Wikipedia 162, Brittanica 123

From Good Morning, Silicon Valley

A study published in the journal Nature Wednesday found that in a random sample of 42 science entries, the collaborative encyclopedia averaged four inaccuracies to Britannica’s three. “Only eight serious errors, such as misinterpretations of important concepts, were detected in the pairs of articles reviewed, four from each encyclopedia,” reported Nature. “But reviewers also found many factual errors, omissions or misleading statements: 162 and 123 in Wikipedia and Britannica, respectively.”

Not bad for a reference work whose open nature allows for inaccuracy, opinion and outright vandalism… Certainly, it’s testament to the innovative power of Wikipedia. “People will find it shocking to see how many errors there are in Britannica,” Michael Twidale, an information scientist at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, told Nature. “Print encyclopedias are often set up as the gold standards of information quality against which the failings of faster or cheaper resources can be compared. These findings remind us that we have an 18-carat standard, not a 24-carat one.” Editors at Brittanica wouldn’t comment on the flaws in their work, but had no trouble sounding off about those in Wikipedia. “We have nothing against Wikipedia,” said Tom Panelas, director of corporate communications at the company’s headquarters in Chicago. “But it is not the case that errors creep in on an occasional basis or that a couple of articles are poorly written. There are lots of articles in that condition. They need a good editor.”