The normal tool of ordinary and simple searches has now become, also for diplomats, the Internet. In particular the different search engines available (such as Google).
Since searches often concern people (biographies) or issues, among the first results obtained in search engines you will always find a reference contained in Wikipedia.
WHAT IT DOES
Wikipedia is the biggest multilingual free content encyclopaedia in the world. It has been written collaboratively by volunteers around the world. Anyone with access to Internet can create an account and write or make changes to Wikipedia articles.One of the examples of the use of Wiki concept in Diplomatic activities is the Diplopedia realized by the U.S. Department of State.
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
Wikipedia is available in several languages, but the sites have different contents and the number of articles vary. The most comprehensive one is the English version with more than 3 million articles. For information on people you should also look in the most appropriate national version, on top of the English version.
The main critical aspect underlying is the presumed "anarchy" of the Encyclopedia.
Information on the Wikipedia should be treated in the same critical way you would approach any other source: it is therefore important to verify claims made and to assess any potential bias.
WHERE YOU CAN FIND IT
Wikipedia is available in many languages. The English version (the biggest one) is available at: http://en.wikipedia.org. The International homepage in available at: http://www.wikipedia.org
For a quick and effective video on what is Wiki: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-dnL00TdmLY