I understand that this site is new, and it is time to discuss some rules, formal or informal. As a long time participant of another similar site, Math Overflow (MO), I propose to discuss the following:

What is this community attitude to pasting and copying from Wikipedia?

In MO, this is not considered a good answer. Moreover, if the answer to a question can be readily found in Wikipedia, the question is usually voted down or closed.

It is supposed that those who ask questions did some preliminary research and could not answer it themselves or with the help of some such common tool as Wikipedia.

Of course I understand the difference between this forum and MO: the MO is a site for professional mathematicians, while this is not a site for professional historians. Nevertheless I am interested to find out the general opinion on this issue.


If you are quoting from Wikipedia make sure that:

  • There are no better sources. If you can quote something other than Wikipedia this would be preffered. You may, however, use Wikipedia in order to find sources.
  • It is evident that Wikipedia has good sources for their claims. If there are no sources (or they are rubbish) do not use it.
  • You keep in mind that information on Wikipedia can change. Sources, generally do not do this. Make sure that your source is solid.

I think it should be heavily discouraged for an answer to just be a Wikipedia quote. Some interpretation to the information in order to answer the question is key.

Wikipedia is great. No doubt. But this site is not intended to be a cut down version of Wikipedia. This site is intended for good questions and answers.

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    $\begingroup$ The first point "Don't use Wikipedia if there are better sources" and the second point "Check if Wikipedia has good sources, and don't use it if it doesn't" together seem to imply to me that one should never cite Wikipedia. If it has good sources one should cite those. If not one shouldn't make the claim at all. (For reference, if that's your viewpoint, I agree with it.) $\endgroup$ – Logan M Nov 12 '14 at 23:02
  • $\begingroup$ @LoganMaingi There are times when it is acceptable to cite Wikipedia. However this does not mean it is acceptable all the time. Sometimes Wikipedia can act as a "bucket" of good sources. $\endgroup$ – Ali Caglayan Nov 12 '14 at 23:05
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    $\begingroup$ I suppose using Wikipedia as a summarized list of sources is acceptable in some cases, particularly if the Wikipedia article is well-sourced and the points aren't especially controversial. It's probably a good idea to link to the permanent link of the current revision (e.g. en.wikipedia.org/w/…) rather than the page itself to protect from link rot in this case. $\endgroup$ – Logan M Nov 12 '14 at 23:10

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