Can Wikipedia Ever Make the Grade? Chronicle of Higher Ed Discussion

The Chronicle: 10/27/2006: Can Wikipedia Ever Make the Grade?
“Are Wikipedians good historians?” he asked. “As in the old tale of the blind men and the elephant, your assessment of Wikipedia as history depends a great deal on what part you touch.”

The Chronicle article discusses the pros and cons of Wikipedia as well as studies and experiments that have been done to test its accuracy. The results may surprise you!

Some of the key issues include:

1. Some studies have shown that Wikipedia is practically as accurate as other more reputable published encyclopedias. At least one experiment demonstrated the rapidity with which most errors are corrected. However, opponents argue that the time during which the mistakes are available as well as the ever changing nature of Wikipedia are problematic.

2. Proponents of Wikipedia argue that the knowledge of the masses is sufficient to ensure that errors will be caught and corrected. Others argue that the knowledge of experts is needed to ensure quality. Co-founder of Wikipedia, Larry Sanger, is a strong voice for this point of view. In an article posted October 24, 2006, he argues for the role of the expert in Web 2.0 projects and describes a new effort to create a scholarly wikipedia called “Citizendium”,

Whatever experts think about Wikipedia, the truth is that students are using it. Therefore, my mantra is that we must teach Wikipedia and explain both its strengths and weaknesses. Furthermore, experts who denigrate Wikipedia should perhaps jump into the fray and help to correct it or, alternatively, join Larry Sanger in creating an expert driven wiki encyclopedia, Citizendium.


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