Would you trust in Wikipedia?

Founded in 2001, by Jimmy Wales, the Wikipedia now counts with around 3.7 billion articles in 200 different languages. The Wikipedia project goes beyond an Open Source project, but rather an open community of knowledge. The essence of Wikipedia is that everyone can contribute (with the effortless process of editing a document) with his/her knowledge about any topic.

The fact that Wikipedia can be edited by anyone, writing about anything, put a bit of controversial weight on Wikipedia’s shoulders. Many experts - and non-experts - advocate that Wikipedia can’t be used as a trusted source of knowledge. Why we ask? The answer is obvious. Every one can write anything about any topic. Even I could write an Wikipedia entry reporting that I’m the new president of United States of America (I wouldn’t do that because I’m not an asshole, so I’m not entitled to be president of the EUA :) ).

Given this, and all the controversial talk around Wikipedia, the Nature, a weekly journal of science, set up an investigation about the accuracy of both Wikipedia and, the well know encyclopaedia, Britannica. From Wikipedia and Britannica, 42 articles were chosen and given to independent experts on the subjects. The articles were analysed by experts in order to find errors on these articles and then measure the accuracy of Wikipedia and Britannica.

The results? They were amazing.

The Britannica is head to head with Wikipedia. From the 42 articles were found 3 errors for Britannica and 4 errors for Wikipedia. So, you can still say that Britannica is more accurate, but wait. At the day after the results get public, Wikipedia community fixed the errors found by during the test, while Britannica has to wait till next edition :) If the test runs again the day after the results, Wikipedia would beat the Britannica for sure.

Still thinking that Wikipedia can’t be a trusted source of knowledge?

Written by j.pereira on December 27th, 2006 with no comments.
Read more posts on WEB 2.0 and Open Source and Communities.

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