Wednesday, April 6, 2011


How do Wikipedia’s processes for creating and modifying articles ever lead to high-quality results? In other words, since anyone can easily edit Wikipedia, how is it that good (and usually accurate) content emerges?

As the top-ranked science journal Nature compared the accuracy of science entries in Wikipedia and online version of Encyclopedia Britannica on the same set of 42 science articles in late 2005, the former had 162 errors while the latter had 123. This is quite interesting given the fact that Wikipedia content is generated by the public and free while the other is considered the hallmark for factual authority and very expensive.

There are several reasons behind the relatively accurate content in Wikipedia. First, most people who dedicate their time and effort to creating and/or editing have some knowledge in the subject they write about and more importantly, are interested in sharing knowledge with others. Second, people, by nature, feel good when they voluntarily share something with others. Third, each person's knowledge is limited but if people contribute, the content will get richer, more comprehensive, and more accurate. Finally, if people make mistakes or intentionally put incorrect or false information, all it takes to delete or revert to an older version with better content is less than a few seconds, just hitting a button. This concept has been leveraged in several commercial tools such as Confluence that helps thousands of organization work collaboratively and more productively.

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