Wikipedia v Britannica

Another advantage of Wikipedia – no ‘spin’ department. (Well they probably have one, but not as well resourced and shameless as Britannica’s.)

Anyway, as some Troppodillians will know, Nature Magazine did an independent review of Wikipedia and Britannica and found that the degree of error between them was comparable – 4 Wikipedia errors for every 3 Britannica ones.

Courtesy of slashdot, Nature was unimpressed with Britannica’s nitpicking over its review.

I’m sure all this is on Wikipedia already somewhere. It’s certainly in their news section – but not in their considered independent style. Interestingly, I looked up “Encyclopedia Britannica” in Wikipedia and found a very neutral write up. Under the sub-heading ‘Competition‘ it says this.

Today, one of the biggest challenges to the Britannica is the ease with which people can find information online. Many people simply prefer to find information with the help of a search engine, such as Google, Yahoo! or While the information available on the internet is typically not as structured and well-vetted as that contained in Britannica, this is (partially) compensated for by convenience and the sheer volume of information typically available on any subject. Smart searching algorithms, such as page rank algorithm used by Google, also assists a smart user to quickly narrow down their investigation to relevant pages.

Wikipedia don’t even mention themselves, cuties that we all know them to be. (Well, not them, us really)

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harry clarke
18 years ago

The comparison is also discussed in this week’s Economist and in NewScientist.

Main point – far more postings on Wikipedia and about same error rate as EB.