trail of sources

At the blog How They Got Game 2 Henry E. Lowood reflects about the issues I pondered in defrag wikipedia. Here’s an excerpt from his Wikipedia, sources, machinima, which also goes well with wikipedia on cyberanthropology and embeddedness of subcybercultures:

This blog post raises a number of interesting issues about historical research and web archaeology. The fundamental issue (at least in the paragraph cited) has to do with the Wikipedia’s unique position in covering the recent history of web technologies and new media, along with related popular culture. Even when one is nervous about citing Wikipedia, what do you do when it’s the only source in town? Alexander suggests tracing from Wikipedia to primary sources or other articles cited there, which in fact conforms to a common use of encyclopedia references. But what to do when these trails lead only to forums and fansites? My suggestion to students and in my own work has been to differentiate between primary sources (the author did it) and secondary sources (the author says that somebody else did it), and Alexander takes a similar position. But these questions do raise issues about research on “consumer-created content.” It seems we are dependent on consumer-created sources, as well.