The interaction between Wikipedia and academia was revisited in a blog entry last Monday, entitled "Who's afraid of Wikipedia?" by Clay Shirky, a New York University professor who frequently writes about the Internet. Shirky discussed the ever more common situation of students citing Wikipedia articles.
In contrast with other academics, who often oppose the use of Wikipedia citations, Shirky said that "the Wikipedia is a fine resource on a large number of subjects, and can and should be cited in those cases". He compared the situation to students citing Encyclopædia Britannica, and said that in both cases, citing a primary source might sometimes be better, but saw no general problem with Wikipedia citations.
The post prompted several responses, and among those who weighed in was Larry Sanger, co-founder of Wikipedia. Sanger continued his recent trend of commenting negatively on the current state of Wikipedia. "I always recommend that my students not use Wikipedia as a source for philosophy papers", he said. He went on to criticize Shirky for having a "misguided faith" in the way Wikipedia works, and predicted that a different way of creating an open-source encyclopedia would soon arise to "blow Wikipedia out of the water", and that academics would be happy to see citations from this new source.
Pursuing a similar story angle, a reporter for the Wayne State University student newspaper, The South End,  interviewed several professors for their comments on the issue of citing Wikipedia. Their responses varied depending on the situation and context of the citation. "For an undergraduate class it's just fine", but "for my graduate class I don't expect them to use it", said one. Others noted concerns with the lack of a formal peer review system on Wikipedia.
Academics may worry about using Wikipedia as a source, but major news outlets continue to reference Wikipedia articles. Mentions this week include ABS-CBN citing our article on the Sony Walkman, WebProNews.com making use of the entry on phishing, Dutch newspaper Expatica.com citing Total Football in an article on the death of Rinus Michels, and the New York Sun discussing stakeholder in an article about corporate takeovers.
Meanwhile, in other press coverage, the feature about Wikipedia in the March issue of Wired Magazine, "The Book Stops Here", which has already been on some newsstands for a couple weeks (see archived story), was finally published online last week.