In writing my new novel, Wikipedia has been amazingly useful as a reference source. Its right on the internet, its all in one place, and there’s a crazy ammount of niche material. (And since I’m writing fiction, it doesn’t have to be 100% accurate.)
Although Wikipedia is close. Yes, contributors make mistakes, but that can happen with any reference work. And if I was using it for, say, a scholarly paper, I’d use the little technique of ‘follow the source’ to see what Wikipedians think is useful, get that book from the library, and cite that. (And give a big shout out to Wikipedia in the Works Consulted part of my bibliography. Credit where credit is due.)
The world is a crazy, screwed up, multifaceted place, and Wikipedia is really good for finding that out. Pick an article on something you’re interested in, and follow the hyperlinks. You’ll come up with something weird and unusual.