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Wikipedia vs Britannica

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posted on Dec, 14 2005 @ 11:10 PM
The winner is predictably Britannica but not by such a large margin as one might think.

The exercise revealed numerous errors in both encyclopaedias, but among 42 entries tested, the difference in accuracy was not particularly great: the average science entry in Wikipedia contained around four inaccuracies; Britannica, about three.

4 to fricken 3. That is the margin for scientific articles. The article notes that a multiplier effect could happen if more researchers participated in wikipedia. Will this settle the debate? No, but it does give the Wiki a bit of a boost.

posted on Dec, 15 2005 @ 03:11 AM
I always viewed Wiki as more of a "starting place" then a definitive source.

Any source that can be edited by any of it's readers has flaws.

posted on Dec, 15 2005 @ 03:45 AM
Science articles are only a starting place.

Wiki's problem is the amount of personal opinion that goes in and the ability for you and me to edit it.

Plus the speed with which information is submitted. The editing "committee", for want of a better term, simply don't have time to keep up with it.

What would be interesting is how old those errors in Britannica are, and how many issues they have remained since those "facts" were "proven" false. Or are they simply errors for which there is little or no excuse. ie, the author's research is sloppy.

posted on Dec, 15 2005 @ 08:13 AM
I guess the above posts accurately reflect comparisons of modern encyclopedias, but they don't make encyclopedias like they used to. As a kid I owned an Encyclopedia Britannica printed around the turn of the last centory (1896 I think), thirty huge volumes with a four volume "history of the World" by Ridpath. Those books were heads and shoulders above anything modern as far as authorship efforts, contributors being from every scholarly specialty area, and and the effort to put out an encyclopedia that was actually exhaustively treating the full range of human knowledge.

posted on Dec, 15 2005 @ 04:59 PM
That's actually pretty sad if Britannica is only better than Wikipedia by 25% less errors. I thought encyclopedias were written by scholarly experts with PhDs in the sections they were contributing to?

Also, I notice that they tested only 42 articles. Given that both wikipedia and Britannica must have thousands and thousands of articles, that probably isn't very statistically significant. Still, it is rather worrisome that a well-respected encyclopedia might have that many errors in it, if those 42 articles are representative of the entire encyclopedia.

It goes to show what I firmly believe, and have asserted time and again on ATS threads: use multiple sources whenever doing any serious researching.

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