Thor Lancelot Simon (firstname.lastname@example.org) wrote:
> Well, it's generally frowned upon to cite it (or similar works) in
> scholarly writing at anything but the most elementary level. The
> same kind of scorn should be applied to writers who cite Wikipedia;
> unfortunately, sometimes it is not.
Well, then I guess my writings must be at that most elementary level.
As I noted in my previous post on this subject, I find that Wikipedia
articles (at least the technical ones I'm likely to cite) are accurate
and well written. Of course, I review every cited article before I
cite it, and I always cite the permanent link.
Wikipedia offers an advantage that few other websites offer: link
stability. By citing the permanent link, I can be confident that the
article I'm citing won't be changed, and that it won't disappear (I've
learned the hard way that I can't trust the stability of websites
maintained by such presumably stable institutions as NASA, the
Illinois Commerce Commission, the Mount Wilson Observatory, or the
Texas Parks and Wildlife Department).
John McHarry <email@example.com> wrote:
> Wikipedia has more vulnerabilities than a traditional edited
> collection like Britannica, but it contains a rather amazing amount
> of information. Of course, no secondary source should be trusted
> very far.
That's undeniably true, but there are many situations where a set of
facts is so well established and/or so lost in history that it's
impossible even to identify, much less cite, the primary source.
What, for example, it the primary source for parabola? Sonata?
Or consider the example I mentioned in my previous post: the concept
of the geostationary orbit. Who or what is the primary source?
Arthur C. Clarke first published the idea , but even he disclaimed
originality . The FCC rules include a legal definition  which
is based Federal Standard 1037C  which is based on the ITU Radio
Regulations  (which costs 252 Swiss Franks to download). I suppose
the ITU is the ultimate authority, but it's certainly not a primary
For my purposes, Wikipedia's definition , though certainly not
primary, works: it's accurate, comprehensive, permanent, and free.
----------- Citations (mostly not Wikipedia) --------------
 Arthur C. Clarke. "Extra-Terrestrial Relays." Wireless World,
October, 1945, 305-308. Reprinted in "Ascent to Orbit: A Scientific
Autobiography." New York: John Wiley & Sons, 1984, 60-63.
 Arthur C. Clarke. "The Space Station: Its Radio Applications."
"Ascent to Orbit," 53.
 National Archives and Records Administration. United States Code of
Federal Regulations. 47 CFR 2.1. http://tinyurl.com/devel
 National Communications System Technology & Standards Division.
"Telecommunications: Glossary of Telecommunication Terms, Federal
Standard 1037C." http://tinyurl.com/9gzzw
 International Telecommunications Union. General Secretariat and
Telecom Radiocommunication (ITU-R). Radio Regulations, edition of 2004.
 Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. "Geostationary orbit." 19 Dec
2005, 08:48 UTC. 20 Dec 2005, 13:04 http://tinyurl.com/dz2sw