Why Wikipedia should never be used as a Technical Reference

There's been a lot of talk about Wikipedia lately over at Slashdot, with regard to Wikipedia shifting from using primary to secondary sources.

When I'm researching a technical issue, and a Wikipedia result is returned, I immediately skip over it.

I used to be able to trust Wikipedia as a "landing page" to find a brief overview of what I'm looking for, then locate additional information.  But not anymore.  There is an ever-growing trend on Wikipedia to create a "leaner" Wikipedia by simplifying articles, combining articles, and deleting articles.

First case in point is the Wikipedia page for "Microsoft Macro Assembler".  As of this blog post, this is a very small page with "History", "Object module formats supported by MASM", "Some third-party tools that support MASM", and "Assemblers compatible with MASM" as the main content sections.

Strangely missing is the details on the actual MASM assembly language.  There's no link to another wiki page.  There may be a few references at the bottom to the language, but nothing in the article itself.

I considered adding to the article, but then I noticed in the history that there used to be a rather excellent overview of the MASM assembly language, but someone deleted it with the following reason:
major cleanup; remove poorly written and messy "MASM assembly language details" section which discusses specific aspects of MASM and is best suited for a user's guide
I was really hoping this was a one-off occurrence, but the more I look through Wikipedia, the more saddened I am that the entire community has turned into one large bickering and arguing festival over what needs to be deleted.

A somewhat related article, Open Watcom Assembler, has been the victim of merciless edits by multiple users who possibly have no idea what an assembler even is.

Let's look at the curious history of Open Watcom Assembler's Wikipedia article...

The article was first created on January 28, 2010 with references to material which have nothing to do with the assembler.  In fact, one of the references is a C/C++ cryptography book.

After someone noticed on February 1, 2010, the irrelevant references were removed:
Removed "References with non-substantial reference in Leiterman which simply says: "I do not use it these days, but there is also the Watcom C/C++ with their WASM Assembler.
 ...only to be re-added minutes later by the original author.

An edit war ensued by multiple users, to the point that on February 2, 2010, the article was nominated for deletion as "not meeting notability requirements" instead of attempting to improve it further and provide valid references.

Fortunately the nomination for deletion resulted in "Keep" on February 10, 2010.  However, the edit war and nomination for deletion appears to have resulted in all involved parties becoming so discouraged that they stopped working on the article.  The article was not edited again until June 23, 2010, several months later.

Events such as the above two examples are why I refuse to use Wikipedia as a technical reference, and why I no longer contribute there.  I was never involved in any "major disputes" at Wikipedia, but I have seen the hard work of others completely disappear because someone who has no idea what an article is even about decides the page needs to be "cleaned up", possibly because they don't understand some of the more technical information on the page.

Wikipedia editors have known that "deletionism" is a growing problem for many years, and even have an article devoted to the documenting the issue, which was created in 2008.  Interestingly (and ironically) enough, shortly after the article was written, it too was nominated for deletion.

If anyone knows a good publicly accessible alternative to Wikipedia for technical resources, please do share, I'll be happy to contribute.

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