trusting wikipedia

The Guardian asks: can you trust wikipedia? It gets mixed responses from its panel of experts on various subjects such as Haute couture showing that — gee whizz — it’s not always completely accurate or well-written!

I’d like to have added to the article a note comparing the coverage of The Guardian itself in Wikipedia and in Britannica but there’s no commenting since this is a proper news article and not a blog.

The real difference with wikipedia is how it is set up to learn. Checking the discussion page for Haute Couture, I was surprised to see the Guardian citation already listed. The complaints raised will be addressed (if they weren’t already) and the article will be improved very, very quickly. The wiki model assumes mistakes will occur and sets up mechanisms to correct them whereas other more ‘traditional’ models assume no mistakes and then get in a tizz (or just denial) when they do crop up.

The traditional model only works when you can absolutely guarantee no errors — or you can convincingly gloss over them. Otherwise, you have to identify them and fix them as quickly as possible. And that may make you look unreliable in the short term.

Categories: web

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