Thursday, October 26, 2006


I have to confess, I like Wikipedia. I think everyone probably knows what Wikipedia is— but just in case—Wikipedia is an online encylopedia that anyone can enter facts and figures or create an article. Or as their tagline succinctly states, " the free enclopedia that anyone can edit." Many articles are written by several people. Once I went to Wikipedia to look up some really silly subject that I can't even recall now, but what astonished me was that it was incorrect. Perhaps what bothered me even more was my naivete, it wasn't apparent to me at the time that anyone could add any type of information. And I thought I was savvy! If anyone can edit it, there's bound to be errors and incorrect information. But the cool thing is anyone can dispute the information and correct it. I still go to Wikipedia, but now I double check my facts elsewhere—always a good idea. An interesting article was just published in the Chronicle of Higher Education entitled Can Wikipedia Ever Make the Grade? Turns out some high profile studies show that the site does a pretty decent job at getting the facts straight. Especially when the subject is science. Last year the journal Nature found in a study of factual accuracy that Britannica averaged three errors and Wikipedia averaged four on the same subject. Britannica rebutted the study stating that it was loaded with errors. "Well isn't that special!" Healthy competition for encyclopedias is a good thing. They can only get better from here. Here's one example of why Wikipedia is good source, compare Britannica's description of podcasting and Wikipedia's description of podcasting. Which is more useful?