TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: Re: Wikipedia Becomes Internet Force, But Faces Crisis

Re: Wikipedia Becomes Internet Force, But Faces Crisis

Dave Garland (
Fri, 16 Dec 2005 19:35:06 -0600

It was a dark and stormy night when (Thor Lancelot Simon)

>> 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 ...

> I'm astonished that a 25% difference is considered "not particularly
> great".

42 seems like a very small sample, but I don't know if it's a
difference that would be considered "statistically significant" or
not. I expect it would also depend on questions like, "how many facts
are there in an entry, anyhow?", "does the wiki entry contain more
facts than the Britannica?", "are these results representative of
topics other than science?", and "are the results different for topics
that are relatively static, vs. topics in areas where knowledge is
rapidly changing?" And note that there was *no* difference in
accuracy re "serious" ("author doesn't have a clue") errors.

There's far too many questions that the study doesn't answer. But I'm
thinking it doesn't show a particularly great difference (which did
surprise me a bit). In any case, nobody should ever expect definitive
answers from an encyclopedia.


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