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Comparing Wikipedia and Britannica: The story behind Nature's encyclopaedia story

Author Jim Giles
Track Free Knowledge & Access to Information
License GNU Free Documentation License (details)
About the author
Jim Giles is a news and features editor for Nature magazine, and author of the much-discussed Nature News article which compared some of the scientific content of Encyclopædia Britannica and Wikipedia, and found that the two encyclopedias were comparable in accuracy [1]. Giles has worked as a news reporter at Nature for three years and spent two years as an editor beforehand. He writes "about anything that comes my way, but tend to focus on topics where science overlaps with political, environmental or social factors." Before joining Nature Giles developed exhibitions for the Science Museum in London and studied for degrees in neuroscience and physics.
Last December, Nature magazine published a news article that compared the accuracy of science articles in Wikipedia and Encyclopaedia Britannica. The difference was surprisingly small: expert reviewers identified an average of around four errors in each Wikipedia entry, compared with three per entry in Britannica. The story provoked a great deal of debate and, in March, a strongly-worded attack and demand for retraction from Britannica. This talk will describe the motivation and methodology behind the story and answer Britannica's key criticisms. I will also discuss the strengths and weaknesses of our investigation, the media response to it and possible strategies for future evaluations of Wikipedia content.
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