I was very pleased yesterday about the reactions of international librarians in workshop when asked about Wikipedia. They cited it as great starting point, pointed out the many ways the entries can be analyzed for accuracy and bias, and told how they used it as a teaching tool, not just a source of information for students. That's my people! My firm belief that librarians are more important than ever in the age of digital information was once again confirmed. (BTW, you participants in the workshop yesterday were great to work with!)
When I first started talking about Wikipedia and how it was was written and updated, librarians and teachers were pretty horrified. A reference source anyone could edit - even without an academic background check? I always loved it, thinking how much I had started to use other crowd-sourced information found on TripAdvisor and customer reviews of products in helping me make "informed" decisions that were better than those I found in traditional guides. I even defended it in a Leading & Learning article in 2006.
The infographic below, while sensationalized (see Joyce Valenza's thoughtful critique*), is telling.
As I always suggest to people, if you don't believe the accuracy of Wikipedia, just look in the Wikipedia article "Reliability of Wikipedia."
Like any powerful tool, the wise use of Wikipedia needs to be taught. I pity the students who don't get help from librarians in doing this. It's not Wikipedia or the librarian kind of choice. It should be a Wikipedia AND the librarian choice.
*But, like political or commercial messages, infographics are carefully-crafted media messages. And they beg careful deconstruction, scrutiny, and analysis. - Joyce Valenza (still the smartest person in all LibraryLand!)