Wikipedia can be a valuable source of information. You may use it to understand the mechanism of a device or to look up "usual" terminology. But which points do you have to consider to be sure that Wikipedia serves you? I would like to point out nine points that may help you.
1. Read the article carefully
This is no joke. First takte into account the remarks at the top that sometimes appear indicating e.g. a worth-reading article or whether it is a too short article etc. Look if there are more detailed articles (e.g. Shrek 2
instead of Shrek
- just an example...), and read the sections References
and See also
2. When was the article published first?
You can see this by clicking on the tab History
at the top of a Wikipedia page and scrolling down to the bottom. If the version history is very large, you may click on the Link Earliest
to see the first page of the History log. Elder articles with many editors tend to be more reliable, but this is not a must.
3. Has the actual version been changed recently?
Click again on the History tab. The last edit will be at the top.
4. What was edited?
Click on he button Compare selected versions
. If you didn't change anything, the last two versions will display now side by side, with the changes high-lighted.
5. Who edited this site?
For each version you can see the editor right to the change date. In general, member names give a little bit more of authority than IP-adresses (four numbers separated by points, e.g. 22.214.171.124). To know more about the editor, click on the name to see the member page (if there is any), click on Talk
to see the Discussion page or on contribs
to see this member's contributions to Wikipedia.
6. Have a look at the discussion
The discussion about a Wikipedia article (click on tab discussion
) may reveal some interesting aspects about your article of interest, even about terminology. But of course, it can also be boring or simply non-existing.
7. Look for this article in other languages
Depending on the sort of question you are trying to answer, it is recommended to have a look at others languages' articles. You will find the links at the bottom of the left menu. The English Wikipedia ist quite complete, but in many occasions you will find more extensive or simply different articles in the localized versions.
8. Know what to find!
Wikipedia is a good source for a wide range of knowledge. But sometimes articles contain unverifiable material (this may be indicated on the top) or simply is not reliable because too many people with very different points of view are editing. Be careful with articles about politics and religion.
You use Wikipedia and find useful information, so please give back something to the community by adding your knowledge. Create an account to give yourself more authority and to create a personal page (you may link it to your ProZ-com profile). And if you do not have the time to edit, simply donate a small sum!