All students are often overwhelmed the first time they are looking for resources, especially online. It is not uncommon for the typical "runs" to Google and Wikipedia. The first can overwhelm further because the internet is BIG! (Secondary students at Maranatha Christian Academy are taught best practices for using Google and Advanced Search.) The run to Wikipedia often has the same consequence but it can have real detrimental outcomes that are further than having a hard time "finding" something.
Not all the content on Wikipedia is wrong but much of it does not meet standards of appropriate research content or authority. Sometimes, it contains outright incorrect, untrue and even malicious information that can mislead. Despite Wikipedia community efforts to maintain observation of content and inform users, younger readers fall prey more easily to, "its on the internet, its written in an article form, it must be true." Remember, content on Wikipedia is "crowd-sourced." It attempts to gather and evaluate information's validity by access and critical volume-- Remember it is literally titled: Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia with a tagline: "That anyone can edit." Anyone? (This is the Internet's equivalent of "might makes right;" and we mean "might" as the volume of information.) Discerning writers are needed just as much as discerning readers.
This is perhaps easiest to note for the younger researcher as it is more of an issue they cannot interpret the markers that Wikipedia uses to identify for more mature audiences what is not legitimate sourcing (often called "incomplete" but really means "inappropriate as a resource.") Finally, Wikipedia is growing too and even those with good and best efforts do not always catch the efforts of the mischievous to alter and misinform articles purposely. An article from Wikipedia's own "Most Edited Articles" blog ought to illuminate some of the problems faced with assuming it is always "good" to get as much feedback on resources as possible. It may be surprising to find out the number one most edited article! It is NOT what you may be thinking!
For more information on why any researchers should not use Wikipedia you may actually want to take a look at Harvard's own brief on it or here, dripping in irony, is an excerpt from a Wikipedia article itself:
Figure Note: I took a picture, it could change! Click the image to go to the page and check.
Search the MCA HelpDesk for dozens of articles that reference good resources to help train students in choosing and using better resources. You will find that almost all of them are easier to use than Google and Wikipedia and do more work for students than Wikipedia or Google, combined!