Wikipedia’s reliability validated

Following on from the article about Veropedia compared to Wikipedia, I was investigating more about each. I stumbled on to an article about Wikipedia in 48 Hours on Wikipedia posted by Kent Anderson. He discussed the finding af a study in First Monday. This quick but effective small study analyzed how quickly errors in Wikipedia are picked up and corrected. The author of the study, P. D. Magnus, introduced incorrect information (called “fibs”) into some Wikipedia articles about famous philosophers. He then waited to see how long it took for the errors to be corrected.

The study showed that Wikipedia’s methods for checking for small inaccuracies are validated. The answer to the question “how quickly are errors picked up?”, is that they are found and dealt with expediently. Some errors were corrected within/around 2 hours. Within 48 hours, those that had not been corrected, had been flagged as needing adjustment.

When Wikipedia first began many teachers, teacher librarians and librarians spoke out about the validity of something like Wikipedia. There were many who were very sceptical about how reliable such a resource could be. I did not have a problem with students using Wikipedia, although I believe that for many younger students many articles become too much for them. I believe, as always, all material should be checked from several sources anyway. The results from this study provide more than just anecdotes about the reliability of Wikipedia articles.


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