This is an interesting development for online collective information-gathering:
Wikipedia, the encyclopedia that relies on volunteers to pen nearly 4 million articles, is about as accurate in covering scientific topics as Encyclopedia Britannica, the journal Nature wrote in an online article published Wednesday.
The finding, based on a side-by-side comparison of articles covering a broad swath of the scientific spectrum, comes as Wikipedia faces criticism over the accuracy of some of its entries.
Two weeks ago prominent journalist John Seigenthaler, the former publisher of the Tennessean newspaper and founding editorial director of USA Today, revealed that a Wikipedia entry that ran for four months had incorrectly named him as a longtime suspect in the assassinations of president John F. Kennedy and his brother Robert.
Such errors appear to be the exception rather than the rule, Nature said in Wednesday’s article, which the scientific journal said was the first to use peer review to compare Wikipedia to Britannica. Based on 42 articles reviewed by experts, the average scientific entry in Wikipedia contained four errors or omissions, while Britannica had three.
As someone who uses Wikipedia a great deal, this is both reassuring and yet still provides me with ample reason to doublecheck Wikipedia entries before linking them. All in all, though, a win for the ffort, I would say.