[NetBehaviour] Experts rate Wikipedia's accuracy higher than non-experts.
marc.garrett at furtherfield.org
Wed Nov 29 13:18:49 CET 2006
Experts rate Wikipedia's accuracy higher than non-experts.
By Nate Anderson.
A new salvo has been fired in the perennial war over Wikipedia's
accuracy. Thomas Chesney, a Lecturer in Information Systems at the
Nottingham University Business School, published the results of his own
Wikipedia study in the most recent edition of the online journal First
Monday, and he came up with a surprising conclusion: experts rate the
articles more highly than do non-experts.
This less-than-intuitive finding is the conclusion of a study in which
Chesney had 55 graduate students and research assistants examine one
Wikipedia article apiece. Each participant was randomly placed into one
of two groups: group one read articles that were in their field of
study, while group two read randomly-assigned articles. Respondents were
asked to identify any errors that they found.
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."
Whatever the reason for the results, they will cheer defenders of
Wikipedia's accuracy, though Chesney urges caution in extrapolating too
generally from his study. For one thing, the sample size was small. For
another, 13 percent of those in the "experts" group reported finding
mistakes in their assigned articles.
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