From Phil, I found an interesting conversation among Danah , Clay and others regarding Wikipedia and its relative value as a source for research. The post is from a couple of months ago. I missed it the first time around, but began responding before I realized the posts were old. Ah, timeliness online is relative thanks to our archives, you know, since an archived entry is an archived entry only if you happen to look at the date....
I think the notion that Wikipedia is "authored by N unknown people," as danah says, is important when viewed in context with the idea that Wikipedia is also a self-correcting web-based tool (i.e., unlike its traditional counterparts, Wikipedia is continuously updated).
Compared to the genesis and updating of traditional encyclopedias, which are, in the end, a by-product of the publishing industry, Wikipedia comes out ahead in my book. Or at least as "credible enough" for danah's students to use--which was the point of discussion in the original post. Again, one source is created bottom up (Wikipedia), one source is birthed by publishing corporations, where employees feel a little guilty for sneaking pencils and note pads home to their kids, who they don't get to see until after they pick them up at daycare at 6:30.
I may be "buying into the open source religion" in a way that danah doesn't, or I may be valuing passion above business as the motivator for creating an excellent resource.
That said, danah has some good ideas for enhancements to Wikipedia that could satisfy the more discerning professors and make life a whole lot easier for students.