These sources have minimal bias and use very few loaded words (wording that attempts to influence an audience by appealing to emotion or stereotypes). The reporting is factual and usually sourced. These are the most credible media sources. See all Least-Biased sources.
- Overall, we rate Wikipedia Least Biased based on a wide variety of content that often covers pros and cons, right and left. We also rate them Mixed for factual reporting due to possible inaccurate or incomplete entries, as stated by Wikipedia themselves, that may reflect the personal biases of the top editors and a complete lack of transparency regarding the qualifications and who the editors are.
Bias Rating: LEAST BIASED
Factual Reporting: MIXED
Press Freedom Rank: MOSTLY FREE
Media Type: Organization/Foundation
Traffic/Popularity: High Traffic
MBFC Credibility Rating: MEDIUM CREDIBILITY
Founded in January 2001 by Jimmy Wales and Larry Sanger, Wikipedia is a free-content encyclopedia project based on an openly editable model. Wikipedia’s articles provide links to guide the user to related pages with additional information. According to Alexa Internet, as of September 2018, Wikipedia is the world’s fifth-most-popular website for overall visitor traffic.
Funded by / Ownership
The nonprofit Wikimedia Foundation Inc owns Wikipedia. Donations fund The Wikimedia Foundation. Further, Wikipedia runs fundraising campaigns each year on the website.
Volunteers edit Wikipedia content rather than the Wikimedia Foundation. Although Wikipedia is edited essentially by anyone, a 2005 study published in the Journal Nature showed that they were just as accurate as the Encyclopedia Britannica regarding scientific information. In another study completed in 2014 by the Public Library of Science, they compared Wikipedia’s accuracy on Drug information compared to other sources. The study showed that “Quantitative analysis revealed that the accuracy of drug information in Wikipedia was 99.7%±0.2% than the textbook data. The overall completeness of drug information in Wikipedia was 83.8±1.5% (p<0.001).” They concluded that “Wikipedia is an accurate and comprehensive source of drug-related information for undergraduate medical education.”
It is nearly impossible to analyze when it comes to bias, as each entry changes frequently and is edited by people with different opinions. In general, most Wikipedia entries cover both positives and negatives and link to mostly credible sources of information to support their claims. Since bias varies from entry to entry and line to line, we rate them least biased as many perspectives are found on Wikipedia; however, each entry may convey the bias of the top editors.
Full disclosure, I am a Wikipedia editor. A very low-ranking one who has only edited a few entries; however, my experience over the years shows that for each entry, you generally have one or two very high-ranking editors who have almost total control over what is published on the Wiki page. This may lead to bias displayed in some entries. For example, I have edited a page and provided solid evidence from an authoritative credible source, only to find it undone within 30 minutes. I have seen this over and over. In other words, in some cases, entries are not community entries but rather a reflection of the biases of the top Wikipedians (editors). Some have referred to this as a cabal; however, Wikipedia denies that a cabal exists.
It is also vital to point out that Wikipedia does not consider itself credible. They state the following on their Wikipedia is not a reliable source page: “Wikipedia is not a reliable source for citations elsewhere on Wikipedia. Because anyone can edit it at any time, any information it contains at a particular time could be vandalism, a work in progress, or just plain wrong. Biographies of living persons, subjects that happen to be in the news, and politically or culturally contentious topics are especially vulnerable to these issues. Edits on Wikipedia that are in error are usually fixed after some time. However, because Wikipedia is a volunteer-run project, it cannot constantly monitor every contribution. There are many errors that remain unnoticed for hours, days, weeks, months, or even years. Therefore, Wikipedia should not be considered a definitive source in and of itself.”
They also state, “Articles are only as good as the editors who have been editing them—their interests, education, and background—and the efforts they have put into a particular topic or article.” Another consideration is the lack of transparency of editors as they remain anonymous. Therefore, we don’t know their backgrounds, and they have no accountability for using their real name in the public sphere. So, in general, Wikipedia is a good resource to start research that will lead to more credible sources of information. Wikipedia also has a solid track record regarding science and evidence-based Wiki pages. However, in some cases, the Wiki pages that rely on the opinions of others may be very misleading as they reflect the will and biases of the authoritative editors.
Failed Fact Checks
- None in the Last 5 years; however, some entries are not complete or may be inaccurate, as stated by Wikipedia.
Overall, we rate Wikipedia Least Biased based on a wide variety of content that often covers pros and cons, right and left. We also rate them Mixed for factual reporting due to possible inaccurate or incomplete entries, as stated by Wikipedia themselves, that may reflect the personal biases of the top editors and a complete lack of transparency regarding the qualifications and who the editors are. (8/19/2016) Updated (D. Van Zandt 10/21/2022)
Last Updated on October 21, 2022 by Media Bias Fact Check