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False Fact On Wikipedia Proves Itself

kdawson posted more than 5 years ago | from the round-and-round-it-goes dept.

The Internet 513

An anonymous reader writes "Germany has a new minister of economic affairs. Mr. von und zu Guttenberg is descended from an old and noble lineage, so his official name is very long: Karl Theodor Maria Nikolaus Johann Jacob Philipp Franz Joseph Sylvester Freiherr von und zu Guttenberg. When first there were rumors that he would be appointed to the post, someone changed his Wikipedia entry and added the name 'Wilhelm,' so Wikipedia stated his full name as: Karl Theodor Maria Nikolaus Johann Jacob Philipp Wilhelm Franz Joseph Sylvester Freiherr von und zu Guttenberg. What resulted from this edit points up a big problem for our information society (in German; Google translation). The German and international press picked up the wrong name from Wikipedia — including well-known newspapers, Internet sites, and TV news such as spiegel.de, Bild, heute.de, TAZ, or Süddeutsche Zeitung. In the meantime, the change on Wikipedia was reverted, with a request for proof of the name. The proof was quickly found. On spiegel.de an article cites Mr. von und zu Guttenberg using his 'full name'; however, while the quote might have been real, the full name seems to have been looked up on Wikipedia while the false edit was in place. So the circle was closed: Wikipedia states a false fact, a reputable media outlet copies the false fact, and this outlet is then used as the source to prove the false fact to Wikipedia."

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513 comments

I object! (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26811127)

I object to the use of the word "proves" in the title of this story!

1984? (5, Funny)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | more than 5 years ago | (#26811141)

Wikipedia now creates the truth. If they say 2+2=5, then 2+2=5. You will learn to love Big Wiki.

Re:1984? (5, Insightful)

Cornwallis (1188489) | more than 5 years ago | (#26811163)

I'm glad I'm not the only one who notices this stuff. Not that it will do any good. These kinds of "authoritative citations" are no better to me than what I used to hear "in the old days" - that is, "I heard it on TV so it must be true!"

Re:1984? (5, Insightful)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 5 years ago | (#26811397)

Here we go again.

Wikipedia is an encyclopedia. Like all encyclopediae, it cannot be taken as a primary source of information. Der Spiegel is not a scholarly journal, either. It also cannot be taken as a primary source of information.

Bottom line: If you want to do real research, you need to go to primary sources. Calling something from Der Spiegel an authoritative citation is like calling something from The National Enquirer or Vogue an authoritative citation. Maybe the problem is that the Wikipedia editors think Der Spiegel is an authoritative source.

Re:1984? (4, Funny)

Dog-Cow (21281) | more than 5 years ago | (#26811443)

Der Spiegel is not a scholarly journal, either. It also cannot be taken as a primary source of information.

I take exception to the idea that only scholarly journals may be primary sources of information.

Your attitude sucks.

Re:1984? (5, Funny)

linhares (1241614) | more than 5 years ago | (#26811737)

I take exception to the idea that only scholarly journals may be primary sources of information. Your attitude sucks.

[citation needed]

Re:1984? (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26811571)

Bottom line: If you want to do real research, you need to go to primary sources. [...] Maybe the problem is that the Wikipedia editors think Der Spiegel is an authoritative source.

For something as simple as the full name of a German public official, Germany's major news weekly really ought to be authoritative. What is a primary source for a person's name, anyway? Their birth cerificate? What would be a scolarly journal on that subject? Should I ask the librarian to subscribe us to Trends in German Public Officials' Names?

Re:1984? (1)

eat here_get gas (907110) | more than 5 years ago | (#26811639)

wikipedia is to an encyclopedia as much as a bunch of people at a bus stop are to a dictionary.


disclaimer: the above is someone's sig, apologies for its fractured rememberance...

Re:1984? (2, Insightful)

nabsltd (1313397) | more than 5 years ago | (#26811715)

Maybe the problem is that the Wikipedia editors think Der Spiegel is an authoritative source.

The problem is that if some "fact" is posted on the Internet and there is nothing else posted on the Internet that contradicts that "fact", then that is "authoritative" to Wikipedia.

So, it's not really an issue over the quality (or lack thereof) of work Der Speigel produces. If you substitute the New York Times website, an official government web page, or even a "scholarly journal" for Der Speigel, you could just as easily end up with the same kind of mistake.

Re:1984? (5, Funny)

NorQue (1000887) | more than 5 years ago | (#26811265)

Oh, Wikipedia is dead wrong in this case. According to Google [google.com] 2 + 2 equals 4.

Re:1984? (-1, Redundant)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 5 years ago | (#26811417)

If you need Google to figure that out for you, you need to go back to the 2nd grade.

Re:1984? (1, Funny)

dmesg0 (1342071) | more than 5 years ago | (#26811553)

If you need anyone to tell you that it was a joke, you need to go back to being an ovum and pick a different sperm cell.

Re:1984? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26811453)

Can we save 1984 and Orwellian for things that actually are.

If Wikipedia is factually incorrect, it's really nothing compared to the factually incorrect-ness of most people's heads.

Re:1984? (1)

rbunker (1003580) | more than 5 years ago | (#26811689)

Wikipedia now creates the truth. If they say 2+2=5, then 2+2=5. You will learn to love Big Wiki.

As long as they get Julia's name wrong, and not mine, I am ok with this.

Nothing new (3, Informative)

wjh31 (1372867) | more than 5 years ago | (#26811159)

This false fact cycle has been done plenty of times before. There was one recently-ish regarding a football team in some european championship, a british paper included a very silly false fact from wikipedia (something about the fans wearing wellies on their heads or something along those lines) and in a similar way, the cycle was closed. I cant remember the exact details, im sure someone will follow with a link

Re:Nothing new (5, Informative)

sam_handelman (519767) | more than 5 years ago | (#26811271)

You're not kidding this is nothing new.

  The hebrew bible gets the order of Persian kings wrong. Josephus quotes list of Persian kings found in hebrew manuscript. Tada, the list of persian kings is independently verified!

  New technology enables this kind of thing to happen with amazing *speed*, but it always took careful consideration and scholarship to disentangle. If anything, having all those explicit timestamps makes this much easier in the information age, but the volume is probably greater than people can really process.

It's not quite the same (1, Informative)

blind biker (1066130) | more than 5 years ago | (#26811541)

The Hebrew Bible (Tanach? I think the Torah is part of the Tanach, which should be most of the Old Testament. I might be rusty on this) does not quote Josephus' Antiquities, so your example doesn't quite fit.

Re:Nothing new (1)

larry bagina (561269) | more than 5 years ago | (#26811319)

there was also an instance (from slashdot last year) where a journalist edited a wikipedia page and used that as a source for his article. Then the article was used as a citation.

Who Takes Wikipedia Seriously? (3, Insightful)

RobotRunAmok (595286) | more than 5 years ago | (#26811607)

I mean, sure, if you need a handy re-cap of the fifth season of "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" or a quick history of some server-side scripting language, you can't do much better than wikipedia: "by Geeks, for Geeks." But geo-politics? Current events? Stop. Wikipedia plays around in these and all areas, of course, but any student or journalist who uses it as source should be ridiculed, then shot.

I also hear... (1)

liquidpele (663430) | more than 5 years ago | (#26811167)

that the number of elephants has tripled in the last few months... There will always be wrong information, but perhaps news outlets should be providing the sources of their information and the dates they were taken so that you can better trace information in a world where the information can change at anytime.

Re:I also hear... (4, Informative)

internerdj (1319281) | more than 5 years ago | (#26811371)

Once upon a time when news outlets reported on news, they needed to protect some of their sources because some of the information could result in retribution on the source. To get sources to open up they promised confidentiality where appropriate and as time went on this became the culture: The news has source authority based on the assumption they are practicing good journalism. As information has recently accelerated, there is less time for good journalism and instead we have good-enough journalism but they still maintain a front of source authority.

He's lucky anyway (5, Funny)

Enleth (947766) | more than 5 years ago | (#26811171)

Knowing what some journalists are capable (or rather incapable) of, I'd not be surprised if they had quoted him stating that his name is "Karl Theodor [citation needed] von un zu Guttenberg"...

He will just have to.. (5, Funny)

Dynamoo (527749) | more than 5 years ago | (#26811177)

He will just have to change his name so it matches Wikipedia. Problem solved.

This is a story? (5, Informative)

MyLongNickName (822545) | more than 5 years ago | (#26811179)

I hate to bring this to the attention of the nerd community.... the world existed before the explosion of the internet. This is hard to believe, but true. I have it on good authority that the world started sometime in the 1920's.

That being said, this type of problem existed long before the internet "Person A" starts a rumor. Others pick up on it, and a reporter who talks to "Person A" gets his story confirmed by others who heard the story from Person A. Not new. Not news. The speed of things has definitely sped up in the last decade, but this happened also with the invention of the telephone, telegraph and television.

Also, another nice fact. Wikipedia is not your research center. It is a place to start. If you are using it as a source for your research paper, you should get an F.

Re:This is a story? (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26811229)

The story isn't that Wikipedia isn't a source for research (as opposed to a starting point). The story is that supposedly reputable news organisations don't get this - that they blindly copy factoids from Wikipedia without checking them. And not just one or two, not just some, but pretty much ALL the major players (on the German market).

Of course, the fact that this involves Wikipedia really is not all that important indeed; it could just as well have been about some other site, or a rumour started elsewhere instead of on the Internet. But given the importance of the press for a democratic society, it's worrying that so little care is exercised there and that journalistic integrity, for the most part, has become a fig leaf to cover up the fact that it's all just about one thing anymore: making money.

Re:This is a story? (3, Informative)

bcmm (768152) | more than 5 years ago | (#26811259)

Anyone who cites Wikipedia in a paper should fail, as everything even remotely contentious on Wikipedia is supposed to be backed up by a citation from a proper source. Wikipedia's use in writing papers is in telling you where to find material you can cite.

Re:This is a story? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26811451)

It also has the use that you think some area is well-described on Wikipedia, so you fact-check it yourself and then cite that specific revision of the page. That is a perfectly good use of Wikipedia in a citation, even in a research paper.

Re:This is a story? (2, Insightful)

Znork (31774) | more than 5 years ago | (#26811641)

As has been noted many times, proper sources aren't necessarily always all that good either. A healthy dose of skepticism is always useful, and when it's something important, verify claims against multiple independent sources or even yourself.

Of course, in this case the guys name is so long that even adding a whole extra name is hardly more significant than a spelling error, which frankly isn't that uncommon in newspapers anyway.

Re:This is a story? (1)

Metabolife (961249) | more than 5 years ago | (#26811277)

I have it on the ultimate authority that it's 2000yrs old. Back then messengers got their information wrong all the time.

Re:This is a story? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26811369)

I remember reading a Bin Laden page and came across some interesting bits, like his stated reasoning behind 9/11. Since then it's been completely wiped clean and it's now a stale "Bin Laden is a terrorist" article.

From what I've learned, those controversial wiki pages are usually defended by little cabals, and anyone editing outside of the cabal is hit with a ban after a bit of coordination through emailing. The problem isn't necessarily media outlets copying false facts, but groups of people with a biased agenda and admin access.

Re:This is a story? (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26811497)

I hate to bring this to the attention of the nerd community.... the world existed before the explosion of the internet.
[citation needed]

Re:This is a story? (1)

JustinOpinion (1246824) | more than 5 years ago | (#26811593)

Good points.

I'd also like to emphasize something: while Wikipedia surely 'dropped the ball' on this one, serious blame must be placed on the various 'traditional media' outlets. They should they be verifying information from a few different sources before publishing. Moreover, they should be citing where they got their information from! If their article had citations, with Wikipedia listed as the source for the name/biographical information, then Wikipedia would have known that they couldn't use it as an independent source for their own citations.

There is frankly no good reason why mainstream media should not be more rigorously citing their sources for information (especially for Internet articles, where the extra space of a few footnotes doesn't matter). Of course one of the main reasons they might want to do so is that it would make painfully clear just how spurious and unfounded their reporting is.

In other words, if using Wikipedia as a source in serious research garners you an 'F'... then surely citing newspapers should do the same.

Re:This is a story? (1)

hxnwix (652290) | more than 5 years ago | (#26811615)

"fact: Wikipedia is not your research center. It is a place to start. If you are using it as a source for your research paper, you should get an F."

In this case, using contemporary, respected newspapers and periodicals would not save you from inaccuracy.

So, you shouldn't use those, either. In fact, you shouldn't use anything, ever, as there is no sure thing. Fact: no facts.

Re:This is a story? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26811669)

I hate to bring this to the attention of the babynerd community.... the world existed before the explosion of the internet.

There I fixed that for you. only the youngin's think that way. Most of us that remember when Local (and not so local) BBS's, Compuserve, and Prodigy were the only choices before the holy wars of the AOL and others.

I remember using microfiche and actually GOING TO THE LIBRARY (THE HORRORS!) to do research for high school papers and projects. You could close the loop on a false fact back then just as easy, it just took more time. I found many of them, typically getting me yelled at by a history teacher. Me getting suspended about the history classes being full of lies and half truths..

I loved finding a blatantly wrong thing in a textbook and then a teacher foolish enough to try and defend that falsehood as a fact.

The only one missing (2, Funny)

rjmx (233228) | more than 5 years ago | (#26811189)

Whoever added it probably did so because it was the only possible male name he didn't have.

Ahhhhh ... completeness achieved.

Not Wikipedia's Fault (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26811191)

The problem isn't that Wikipedia provided bad info, or even that Wikipedia makes this kind of hoax easier. The simple fact underlying this kind of story is that using a single source for anything is extremely bad (scholarship, reporting, research, fill in the blank).

A much more interesting story (to me, at any rate) would be improved journalistic standards that use Wikipedia as a jumping-off point rather than The Font of All Wisdom.

Re:Not Wikipedia's Fault (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26811651)

the problem is that regardless of journalistic standards, once false information is propagated, it can be exceedingly difficult for your principled journalist to determine which sources they are referencing are, in fact, correct. in this example, referencing the primary source would have been helpful, him being alive and all. but it's not hard to imagine that when the primary source is, say, a dead person, that it can be a lot more difficult to fact check. yes, it would be ideal if the journalist were able to do the digging and sleuthing to determine that the secondary sources they're referencing are incorrect; however, it's really not going to be possible for every journalist to always go reference all primary sources for every fact in every article. i don't think it's a violation of journalistic ethics for journalists to make a good effort at referencing secondary sources if the primary isn't available; and if the secondary sources agree, proceeding.

Emperical evidence has supported this for ages (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26811193)

It's a well known fact among editors. Make an edit to an article on an obscure topic and you have a finite time to verify the facts using online sources. Before long Google has indexed your change and your independent sources get relegated further down the list. After a little more time your article has been used as a source and soon it is not clear as to what is independent fact and what is derived from your own words.

primary sources discouraged (1, Insightful)

Random Walk (252043) | more than 5 years ago | (#26811197)

That's what you get if you discourage the use of primary sources in favor of secondary sources.

Re:primary sources discouraged (2, Interesting)

Mononoke (88668) | more than 5 years ago | (#26811429)

That's what you get if you discourage the use of primary sources in favor of secondary sources.

How does one go about verifying that what these primary sources say is true?

Re:primary sources discouraged (1)

Aladrin (926209) | more than 5 years ago | (#26811549)

Check Wikipedia!

Seriously, though. The same way you always did: Footwork. You need to actually talk to real people to verify things. Just taking the word of a reporter/journalist/blogger/whatever is never enough.

Unless, of course, it doesn't really matter. Then you can just take their word for it and apologize later when they are found wrong. (And you, since you copied them.)

Re:primary sources discouraged (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26811623)

you go to the register office, and ask for this guy name. there is nothing more authoritative than this. by definition, what primary source states is non debatable, because it is the generator of the information - that is not to say that it's true.

What would be _Really_ Weird... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26811205)

would be if a copy of Wikipedia from the distant future fell through a wormhole to the present, and revealed the German Minister of Economic Affairs of 2009 to be "The first against the wall when the revolution came".

Noble lineage (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26811207)

Is he a relative of Johann Gambolputty de von Ausfern Schplenden Schlitter Crasscrenbon Fried Digger Dangle Dungle Burstein von Knacker Thrasher Apple Banger Horowitz Ticolensic Grander Knotty Spelltinkle Grandlich Grumblemeyer Spelterwasser Kürstlich Himbleeisen Bahnwagen Gutenabend Bitte Eine Nürnburger Bratwustle Gerspurten mit Zweimache Luber Hundsfut Gumberaber Shönendanker Kalbsfleisch Mittler Raucher von Hautkopft of Ulm?

Re:Noble lineage (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26811471)

Is he a relative of Johann Gambolputty de von Ausfern Schplenden Schlitter Crasscrenbon Fried Digger Dangle Dungle Burstein von Knacker Thrasher Apple Banger Horowitz Ticolensic Grander Knotty Spelltinkle Grandlich Grumblemeyer Spelterwasser Kürstlich Wilhelm Himbleeisen Bahnwagen Gutenabend Bitte Eine Nürnburger Bratwustle Gerspurten mit Zweimache Luber Hundsfut Gumberaber Shönendanker Kalbsfleisch Mittler Raucher von Hautkopft of Ulm?

Fixed that for you, see Wikipedia [wikipedia.org] if you are confused. Feel free to cite this post.

Adding Wilhelm? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26811221)

I would have changed it to Karl Theodor Maria Nikolaus John Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidt Philipp Franz Joseph Sylvester Freiherr von und zu Guttenberg personally

I can't help but think of this story: (2, Interesting)

gzipped_tar (1151931) | more than 5 years ago | (#26811223)

Tlon, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius [wikipedia.org] as well as other Jorge Luis Borges stories.

This is just, umm, fantastic -- in the fantastic sense of the word "fantastic".

And I'm very sorry for the Wikipedia link.

Not news (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26811231)

This is neither new nor news.

Last year the British political satire magazine Private Eye covered a similar incident, where incorrect information from Wiki was published in a British national newspaper, then the Wiki page was updated to cite the newspaper.

I forget the exact subject -- something to do with football.

This is an example of why Wikipedia is fundamentally flawed, and in my job as a university lecturer, I grade essays that cite Wikipedia no higher than 2:2.

Wikipedia is redefining what knowledge is (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26811241)

Wikipedia is redefining what knowledge is.

It's part of a larger trend that's hard to quantify, but part of it is that online culture demands proof of everything. We're getting to the stage where all human endeavors have to be proven in fact, or they're considered worthless.

This just doesn't fit with human nature. It entirely removes faith, or emotion, and other key human qualities. I can see us getting to the stage where all art is considered worthless because, well, that's just some guy's interpretation of the way things are. And that's worthless.

An ill win this way blows. In 20 or 30 years, the change will be complete. Rationalism will be considered the human trait above all others. If you can't prove it, it's worthless.

Now if you're reading this and saying, "So what?" then you're already infected. It's very surprising how much this has already infected our souls, especially those of us who spend a lot of time online.

Re:Wikipedia is redefining what knowledge is (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26811535)

DICK BUTT

Re:Wikipedia is redefining what knowledge is (1)

noundi (1044080) | more than 5 years ago | (#26811545)

Rationalism will be considered the human trait above all others. If you can't prove it, it's worthless.

This perfect world you're describing I would take to dinner, propose to, marry, make love to, raise a family of little perfect worlds, grow old with and finally together we would share the same grave.

We have top people working on it. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26811243)

We have top people who tell me that his real full name is Karl Theodor Maria Nikolaus Johann Jacob Philipp Wolfgang Franz Joseph Sylvester Freiherr von und zu Guttenberg.

IJ: Who?

GA: Top men.

There, now Wikipedia can be corrected.

Remember, you saw it here first.

this is true (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26811267)

Whenever a comment appears on Slashdot whose title says "this is true", it really is true. It says so on Wikipedia. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Slashdot#Truth [wikipedia.org]

Just goes to show... (1)

Crumplecorn (904797) | more than 5 years ago | (#26811297)

...how crap Wikipedia's idea of a worthwhile reference is. I've seen many discussion pages where people have wanted to add in information which is 'generally known' (and it genuinely is generally known), but there is no verifiable source who states it, or a source who states it doesn't meet their standards. On the other side we now have 'reliable' sources proving unreliable (the reason why, and the wiki-fail-circle is actually fairly irrelevant).

Wikipedia is merely a vaguely accurate primer on any topic, and you generally have to at least skim the discussion page to get even that. While they continue to adhere to arbitrary standards to the point of complete detachment from reality, it can never be anything more.

Baudrillard knew this was coming. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26811311)

In simulacra and simulation:

"The simulacrum is never that which conceals the truth--it is the truth which conceals that there is none. The simulacrum is true."

Who really cares what the guy's name is? In the simulation of the world that is wikipedia, I guess his name DOES have wilhelm in it. It's not true or false, but just the simulation.

In other words, "You can't stop the signal" or maybe "there is no spoon." Those are about equivalent, I think.

Wiki is better (4, Insightful)

delirium of disorder (701392) | more than 5 years ago | (#26811313)

The media has always blindly repeated false information on a massive scale. The blunder referenced in the article actually shows us that Wikipedia helps the situation. We can see who makes edits and when they are made, so we can trace down these kinds of problems. The same media mistakes that have always happened continue to happen, but at least now we can know about them.

Re:Wiki is better (1)

obarthelemy (160321) | more than 5 years ago | (#26811409)

Totally agree. Let's worry about journalism for now, and take care of wikipedia once journalism consistently reaches wikipedia-level accuracy, balance....

Re:Wiki is better (1)

owlnation (858981) | more than 5 years ago | (#26811677)

Totally agree. Let's worry about journalism for now, and take care of wikipedia once journalism consistently reaches wikipedia-level accuracy, balance...

Yes... mostly. Absolutely no doubt that the failure here is journalism, although Der Spiegel is normally a reliable publication. However, it is extremely disturbing that there are ANY people out there who view wikipedia as quotable -- and part of the blame for that does rest with wikipedia. Not that wikipedia is going to change that, because they take themselves more seriously than anyone ever should. Wikipedia, if they were entirely honest and fair, would publish a disclaimer at the top of every page. However, vanity and pride will prevent them from ever doing that. It astounds me that they've not been subject to a massive legal campaign -- I'm certain one day they will be.

Wikipedia is information pollution. Google's unfair and skewed page ranking of that site does more harm than good. Fundamentally some of the blame for this lies with Google artificially promoting wikipedia than anything else.

Wikipedia is a gift to anyone who wants to distort information. Especially if it's subtle, as in this case. Since journalists can't be trusted to validate facts, it seems it's very easy to get your agenda or distorted version of the truth out there by manipulating wikipedia - and we all know how trivially simple that is to do, especially if you form a cartel -- or worse, become the lowest of the low, a wikiadmin.

This is really simple to prevent... (4, Insightful)

crt (44106) | more than 5 years ago | (#26811329)

All they needed to do to prevent this was to ensure that the cited references pre-dated the original edit. If you can't find a reference that pre-dates the edit, then you have to assume it's possible that the reference came from Wikipedia itself.

Re:This is really simple to prevent... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26811577)

Mod parent up!

I wonder... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26811339)

what sound did he make when he found out?

And this differs from other bad media facts how? (1)

salesgeek (263995) | more than 5 years ago | (#26811345)

This is the oldest play in the book:

1. Write blog post with your "facts".
2. Write and distribute press release using your "fact" and referencing the blog as source.
3. Watch with glee as media outlets pick up your release and create thousands of references for your "fact"
4. Use the list of big time press that ran your "fact" in your advertising.
5. Evil laugh on the way to the bank.

Wikipedia... (1)

madhatter256 (443326) | more than 5 years ago | (#26811349)

A lot of colleges today will either take off points or simply throw away papers that have sources cited to wikipedia due to it's known major inaccuracies.

Whatever happened to research? (2, Insightful)

Antony-Kyre (807195) | more than 5 years ago | (#26811355)

Maybe this is why schools don't want students citing Wikipedia as a source. RESEARCH cannot be emphasized enough.

Wikipedia may be good for providing an overview, but factual information it doesn't necessarily make. If anyone can edit, it's not like a newspaper, or other reputable source.

Re:Whatever happened to research? (2, Interesting)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 5 years ago | (#26811723)

Actually my wife being in grad school, the prof's will FAIL anyone that has a reference that is online at all. He is tired of the half assing that students are doing lately and requiring that all references be in print form only with full information on how to GET access to that reference.

She's an accounting major though.

Hmm. (2, Insightful)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 5 years ago | (#26811387)

I, for one, am glad to see that the good old Authoritative Traditional Media are doing their usual bang-up job of showing their superiority to the unathoritative hearsay nonsense of those kids and their so called "new media".

All jokes aside, that is really what bugs me about the old media/new media debate: You've got people like Andrew Keen winging about how the new media are ushering in the death of taste and truth; but comparing them to some imaginary ideal of old media at their objective best. Unfortunately, "new media" are, in many cases, crap. However, "old media" are, in many cases, crap, and generally crap that is markedly less participatory, open, or responsive.

In certain respects, I'll be sad to see things like newspapers go, they have their upsides. If, though, they exist to parrot wikipedia and press releases, then what is the point? Wikipedia can parrot itself for free, and if you are the sort of sick bastard who actually likes press releases, prnewswire is that way.

Hilarious (2, Insightful)

Aerynvala (1109505) | more than 5 years ago | (#26811431)

I think it's funny as hell. It says far more about the stupidity of journalists than it does about wikipedia. Any idiot who doesn't double check their information deserves to be a laughing stock.

Re:Hilarious (1)

Hal_Porter (817932) | more than 5 years ago | (#26811727)

The worst thing is that lots of awful journalists hide behind the doctrine of protecting their sources and by karma whoring to a rabidly partisan audience.

E.g. if I write an article now accusing Obama of eating babies based on anonymous sources, right wingers will back me up. A few months ago I could have done the same with Bush. Though I'd probably need a right wing and a left wing pen name to make it work.

Enjoy your 'reality'.

It's a trust thing (1)

noundi (1044080) | more than 5 years ago | (#26811441)

Here's my philosophy on this: put some trust in wikipedia, put not trust in someone who puts some trust in wikipedia. Meaning while you can learn from wikipedia you should never use it as a source, but rather as a source of inspiration. And if you're a come-see-the-ads-on-my-page-guy (journalist, yes the title has been changed, go with it) you should NEVER exclusively use wikipedia as a source. However previously, when come-see-the-ads-on-my-page-guys were called journalists they actually did something called research, and this includes validating your sources. When the title change was upon them this concept became legend. Thus the come-see-the-ads-on-my-page-guy from spiegel.de didn't bother to click the history of the page, or read the conversation, or double check it elsewhere.

My question is, why are we questioning the authenticity of wikipedia and not the authenticity of todays journalism?

Sad but true... (1)

hesaigo999ca (786966) | more than 5 years ago | (#26811449)

It's a sad world when most news communities are page scraping information from the web, instead of following up leads. Old school would never permit you making any such claims until the source had been proven, avoids problems in the end. However, today, it is cheaper to go Google something and then get your info from it....

ie- Story surfaces of Rhianna being beaten up by Chris Brown, a quick Google would show up some
mixed stories, so if someone was really trying to be quick and landed on the first page, would see that Chris Brown and Rhianna, have never been together as they alleged they were not...(we know they were thanks to access Hollywood)...however, without contacting Rhianna's publicist, this would actually go out in a story, if someone did not do their homework.

Wilhelm? Very odd! (1)

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) | more than 5 years ago | (#26811463)

When someone wants to make a malicious entry in Wikipedia, they should put in some effort to make it sound plausible. Wilhelm as a first name for a Guttenburg stands out like a sore thumb. Obvious fake.

It is as though someone added names like Wolfram and Brian to the name of the venerable Headmaster of the Hogwartz, Albus Dumbledore.

I don't get it (2, Informative)

squoozer (730327) | more than 5 years ago | (#26811473)

Why does everyone seem to get so up in arms when something is wrong on Wikipedia or worse when something is changed to be wrong. Do people really think that a site such as Wikipedia, where anyone can edit (just about) anything, isn't going to get abused. To be perfectly honest I'm surprised it doesn't get abused more than it does. Wikipedia is a great starting point for research it should never be the end point.

Wikipedia: a failed experiment (1)

viralMeme (1461143) | more than 5 years ago | (#26811477)

Wikipedia: a failed experiment in user generated content. Verifiable seems to mean, someone else typed it into a website ..

Re:Wikipedia: a failed experiment (3, Insightful)

Crumplecorn (904797) | more than 5 years ago | (#26811533)

The experiment succeeded, most people just don't know how to interpret the results.

Why are news articles used as 'sources'? (1)

JSBiff (87824) | more than 5 years ago | (#26811573)

It seems like, if you are going to do an encyclopedia article, the source for someone's full name would not be a news article (which is a 'secondary' source - that is, the journalist had to get that info from somewhere else), but you should instead source facts from 'primary' sources - like a birth certificate (or other similar 'official' document - I'm not sure if Germany has the concept of a birth certificate like we do in the USA). True, there could still be an error in the official document, but at least the official document gets you much 'closer' to proof. I mean, technically, even if there is an error in the birth certificate, until the error is corrected, that *is* the 'correct' legal name for the person.

Re:Wikipedia: a failed experiment (1)

JasterBobaMereel (1102861) | more than 5 years ago | (#26811595)

Encyclopedia Britannica a failed experiment in publisher generated content, Verifiable seems to mean someone published a book, newspaper, with it in, and no one checked if was actually true ....

Wikipedia is not a primary source
Britannica is not a primary source
Newspapers are rarely a primary source

unsurprising (1)

infalliable (1239578) | more than 5 years ago | (#26811499)

"Major" news outlets seem to be notorious for doing piss poor fact checking before releasing a story.

Hell, a former president visited by high school and they got the name of the school wrong on the news.

Lame name game (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26811515)

I thought you were going to say they changed his name to Johann Gambolputty de von Ausfern -schplenden -schlitter -crasscrenbon -fried -digger -dingle -dangle -dongle -dungle -burstein -von -knacker - thrasher -apple -banger -horowitz -ticolensic -grander -knotty -spelltinkle -grandlich -grumblemeyer -spelterwasser - kurstlich -himbleeisen -bahnwagen -gutenabend -bitte -ein -nürnburger -bratwustle -gerspurten -mitz -weimache - auuber -hundsfut -gumberaber -shÃnendanker-kalbsfleisch -mittler -aucher von Hautkopft of Ulm.

Cryptographic hashes (1)

ewg (158266) | more than 5 years ago | (#26811517)

This is why we'll soon be dropping old-fashioned "names" for cryptographic hashes of our decoded genomes.

Yours truly,
2619601604C639867C95D816A5E1A1FA

There's a simple solution to the problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26811575)

Chronology. Only allow verification of edits that pre-date the edit. Tadaaaa!

Can the man, himself, correct it? (1)

BenEnglishAtHome (449670) | more than 5 years ago | (#26811579)

If I understand the way Wikipedia works (and I'm sure I don't, in any breadth), if, while the error was up, Guttenberg himself signed on and corrected the error, justifying his change in the attached discussion with "I should know my own name", the wiki-nuts would come out of the closet to revert him because he's not quoting a source.

Have I got that right?

Mistaken identity (1)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 5 years ago | (#26811619)

I'll bet Karl Theodor Maria Nikolaus Johann Jacob Philipp Wilhelm Franz Joseph Sylvester Freiherr von und zu Guttenberg is pissed about this.

He's the loser cousin of Karl Theodor Maria Nikolaus Johann Jacob Philipp Franz Joseph Sylvester Freiherr von und zu Guttenberg who sells weed in a park in Munich.

By the way, their great great great great great great uncle developed the first samizdat.

Recorded History (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26811633)

How much of our recorded history is made up of cases such as this? Wiki may have not been around forever, but cases such as this have surely occurred.

Could be worse. Could be quoting Conservapedia. (1, Troll)

VShael (62735) | more than 5 years ago | (#26811671)

Then the circle would be something like

1) Redneck in bar
2) Conservapedia
3) Bill O'Reilly
4) Goto 1.

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