Wikimedia Product/Perspectives/Trust/Reliability




Wikipedia is one of the most trusted sources of knowledge in the world.[1] In one telling example, a 2013 report[2] determined it to be the top source of healthcare information for both doctors and patients in the US. The importance of this trust has intensified in the last few years, as the world has polarized further; new, niche media sites have proliferated; blatant lies are told by politicians on television; and “fake news” spreads quickly.  It is increasingly hard to tell what is true and what is not. At this time, Wikipedia is increasingly seen as a uniquely trustworthy source, a reputation demonstrated by the reliance on Wikipedia by large media platforms to fact-check assertions made on their platforms.[3]

At the same time, there is room for improvement and reason to invest in reader trust.  While Wikipedia is trusted by many, it is also famous for misinformation.[4] Wikipedia has historically been regarded with unease and contempt by traditional sources of information (teachers, journalists)[5] and it is easy to imagine how a high profile scandal might undermine public faith in Wikipedia for years to come. A recent poll of Wikipedia users found that the number one request of respondents was “More trustworthy content.”[6] Stories of vandalism frequently make headlines, and teachers around the world tell their students not to trust Wikipedia.  Some of the many reasons not to trust Wikipedia content are outlined in a very thorough Quora answer by Andreas Kolbe [7] (a longtime community member and Wikipedia documenter) for anyone who is interested.


T. Lucassen and J.M. Schragen, 2010 Trust in Wikipedia: how users trust information from an unknown source, .pdf

T. Lucassen and J.M. Schragen, 2010 Factual Accuracy and Trust in Information:The Role of Expertise, pdf