When can appraisers rely on Wikipedia?

BVWireIssue #61-5
October 31, 2007

In her session on “Extreme Googling“ (Internet research and “I still haven’t found what I’m looking for”), presenter Eva Lang (www.bvgirl.com) took a practical look at the wealth of web-based information, which is often “disorganized and jumbled.”  Nearly 600 million web searches take place daily—comprising up to 25% of the average employee’s workday, but recent studies say that half of these are unsuccessful.  “In most businesses, this is merely frustrating,” Lang said, “but in litigation, not finding information that the opposing expert finds can lose cases.”

Adding to the confusion is the recent statement by the U.S. Court of Claims that “materials culled from the Internet do not—at least on their face—meet standards of reliability.”   But few other courts share this concern.  For instance, a recent New York Times article revealed that more than 100 judicial rulings have relied on Wikipedia, the web-based, collaborative encyclopedia which currently ranks 13th among Internet destinations.  “But in citing concern for the site’s accuracy,” Lang pointed out, “the same Court of Federal Claims relied on an article called ‘Researching With Wikipedia’ found—guess where?—on Wikipedia.”

“Think of [these sites] as the web-equivalent of your library reference shelf,” Lang said. Among the top-ranked databases for business appraisers and litigation experts: Dialog Select Open Access, which allows users to search and pay for discrete articles without paying the high subscription price for the entire site; and Alacra, which offers economic data, business news, investment and market research. 

And of course there’s BVR:  BVMarketdata is still the number-one “gateway” for financial and transactional data related to the sales of public and private companies, control premiums, minority and marketability discounts (our opinion, not Lang’s).  Its sister site, BVLibrary, offers the most current and comprehensive searchable database of BV articles, legal cases, valuation reports—and all back issues of the BVWire.  The new, state-of-the-art search engine uses a key word or phrase and then sorts results by date, product, or ranking; it also allows purchase of single articles as well as database subscriptions.  Try the free BVR search engine today.

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