Thursday, December 15, 2005

Wikipedia, cont.

Yesterday I noted the problems with wikipedia (which I love.) Maybe I was a bit rash - it turns out that Wikipedia doesn't stack up too badly against a more established encyclopedia:
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....

Editors at Britannica would not discuss the findings, but say their own studies of Wikipedia have uncovered numerous flaws. "We have nothing against Wikipedia," says Tom Panelas, director of corporate communications at the company's headquarters in Chicago. "But it is not the case that errors creep in on an occasional basis or that a couple of articles are poorly written. There are lots of articles in that condition. They need a good editor."...

"People will find it shocking to see how many errors there are in Britannica," Twidale adds. "Print encyclopaedias are often set up as the gold standards of information quality against which the failings of faster or cheaper resources can be compared. These findings remind us that we have an 18-carat standard, not a 24-carat one."
It looks like Wikipedia's goal of being at least as good as Brittanica is closer than we'd like to think.

1 comment:

wonderdog said...

But the Nature study looked at errors, which is only one measure of quality.

Wikipedia has no entry for Edward Burtynsky, one of the most important figures in Canadian photography, who has gained international recognition for his work.

The entry on photojournalist James Nachtwey, considered the greatest war photographer in history, goes into detail on what cameras Nachtwey uses but says nothing about critical reaction to his work. (In other words, it was written by a hack camera masturbator.)

But Wikipedia has hundreds of pages on The Simpsons, and extensive lists of women who have appeared in Playboy.

So on other measures of quality, Wikipedia comes up short.