How Wikipedia Articles Influence Judge Decisions

The largest online encyclopedia has mixed reviews. Wikipedia allows anyone to edit anonymously. How does its articles affect our decisions in reality? How can this impact be measured? Researchers at MIT, Maynooth University and Cornell University have published a paper in which they conducted a randomized experiment creating new legal wiki articles to see how they affect judges’ decisions .

In common law, decisions are based on statutes and precedents, but legal practitioners are human too, they don’t necessarily have the time and energy to dig through every law book and look at every decision, they rely on anonymous people on the internet Written legal articles. The researchers asked law students to write more than 150 articles about Irish Supreme Court decisions, randomly selecting half to upload and the other half to keep offline only. The results showed that the wiki article increased the citation rate of one case by more than 20%, which was statistically significant. Lower courts are more likely to cite, while the Supreme Court and appellate courts are largely absent. The researchers speculate that this is because legal practitioners in the lower courts have a greater workload, and the Wikipedia article provides a huge convenience.

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