Small study finds Wikipedia to be accurate

By Justin Mann on November 28, 2006, 1:28 PM
The biggest criticism Wikipedia has received over the years is the factual inaccuracy of many of its articles. It has gotten to the point where many schools will not accept Wikipedia as a reference, due to the potential for incorrect statements to be used. But is that really true? A recent study seems to indicate that experts in individual fields are actually finding Wikis to be more accurate rather than less. The study took 55 graduate students and research assistants and had them investigate Wiki articles, either in a field they were fluent in or a field they knew nothing about. The result?

Those in the expert group ranked their articles as generally credible, higher than those evaluated by the non-experts. Chesney admits that this is unexpected, but has a possible explanation: "It may be the case that non-experts are more cynical about information outside of their field and the difference comes from a natural reaction to rate unfamiliar articles as being less credible."
Thomas Chesney, who spearheaded the study, doesn't want too many conclusions to be drawn from the study, claiming the sample size was small and it wasn't done as an attempt to settle an argument. He did say, however, that Wikipedia could be treated as a credible source of information – provided you did additional research to verify the claims.

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