Among my friends and acquaintances, everybody distrusts Wikipedia and everybody uses it.
— Freeman Dyson, "How We Know"
The New York Review of Books, 10 March 2011.
(Discussing recent UK survey results.) We're trusted slightly more than the BBC. Now, that's a little scary, and probably inappropriate. ... We all know it's flawed. We all know we don't do as good a job as we wish we could do ... People trusted Encyclopedia Britannica - I think it was, like, 20 points ahead of us.
— Jimmy Wales, "State of the Wiki"
Wikimania speech, 10 August 2014.
The Wikimedia Foundation, owner of the world's encyclopaedia, visualises a world in which everyone can freely share in the sum of all knowledge. But "knowledge" of something implies confidence in its accuracy. While Wikipedia is untrustworthy, it is purveying something other than knowledge. This is a problem for the foundation, since it is failing to realise its vision, but also for humankind, who deserves an encyclopaedia it can trust.
At English Wikipedia, we recognise that the most reliable sources are those whose contents have been rigorously checked for accuracy by experts independent of the authors. Some editors here are quietly lifting five of our medical articles to something like that standard of reliability. One group has worked up Dengue fever to featured standard and submitted that version to the Journal of Medical Internet Research for peer review. It has now been accepted for publication. Another group is working Brain cancer, Esophageal cancer, Pancreatic cancer and Lung cancer up to featured standard, and their work will be reviewed by independent cancer experts from Cancer Research UK's network of contacts before the articles are awarded "featured" status.
Just how reliable will the fact-checked versions of these five articles be? That will depend among other factors on the quality of the reviewers and their rigour.