Monday, June 30, 2008

UC weighs in on Wikipedia

Educators have discredited Wikipedia from its inception, yet have had to deal with its popularity among students. When a University of California professor takes the time to introduce a credibility system for the editable encyclopedia, there is implicit acceptance that Wikipedia cannot be ignored as a knowledge source. The Chronicle of Higher Education reports that researchers at UC Santa Cruz have developed WikiTrust, a color-coded scheme that utilizes algorithms to determine credibility of sources. The algorithm attempts to measure the reputation of the writer/editor by highlighting words or passages introduced by that writer. Anything highlighted in deepening shades of orange is suspect. Here is a sample page on a less-controversial subject of how Wikitrust works: A comparison of French and Italian cuisine.

Learn more about the process from this UC Santa Cruz video.

Critics contend that contributors with an agenda may be able to 'work the system' to promote their desired outcomes for their pet articles, or to discredit opposing views. Nevertheless, we are seeing more and more efforts to balance the openness of the wiki project with the credibility that may require a more closed system.

Find out what your students think about Wikipedia. How do they use it? How do they decide whether or not the information is credible?

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