Studies

by Mike Masnick




Britannica Would Like To Edit Nature's Study On Wikipedia

from the took-their-sweet-time,-didn't-they? dept

We didn't mention the study that the journal Nature put out a few months ago, claiming that the Encyclopedia Britannica was just about as likely to have mistakes as Wikipedia. It generated lots of news coverage, mainly because everyone likes to compare the two, and Wikipedia haters insist that there's no possible way Wikipedia could be as trustworthy as Britannica. The reason we skipped it, is because the comparison is silly. As long as you recognize the different methodologies used in creating and maintaining the two offerings, then the rest of the debate seems sort of pointless. It's not like the two resources can't both exist. However, it is interesting to see that the folks at Britannica, as is befitting their own methodology, waited quietly for a few months before publicly slamming the Nature article, saying that it was "wrong and misleading." Sounds a bit like they're on the defensive. The point, honestly, isn't about comparing the two. It's no secret that there are mistakes in Britannica, or that there are mistakes in Wikipedia. The real issue is the process used to create and maintain these entries, and what they're useful for. As long as people understand that neither is the "one true" authoritative source on anything, then both become useful exactly as they should be: as one resource among many for those researching certain topics.

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  1. identicon
    Scott Hagie, 24 Mar 2006 @ 10:02am

    Biases

    People complain about Wkipedia because they say they can't trust the information. Anyone who blindly trusts any information is a fool in today's world. Everything has biases, hidden or otherwise, everything skews information one or another. It can't be helped, it's human nature.

    I don't trust Wikipedia, but it's still a useful tool as I take it's biases into account. I don't trust Britannica either, they have their own biases which they try, but ultimately can't, remove. I don't trust Nature magazine, and even less now when I have seen the lengths which they basically lied about this study of theirs.

    And I don't trust Techdirt, because you have your own serious biases. Again, I take that into account when reading and add it to my collection of interesting and useful resources.

    But, that being said, you writeup on this article is pretty bad. Britannica is defensive because Nature magazine just straight up lied and misrepresented the facts. And the reason they waited so long is because Nature didn't release the actual study and notes on the article until well after the article was published.

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