There’s a minor scandal at the moment about Chris Anderson’s book “Free”. Anderson seemingly used direct quotes from Wikipedia without citing the source.
I’ve no idea about the rights and wrongs of that particular case, but while I ADORE Wikipedia, because it gets you the gist of thousands of topics quickly, I’d never use it as the source material for a book.
If you’re wondering why not, here’s the reason: it’s crowd-sourced. Anyone and everyone can create and edit Wikipedia pages, with the result being that there’s no one to call to account for bad information. And if when I cite a source, I can’t say “so and so says” (after having verified that so and so is a reliable source), I won’t use that source.
There’s something badly wrong with publishing when Wikipedia is looked on as a reliable source.
Using Wikipedia as a source for a print book is up to you. I wouldn’t use it.
And as Whatâ€™s Right and Wrong with Media Now says, other writers may think twice now too:
“Look at what happened with the plagiarism scandal around Chris Andersonâ€™s new book. Anderson says it was a mistake around a change in how they were going to use citations, and I take him at his word. But itâ€™s safe to say any author whoâ€™d considered borrowing heavily from Wikipedia wonâ€™t now. We like to think that we act virtuously because of personal or professional pride, but nothing enforces those ethics like the real possibility of getting caught and hugely embarrassed.”
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