Ever since I was younger, my teachers have constantly told us to never use Wikipedia as a source. I never headed their advice and Wikipedia was always the first place I looked no matter what subject I was focused on. It wasn’t until I grew older that I understood why Wikipedia had been blacklisted from scholars as a legitimate source: Crowd sourcing.
The intention of the creators of Wikipedia was to create a neutral point of view on topics in the same fashion of encyclopedias such as Britannica through a collaborative platform in which the public can offer pieces of information. Although it is extremely useful to have a plethora of contributors to gain information, the people who offer information also offer their own personal biases and opinions about the subject. The site has moderators that are supposed to regulate and edit the pages to be as accurate as possible but they are humans with personal biases and opinions as well. If there is no possible way to be completely objective, this puts into question the validity of the information present. In one article, there could be statements that present one side of the argument and then the opposite perspective could be present in the next.
I don’t think there’s any real way that Wikipedia can win in the efforts of being a legitimate source. It has its pros and its cons. For someone who is already knowledgeable on the subject, Wikipedia may offer a new point of view on a topic or be completely frustrating. For someone who goes into a topic completely blind, Wikipedia offers a generalized view of the subject but could also offer inaccurate information. Anyone entering the site in hopes to learn something should always take the “facts” with a grain of salt. It may be a great place to start but teachers are right: don’t use Wikipedia as a academic source.