Massimo Pigliucci discusses a study about the accuracy of Wikipedia vs. the Encyclopedia Brittanica.
Academia is notoriously resistant to change, which to some extent is a good thing. It was therefore no surprise that when Wikipedia became a phenomenon most academics scoffed at it as a passing fad, fatally flawed by its very core idea: anybody, and I mean anybody, can become a Wiki author and post new entries or edit existing ones. Surely, this will inevitably lead to chaos and complete unreliability, the critics said. But a few years ago a study of a sample of entries compared the accuracy of Wikipedia with that of the unquestionably prestigious Encyclopedia Britannica, and Wikipedia was at least as accurate, in some cases more.
Many of my friends with Anarchist leanings sight Wikipedia as an example of what is possible when we get rid of the old-guard rules and let people do what they want. They are close, but I think Anarchy is not the right political moniker for Wikipedia. It’s a Libertarian idea: People should be free, and we should let the marketplace of ideas thrive without excessive impedance.
But, there ARE rules. Wikipedia is relentless about not allowing “stubs”, or articles with little useful information. They comb for accuracy, and encourage others to do the same and report misinformation.
A good marketplace HAS to have rules if it is going to function. Just keep them minimal and under control. Go Wikipedia.