Brigham Young University political scientist Adam Brown focused on past and present candidates for governor across the 50 states. Brown fact-checked biographical information and voting statistics and found very few inaccuracies. When Brown conducted the study, Wikipedia contained articles for 230 of the 246 major-party candidates that ran for governor between 1998 and 2008. Brown found that all of the verifiable biographical information in those articles was completely accurate.
Even though election statistics can be tricky topics as well, Brown found that most were trustworthy. He found only four articles that reported a difference of more than 1 percentage point from the actual election result.
His study was modeled after a Nature piece which compared Encyclopedia Britannica against Wikipedia on scientific articles. While Wikipedia did okay, showing that probably a lot of articles were copied and pasted from other sources like other content farms, it is well-known for being gamed by tech-savvy types out to make opponents look bad. Wikipedia was at one point so partisan right wing people created "Conservapedia", a right-wing alternative to Wikipedia. Not so much now. Instead, the prominence of an issue increased its accuracy and, instead, Brown said he found more facts missing among obscure or local political topics.
This does not mean Wikipedia should be used for anything other than getting a general idea about a subject - but it gives confidence that people can start getting more knowledgeable about politics by starting with Wikipedia.
"We don't need to worry about Wikipedia just because it's not Britannica, but that does not mean it is your stopping point," Brown said.
Citation: Adam R. Brown, 'Wikipedia as a Data Source for Political Scientists: Accuracy and Completeness of Coverage', PS: Political Science&Politics (2011), 44: 339-343
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