Trusted Wikipedia Project

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.

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One Comment

  1. Posted 9/21/2006 at 12:52 am | Permalink

    I’ll tell you something that happened the other day. My friend Wayne, who’s a bit of an artist, gets to telling me about this dead flying squirrel he’d found in his backyard and was storing in his freezer. But I’m close to 100 percent sure he’s making it up, and told him so in strong, Anglo-Saxon terms. Flying squirrels, I inform him matter-of-factly, only live in Indonesia. I ask him if it happened to be wearing goggles and traveling with a moose.

    So he says, “All right, wise guy, let’s look it up.” “OK,” I tell him. We head upstairs, boot up the computer and fire up Wikipedia. I type in “flying squirrels” and sure enough there’s an entry. And damned if it doesn’t confirm that flying squirrels are, in fact, native to North America, lending credence to his story.

    Later om, it occurs to me that it wouldn’t be at all uncharacteristic of Wayne to have concocted the whole thing ahead of time, and have created (or edited) the Wikipedia entry ahead of time to mess with my head. You used to be able to trust the folks at Britannica.

    Sigh. It’s a strange world we live in.

One Trackback

  1. […] Still, it doesn’t hurt to figure out a way to find that magic middle between both systems. Rather than to configure the user, configuring a better system allows for accurate information to be more accessible. This is where the Trusted Wikipedia project comes to play… 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. […]

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