There seems to be a tendency on many answers to entirely source everything off Wikipedia. Some answers are almost like "I don't know but Wikipedia says...", however if we are asking here, it means we want knowledgeable people to answer, and not links to Wikipedia articles (we can find them by ourselves), even with additional comments.

So I'm wondering if there's something we could do to avoid these Wikipedia-based answers? Perhaps, like on Wikipedia, we could ask users to try to mostly use secondary sources?

(Note that it's not a post against Wikipedia (which I like) but against sourcing off a potentially unreliable source.)


Having wikipedia as a source is not a problem, as long as you make a reference and you can elaborate using also other sources.

But the problem is not just that in my opinion. If someone asks a question that is answerable by wikipedia and you say "I could do that myself", then the "problem" is not the answer but the question that is too easily answerable like that. I say "problem" because easy questions are not a problem. Easy as in basic but still challenging. Questions like "how do you say hello in Chinese?" is an extreme example of bad easy.

Going back to your question, you could ask for that, but what matters is that you get a correct answer on your doubt. I tend not to rely too much on wikipedia, and I always try to back it up with other sources to confirm wikipedia (or not).

  • 1
    Hmm... you make a good point by saying that a question that can be answered by Wikipedia shouldn't be asked. However, it's not as simple. Sometime I see incredibly valuable answers that are based on experience living in China, or being born in China. Even if that kind of question can be answered by quoting Wikipedia, it's still more interesting, and maybe more informative, to hear about personal experience or knowledge, than about a Wikipedia article. – laurent Dec 15 '11 at 17:40
  • I understand that, but not everything is answerable by personal experiences or by native speakers. If I say something that is correct even if it doesn't come all from my own knowledge, it's still as valuable as the other answers. – Alenanno Dec 15 '11 at 17:49
  • 2
    English Language & Usage has been closing questions answerable by wikipedia as "general reference". – Orion Dec 17 '11 at 0:44
  • @NullUserException Better, questions easily answerable by wikipedia, and it's correct in that case. However many subjects, kind of all actually, are already treated by wikipedia, that means we can't ask about them? Of course not. If a question is simple, then it's general reference, but also easy matters can be treated deeper. – Alenanno Dec 17 '11 at 1:10

One good way to avoid this is to say something along the lines of "I've already checked wikipedia".

You can always vote down poorly referenced answers.

I also agree with Alenanno that if a question is asked well (very specific) and is not too easy then wikipedia answers can be avoided. Wikipedia questions tend to get Wikipedia answers.


That Web site has some value: surveying information before finding better sources. The information on that site is highly unreliable, particularly when describing topics related to other cultures (such as language usage), and is not useful for technical questions requiring more careful details. Even when knowledgable experts edit there, this is often edited again by others who do not fully understand the subject.

It would be better if people referenced sources which are more qualified or that are at least attached to a particular individual or institution so readers can make a better assessment of the quality of the information when using this information.

Chinese Language & Usage should try to aim to attract experts, just like most of the other Stack Exchange sites have done.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .