December 15, 2005

Trust But Verify

According to this CNN article:

Wikipedia, the encyclopedia that relies on volunteers to pen nearly 4 million articles, is about as accurate in covering scientific topics as Encyclopedia Britannica, the journal Nature wrote in an online article published Wednesday.

That's scientific topics, mind you. The article admits that this is not necessarily an across-the-board phenomenon:

Wales said the accuracy of his project varies by topic, with strong suits including pop culture and contemporary technology. That's because Wikipedia's stable of dedicated volunteers tend to have more collective expertise in such areas, he said.

The site tends to lag when it comes to topics touching on the humanities, such as the winner of the Nobel Prize for literature for a particular year, Wales said.

Well, sports fans, all I can say is that I use Wiki myself as a quick and dirty reference, particularly for arts and history and I've learned never to rely on something asserted in one of its articles without trying to find another source to back it up. I've never kept track of how many errors I've found in Wikipedia articles, but they occur often enough to warrant the extra step.

Posted by Robert at December 15, 2005 11:52 AM | TrackBack