Citing WikipediaBMJ 2014; 348 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.g1819 (Published 06 March 2014) Cite this as: BMJ 2014;348:g1819
All rapid responses
Of course, if you wish to provide a link to primary data, you don't cite Wikipedia.
But the author seems to have an extremely blinkered view of what a citation can usefully be used for.
There may be very "hard science" journals, in which the idea of educating and explaining things to people who couldn't have written the article for themselves is anathema; but most journal articles are about the communication of ideas.
Inevitably, it is inappropriate to explain in detail things that many people will understand already; but it might be helpful to help people new to the ideas to understand them. I was listening to a podcast on the way to work that referred in passing to Jeremy Bentham and, particularly, his views on utilitarianism. Had the podcast been an article or blog, it might have been very useful to provide a link to something which could explain this in detail to somebody new to the ideas. Arguably, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jeremy_Bentham#Utilitarianism might not be the ideal reference; but a primary source would be inappropriate.
This is just one example - I'm sure it would be easy to provide many others - of an instance in which citing a secondary could well be helpful. Or are "learned journals" determined to make themselves into ivory tower curiosities, doomed to fail in the era of blogs and, er, Wikipedia? To argue that Wikipedia should "never" be cited - as Rasberry appears to do - strikes me as silly and short-sighted.
(Rasberry also seems to fail to recognise that printed journals can't include hotlinks in the text, only citations; and that Wikipedia often has hotlinks to relevant secondary information, not least its own pages. It may be possible for Wikipedia to discriminate between "citations", which it defines as "links to primary sources" and ordinary links, which can be to other sources; but it is misleading to suggest that print journals should not be able to link to the latter.)
Competing interests: No competing interests