Wikipedia Vs the Encyclopedia Britannica

“Since its creation in 2001, Wikipedia has rapidly grown into the largest reference website on the Internet. The content of Wikipedia is free, written collaboratively by people from all around the world).” (wikipedia.com)

In a perfect world, this would make Wikipedia the ideal website for information on everything. However, this is not a perfect world. According to Theregister.co.uk, “Nicholas Carr, a prolific writer, took time out to examine the quality of two entries picked at random: Bill Gates and Jane FondaâÂ?¦He wasn’t impressed by what he saw.” In fact, his retort was, “This is garbage, an incoherent hodge-podge of dubious factoids that adds up to something far less than the sum of its parts.”

Personally, I use the internet to homeschool my children. Looking up the answers of questions is mandatory in my house. My mother made me leaf through the Encyclopedia Britannica whenever I had a question as a child, and I make my kids Google the answer to their questions. Wikipedia is always at the top of the list of answers. They are often correct, but not always. Therefore, I have also taught them to check what they find in Wikipedia against answers on other sites.

While Wikipedia, in its boastful arrogance has a whole catalog of Encyclopedia facts that it claims to have corrected, Wikipedia has some boo-boo’s of its own. Here are some of the blatant errors Wikipedia has been known to make.

âÂ?¢ John Seigenthaler, a retired journalist was recently profiled on Wikipedia as the following: “John Seigenthaler Sr. was the assistant to Attorney General Robert Kennedy in the early 1960’s. For a brief time, he was thought to have been directly involved in the Kennedy assassinations of both John, and his brother, Bobby. Nothing was ever proven.” This could not be further from the truth. (USA Today)

âÂ?¢ “IN the wacky, sometimes wickedly funny, world of Wikipedia, the internet’s free encyclopedia, Tony Blair has been given the new middle names of Whoop-de Doo.” (timesonline.co.uk)

âÂ?¢ “Another hacker regularly removes whole sections of Gordon Brown’s biography and replaces it with one word: tax.” (timesonline.co.uk)

While many mistakes and errors are obviously due to hacking and malice, the less obvious problems are due to the misinformation of the average Joe.

Unfortunately, Encyclopedia Britannica does not do much better. There is just less of a chance of malice being involved. In an experiment in which 50 pairs of Wikipedia and Britannica articles were sent to recognized subject authorities, Britannica averaged approximately three errors per article while Wikipedia averaged four.

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