Wikipedia in Court: When and How Citing Wikipedia and Other Consensus Websites is Appropriate
24 Pages Posted: 10 Nov 2009 Last revised: 30 Jun 2010
Date Written: November 10, 2009
Practitioners and courts are relying more and more on Wikipedia, a free online encyclopedia that anyone can edit. Hundreds of court opinions, including at least one from every federal circuit court, and thousands of law review articles cite Wikipedia. Some opinions have relied on Wikipedia for technical information, although others only turned to the consensus website for background information on minor points.
This practice has generated controversy, with newspapers, professors, practitioners, and judges weighing in. Wikipedia in Court examines the controversy and the history of Wikipedia in court opinions before proposing a framework to determine when it is appropriate and inappropriate to rely on Wikipedia for authority in legal writing. Given the inconsistency in the legal community's use of Wikipedia, courts and practitioners will benefit from this framework.
Keywords: Wikipedia, legal authority, wisdom of the crowd
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