When you search pretty much anything on the Internet in this day and age, the first entry to pop up on Google will likely be Wikipedia. Ahh, Wikipedia, the free and convenient way to learn a brief overview of essentially any subject imaginable. Such a wealth of information easily available right then and there, without having to search through hundreds of random websites that nobody has ever heard of.

And yet, all people seem to do is criticize Wikipedia, saying that its information cannot always be trusted, as high school teachers around the country unfairly label the poor website as an "unreliable source." You know what? Wikipedia may not be perfect. There may be a typo or two found on certain pages, and maybe not every single sentence has been fact-checked, but the site still deserves better than the horrible reputation impressed upon it.

Supposedly, Wikipedia is unreliable because it can be edited with ease, by anyone on the Internet at any time. However, aren't we supposed to allow any and all voices to be heard in this generation? By refusing to allow someone to edit a page to say that the sky is green instead of blue, are we not censoring that person and therefore stifling their thoughts? Wikipedia is not only a platform for easily obtaining information about any subject; it is also a way to voice the opinions of those who wish to be heard, even if everything they are saying is complete and utter nonsense.

Still, the unfair criticism of Wikipedia continues, especially from those in the education field. However, this forbidding of the use of Wikipedia as an academic source is largely unwarranted because the things that students would look up for use in school are things that people simply don't care enough about to incorrectly edit it.

For example, if you need help in science class, you should just go ahead and use Wikipedia because honestly, nobody cares enough to edit a page to incorrectly state the difference between a proton and a neutron, or the kingdom and phylum that an elephant belongs to.

As far as I can tell, Wikipedia is a way to quickly and efficiently learn about new things, in a more or less reliable manner. I mean sure, maybe you should use a few other sources as well, just to be safe, but the point is that Wikipedia isn't just the huge waste of information that some people seem to believe.

Just think about things from Wikipedia's perspective for a moment. There it is, day after day, supplying information to all of us ungrateful slobs as we use it and then criticize it. Shame on us for abusing Wikipedia in the way that we have been for years. It's a classic case of Internet prejudice, in which a certain website is unfairly labeled and abused just because it doesn't conform to everyone's standards of what a website should be.

Wikipedia has its uses, and it doesn't deserve such a bad reputation. However, lately, the website has been asking for donations and to be completely honest there is no way that I would ever give money to them. According to the website, if everyone reading it donated just the price of a cup of coffee, then Wikipedia could continue thriving for years to come. However, I think I'll keep my money and spend it on the cup of coffee instead. Coffee is really the only way to get through the day sometimes, and I could probably get by without Wikipedia, although it is useful for looking things up quickly. Even though I like Wikipedia and all, I would still pick coffee every time, but I digress.

Don't just dismiss Wikipedia as an unreliable source. Don't rely on it for all of your knowledge in life, either. Use it for quick, simple of overviews of things you want to learn more about, and don't feel bad about doing so.

Also, if you don't like your English teacher, include Wikipedia on your Works Cited list for your next essay. There is nothing that an English teacher despises more, so doing so will immediately force them to have a mental breakdown where they question why they became a teacher in the first place, which would probably be fun to watch.