Understanding Wikipedia

There is a common misconception that wikipedia is inaccurate because anyone can edit it, and clearly that would lead to random trolling on the site. However, these thoughts show a clear misunderstanding of how wikipedia actually functions, which is easily demonstrated when Stephen Colbert tried to get his massive audience to alter wikipedia. Only 2 minutes after he told people to alter the site, the page he was talked about was reverted and locked.

  • A large majority of wikipedia edits are done by bots
  • These bots automatically monitor and detect fraudulent changes, among other things.
  • Wikipedia's integrity is upheld by a small number of moderators that are organized in a hierarchical order. These people are all the top experts in their respective areas.
  • Several scientific studies were done to randomly sample wikipedia and compare to other leading encyclopedia's to compare errors. Wikipedia had a far smaller error rate
  • Because of wikipedia's open nature, it is able to prevent temporal errors by being modified much more quickly. For instance, your encyclopedia book on your shelf probably still says Pluto is a planet.

Secondly, natural language is organic, and definitions are simply what the masses assign to them. Wikipedia then, is the perfect model to keep definitions accurate, as changing acceptance of a meaning would (by definition) change the official meaning of the word as well.