Good Samaritans’ content as reliable as registered Wikipedia users

November 14th, 2007 - 2:27 am ICT by admin  
Dartmouth researchers found that the unknown providers, called the Good Samaritans contributed high-quality content, as do the active, registered users.

In the study, the scientists analysed Wikipedia, which has an archive of the history of changes and edits to its entries.

This facilitated them to examine Wikipedia authors and the quality of content as measured by how long and how much of it persisted before being changed or corrected.

“This finding was both novel and unexpected,” Denise Anthony, associate professor of sociology said.

“In traditional laboratory studies of collective goods, we don’t include Good Samaritans, those people who just happen to pass by and contribute, because those carefully designed studies don’t allow for outside actors,” she said.

“It took a real-life situation for us to recognize and appreciate the contributions of Good Samaritans to web content,” she added.

After subdividing the analysis by registered versus anonymous contributors, the researchers found that among those who contribute often, registered users are more reliable and they discovered that among those who contribute only a little, the anonymous users are more reliable.

The researchers found that the reliability of Good Samaritans’ contributions were at least as high as that of the more reputable registered users’ contributions.

“Wikipedia is a great example of how open-source contributions work for the greater good,” co-authors Sean Smith, associate professor of computer science said.

“And because it welcomes input from anyone, not just programmers and geeks, it is a great research tool. We can mine information from Wikipedia that helps us understand human behaviour,” he said.

Anthony said that Wikipedia must register the anonymous contributors who make numerous edits to the site.

“This will probably limit the number of low-quality contributions we find among high-use anonymous contributors, because in exposing their identity, they will have their reputation to consider,” Anthony said.

“I don’t foresee this new policy affecting the quality of those Good Samaritans, though. Their presence should continue to be valuable,” he added. (ANI)

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