>I was pondering about Wikipedia during my morning commute. It got me to thinking that when people complain about Wikipedia’s lack of authoritativeness or reliability, they of course have a legitimate point… but when it comes right down to it, I’m reluctant to trust any source.
Of course, you can’t help it if you’re not an eyewitness to an event. But if I’m researching a controversial topic, perhaps something like the Vietnam Conflict, where do I really get good answers? I can presumably get some good facts from traditional encyclopedias. But when you want to get down to the why something happened, or analyzing how it turned out… do you really want to trust any single source? I wasn’t born before Vietnam ended, so I have no way of forming my own opinion without relying on a secondary source for facts and opinions. I think that in such an analysis of controversial issues, Wikipedia–although quickly changeable, particularly on controversial topics–is a more reliable assessment of the general population than, say, Britannica.
I’m not saying I trust one more than the other–each source has their place. But I just want to get myself, and others, thinking about the fact that the old saying, “history is written by the winners,” really applies to recent facts as well.