Wikipedia is a controversial source, because anyone can edit pages. However, some pages are worthwhile (and others are terrible). Some things to look for
Characteristics of Good Wikipedia Language Page
- Relatively long – the longer the outline, the better your chances are
- Provides examples – If the page says the language has nasal vowels, I want to see some sample words
- Includes IPA symbols – it’s not a 100% guarantee, but few people take the time to “fake” phonetic notation
- Avoids “cutsey” native stereotypes – if a page mentions how “colorful”, “beautiful” or “noble” a language is, the author may be biased.
Note: Languages are beautiful, but Wikipedia is not necessarily the best place to go into that kind of discussion
- Controversial topics are always a little suspect. These pages are the ones which tend to be vandalized or have dubious rhetoric. You should always read multiple sources in this case.
- Linguistic theory pages tend to be weak – not enough linguists come to edit these pages.
Don’t Forget to Double Check Facts
If you are crucially relying on Wikipedia for some information, you check against another source. Doublechecking good rule of thumb for any non-academic reference, even CNN.