There is of little doubt in my mind that Wikipedia is the living incarnation of the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.
First, it is slightly cheaper; and secondly it has the words "Don't Panic" inscribed in large friendly letters on its cover.
In many of the more relaxed civilizations on the Outer Eastern Rim of the Galaxy, the Hitch Hiker's Guide has already supplanted the great Encyclopedia Galactica as the standard repository of all knowledge and wisdom, for though it has many omissions and contains much that is apocryphal, or at least wildly inaccurate, it scores over the older, more pedestrian work in two important respects.
Arstechnica has two articles on the subject. The first is an effort by one of the founders of wikipedia to add legitimacy and clout -- to bring it closer to a legitimate reference rivaling that of Brittanica. He brings up some great points, but believe the effort will be fraught with futility. Wikipedia is a collection of popular culture. It might even be a great springboard on where to look for real research, but the notion that anything in wikipedia should be cited as a primary source is (IMO) laughable.
Speaking of laughable, the second article is an attempt to create a conservative version of wikipedia (Conservapedia). Wow. I'm speechless. About as bad (and probably has the same future) as the conservative version of the Daily Show.
And low and behold, I'm not the first one to think of this... Oh well. It was at least an original thought.