Monday, February 5, 2007
Dan Solove has an interesting post over at Concurring Opinions, with a number of interesting comments, on the use of Wikipedia as a source. With at least one responsible voice in the blogosphere suggesting that anyone who has ever cited Wikipedia should be blacklisted from a scholarly career, no doubt many people are out there using the "Find" function in Word or the binoculars in PDF to determine if they have ever used Wikipedia as a source.
I tend to agree with Richard Posner that you have to consider the reason for the citation to Wikipedia (see the quote in Dan's post from the New York Times). My one trafficking with it in print was to provide a place one could read about the phrase "turtles all the way down" (an allusion to infinite regress arguments) and for that relatively innocuous, if not inane, reference, it seemed then and now like a perfectly good source. My use of the "see..." intro in the footnote would seem to pass muster among the commenters over at Con Op; I wasn't really using Wikipedia to support a proposition but to direct the bored reader to something perhaps more interesting.
Other than that, I am a social Wikipedist. An occasional reference in the evening before dinner, and perhaps one or twice on weekends. But never on the job, when driving, or operating heavy machinery. And I still think blacklisting a Wikipedia abuser is overdoing it. Perhaps taking a page from the NFL and the NFLPA's recent decision on players who test positive for steroids (they will be banned from the next Pro Bowl), we should simply ban them from presenting at the next AALS meeting.