Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia anyone can edit, is without a doubt one of the largest, if not the largest, free online reference resource. The fact that anyone can edit it, along with a couple of well-publicized Wikipedia hoaxes, have led many lawyers to classify Wikipedia as unreliable when nothing could be further from the truth. First of all, the vast number of Wikipedia users mean that the resource is self-correcting. While someone might edit an entry in a way most of us would view as untrue, it is likely that it would be edited again by another Wikipedia user within seconds. But primarily I want to warn you that avoiding Wikipedia would mean avoiding of the Web’s best places to get your questions answered quickly.

Use Wikipedia as a quick reference resource. For high tech terms or popular culture items, there may be no better quick reference resource. If you want to see every song that made number one each week on the Billboard 100 for a given year or a recap of the 2000 NCAA football season, Wikipedia should be your first stop. And even though you might still understandably feel uncomfortable citing Wikipedia in a brief since the cited entry could change, many court opinions have included citations to Wikipedia. (See this January, 2007 New York Times article on that topic.)