Friday, August 10, 2007

wikipedia trustworthiness

There was a brief article in the Chronicle of Higher Ed last week that I didn't spot until yesterday -- UC Santa Cruz researchers have developed a simple yet clever test of the trustworthiness of wikipedia article authors:

... the researchers analyzed Wikipedia’s editing history, tracking material that has remained on the site for a long time and edits that have been quickly overruled. A Wikipedian with a distinguished record of unchanged edits is declared trustworthy, and his or her contributions are left untouched on the Santa Cruz team’s color-coded pages. But a contributor whose posts have frequently been changed or deleted is considered suspect, and his or her content is highlighted in orange.
It's a demo with only a few hundred pages, but it's still a very interesting proof-of-concept. Of course the software cannot do actual fact checking to vet content, but it's a elegant method for looking at the trustworthiness of the people who are source of the content. It's simplistic in a way -- an author could be expert in one area but not in others, or be overruled due to personality issues rather than authoritativeness -- but it's worth reviewing for the process and for the presentation of an article's authority ranking through color coding.

A conference paper describing the work is available.

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