A small Vermont college has determined that Wikipedia is not sufficiently authoritative to be cited in papers by students. According to a new policy instituted by the history department at Middlebury College, "Wikipedia is not an acceptable citation, even though it may lead one to a citable source."
Despite the reported reliance upon Wikipedia by some courts, it is difficult to accept that Wikipedia, in its present form, will ever be widely relied upon by courts on core issues or where there is conflicting evidence or authority. Courts have recently demonstrated a willingness to consider and rely upon Internet resources, such as Mapquest, but Wikipedia is unique among those sites.
The online encyclopedia is truly "collaborative" in that users are free to submit and edit information found on the site. As a result, the accuracy and reliability of Wikipedia have been questioned. According to the site itself, it "has also been criticised for its susceptibility to vandalism, uneven quality, systemic bias and inconsistencies, and for favouring consensus over credentials in its editorial process." In court, it would be foolish to rely on Wikipedia for any but the most mundane and uncontroversal facts.
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