Wikipedia: How it works, how it works and how to use it sensibly How the free encyclopedia works Quality check Wikipedia creates (false) facts Coordinated attacks Wikipedia’s great benefit Conclusion Read the article in c’t 20/2023
What do the name Wilhelm and Stalin’s bathroom have in common? Both stand for the potency of the online encyclopedia Wikipedia. The evening before Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg became Federal Minister of Economics in 2009, an anonymous Wikipedia user attributed the first name Wilhelm to him. Although the change was quickly discovered and reversed, the following day the Bild newspaper and Spiegel newspapers still used the wrong Wilhelm.
Stalin’s bathroom turned up just a few days later: Karl-Marx-Allee in Berlin was called that in GDR times, according to an anonymous user in the avenue’s Wikipedia entry. Unlike the false Wilhelm, this change went undetected for years, the false fact even making it into travel guides.
Such fakes are quickly successful on Wikipedia because the online service is so popular. With schoolchildren and students, with search engines that often present Wikipedia articles very prominently, and with providers of language models. They train their algorithms with the amount of text from Wikipedia because they consider the texts, which are usually created collaboratively, to be of high quality. We’ll show you how to rate Wikipedia content yourself, identify fakes and research the encyclopedia.
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