythe on Flickr CC BY 2.0
Thanks to ....
The content of this guide is substantially adapted, with permission, from a guide created by University Library System librarians at the University of Pittsburgh.