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Up to six in 10 articles on Wikipedia contain inaccuracies, according to new research.
The number of factual errors shows just how unreliable it can be to use the online resource as a sole means of digging up information.
Yet millions base everything from school homework to corporate presentations on facts and figures they have gleaned from the site.
A study into, specifically, company information on the massively popular website discovered 60 percent of articles had factual errors.
Wikipedia pages are edited by the public and this leads to both human error in factual information as well as, occasionally, those who want to sabotage entries.
But the site’s administrators themselves add to the problem by being too slow to react to those who complain about the errors, the research said.
It was conducted by the scholarly Public Relations Journal, which quizzed 1 284 members about their clients’ Wikipedia entries.
One in four of those questioned had not previously checked what Wikipedia said about their clients, said the lead researcher, Professor Marcia DiStaso of Penn State University.
Once a mistake had been spotted, getting it sorted posed further difficulties – one in four complaints to Wikipedia never received any type of response.
Others said it took “weeks” to get an answer although Wikipedia itself claims all requests for corrections are dealt with in between two and five days.
DiStaso said: “It does not surprise me that so many Wikipedia entries contain factual errors. What is surprising, however, is that 25 percent of survey respondents indicated they are not familiar with the Wikipedia articles for their company or clients.
“At some point most, if not all, companies will determine they need to change something in their Wikipedia entries.”
Although Wikipedia is not an official record of fact for a company, it could be vital to get it right for those who use it to gather information about a corporation.
DiStaso added: “The status quo can’t continue. A high amount of factual errors doesn’t work for anyone, especially the public, which relies on Wikipedia for accurate, balanced information.” – Daily Mail