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Wednesday, December 14, 2005

It May Well Be Wikipedia & Brittanica And Not Wikipedia Vs Brittanica

Nature Magazine writes that while Wikipedia has become the 37th most visited website, according to Alexa, a web ranking service. The site is getting serious flak from the likes of former Britannica editor Robert McHenry who once declared one Wikipedia entry — on US founding father Alexander Hamilton — as "what might be expected of a high-school student". Opening up the editing process to all, regardless of expertise, means that reliability can never be ensured, he concluded. Nature's investigation suggests that Britannica's advantage may not be great, at least when it comes to science entries. In the study, entries were chosen from the websites of Wikipedia and Encyclopaedia Britannica on a broad range of scientific disciplines and sent to a relevant expert for peer review. Each reviewer examined the entry on a single subject from the two encyclopaedias; they were not told which article came from which encyclopaedia. A total of 42 usable reviews were returned out of 50 sent out, and were then examined by Nature's news team.Only eight serious errors, such as misinterpretations of important concepts, were detected in the pairs of articles reviewed, four from each encyclopaedia. But reviewers also found many factual errors, omissions or misleading statements: 162 and 123 in Wikipedia and Britannica, respectively. As the challenges of being a wikipedian are indeed substantial, the process of updating and social discipline of correcting and referencing needs to improve- signs are positive. At the end of the day it could very well be the case that it is Wikipedia & Brittanica and not necessarily Wikipedia Vs Brittanica.

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