A real encyclopedia is not considered to be an acceptable source of reference material at many colleges and universities. Having said that, Wikipedia is definitely not an acceptable source of reference material. One problem is that students today are spoiled rotten. There is an entire generation that grew up with the internet during its infancy. As the technology grew faster than the educational system could keep track of it, plagiarism ran rampant through high schools and universities and went undetected for years. The generation that we are dealing with now that seems incompetent and unknowledgeable, yet also seems to run things, is a product of a system that allowed students to purchase papers online before verification software was in place to detect plagiarism. Sites like Wikipedia are made up of user generated information. Any maniac can login and manipulate the facts that are posted, or just may be incorrect when posting something that they believe to be true.
Back in the day, some students had to actually go to the library and look things up in actual books with pages and everything. As time consuming as that was, you would think that just having the ability to access a wealth of information online from home, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, would be a plus. There are plenty of legitimate sources out there, even online. The problem is that there are many more like Wikipedia. Sites like Wiki cloud the water with inaccurate information. Also, Wiki is almost always ranked somewhere very near the top of Google search results. This is a problem as many students stop at the first source that they arrive at and do not necessarily look for the best one. Nobody likes being told that they can’t take the easy way or the path of least resistance.
Many professors will agree that some Wikipedia entries do contain many good bibliographies. This can lead students in the right direction, but Wikipedia itself is not a legitimate source. Students often paraphrase what they see on the site as many entries are similar to essays and term papers just as they are on the site. In this way, the student might be accessing correct information (even though there is no way to verify that unless you actually do the work and look it up yourself), but they are merely regurgitating something that has already been written by someone else and they are not able to understand the ‘why’ and ‘how’ of the information that they present. Take a stand against Wikipedia.