Thursday, December 15, 2005

Wikipedia and Britannica Are Almost Equally Accurate

An article published yesterday in the peer-reviewed science journal Nature says that Wikipedia, the online encyclopedia that anyone can edit or write for, is about as accurate as the Encyclopedia Britannica.

One of the extraordinary stories of the Internet age is that of Wikipedia, a free online encyclopaedia that anyone can edit. This radical and rapidly growing publication, which includes close to 4 million entries, is now a much-used resource. But it is also controversial: if anyone can edit entries, how do users know if Wikipedia is as accurate as established sources such as Encyclopaedia Britannica?

Several recent cases have highlighted the potential problems. One article was revealed as falsely suggesting that a former assistant to US Senator Robert Kennedy may have been involved in his assassination. And podcasting pioneer Adam Curry has been accused of editing the entry on podcasting to remove references to competitors' work. Curry says he merely thought he was making the entry more accurate.

However, an expert-led investigation carried out by Nature -- the first to use peer review to compare Wikipedia and Britannica's coverage of science -- suggests that such high-profile examples are the exception rather than the rule.

The exercise revealed numerous errors in both encyclopaedias, but among 42 entries tested, the difference in accuracy was not particularly great: the average science entry in Wikipedia contained around four inaccuracies; Britannica, about three.

Via Balloon-Juice.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I love wikipedia, even when it's wrong.

Check out this joint wikipedia/google search thingy
I made for a home page.