It’s become generally accepted that Wikipedia is a universally accepted source for information such as dictionaries and encyclopedias. Generally, this seems to hold true. After I watched Good Night, and Good Luck about the legendary McCarthy hearings, I Googled it and read the Wikipedia entries. When I wanted to learn what the top films were for 1987, I Googled it and read the Wikipedia entry again. Wikipedia seemed to have all the information! It was a gold mine. Until….
One of my readers complained about Cambridge Who’s Who referring me to Wikipedia. In this case, it looks like whatever system produces the majority of the good articles in Wikipedia failed. This is a biased article written with insubstantial facts. Worse yet, linked to this is an article on Fradulent Who’s Whos saying that legitimate organizations were hard to find. I remember those books being in the reference section of the public library. A representative from Cambridge Who’s Who told me they are in active litigation about the damaging article.
My father mentioned a book he had read years ago, None Dare Call It Treason, that was very popular at the time. I decided to order the book and read it. Once again, I decided to read about it on Wikipedia. Although the book never appeared on a best seller list, it was widely published and sold — my father remembered the impact it had. Wikipedia disclaims the amount of the sales. I got an original copy in the mail and found that it had been offered for bulk sales by political organizations and others. It is entirely possible that Wikipedia’s inference that the book didn’t sell that many copies is wrong.
Nothing has changed since I was a kid in school. Always double check your references and facts.