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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

New study targets Wikipedia credibility

Valentina Martinelli  / Arizona Daily Wildcat

Sudha Ram, above, a UA Eller College of Management professor, co-authored a paper with Jun Liu, a management information systems graduate student, explaining why some Wikipedia articles can have higher quality than the site is give credit for.
Valentina Martinelli
Valentina Martinelli / Arizona Daily Wildcat Sudha Ram, above, a UA Eller College of Management professor, co-authored a paper with Jun Liu, a management information systems graduate student, explaining why some Wikipedia articles can have higher quality than the site is give credit for.

Wikipedia articles’ quality may be able to be determined by looking at who contributes to them, according to instructor Sudha Ram and graduate student Jun Liu, who co-authored a paper looking at why some Wikipedia articles are of a higher quality.

Ram, an Eller College of Management professor, said the research began with her involvement with iPlant, looking at ways for scientists to collaborate through technology. Ram said they wanted to look at Wikipedia because of its success.

Despite Wikipedia’s popularity, there is a lot of debate about the credibility of the Web site.

“”I think it’s interesting how teachers don’t think it’s credible,”” said Andre Ospital-Cone, a finance senior. Ospital-Cone said he uses Wikipedia often but was surprised when one of his instructors used it in class because most teachers do not allow the site.

“”The quality of Wikipedia articles is a serious issue,”” Liu said.

Liu said he noticed many articles with a similar number of contributors or of similar length, but they varied in quality.

He believes the different collaboration patterns determine the article’s quality.

Liu and Ram narrowed the contributors down to seven roles and determined how these roles affected quality.

“”We found that most articles where people come in as all-around contributors, they are the ones that end up being really high-quality articles,”” Ram said. 

All-around contributors are people that add information more often than the average contributor and are able to make several different types of edits. 

Previous studies only counted the number of editors and edits lost information, Liu said.

“”Our research is more practical,”” Liu said. “”We not only found a way to assess the quality, but (we) propose a method to improve Wikipedia articles.””

Liu suggested looking into e-mailing contributors about modifying or adding references to their articles to increase quality.

Ram said the paper has generated a lot of discussion and interest.

“”It’s neat, actually, to do research on how people collaborate in these new environments,”” Liu said.

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