The idea behind Wikipedia is what makes it an illegitimate source. Former Britannica editor Robert McHenry concluded that “Opening up the editing process to all, regardless of expertise, means that reliability can never be ensured”(pg. 900). Wikipedia lets everyone, regardless of age, background or knowledge, edit any page they would like so the information can not be legitimate. Since there are no requirements for the anonymous users anything can be said, even if it is a complete fallacy, whether done purposefully or on accident. Although there are scientists that do put accurate information on certain subjects, there is no way to tell because a high school student could have corrected the scientists post, corrupting the data. The fact is, Wikipedia should not be cited or be a primary source for your information, but it can be a good place to start to find sources.
Whether Wikipedia is accurate or not is not the question, it is more important for students to learn to get their information from primary sources. Not just Wikipedia but also any kind of encyclopedia should be avoided for sources because they are vague and just give an overview. The in depth information from primary studies or sources is what should be used for academic writing.
There are some good aspects of Wikipedia. After some tests were done it was said that compared to Brittanica, Wikipedia only had one more average mistake per entry. This shows that the information is relatively accurate but students should be more interested in the works cited to get directly to the source of the information. This will often prove if the information is right and is a much more legitimate option for citing in an academic paper.
Wikipedia is a breakthrough in some instances and hopefully will someday be considered a source suitable for academic writing. Until that day it should simply be a starting point that should still be checked. If we use it correctly Wikipedia will be a helpful resource.