In an interesting piece in the New York Times, Leslie Kaufman writes: "The wheels of justice move slowly sometimes, but not, apparently, as slowly as Webster’s New World Dictionary." Given that courts must sometimes resort to dictionaries to define terms--as in, for example, determining legislative intent and the meaning of a statute--it is important to have these resources.
According to Kaufman, lawyers and judges are relying in this age of rap and slang upon a more informal source of definitions: Urban Dictionary, a crowdsourced collection of slang words on the Internet. [I challenge you: find "crowdsourced" in Webster's Dictionary!]
Kaufman writes that courts refer so often to Urban Dictionary and Wikipedia in legal cases that the law review of St. John’s University in Queens published an article in its Spring 2010 issue outlining "standardized rules" for the most appropriate uses of crowdsourced Web sites. The St. John's University article notes that it is neither appropriate nor necessary to use urban dictionaries or Wikipedia to define scientific terms and other technical definitions.