(Via Smart Mobs) So here is a research study (and I mean research, full of all sorts of funny looking formulas and symbols and stuff) about Wikipedia that comes to the conclusion that the more edits there are to a particular article the more accurate it is. Not surprising, to me at least, but since smart people are publishing quantitative results, it might add to the discussion.
Since its inception six years ago, the online encyclopedia Wikipedia has accumulated 6.40 million articles and 250 million edits, contributed in a predominantly undirected and haphazard fashion by 5.77 million unvetted volunteers. Despite the apparent lack of order, the 50 million edits by 4.8 million contributors to the 1.5 million articles in the English-language Wikipedia follow strong certain overall regularities. We show that the accretion of edits to an article is described by a simple stochastic mechanism, resulting in a heavy tail of highly visible articles with a large number of edits. We also demonstrate a crucial correlation between article quality and number of edits, which validates Wikipedia as a successful collaborative effort.
The conversations I had this week about Wikipedia with the schools I was working with in Atlanta were pretty heated at times. But it’s interesting how it quickly turns into a larger discussion about students as editors in general, and that Wikipedia ain’t the only problem we have in terms of what to trust and what not to trust. And that quickly turns into another discussion about how the network (if you have one) filters out much of the good stuff, just as it did in this instance. You may not trust the source, but if you trust the person or people who sent you the source, the source inherently becomes more trustworthy.
Or something like that…