One of the extraordinary stories of the Internet age is that of Wikipedia, a free online encyclopedia that anyone can edit. This radical and rapidly growing publication, which includes close to 4 million entries, is now a much-used resource.
But that source is safe or better it is to consult an encyclopedia like for example the Encyclopedia Britannica?
The two encyclopedias present Inaccuracies. The British Encyclopedia has 123 errors of information and the main ones are those that talk about to Cambrian explosion, Paul Direct, Dirty Mendeleyev and Mutation (examined by Nature' s news reporters).
Wikipedia also presents inaccuracies information, which adds 162 and in the same subjects such: Dmitry Mendeleev, Cambrian explosion, Paul Dirac and Mutation.
But it is also controversial: if anyone can edit entries, how do users know if Wikipedia is as accurate?
But the experts say that all this is not the rule. Really can have inaccurate information and those errors are not common.
But Jimmy Wales, co-founder of Wikipedia affirmed, “Wikipedia is growing fast. The encyclopedia has added 3.7 million articles in 200 languages since it was founded in 2001. The English version has more than 45,000 registered users, and added about 1,500 new articles every day of October 2005. Wikipedia has become the 37th most visited website, according to Alexa, a web ranking service”.
Michael Twidale, an information scientist at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, says, "Print encyclopedias are often set up as the gold standards of information quality against which the failings of faster or cheaper resources can be compared. These findings remind us that we have an 18-carat standard, not a 24-carat one."
Nevertheless the references of Wikipedia and the uses of the multimedia are educative tools if they are used with imagination. For example for his course “Media Technology and Cultural Change,” Professor Mittell at Middlebury Collage, said he would require his students to create a Wikipedia entry as wellas post a video on YouTube, create a podcast and produce a blog for the course.
Another Middlebury professor, Thomas Beyer, of the Russian department, said, “I guess I am not terribly impressed by anyone citing an encyclopedia as a reference point, but I am not against using it as a starting point.”
Also it is truth that the debate continues due to no suitable information. Several recent cases have highlighted the potential problems. One article was revealed as falsely suggesting that a former assistant to US Senator Robert Kennedy may have been involved in his assassination. And podcasting pioneer Adam Curry has been accused of editing the entry on podcasting to remove references to competitors' work. Curry says he merely thought he was making the entry more accurate.
Then where it is the truth? These different points of view leave some doubts on the sources when encyclopedias are used.
In any case it is needed that expert professionals publish these sources or editors can match paid professionals for accuracy?
Jorge Cauz, president of the iconic Encyclopedia Britannica said they were concerned that Nature had not specified the problems that it had found in Britannica. And Dale Hoiberg editor in chief of Britannica said, “Nature said in (their article) that the inaccuracies included errors, omissions and misleading statements, but there’s no indication of how many of each. So we’re very eager to look at that and explore it because we take it very seriously”.
Per decades from 1911 the writers and the students have used the Encyclopedia Britannica with great security by the fidelity of their information.
Today in the globalize world the advantage of Wikipedia is that the students of many parts of the world can use their data in more than 200 languages. The students have the advantage of being able to use this Web-based encyclopedia in their house with no need to be in the library school.
The British Encyclopedia disadvantage is that offers information only an English-language version, although the company does produces to other works in other languages.
The Britannica also now appears online and it has about 4,800 contributors worldwide. Wikidedia’s contributors are chosen for professional expertise but those collaborators are voluntary.
Wikipedia’s slogan is "the free encyclopedia that anyone can edit" and that porcedure of which anyone can publish has been criticized and it can give the insecurity sensation. Nevertheless they librarian K. G. Schneider said, "As a common good, information can only be assessed in context of the needs of its users." And Wikipedia leader Jimmy Wales said: “whether or not the information can be verified. That’s a much easier thing to decide rather than "Is it important enough?" That’s a very tough argument to have”.
Paula Berinstein Consultant Berinstein Research said, “Wikipedia's mission is dwells diffuse than British' s. It is trying to sees many things to almost all people. Briton knows exactly what it is and doesn’t' t inhales to exceed that ".
And also Paula Berinstein affirms “Does it make sense to compare a work that tells you how to make coffee with one that employs Nobel Prize winners to expound on lofty subjects? Delving into the scope of each illustrates that the two differ enough to make doing so a vein exercise. Wikipedia is large and diffuse. Britannica is finite and well-defined”.
In summary there’s no simple formula to answer this kind of question because the approaches and points of view of these two encyclopedias are very different.