Skip to main content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.

Evaluate Information

Criteria to consider in evaluating information, including websites, regardless of the format in which it appears.

Strengths of Wikipedia

This page is adapted from "Wikipedia: Strengths and Weaknesses." 17 Jun. 2015. pitt.libguides, University of Pittsburgh. Web. 17 Jun. 2015.

  • Wikipedia is freely accessible, providing information on millions of topics to anyone with Internet capabilities.
  • Wikipedia is constantly updated by the hour. In comparison, subscription encyclopedias might only be updated annually or less frequently.
  • Wikipedia might be a starting point, providing background information on your topic and possible keywords to help you conduct more in-depth research through library databases and other sources.
  • The sources cited can provide more pathways for further investigation into your topic.

Wikipedia Mistakes

25 Biggest Blunders in Wikipedia History - Wikipedia has sometimes falsely reported the deaths of famous people (including Miley Cyrus). There have also been cases of libel or hoaxes.

Weaknesses of Wikipedia

  • Anyone can create, edit, or delete Wikipedia articles.
  • Articles are works-in-progress, meaning changes are constantly occuring to the information.
  • When an article is first published, the information might waver back and forth between viewpoints before achieving a neutral tone. Viewing the behind-the-scenes discussion can be a valuable way of learning about those varying perspectives.
  • Sometimes articles are vandalized, whether for fun, as a hoax, or because the subject is controversial.
  • The intended audience can vary-- some articles are written from a insider's view, with highly technical language, while some are written for a more general audience. This can be both frustrating and valuable depending on what one is looking for, and either way is a warning sign that the information can be inconsistent.
  • Wikipedia articles cannot be considered scholarly, because we don't necessarily know anything about the contributors. See What is a Scholarly Journal?