Refreshing, after recent high-profile controversies about the accuracy of Wikipedia, to see the results of Nature‘s blind side-by-side comparison of 42 Encyclopedia Brittanica and Wikipedia articles by dozens of scientists. Wikipedia fared only slightly worse relative to Brittanica’s accepted standard of accuracy. But how good is the standard?
Only eight serious errors, such as misinterpretations of important concepts, were detected in the pairs of articles reviewed, four from each encyclopaedia [emphasis mine]. But reviewers also found many factual errors, omissions or misleading statements: 162 and 123 in Wikipedia and Britannica, respectively. … “People will find it shocking to see how many errors there are in Britannica,” Twidale adds. “Print encyclopaedias are often set up as the gold standards of information quality against which the failings of faster or cheaper resources can be compared. These findings remind us that we have an 18-carat standard, not a 24-carat one.”