British people trust Wikipedia more than the mainstream media, says founder

Jimmy Wales (right), co-founder of Wikipedia, attending a press conference in central London on August 6, 2014 ahead of the three-day Wikimania conference. -- PHOTO: AFP
Jimmy Wales (right), co-founder of Wikipedia, attending a press conference in central London on August 6, 2014 ahead of the three-day Wikimania conference. -- PHOTO: AFP

LONDON (AFP) - British people trust Wikipedia more than the mainstream media, the information site's founder Jimmy Wales said Sunday, at the close of a three-day conference of the Wikimedia movement in London.

A YouGov poll of almost 2,000 British adults found 64 per cent trust the authors of Wikipedia entries to tell the truth "a great deal" or "a fair amount".

This compared with the 61 per cent who trusted BBC news journalists, 45 per cent who trusted journalists on broadsheet newspapers such as The Times and The Guardian, and 13 per cent for journalists on tabloids such as The Sun.

"British people trust Wikipedia more than the news," Mr Wales told the conference, to cheers from the audience. "The things that's really impressive here is the BBC has an excellent reputation... and we're trusted slightly more than the BBC. That's a little scary. But it's something we have accomplished," he said.

Mr Wales acknowledged that the online encyclopedia - which relies on the public for its contributions and corrections - was "flawed" but said that people "turn to us for reliable, solid information.... We do a decent job of it".

The YouGov survey revealed however that the traditional Encyclopaedia Britannica is viewed as the most reliable source of information by far, trusted by 83 per cent of respondents.

"I'm not going to rest until they trust us more than they ever trusted Encyclopaedia Britannica in the past," Mr Wales said.

After three days of discussions, the "Wikimania" annual event closed with a moment of silence for contributors who had died in the past year.

This included Mr Ihor Kostenko, a 22-year-old Ukrainian geography student who was shot dead in pro-European protests in Kiev in February. Mr Wales named him "Wikipedian of the year".

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