Turns out I shouldn't be so intimidated by the editors over at Wikipedia: they aren't all experts, even if they say they are. At the beginning of the month it was revealed that one of the sites editors, under the pseudonym "Essjay," who had repeatedly claimed to be a professor of religion at a private university (going so far as being quoted in a "New Yorker" interview as such!), was actually a 24-year old college student. He'd been editing articles with the help of, among other texts, "Catholicism for Dummies."
This situtation throws into sharp relief the issue of credibility, accountability, and the difficulty of determining authenticity in the digital age. And besides all that...besides this guy's clear intent to decieve...he was presumably a valuable editor and contributor to the Wikipedia community. Does the fact that he holds no degree and had to conduct research (however lame his sources might have been) invalidate his entries or edits? If they still hold up to Wikipedia's standards, don't they have merit?
In this case he was asked to resign from the site and his editing privileges were removed...but in the big picture, verifying every editor's identity will no doubt become a huge and unsurmountable task. At what point will we (if ever) stop caring about actual identity, when the digital identity is a positive presence?