"But shouldn’t librarians do a bit more research into collaborative work and online social networks before we dismiss wikipedia as garbage? Shouldn’t we analyze resources for quality before making blanket statements about wikis and other collaborative tools?" asks Steven Cohen, as he continues the discussion about Wikipedia’s reputation with this post on Library Stuff pointing to Ross Mayfield’s aggregation of items about it.
James Day, one of the Wikimedia technical team, wrote me about this Isuzu Experiment item mentioning how School of Informatics at the University at Buffalo professor Alex Halavais made some experimental changes to Wikipedia to see how long they would last. He doesn’t say what most of the changes are, but the post implies the thirteen changes might be errors. More information in the comments explains what two of the changes were and how Wikipedians might have tracked them down. James showed me the page where you can see the history of changes to a Wikipedia entry, like this one for Syracuse. You might be able to see some usernames and/or IP addresses on it. He also showed me a page discussing AlHalawi’s actions where several Wikipedia contributors ask him to cite sources for the changes he’s made. This example shows that some people do keep an eye on pages and check facts.
James explains “What he probably didn’t know is that for a long time there has been one person making really subtle and hard to check changes to articles. The Recent Changes patrol and others are _really_ good at picking up on clues for that.”
Addendum 8/30: James Day sheds more light on the situation in a post on his Frassle blog.
Addendum 8/31: Jessamyn West writes about evaluating Wikipedia as a source, too.