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Color coding Wikipedia entries based on author reputations

Wikipedia color codingYou can't trust everything you read on Wikipedia. Of course, the same is true of the newspaper or pretty much anything else you read. But since pretty much anyone can edit Wikipedia entries, readers really have to take entries with a grain of salt.

Computer engineering associate professor Luca de Alfaro at the University of California, Santa Cruz has developed a tool that help you relax your skeptical genes a bit. His program color-codes phrases in Wikipedia entries based on the author's reputation.

de Alfaro's program will analyze 40 million edits on Wikipedia's 2 million English language pages. The text on those pages in then colored in varying shades of orange. You should pull out the salt shaker before reading the deepest orange phrases.

How does it analyze an author's reputation? By determining how infrequently someone has bothered to change or correct your article. The longer your original text stays up, the more reputable you are deemed. This works great for a large site like Wikipedia where users from around the globe are regularly reading and updating. It probably wouldn't be nearly as effective on a smaller, less active wiki.

Right now there's a demo page up and running that has scanned 1,000 pages.

[via Boing Boing]

Tags: reliability, trust, ucsc, wiki, wikipedia