Many answers are quoted from Wikipedia. Is that a good resource to depend on? In other words, are Wikipedia entries on Hinduism.SE without any distortions and biases? Would citing books and other material be better?

This question might look stupid to many but I am one of those people who are skeptical about Wikipedia entries, especially about politics and religions such as Hinduism.

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I looked through various quoted Wikipedia pages and found these two particularly objectionable:

http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Varna_(Hinduism)&oldid=616427935 (not even describing the varnas according to the Hindu scriptures, instead some tripartite hypothesis)

http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=List_of_Hindu_scriptures&oldid=611914579 (an extremely inhomogeneous and incomplete list)

Wikipedia standards of authority are quite different from the Vedic standards, anyone who has published a book with an ISBN number becomes higher than a "mystic" ancient sage like Bhrigu.

So I would prefer a quote from a Sanskrit source rather than from Wikipedia.

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    This was part of the reason I had this question. The entries in wikipedia are written by so called experts who are outsiders and not practitioners and they come with biased views from the religions they practice. – Bharat Jul 15 '14 at 17:41
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    I can show you many articles which give exact sources. Wikipedia articles are update time to time. So, quoting a stub is not at all welcomed. There are good articles too. – Sarvabhouma Dec 29 '18 at 18:56

Instead of citing Wikipedia, it will be better to cite from the references of Wikipedia atleast. Because Wikipedia content can change by any future users at any time and that change could be good or bad.(can't say).

I heard the above suggestion from Ankit Sharma.

Apart from my above solution, having more than one source in answer is always better.

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One thing - if you are going to cite Wikipedia, it is a very good idea to link to a specific revision.

To do this, simply go to the left sidebar of Wikipedia, click on "Permanent link", and copy the URL of the page that that links you to. For example, this link takes you to the current-as-of-this-writing revision of the Wikipedia article on Hinduism: http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Hinduism&oldid=614955581

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I agree in a way that we should cite from the books as well, but I strongly suggest to quote from Wikipedia as well, and also link to the respective page, the reason am saying this is...

Nothing on the web is going to be same, so not only Wikipedia, if user quotes from other website as well, who knows the content on that website may change?

Also its likely that referencing a random website may result in broken link, or even the website isn't hosted anymore, whereas on Wikipedia, you don't need to worry about the existence of the article.

Also, as far as the edit goes on Wikipedia, they won't be radical that the answer over here would get useless.

So my suggestion is to quote from Wikipedia, and if required, a user can quote from other websites as well.

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Wikipedia is a reliable source. It has mechanisms in place to identify and remove biased content. It is also maintained by a community of users like us. I have seen answers citing content from "Yahoo answers", and I'm sure Wikipedia is better option than that.

If a page has poor or biased content it shows warnings like "the neutrality of this article is disputed" etc.

And coming to changes to its pages, I agree with Mr. Alien, I don't they change so much that an answer would get invalidated.

My answer here got partially invalidated because of change in wikipedia page.

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    Wikipedia is definitely better than Yahoo Answers and random blog posts, but it is still not the best option in many cases. Wikipedia is good at detecting bad content, but it isn't perfect. – senshin Jul 4 '14 at 20:41
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    Well if Wikipedia was perfect and had everything, we will never need stack exchange site I guess. I like your idea of link to specific version – Tejesh Alimilli Jul 4 '14 at 21:02
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    @senshin, just curious, you said Wikipedia isn't perfect, could you cite some reasons. – Tejesh Alimilli Jul 5 '14 at 4:28

Though Wikipedia may be useful for getting basic information about particular topic, However, Wikipedia can not be considers as reliable source to cite or take a reference.

From Ten things you may not know about Wikipedia:

We do not expect you to trust us

It is in the nature of an open collaboration and work-in-progress like Wikipedia that quality may vary over time, and from article to article. While some articles are of the highest quality of scholarship, others are admittedly complete rubbish. Also, since Wikipedia can be edited by almost anyone anytime, articles may be prone to errors, including vandalism. So please do not use Wikipedia to make critical decisions. This encyclopedia is especially useful for improving familiarity with a subject and its jargon, and for learning search terms with which to further explore a subject beyond Wikipedia. Helpful external links are also provided to assist you in learning more.

Which is more clear from Wikipedia:General disclaimer:


Wikipedia is an online open-content collaborative encyclopedia; that is, a voluntary association of individuals and groups working to develop a common resource of human knowledge. The structure of the project allows anyone with an Internet connection to alter its content. Please be advised that nothing found here has necessarily been reviewed by people with the expertise required to provide you with complete, accurate or reliable information.

That is not to say that you will not find valuable and accurate information in Wikipedia; much of the time you will. However, Wikipedia cannot guarantee the validity of the information found here. The content of any given article may recently have been changed, vandalized or altered by someone whose opinion does not correspond with the state of knowledge in the relevant fields. Note that most other encyclopedias and reference works also have disclaimers.

So, We can't trust Wikipedia always i.e., Wikipedia is not considered as reliable source all the time.

Many times (as being a good/quality encyclopedia) you may find a Wikipedia article very helpful but sometimes it may have incorrect or wrong information.

Also note that most parts may be written by Western academic as pointed out in a comment here

So, it is recommended to cite "Scriptural Source" or scholarly source like works of Aacharyas or well reputed books etc. than (or in addition to) Wikipedia.

Update: Can we add a citation banner for answers that rely solely on Wikipedia?

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    Validity or invalidity of the books or sources based on the author's nativity is a personal opinion. That should not be taken as a site's policy. Some will have a good opinion on western academic works. Even if some users thinks bad, they should be allowed. We are not an Indian site. We are an International site. – Sarvabhouma Feb 27 '18 at 8:40
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    You make contradictory statements here. 1. " We can't trust Wikipedia always i.e Wikipedia is not considered as reliable source all the time." So, it is okay to cite it when there are references. The reason you gave is not a logical one because it is a subjective opinion. Indian/Asian academics also give totally wrong info. So, naming western academics is totally irrelevant. Do you have another reason? 2. "So, it is recommended to cite scriptural sources" this is not a force that we should not stop wikipedia. Only recommendation. Then is it right to put banners just because there is wiki? – Sarvabhouma Dec 29 '18 at 18:52
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    Plus own emphasis to suit the view it is not reliable when there are sentences which says other encyclopaedias also have such disclaimers and "That is not to say that you will not find valuable and accurate information in Wikipedia; much of the time you will." This says there is god content too. This should be regarded as other websites. – Sarvabhouma Dec 29 '18 at 19:04
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    "Also note that most parts may be written by Western academic as pointed out in a comment here" - so Wikipedia is not authentic but a comment made by a fellow user on the site about Wikipedia is authentic and you cite that as a reason in your answer?! wow! – sv. Jan 8 '19 at 19:23

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