China / Society

Survey reveals too much trust in Internet encyclopedias

(Xinhua) Updated: 2014-04-24 16:29

BEIJING - A survey on Thursday revealed that 86.2 percent of respondents have consulted Internet encyclopedias, with 41.6 percent admitting frequent use, while only 46.9 percent have ever questioned the credibility of the content.

The survey, conducted by the China Youth Daily among 3,207 people last week, showed that 62.6 percent of correspondents are aware that free Internet encyclopedias can be edited by anyone.

Nearly 50 percent said that free editing rights will promote better understanding of the truth, while 20.5 percent disagreed and 27.3 percent chose "hard to say."

Liu Bin, associate professor of the Communication School of Beijing Normal University, said that editing entries has been regarded as "sacred" with higher demand for professionalism and authority, which may contribute to online encyclopedias' credibility.

As people become increasingly confused by contradictory claims by "experts" in recent years, more are inclined to turn to online encyclopedias for "definite answers," Liu added.

According to the survey, 56.6 percent of people expressed concern over a lack of skepticism among netizens, especially the young.

"As long as the Internet is open to all, there is bound to be deliberate tampering with the articles," said Wu Yanpeng, former editor-in-chief of Hudong Encyclopedia.

The authority of online encyclopedias is not guaranteed, which makes questioning necessary. Now netizens are on track to develop good habits of analyzing online information critically, said Wu.

Ma Rujun, deputy editor-in-chief of the Encyclopedia of China Publishing House, explained that over-reliance is due to a lack of substitute reference sources.

Ma said the Encyclopedia of China will launch its web version in 2015, which might help improve the situation as it will be compiled by experts and monitored by professional editors.

In order to boost public confidence in online encyclopedias, Wu suggested that more experts and scientists be involved in editing.

"The more the editors, the less likely that the tamperers will get their way. Also, experts should be entrusted with greater editing and monitoring power," said Wu.

Hot Topics