In the question What is the difference between the following kernel Makefile terms: vmlinux, vmlinuz, vmlinux.bin, zimage & bzimage?, the user asked a question, and a couple comments suggest that he should look for the answer in Wikipedia.

Is it okay to ask a question when the answer can be easily found in Wikipedia?

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See also: meta.unix.stackexchange.com/questions/203/… –  Steven D Jan 9 '11 at 18:16

4 Answers 4

up vote 9 down vote accepted

If your question is “what is X”, you should look on Wikipedia first. Then, it's fine to ask something like “what is X? Wikipedia says it's a green wobbly widget, but I don't understand what it means for a widget to be wobbly or why it would matter that it's green”. Or “How does X apply to <specific context>”. Or “what is X” when there's a stub-quality Wikipedia article or none at all. Basically anything where the answer would add value to the Wikipedia article, by providing more explanations, or clarifying some points, or applying it to a particular situation.

Another situation where a simple “look at this Wikipedia article” could be a fine answer is when the asker didn't know the name of some concept.

Note that “wikipede it first” is not the same thing as “google it first”. Google answers are fluctuating and unreviewed. Wikipedia articles can change profoundly but rarely do, and are (if of sufficient quality, but this is usually easy to determine even if you don't know much about the subject) cited and somewhat reviewed.

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In addition, if the answer is on Wikipedia and you want to link there, it's helpful to provide a summary of the relevant part of the article here, so the user gets an idea without needing to click the link. In general, when you post a link somewhere, try to write the answer such that it's still useful even if that link stops working in the future

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Yes, this is a fine practice.

Here are two reasons:

  • Wikipedia isn't always the best resource. Some of their pages are poor quality. Other pages have incorrect or biased information due to politics. Yet other information is deleted because someone thought it was not notable.

  • The SE sites are a good resource to provide good answers to common questions. When someone searches for a question on Google, they need to end up at a reputable site which provides a good, current and friendly answer.

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If you feel our page can be better than Wikipedia because it is:

  • more focused (no wall o' text, just "the question and answer")
  • better written, better examples, clearer, etc.
  • targetted to a specific audience of experts rather than the whole world

... then sure. If not, then no.

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