Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Wikipedia Hoax Quoted in Newspapers

The Irish Times reports Student's Wikipedia hoax quote used worldwide in newspaper obituaries. "A Wikipedia hoax by a 22-year-old Dublin student resulted in a fake quote being published in newspaper obituaries around the world. The quote was attributed to French composer Maurice Jarre who died at the end of March. It was posted on the online encyclopedia shortly after his death and later appeared in obituaries published in the Guardian, the London Independent, on the BBC Music Magazine website and in Indian and Australian newspapers."

Here's my favorite part: "The quote had no referenced sources and was therefore taken down by moderators of Wikipedia within minutes. However, Fitzgerald put it back a few more times until it was finally left up on the site for more than 24 hours."


Richard said...

Whenever I tell someone that I looked up something on Wikipedia they often come back with the same crap about how anybody can publish stuff there and it is all wrong. I graciously explain to them that they should always be aware of the potential errors in the source of their information and to always read the discussion page on Wikipedia. They can contribute to Wikipedia and make it better themselves as well.

They then tell me about how their students did an experiment where they added some incorrect content to Wikipedia and how long it stayed up. What do they think they lean from this or what they think they learn from it. Instead of encouraging their students to be vandals, how about adding correct information to an article instead of defacing it, or researching and writing a new one.

Now, I am sure that Shane Fitzgerald, was trying to show how reporters don't check their facts and use incorrectly use Wikipedia as a primary source, but instead of just shaming the reporter he shamed Wikipedia. Wikipedia did its job in that the quote was taken down since it didn't have a reference but his repeated vandalism defeated even that check.

Shane Fitzgerald, you are a Wikipedia vandal. I hope this incident leaves you infamous.

Howard said...

I can see the point, but then again, if you're ok with him shaming reporters to be better, maybe he's also shaming Wikipedia to be even better. Maybe there's a mechanism they put in place to make this problem go away.