New Software Makes Wikipedia Fraud Detectable

Dennis Faas's picture

Although it is the most widely-used, free web-based content encyclopaedia in the world, many online surfers are not inclined to believe everything they read on Wikipedia. In fact, most college and university professors will not allow their students to cite the database as a reputable source when producing research assignments.

The unreliable reputation that has been linked to Wikipedia for quite some time is due to the fact that almost anyone can edit the entries that appear on the site, with little or no tools implemented to detect fraudulence.

That's all about to change!

Luca de Alfaro, a computer science professor, and his team of researchers at the University of California have developed software that is able to pick up on questionable information in Wikipedia entries. When a user selects an entry, the software will color the text a shade of orange if there is reason to doubt the content being displayed. (Source:

Sound impossible?

Not really. The software functions by scrutinizing the reputations of all contributors who have added to the entries on the site. Through careful analysis of Wikipedia's open volumes of edit histories, the software is able to count the times a contributor's work has survived subsequent edits by other people.

The system is not the most credible. It assumes that the less people correct your work, the more reputable you are determined to be. Major problems arise when data gets continually updated or hackers attack a perfectly factual entry. (Source:

As it stands, the software is in "demonstration mode" and operates on an older subset of Wikipedia entries. However, Mr. de Alfaro revealed his innovation to a receptive audience at the recent Wikimania convention held in Taiwan. (Source:

The computer science professor expressed his continued desire to work extensively with the Wikimedia Foundation, which oversees Wikipedia, and make his software a real-time option for the website.

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