Who writes for Wikipedia?

Anyone here ever try it?

I know I’m being lazy (they have an FAQ over there, but I just speed-cruised it and still have questions.) I guess I’m feeling that learning about a whole nother on-line culture will take me several hours that I don’t really have.

The deal is: people contribute encyclopedia articles, and other people edit those articles, which still other people re-edit, and on and on. Is that part correct, at least?

If so, how does it actually work? Is it frustrating to be edited by people who may be less knowledgable than you? Or crazy? Or goofball adolescents? How is this safeguarded against? Are the articles in Wikipedia reliable? (The ones I’ve read seem about as good as in other encyclopedias, but that may just be small sample size.) How does this stuff get hashed out, in practical terms? (The FAQs refer to a “Talk:” function, but actively seem to discourage SDMB-style debate, and to encourage revising the article in question, but it’s hard for me to see how that wouldn’t quickly degenerate into free-ranging discussion and debate.) If anyone has written for Wikipedia, or read it extensively, I’d be interested in your response.

MODS: Please move if this thread seems more suited for somewhere else.

matt_mcl has contributed to the Wikipedia, according to his post in this thread.

As for questions of reliability, the consensus from this thread seems to be that errors in Wikipedia articles are quickly eliminated, so that, as matt_mcl says,