Wikipedia: A Perfectly Acceptable Data Source

Bess Levin is taken aback by the fact that Morgan Stanley is now citing Wikipedia as a source in its research reports. Why? We’re talking here about a pretty simple chart, showing the price of gasoline in different countries around the world. It doesn’t need to be triple-checked in terms of accuracy: it doesn’t really matter if the USA is in the 78th percentile or the 83rd percentile. And it’s much easier to go to Wikipedia for such information than it is to try and dredge it up manually, country by country.

So well done, Morgan Stanley, for having the balls to do in public what everyone else has been doing in private for years. Like all data, anything retrieved from Wikipedia should pass the smell test – and it might be worth looking at the edit history, too, just to double-check that you’re not arriving at just the wrong time, when some prankster’s changed everything. But I see no reason why Wikipedia should never be used.

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