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June 21, 2012

BFF Alert and Other Random Stupidity

Shocker of the century: Wikipedia is biased!

Wikipedia was founded on the notion the Internet is a self-correcting machine: by harnessing collective intelligence through an open-source platform, the facts will ultimately come to light. But a new study shows that collective intelligence generally produces biased information, except in a narrow range of circumstances. Northwestern’s Shane Greenstein and the University of Southern California’s Feng Zhu analyzed a decade’s worth of Wikipedia articles on U.S. politics and found that only a handful of them were politically neutral.

Large numbers of contributors did, in fact, help make articles more unbiased, they note, confirming what’s known in the tech community as Linus’ Law: “Given enough eyeballs, all bugs are shallow.” However, Greenstein and Zhu found that “the majority of articles receive little attention, and most articles change only mildly from their initial slant.” Overall, Wikipedia is less biased and partisan than in its early years--when the site’s political entries leaned Democrat--but most of its content hasn’t benefitted from the true wisdom of crowds, they conclude.

Is this a catbird?


Kids these days...


Posted by Cassandra at June 21, 2012 07:31 AM

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I hate cats.

Posted by: Mr. Crabbypants at June 21, 2012 10:41 AM

Wow, I didn't realize Wiki had even been around long enough to generate a decade's worth of articles.

It's a handy resource for looking up random facts on the spur of the moment, but IMO for anything the slightest bit controversial it's pretty much useless.

Posted by: colagirl at June 21, 2012 11:26 AM

Basement Cat is just using bait to draw in the whole flock.

Eric Hines

Posted by: E Hines at June 21, 2012 12:05 PM

Wikipedia has something of a built-in bias against expertise, as this article shows. If you're the guy who's written two thorough and authoritative works that correct decades of misunderstanding on a historical event, you're still just one guy citing his own sources. The fifty other sources who were wrong are more credible because they all agree.

Posted by: Grim at June 21, 2012 12:16 PM

Ah. Consensus. Consensus means the truth, doesn't it?

Posted by: The Mythical Al Gore at June 21, 2012 12:47 PM

Consensus means the truth, doesn't it?
No. It's the prisoner count.

Posted by: Mr. Crabbypants at June 21, 2012 02:17 PM

Wikipedia is almost -- maybe it is -- eleven. There was a tenth anniversary party a while ago (I handed out t-shirts (provided by Wikipedia, I was just the delivery agent).) It's a place designed for gods, or demi-gods, or Mr. Spock, not emotional humans. Really good articles can be slowly destroyed over a couple of years by a small group of devoted believers in some point of view. I spend too much time there, it's like beating back the waves of the incoming tide.

Posted by: htom at June 21, 2012 04:13 PM