Online Readers Trust Wikipedia More Than Major News Outlets

wikipedia

Polarization is a growing concern in the social media landscape. As more activities find a home online, even online dating may have political impact. A common-knowledge resource like Wikipedia may be able to help, but do people trust these resources?

According to data from research company YouGov.co.uk, 64 percent of Britons surveyed trust Wikipedia editors to tell the truth, either “a great deal” or “a fair amount.” Only 61 percent of respondents trusted BBC News journalists to the same degree. Even journalists who worked for “upmarket newspapers” like The Guardian were only ranked trustworthy by 45 percent of respondents.

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Why do people trust Wikipedia so much? It seems that readers trust the wisdom the crowd. Joseph Cox, a contributor to Motherboard writes:

If you see something that you know to be wrong or out of date, or you deem the content to be biased in some respect, you — or anybody else — can change it. This leads to a landscape where theoretically no institutions, be they governments, businesses or lobbyists, can totally control what information is hosted on the site. It’s a self-regulating approach, where it’s hoped the best quality information will sit on top.

By providing experts, and casual enthusiasts with the same tools, Wikipedia provides the community with an opportunity to ensure accuracy. The theory is that open access and a system of peer review minimizes bias. In essence, the ideal of Wikipedia plays into the consumer distrust of the media, which many consumers perceive as biased and unbalanced.

Indeed, Wikipedia’s success hinges on this perception, which enables the digital encyclopedia to maintain a presence as an objective source of information.

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