According to MIT researchers, Wikipedia pages have an impact on court reasoning because they cause citations of legal cases to increase by 20% after new articles detailing them are published.

The study, which was released on Wednesday, demonstrates how similar legal research minds are to those of students, hobbyists, celebrity followers, and pretty much everyone else. With its millions of articles, Wikipedia is a vastly beneficial resource whose pages frequently appear high in search engine results.

The study also demonstrates how crucial it is to carefully verify and take into account Wikipedia articles, which are published by anyone with a particular interest in a subject.

"It is not difficult to imagine a well-resourced litigant encouraging his legal team to integrate their own analysis of a relevant precedent into a Wikipedia article on the case at an early stage of litigation," Neil Thompson, a researcher at MIT and the study's lead author, said.

YouTube has depended on the Wikimedia Foundation, the nonprofit organization that supports Wikimedia, to counter conspiracy theories because it actively works to counteract disinformation. Wikipedia contributors attempt to correct errors and settle conflicts, but there are still problems, such as the woman who made up a detailed Russian medieval history.

An inquiry for comment was not immediately answered by the foundation.

More than 150 new Wikipedia pages about decisions by the Irish Supreme Court were created by law students for the MIT study. Randomly chosen, half of these were added to Wikipedia. Then, MIT computer scientists observed the frequency with which judges cited those cases as precedents in their own legal rulings as well as whether their own arguments reflected those Wikipedia pages' language style.

There was a 20% increase in citations of cases that were documented on Wikipedia when comparing the unpublished and published Wikipedia pages. According to MIT, this is a statistically significant rise. For cases where the judge's ruling was backed, the effect was very potent.

However, at higher courts, the link was weaker. The MIT researchers determined that this is most likely due to the fact that "Wikipedia is used more by judges or clerks who have a heavier workload, for whom the convenience of Wikipedia offers a stronger attraction."

According to Thompson, professional associations can help maintain Wikipedia accurately and helpful. He added, "We hope they'll see our results and form committees of experts to engage with Wikipedia and other information sources to work to make them more authoritative."