In a University setting we tend to define expertise according to scholarly credentials, research and publishing experience. To find experts, we can simply go to the library, look for peer reviewed articles, see who cites who and use our subject knowledge to evaluate accordingly.
On the wider Internet, however, expertise isn’t so clear-cut.
There have been a few interesting links this week on the issue of online credibility.
- James Grimmelmann wrote a really good essay on the inherent biases and business objectives of Google results.
- Opposing Views is a new website that pits “experts” from opposite sides of an issue against each other. For instance “Universal Healthcare?” pits the Physicians for a National Health Program against Pacific Research Institute. My favorite part of the debates are the Evidence sections, where they have to support their views with outside sources. (For a more robust version of this kind of service, see our CQResearcher database, which Sommer wrote about back in November.)
- Piggybacking on Erin’s entry, The Chronicle had an article called “U. of California Researchers Hold Wikipedia Authors Accountable” introducing a new color-coded system for judging author reliability. Here’s a link to another report.
Credible authors still don’t make up for the fact that Wikipedia is a secondary source. It may be a good place ideas and brainstorming; but never worthy of referencing for your scholarly research papers.
What do you think?