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I'm sorry if this is off topic, but it's something I have been wondering about

A lot of the times in the Star Wars questions, I see the Stars Wars wiki (wookiepedia I think it's called) being quoted as a reference, by both old and new users of the site, and nobody ever thinks twice about it

However, when it comes to Harry Potter, people here go out of their way to mention that they don't consider the Harry Potter wiki as a reliable source, leave similar comments on answers that make references to the wiki, even going so far as to down vote an answer if it only has a wiki reference

Is the Star Wars wiki comparatively really that great as a reference source, and the Harry Potter one that bad? As far as I understand both are fan powered websites and community edited without much moderation, so I presume the level of quality would be similar

I am sure there are people here who have read more of the wiki as well as the canonical sources than I have, and I hope some of them can answer this question for me

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    I've sometimes been told off for using Wookieepedia as a source too. That said, there are differences in quality and reliability even among fan-edited wikias: in my experience, Tolkien Gateway is among the best and the Hunger Games wikia is absolutely terrible. – Rand al'Thor Jun 21 '17 at 11:21
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    There is a massive difference. It's not just cuz they're both wikis. Either way, best practice is quote the wiki. Look at where they got the source from, go to the source. Get the sourced quote, reap benefits – Edlothiad Jun 21 '17 at 13:06
  • @Edlothiad Any possible reasons as to why they are different? – user13267 Jun 21 '17 at 13:08
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    wookiepedia is normally referenced far better. Possibly due to the larger amount of work, but the number of references per body of text is usually much higher compared to harry potter wikia. Furthermore, pottermore has a pretty extensive amount of info and people really should just search there. Whereas the databank is pretty dreadful. Similarly lotr.wikia is a pest compared to Tolkien Gateway, as it is far better sourced and more honest with little to no assumptions made – Edlothiad Jun 21 '17 at 13:09
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    I think it also has to do with the wiki's sources. In Harry Potter, there are a bunch of different levels of canon (see here) and the wiki uses all of them, from the books to the video games. For Star Wars, (here) there's a definitive list of canonical works instead of levels of canon contradicting each other. – CHEESE Jun 21 '17 at 13:10
  • what about other fan powered wikis like marvel.wikia, dc.wikia, gameofthrones.wikia? – HBhatia Jun 21 '17 at 14:18
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    The Harry Potter wiki has a very bad reputation for what can at best be referred to as editorialising. Somebody will extrapolate from something that happens in cannon, spin a whole story out of it, and then present it as verified fact and it often doesn't add up. At least, that's what I've sort of picked up on this site - if you like I've extrapolated from what I've read on this site and spun a whole story out of it, but that's why I'm leaving it as a comment, I don't use the harry potter wiki much, except for a handy guide to chapter titles, hence I'm leaving this as a comment – Au101 Jun 21 '17 at 19:59
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    The current answers are OK, but the top two talk only about HP and not SW. It would be great if someone with expertise in both topics (e.g. Valorum or DVK, who have gold tag badges in both) could provide an answer comparing the two. – Rand al'Thor Jun 24 '17 at 13:43
  • Speaking personally, I tend to find the Wikia useful for summarising the plot of canon works that I've not read. So, in the case of Star Wars, it tells me all the details about planets, characters and events from the various books. With Harry Potter I've read the canon material so I don't tend to use the Wikia. I wouldn't use Wikia in an answer for either universe - although it can be useful for referencing occasionally. – The Dark Lord Jun 29 '17 at 10:41
  • @Randal'Thor - {cough} I'd like to brag that I was the first to get a gold tag badge in Harry Potter (the first to earn a tag badge at all, actually) and the first to start complaining about the quality of the Harry Potter wiki back in 2012 ... I might have something useful to say as well, yes? ;) – Slytherincess Jul 5 '17 at 6:17
  • @Slytherincess Please do so – user13267 Jul 5 '17 at 11:33
  • @Slytherincess Of course - you're the #1 authority on HP and the crappiness of the HP wikia. But we already have a couple of answers focused on that. Do you also know a lot about the Star Wars wikia and its quality/reliability? :-) – Rand al'Thor Jul 5 '17 at 11:41
  • @Randal'Thor - That wasn't my point. And I greatly hesitate to rank myself when it comes to HP. :) – Slytherincess Jul 5 '17 at 12:01
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No idea about the Star Wars wiki, but the Harry Potter wiki has two main problems:

  • Their canon policy disagrees with the commonly accepted practice on this site. We tend to only accept Rowling's writings as canon, but they accept movies, video games, plays, parks, licensed merchandise, etc.

  • A lot of what they have is inaccurate and/or poorly sourced. There is a tendency on wikis to make every article read like a story, which often leads to unwarranted assumptions, things used out of context, and large amounts of speculation.

In general, if you can find the source of a claim on the wiki, just quote directly from its primary source. If you can't find their source, then ignore it. There is a finite amount of HP writings that we tend to consider canon here. Most of them are available online and easily searchable.

Other wikis may be of better quality, (and therefore less frowned upon), but the same rule applies. Nothing beats quoting from a primary source.

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The Harry Potter wiki is a poor effort in multiple ways.

For instance, in this one page, the word 'may' appears 8 times, the word 'presumably' appears 3 times and the word 'apparently' also appears 3 times. There is one reference on the entire page that I can see. This is the flavour I've gotten from my personal interactions with it. There's a lack of proper sourcing and a general aroma of inference and extrapolation.

It's also just wrong in bad ways. In its plot summary of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, more than once it describes events as happening in one chapter, when in fact they happened in the next. The link will lead you to the summary of Chapter 31: The Battle of Hogwarts. As I write this answer, although maybe some kind soul will go and fix it, the summary is:

At midnight, the Battle of Hogwarts begins. All the while Harry tries to locate the diadem and Ron and Hermione who had gone missing. Thinking that the diadem had not been seen in living memory, he speaks with the Grey Lady and surmises that Tom Riddle had learned of the diadem's location from her. Shortly after the battle begins, Harry recalls seeing the diadem in the Room of Requirement and meets up with Ron and Hermione, who had disappeared in order to retrieve Basilisk fangs from the Chamber of Secrets to destroy the next two Horcruxes. The trio re-enter the Room of Requirement, and Ron remembers all about the house-elves in the kitchens. He does not feel that it is right to order them to die for them, so he makes his thoughts known. With a clatter, Hermione drops all the basilisk fangs she is holding, and she and Ron share a deep, meaningful kiss, completely forgetting that Harry is there and that there is a war going on. After being reminded, they search the Room of Hidden Things, a version of the Room of Requirement that students have used to hide contraband over the centuries. Once they are inside, they are confronted by Malfoy and his cronies Vincent Crabbe and Gregory Goyle. During a short duel in which Crabbe aims to kill, Crabbe mishandles the Fiendfyre spell, causing a huge inferno. Harry, Ron, Hermione, Malfoy, and Goyle escape on two old brooms, and the diadem is destroyed by the fire, along with Crabbe. Soon after, Fred and Percy Weasley, who had just reconciled with his family, are seen duelling with two Death Eaters one of whom is Minister for Magic Pius Thicknesse. After they defeat them, there is an explosion in the corridor, and Fred is killed, deeply affecting his parents, sister and brothers, as well as Harry and Hermione.

With the cup and diadem destroyed, only one Horcrux remains. Voldemort's snake, Nagini. The trio fight their way through the castle, as the two armies battle furiously, dodging curses, Death Eaters, and Acromantulas and saving Draco Malfoy's life again along the way. When they reach the Entrance Hall, they find that Giants have joined the battle. Before leaving Hermione spots Fenrir Greyback trying to attack Lavender Brown on a balcony and casts a spell that knocks them off. While Lavender stirs feebly, Fenrir tries to get up but Sybill Trelawney drops a Crystal ball on his head and he is knocked unconscious. It is presumed that Lavender dies later. Trelawney then grabs another Crystal ball and uses her wand to throw one with a "tennis like serve". Once onto the grounds, they come across Voldemort's Dementors. Unable to produce Patronuses, because of the horrors they have witnessed, all seems lost, and Harry even welcomes the oblivion that accompanies the Dementor's Kiss. They are saved by Seamus, Luna, and Ernie, who conjure Patronuses long enough for Harry to summon the will to drive the Dementors away. Then Seamus, Luna, and Ernie run to safety.

In reality, chapter 31 ends at the end of the first paragraph. All of the events described in the second paragraph take place in the next chapter. I mean how hard can it be to check?

  • Excellent and to the point, as always. – DVK-on-Ahch-To Jul 6 '17 at 14:58
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It has more to do with the state of Canon for the various universes.

Star Wars has a definitive list of canonical works. Whereas Harry Potter is all over the place. So for one we can say, "yes, that a thing, look at here where it says so" and the other is, "maybe? It say so here, but not here and Rowling might have retconned in this interview, but the book definitely implies it".

But like some comments mentioned, it's also the state of the community for the various wikias. lotr.wikia and Tolkien Gateway draw from the same source material, but are vastly different in terms of reliability.

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