Wikipedia has become an invaluable source of information to millions of households and to schools and workplaces nationwide—indeed, worldwide. In many ways, a “Wikipedia search” is becoming synonymous with information search, in the same way in which a “Google search” is for the Web.
Owing to its open nature, the Wikipedia contains articles on a range of topics that are far broader than that of conventional encyclopedias, including current events, recent discoveries, and in-depth technical and mathematical issues. The Wikipedia is also a free resource, available to all of the Internet-connected population, including many users who would not have the means of purchasing traditional encyclopedias.
Furthermore, the Wikipedia has set a model for open collaborative content creation. Similar Wiki forums are springing up in areas from technology to human rights to national security. Indeed, these Wiki forums are becoming one of the main ways in which people collaboratively create and share information in this new century.
The collaborative and loosely coordinated nature of these forums, it is crucial for users to have some indication about the veracity and trustworthiness of the contributions. Tools developed by Luca de Alfaro, an associate professor of computer engineering at UC Santa Cruz, will enable readers to form informed opinions on the trustworthiness of the information that is presented to them. The tools will also enable the automated extraction of trustworthy snapshots of the Wikipedia obtained through selecting, for each page, a recent version free of content flagged as low trust. Supported by the Wiki Foundation, Professor de Alfaro’s research is now being evaluated and integrated into the Wikipedia community.