How accurate is Wikipedia?

November 21, 2005

The Guardian asks Can you trust Wikipedia?

The founder of the
online encyclopedia written and edited by its users has admitted some
of its entries are ‘a horrific embarrassment’. What did our panel of
experts think of the entries for their fields?

Each expert reviews Wikipedia’s entry on his/her specialty and critiques its accuracy, completeness, analysis, and prose. Not surprisingly, most find the entries to be missing a few points they consider important and the analysis and prose do not receive high marks. On accuracy, most of them seem to consider it acceptable for the short entry that it is. Of course, this is about what I would expect from a free and freely-edited encyclopaedia. Wikipedia’s value seems to me to reside mostly in the breadth of the topics it covers and its ability to correct mistakes rapidly. For a more in-depth treatment of the subject, one would have to turn to other resources.

 

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