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I was working one day, a few years back, and I was talking to one of the shelvers at my library. He was telling me about how he was updating a Wikipedia page about one of his favorite musicians. He had added that she had traveled to Illinois at one point to spend some time. This “fact,” of course, was not true but he wanted to see how long it would take for someone to notice it as untrue and to remove it from the page. I’m not sure if anyone ever noticed or if anything was done about it, it was so minor but it gets you thinking. If some random person can add a little “fact” to a wiki page and no one notices, how many big “facts” out there are incorrect?

I try really hard to use Wikipedia as a jumping off point, to give me just a little information about something I don’t know about, not as an absolute source for my research. I do check to see how many sources are listed at the bottom of the page and go to look at those instead. The only wikis I would trust are the Harry Potter wiki, because I love Harry Potter so much I use it to remind me of the correct answer when I can’t think of it, and Wookieepedia, the Star Wars wiki because I feel like I know next to nothing about the Star Wars universe and it’s all gathered in one spot (I check the answers with my Star Wars geeks later).

It’s always important to remember where the information is coming from when looking for real answers. Wikis are like a box of chocolates, someone may just be trying to mess with the general public or they may have a real passion for the subject you’re looking for and steer you in the right direction, you never know what you’re going to get.

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