How to use Wikipedia is a way to maximize its reliability:
- Every time an article is edited a new version of the article is created. One can see the time gap between edits by looking in the history of the article.
- A stable version is a version in the history that was not quickly reverted or changed, but rather allowed to remain for a significant period of time.
- What is a significant period of time depends on the traffic that an article gets. An hour may be long enough to qualify for high traffic articles. 24 hours may be best for lower traffic articles. Days or weeks may be needed for low traffic articles.
- For very low traffic articles, the length of time a version is stable may not matter. If the article is not being reviewed, corrupt information may continue to exist for an extended period of time.
Vandalism and disinformation:
- Selecting a stable version from the history (instead of using the top version) tremendously increases the likelihood that you will encounter the least amount of vandalism possible.
- High traffic articles will be more aggressively reviewed by good faith editors to remove erroneous information and to revert vandalism.
- Disinformation that continues for a long period of time is almost always on low traffic articles.
- The Siegenthaler article was a low traffic article during the time the erroneous information was there. It was a biography of an official who served a long time ago and had not been involved in any recent events. The corrupted version likely had a very low viewership.
- Low traffic articles can be the most problematic, because they may rarely or never be reviewed by good faith editors to remove erroneous information.
How to maximize the reliability of the information you get from an article:
- Look in the history and select a stable version (no changes for a long time period).
- Pay attention to whether the information is sourced in the article.
- Look up information found in articles elsewhere to confirm it.