Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Wikipedia's Accuracy.

It is hard these days for anyone who surfs the net to ignore Wikipedia, the free online encyclopaedia which anyone can add content to or edit the existing content of. Its success is offset by accusations of lacking accuracy. After all, anyone can add their own personal knowledge (or lack of it), even anonymously if they choose to.

But a new study suggests that Wikipedia's accuracy is higher among experts than non-experts:
The researcher had 55 graduate students and research assistants examine one Wikipedia article apiece for accuracy, some in fields they were familiar with and some not. Those in the expert group ranked their articles as generally credible, higher than those evaluated by the non-experts. One researcher said 'It may be the case that non-experts are more cynical about information outside of their field and the difference comes from a natural reaction to rate unfamiliar articles as being less credible.'" (Slashdot)
That's pretty cool, except that the sample size was small (55 graduate students) and still 13% of the"experts" group reported finding mistakes in their assigned articles, and that's not a small number.


At 20:21, Blogger DoubleE said...

The problem I have come across are people who think they are experts because they read a report or study and therefore know all there is about a subject. Also, a number of articles are full of "orginal content", which is supposed to be omitted. All in all, it is a useful tool. However, like anything on the web, just because it is published on-line doesn't make it correct.

At 21:24, Blogger Joker & Thief said...

Yep, I couldn't agree more! I find it a fascinating phenomenon though. Never thought it worked so well.

At 11:43, Anonymous Abie said...

There is also the problem of defining what is inaccuracy... If I copied the definitions found in a "4eme" textbook into a wikipedia article about biology, it would probably be deemed inaccurate and rightly so, because if would be over-simplified.
And a lot a writer are full of good will but don't really embrace the scope of what they are trying to describe.


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