Wikipedia Colour Codes Content To Gauge Trustworthiness
To help users navigate through its sea of content, Wikipedia is introducing new functionality called WikiTrust. Now, questionable content will be possible to spot visually. Two criteria will define the trustworthiness of the content posted:
1. the authority/ reputation of the contributor based on previous history of contributions (score 0-9)
2. the length of time that content has been out there on the site
The content that is not highly trustable will be highlighted in bright orange, while content that has been out on the site for a while and comes from "experts" in the field will be shaded lighter orange. The most trustworthy content will be labeled white. The option will only be available with the English version of Wikipedia. The tab for the WikiTrust option will be located right next to "edit this page" and "history" tabs.
An optional feature called “WikiTrust” will color code every word of the encyclopedia based on the reliability of its author and the length of time it has persisted on the page.
Called WikiTrust, the program assigns a color code to newly edited text using an algorithm that calculates author reputation from the lifespan of their past contributions. It’s based on a simple concept: The longer information persists on the page, the more accurate it’s likely to be.
The use of colour coding to ease the perception of the trustworthiness of the text sounds like a cool idea, but immediately there seem to be potential issues with the algorithm used to accomplish that. What if in any particular niche area of knowledge, there are a couple of experts whose authority is extremely high, and for some reason they post a false fact on Wikipedia? Will there be anyone to prove them wrong and edit content? If not, the content will lie still unedited and gain in rating. Wikipedia says WikiTrust "measures consensus" based on how many members agree with the author of the post, but what if there is no dialogue because the topic is way too specific? It seems the algorithm will have to accommodate many compromises, but Wikipedia's attempt to deal with questionable content rather than hide their head in the sand is definitely a step forward.
Starting sometime this fall, registered Wikipedia users will be able to click on a “trust info” tab and view the color-coded text.
Now, I only wish there was the same trust-measuring functionality everywhere on the Web.