[NetBehaviour] Experts rate Wikipedia's accuracy higher than non-experts.

marc 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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