Many people dismiss Wikipedia out of hand as a trusted source, precisely because it is written and edited by “anybody.” This differs, they suggest, from a newspaper, which is “fact checked,” or from an academic paper, which is “peer reviewed.” Over the last two years, I have chatted with a number of people about the possibility of peer reviewing Wikipedia “from the outside.” At Wikimania, a number of proposals were made–some of which are already under way–to make Wikipedia both a more credible and a more accurate source of information. The two, while complementary, are not necessarily identical.
What I would like to do is assemble an editorial board of recognized experts in Internet Studies, Computer-Mediated Communication, and Human-Computer Interaction who would go through the process of finding appropriate peer reviewers and certifying particular versions of Wikipedia articles as being peer-reviewed. This would provide the reader with an additional indication that the work is of high quality and accurate.
To do this, we need to assemble a group of people who have some level of recognition in the field, and who are willing to devote a small amount of time to helping to select a core set of articles and oversee the review process. While we will be looking at a number of ways to make this process more technologically easy, the key issue here is to find a group of people willing to invest a little time and their reputations in an effort to make Wikipedia a more trusted source.
If you are interested in chatting a bit more about the project, drop me a note. If you will be in Brisbane for the Internet Research, perhaps we can discuss the possibilities over lunch on Thursday.