Wikipedia throws Britannica off of a Ziggurat

Oh Wikipedia, How I love Thee. Part I

Oh Wikipedia, how I love thee.

Though your hair may sometimes catch a snowflake of unverified information, and your eyes may sometimes catch a grain of original research from a 12 year old Japanese kid who learned English the day before, you really are a fantastic encyclopedia.

Growing up in the information age has really been a blessing for one with pretty insatiable curiosity, apologies for the cliche. I mean. I just really love looking shit up. And thanks to the fact that most people who even care to figure out how to edit Wikipedia are those who have at least a bit of moral fiber, the free encyclopedia that anyone can edit, is really a damn fine resource.

Everyone had that teacher who used to practically cry about how Wikipedia is not an appropriate reference because it is not a primary source. Well, first of all, no encyclopedia is a primary source. If your teacher had a creepy infatuation with the Encyclopedia Britannica, you know, one where all the pages in the Bo-Cu, Pe-Pu, and Va-Ziggurat book sections stuck together for some reason, and allowed you to use it as a source but not Wikipedia, they suffer from a condition we call Being a Fucking Moron (BFM, look it up: http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Being_a_fucking_moron) (They also probably really like ancient Persia). If that is someone’s reason for not allowing use of Wikipedia, let them know that there is, in fact, a cure. Though, it is important to note that the treatment for someone suffering from BFM may require the use of some sort of device or mechanism that allows someone who doesn’t know shit to learn something. Actually, Wikipedia has a great article on Primary Sources and their usage (note: people suffering from BFM may collapse into an infinite loop if this specific treatment is attempted).

Right, so if you can’t use the articles on Wikipedia as a source for that term paper you started 59 minutes before class under the influence of a trifecta Adderall/Caffeine/Modafinil Rage (Disclaimer: Drug combination to be used only by those with more than two hearts) that kept you up all night procrastinating, vacuuming the cat and and shoveling a way out of your living room so that the mole people would stop eating all of your hot pockets, then what the hell is the point of Wikipedia existing? Well, all the reasonably good articles on our beloved Wikipedia will have loads and loads of sources. These will hopefully, and usually, be cited within the sentence pointing you directly to the respective reference at the bottom of the page. In 90% of cases these references will reflect the primary source or at least a source leading directly to the primary source that, for instance, allowed one noble Wikipedian to finally convince the community to stop putting that annoying [citation needed] tag after their favorite Helen Keller Speech after which this sweet gas station/convenience store took their name. In the other 10% of cases you’ll get super useful 404 pages that you can very easily tell were in a non-English language to start with, and thus it is very likely that little sliver of information about how Shamu was named after Genghis Khan’s sobriquet for his genitalia may be questionable (only a little bit). So if your teacher says you can’t use Wikipedia as a source for whatever reason, even if they are suffering from BFM (some cases are simply incurable), you can be the better and just use one of the references cited on the page you’re after.

I know you are just dying for the next edition of OW,HILT (pronounced “Ow, Hilt”, like what your TA would say after their head slammed into the back of your Wiki-sword). Next time, I’ll be talking about the joys of editing wikipedia and how I once got into an edit war with one of the creators of YouTube… and I was all like “HEY! What I am trying to contribute is just as valid as what you are trying t—…oh.”

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