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

Re: Wikipedia Becomes Internet Force, But Faces Crisis

Barry Margolin (
Tue, 20 Dec 2005 15:16:49 -0500

In article <>, (Seth Breidbart) wrote:

> In article <>, Robert Bonomi
> <> wrote:

>> In article <>, Thor Lancelot Simon
>> <> wrote:

>>> In article <>, Dave Garland
>>> <> wrote:

>>>> 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".

>> I'm astonished that something that can be explained by "jitter" of
>> "plus/minus one count" in 'ordinal' numeric data, would be considered
>> anything _other_ than "not particularly great". Well, unless they do
>> not really understand statistical analysis, that is.
>> 3 vs 4 is jitter.

> 126 vs. 168 is a bigger difference, though it's the same 25%.
> (Unless you believe that there are a lot of off-by-one errors, _all_
> in the same direction.)

Except that these numbers were averages, not actual counts. But then
they rounded them off for the article. It's possible that around four
is 3.7, and about 3 is 3.4, so they're actually much closer; but they
could also be 2.8 and 4.3, a 35% difference.

But what they also didn't include in the article was information about
the distribution, standard deviation, etc. If most of the articles in
Wikipedia have 3-5 innacuracies, while most of the Brittanica articles
have 2-4, that's a significant overlap. On the other hand, if 2/3 of
Wikipedia articles have no errors, and the other third have 10-14,
while Brittanica is 90% clean with the other 10% having around 30
errors, that's quite different.

Barry Margolin,
Arlington, MA
*** PLEASE post questions in newsgroups, not directly to me ***
*** PLEASE don't copy me on replies, I'll read them in the group ***

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