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A survey landed on Decrypt’s desk on Tuesday. It raised some unnerving questions about the most viewed encyclopaedia ever, Wikipedia.
The survey contained some “shock” statistics: some 65 percent of Wikipedia users believe that “Wikipedia is biased due to its limited number of content contributors,” according to the report. Only 13 percent of users have ever submitted an edit. And a mere 141,000 out of 36 million registered users—a platry 0.4 percent—are actively editing what is supposed to be the world’s most reliable and widely used reference resource.
It gets worse. Survey respondents bemoaned Wikipedia’s “complicated editing process.” 60 percent of them complain about under-representation of people of color. Only 8 percent of female respondents had ever submitted an edit, and of those only 62 percent were accepted—compared with 71 percent of edits put forward by men… The survey goes on to expose further heinous crimes by Wikipedia.
The source of these alarming statistics? Ah—a study of 1,000 people by, er, “Everipedia,” an encyclopedia-blockchain startup that bills itself as “the world’s largest online English encyclopedia” and is an active Wikipedia competitor.
What a surprise that Everipedia, a Wikipedia competitor, has released a survey disparaging Wikipedia. And even more shocking that—as a spokeswoman confirmed—the survey is informal and “not an academic, peer-reviewed report or study.”
Yet the methodology, at least, checks out. The 1,000 person sample size, out of a relevant population of 36 million, is three times the recommended minimum on Raosoft’s sample size calculator. The survey was also conducted “anonymously,” meaning it wasn’t just Everipedia’s employees surveying their mates. What’s more, the statistics on race and diversity have been acknowledged by Wikimedia, the non-profit that owns Wikipedia.
That said, what has Everipedia got to offer that Wikipedia hasn’t? The site’s not exactly a paragon of honesty and integrity itself. It has, for instance, long suffered problems with inaccuracy, and many of its entries are lifted from subjects’ LinkedIn profiles. Also, most of Everipedia’s articles are, er, clones of the original pages on Wikipedia. (Though Wikipedia itself cloned thousands of pages from the Encyclopaedia Britannica.)
To cure the disease it has diagnosed in Wikipedia, Everipedia attempts to square two, disparate solutions: lowering the barrier to successfully submitting edits while, at the same time, increasing the level of accuracy in submissions. In order to achieve this, it motivates its users with “IQ tokens,” a cryptocurrency supported by the EOS blockchain. Editors receive these in return for submitting edits deemed accurate by the community.
But the problem is that accuracy can’t always be demonstrated conclusively, which is why Wikipedia encourages constant changes and re-edits. Rewarding users in tokens for “accuracy,” on the other hand, risks compensating—and validating—people who are wrong. And as Everipedia told Decrypt earlier this year, an edit will go through so long as a minimum of one other person approves it. Roughly the same level of rigor applied to that survey.