Should Wikipedia be trusted to make or break a case?
The New York Times reported that more and more judges in the US justice system are turning to select entries from Wikipedia to make their rulings. The New York Times reports that entries from Wikipedia, an online human edited encyclopedia, are now being used by judges in their rulings, albeit selectively.
More than 100 judicial rulings have relied on Wikipedia, beginning in 2004, including 13 from circuit courts of appeal, one step below the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court thus far has never cited Wikipedia.
What do you think of this?
Most of the information in the Wikipedia is contributed by people around the world, who are not necessarily experts on the subject matter and may not posssess the qualifications necessary to legitimize the work presented. Also, Danny Sullivan of the Daily Search Cast said that Wikipedia has just instituted a rule where when they link to external sources, they use a “no follow” linking strategy that tells search engines not assign a value to a link, disregarding the submission’s worth thereby telling search engines not to validate a source that has been accepted into Wikipedia.
What this means is that people will be able to click through a link but search engine spiders will take no notice of them. Sure, it will cut out spam entries from the search engines, however, it will also in effect rob people of learning more or cross-referencing from the true source of the information in a natural search result (Wikipedia revokes their ‘vote’ and the link, other than for visitors purposes from that Wikipedia page, is worthless).
That fact alone makes a world of difference where the quality and authenticity of an entry in Wikipedia is concerned. Should Wikipedia be considered a source worthy to tip the scales let alone be referenced in the court of law?