The paradox of expertise: Is the Wikipedia Reference Desk as good as your library?

Shachaf, Pnina The paradox of expertise: Is the Wikipedia Reference Desk as good as your library? Journal of Documentation, 2009, vol. 65, n. 6, pp. 977-996. [Journal article (Paginated)]

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English abstract

Purpose: This study aims to examine answers’ quality on the Wikipedia Reference Desk, and to compare it with library reference services. It examines whether Wikipedia volunteers outperform expert reference librarians and exemplify the paradox of expertise. Design/Methodology/Approach The study applied content analysis to a sample of 434 messages (77 questions and 357 responses) from the Wikipedia Reference Desk and focused on three SERVQUAL quality variables: reliability (accuracy, completeness, verifiability), responsiveness, and assurance. Findings The study reports that on all three SERVQUAL measures quality of answers produced by the Wikipedia Reference Desk is comparable with that of library reference services. Research limitations/Implications The collaborative social reference model matched or outperformed the dyadic reference interview and should be further examined theoretically and empirically. The generalizability of the findings to other similar sites is questionable. Practical implications Librarians and library science educators should examine the implications of the social reference on the future role of reference services. Originality value This study is the first to: 1) examine the quality of the Wikipedia reference desk; 2) extend research on Wikipedia quality; 3) use SERVQUAL measures in evaluating Q&A sites; and 4) compare Q&A sites with traditional reference services.

Item type: Journal article (Paginated)
Keywords: Reference services, Wikipedia, quality, reliability, social reference, Q&A sites.
Subjects: A. Theoretical and general aspects of libraries and information. > AB. Information theory and library theory.
B. Information use and sociology of information > BA. Use and impact of information.
B. Information use and sociology of information > BC. Information in society.
B. Information use and sociology of information > BG. Information dissemination and diffusion.
H. Information sources, supports, channels. > HP. e-resources.
H. Information sources, supports, channels. > HQ. Web pages.
H. Information sources, supports, channels. > HS. Repositories.
I. Information treatment for information services > IJ. Reference work.
L. Information technology and library technology > LC. Internet, including WWW.
Depositing user: Amanda Ferrara
Date deposited: 07 Oct 2013 15:37
Last modified: 02 Oct 2014 12:28
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10760/20329

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