Wikipedia is not legitimate and never will be
All through high school and college I was frustrated at the thought that Wikipedia was not a legitimate source of research information. Now that it's been a few years I finally see why that is. Wikipedia has strengths including a self-policing community. However, this community has taken their process to the extreme.
Wikipedia policy is literally its own language of acronyms including WP:POV, MOS, ELOFFICIAL, ELNO, ATTRIBUTEPOV, Synthesis, BLP, MfD, and the list goes on. Each broad category of policy can easily span 5-10 pages of text in description.
I'd like to go over some quick points.
- Veteran Wikipedia editors are highly knowledgeable in Wikipedia markup and policies
- Veterans can be anyone, including those with radical points of view that are outside the mainstream
- Veterans essentially take the role of "historian" online
By taking that important role, it's easy to see why serious Wikipedians love what they do. They are shaping the minds and thinking of those who browse one of the most popular websites on the Internet. You might say at this point, "well, Wikipedia's policy makes it so those people remain in check". This is true in many cases, but not in the cases where a page might not have a counter Wikipedia expert to defend against casual deletion of real content and borderline information that doesn't align with a veteran's point of view. In those scenarios a patrolling veteran with an extreme bias can keep a page tidy of flaky opposing views and information and cleverly insert their own skewed sources. Wikipedia does not protect against these types of edits and those with less Wikipedia knowledge are thrown against an editor with potentially a decade of experience on the site.
No matter how much Wikipedia sugarcoats its policy and restrictions, the one reason it will never be a legitimate research resource is because any person can edit the site. Any person can become that radical editor with 32,000+ edits posing as a force for good and neutral point of view (NPOV). Next time you find an article on Wikipedia, treat it like candy. It's sweet and to the point. Never treat that article like the definitive source of information for that topic. It is likely there's more to the story than the one crafted on Wikipedia.
Think of it this way: if you don't like a topic and you're full of hate, you'd be more likely to scope out the information available and work to make it look more foolish. Especially if you have the power of the Wikipedia policy tome backing you up while you handpick sources belittling said topic. As Lord Acton said in 1887: "Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely."