P.D. Magnus (research)

Papers about epistemology and Wikipedia

I have written several papers about Wikipedia over the years.

Epistemology and the Wikipedia

Wikipedia is a free encyclopedia that is written and edited entirely by visitors to its website. I argue that we are misled when we think of it in the same epistemic category with traditional general encyclopedias. An empirical assessment of its reliability reveals that it varies widely from topic to topic. So any particular claim found in it cannot be relied on based on its source. I survey some methods that we use in assessing specific claims and argue that the structure of the Wikipedia frustrates them.

	AUTHOR = {P.D. Magnus},
	TITLE = {Epistemology and the {W}ikipedia},
	YEAR = {2006},
	MONTH = aug,
	NOTE = {Presented at the North American Computing and Philosophy Conference in Troy, New York.},
	URL = {http://hdl.handle.net/1951/42589}

Early response to false claims in Wikipedia

A number of studies have assessed the reliability of entries in Wikipedia at specific times. One important difference between Wikipedia and traditional media, however, is the dynamic nature of its entries. An entry assessed today might be substantially extended or reworked tomorrow. This study paper assesses the frequency with which small, inaccurate changes are quickly corrected.

	AUTHOR = {P.D. Magnus},
	TITLE = {Early response to false claims in {W}ikipedia},
	JOURNAL = {First Monday},
	YEAR = {2008},
	MONTH = sep,
	DAY = {1},
	VOLUME = {13},
	NUMBER = {9},
	URL = {https://doi.org/10.5210/fm.v13i9.2115}

On trusting Wikipedia

Given the fact that many people use Wikipedia, we should ask: Can we trust it? The empirical evidence suggests that Wikipedia articles are sometimes quite good but that they vary a great deal. As such, it is wrong to ask for a monolithic verdict on Wikipedia. Interacting with Wikipedia involves assessing where it is likely to be reliable and where not. I identify five strategies that we use to assess claims from other sources and argue that, to a greater of lesser degree, Wikipedia frustrates all of them. Interacting responsibly with something like Wikipedia requires new epistemic methods and strategies.

	AUTHOR = {P.D. Magnus},
	TITLE = {On trusting {W}ikipedia},
	JOURNAL = {Episteme},
	YEAR = {2009},
	MONTH = feb,
	VOLUME = {6},
	NUMBER = {1},
	PAGES = {74--91},
	DOI = {10.3366/E1742360008000555}

Early response to false claims in Wikipedia, 15 years later

Fifteen years ago, I conducted a small study testing the error-correction tendency of Wikipedia. Not only is Wikipedia different now than it was then, the community that maintains it is different. Despite the crudity of that study’s methods, it is natural to wonder what the result would be now. So I repeated the earlier study and found surprisingly similar results.

	AUTHOR = {P.D. Magnus},
	TITLE = {Early response to false claims in {W}ikipedia, 15 years later},
	JOURNAL = {First Monday},
	YEAR = {2023},
	MONTH = sep,
	DAY = {4},
	VOLUME = {28},
	NUMBER = {9},
	URL = {https://doi.org/10.5210/fm.v28i9.12912}