One Easy Way to Make Wikipedia Better

Researchers say the online encyclopedia should have a source-o-meter on each page, reflecting the quality of citations.

“A lot of references are made available. But when you try to track them down, the main problem you run into is not that they’re fake or erroneous, but you can’t get to them,” said Michael Evans, a research fellow at the Neukom Institute and one of the study’s co-authors. “Typically it’s because of paywalls. Sometimes it’s because of link rot.”

.. He and Evans envision a browser plug-in, for instance, that would run a quick script to assess a Wikipedia page’s citations; then translate its findings into some sort of prominent verifiability scoring system displayed on the page. Such a metric could—perhaps with “smiley and frowny emoticons,” Rockmore offered—warn people about pages with low-verifiability ratings, or add credence to easy-to-vet pages. Such a scoring system would incentivize sourcing articles with information that’s easy for people to check online—and could be used on basically any website that includes lots of citations.

.. “There’s this idea that open access is this ethical and moral thing, that it’s a morally and ethically grounded movement, and I can appreciate in a sense that it is,” Melissa Bates, a physiology researcher at the University of Iowa, told The Atlantic in 2014. “But there’s also a business model to how science is done.”