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Phony Wikipedia Entry Used By Worldwide Press

samzenpus posted more than 5 years ago | from the check-your-sources dept.

The Internet 391

Hugh Pickens writes "A quote attributed to French composer Maurice Jarre was posted on wikipedia shortly after his death in March and later appeared in obituaries in mainstream media. 'One could say my life itself has been one long soundtrack. Music was my life, music brought me to life, and music is how I will be remembered long after I leave this life. When I die there will be a final waltz playing in my head, that only I can hear,' Jarre was quoted as saying. However, these words were not uttered by the Oscar-winning composer but written by Shane Fitzgerald, a final-year undergraduate student, who said he wanted to show how journalists use the internet as a primary source for their stories. Fitzgerald posted the quote on Wikipedia late at night after news of Jarre's death broke. 'I saw it on breaking news and thought if I was going to do something I should do it quickly. I knew journalists wouldn't be looking at it until the morning,' The quote had no referenced sources and was therefore taken down by moderators of Wikipedia within minutes. However, Fitzgerald put it back up a few more times until it was finally left up on the site for more than 24 hours. While he was wary about the ethical implications of using someone's death as a social experiment, he had carefully generated the quote so as not to distort or taint Jarre's life, he said. 'I didn't expect it to go that far. I expected it to be in blogs and sites, but on mainstream quality papers? I was very surprised.'"

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391 comments

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Obligatory (4, Funny)

adolf (21054) | more than 5 years ago | (#27853739)

I, for one, welcome our revisionist-history overlords!

Re:Obligatory (5, Funny)

JeanBaptiste (537955) | more than 5 years ago | (#27853753)

[citation needed]

Re:Obligatory (5, Funny)

goombah99 (560566) | more than 5 years ago | (#27854073)

[citation needed]

[1]

Re:Obligatory (5, Insightful)

DiamondGeezer (872237) | more than 5 years ago | (#27854647)

Slashdot headlines with "Phony Wikipedia" should be marked {{tautology}}. The mere fact that supposedly responsible journalists are even citing Wikipedia shows what an intellectual cancer Wikipedia is on the Internet. Wikipedia is extremely difficult to avoid - there are many thousands of scrapes of Wikipedia around the Internet and millions of blogs that cite it. Any alternative to Wikipedia (and I don't mean Citizendium) had better grasp why Wikipedia is so easily disseminated and deliver something better.

Re:Obligatory (4, Insightful)

mdarksbane (587589) | more than 5 years ago | (#27854775)

Something more reliable, like the newspaper? The same newspapers that are apparently referencing wikipedia without checking it? Why would you trust them to find a more accurate source if wikipedia did not exist.

Studies have shown wikipedia to be, in general, nearly as accurate as more established encyclopedias. But that isn't the point.

The point is that by not hiding behind an establishment of respectability, wikipedia shows that trusting any single source for your information is ludicrous. When Britannica is wrong, no one writes an article about it.

Re:Obligatory (4, Insightful)

MrNaz (730548) | more than 5 years ago | (#27854787)

It's not fair to blame Wikipedia for that. Wikipedia offers a "clearing house" for commonly held knowledge, an unfiltered method of exchanging both verified and unverified facts.

If journalists, who are expected to exercise thoroughness, professionalism and proper methods of investigative journalism have become to retarded that they simply quote whatever "research" they first trip over, then that's their fault.

Seriously, we in the west want to get all high horsed about our "free media" and point fingers at places like North Korea where the news is state run. Personally, I say clean up our own back yard before complaining about the mess next door.

Offtopic? (3, Funny)

adolf (21054) | more than 5 years ago | (#27854177)

Fine then, let's try this:

In Soviet Russia, Wikipedia rewrites you!

Re:Offtopic? (5, Funny)

windsurfer619 (958212) | more than 5 years ago | (#27854525)

In Soviet Russia, [citation needs you!]

First Post (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27853747)

"First Post"
-Maurice Jarre

Rat Race (1)

JarrodHatton (1547531) | more than 5 years ago | (#27853773)

That just goes to show how much of a rat race life is. People working as fast as they can to spit out crummy, non referenced work to please the higher-ups.

Re:Rat Race (5, Insightful)

unlametheweak (1102159) | more than 5 years ago | (#27854101)

That just goes to show how much of a rat race life is. People working as fast as they can to spit out crummy, non referenced work to please the higher-ups.

It's not about working fast, or Wikipedia, or referencing sources. It's about people and companies making a professional living supplying news in a non-professional manner. Some people spend tens of thousands of dollars to go to school to learn how to do research and journalism, and some people actually write their own essays without any help from their friends or families. Those people, unfortunately, have the disadvantage of being honest and intelligent. When it comes down to it anybody can do journalism, but it's only people who can write good resumes that will get the job. It's the same in all industries. The world keeps on turning, however slanted the orbit may be.

Re:Rat Race (1)

rednip (186217) | more than 5 years ago | (#27854659)

some people spend tens of thousands of dollars to go to school to learn how to do research and journalism, and some people actually write their own essays without any help from their friends or families. Those people, unfortunately, have the disadvantage of being honest and intelligent.

Well, I don't know where you when to school, but many (thankfully not most) of the best students that I knew were some of the worst cheaters.

it's only people who can write good resumes that will get the job

Well, if you're looking for a journalist's job, I hope that you could write one hell of a cover letter, at least. The problems that we all have seen are with the editors, as these days people post 'actual news' articles from crackberries with little if any review. Some people will claim that it's a cost issue, but if an editor can't find the time to critical read everything that goes into/onto their charge, they should either find different work, or find help (associate editors or create a peer review system).

Also, a college degree is a foot in the door; if you're more than 5 years into your career and still highlighting your education, you've either got a name brand sheepskin, or a very poor career track. Real world experience matters.

Re:Rat Race (1)

PitaBred (632671) | more than 5 years ago | (#27854761)

Good resume? You don't even have to have that. You just have to have the right school on your resume, and you're in. It's all about the connections.

Re:Rat Race (1)

unlametheweak (1102159) | more than 5 years ago | (#27854785)

Good resume? You don't even have to have that. You just have to have the right school on your resume, and you're in. It's all about the connections.

Which makes it a good resume.

Re:Rat Race (5, Insightful)

nine-times (778537) | more than 5 years ago | (#27854783)

It's about people and companies making a professional living supplying news in a non-professional manner.... it's only people who can write good resumes that will get the job. It's the same in all industries.

I think you're right about it being a wide-spread problem. It really only took a month in my first job to realize that most people at the company-- and it was a successful company-- weren't any good at their jobs. I was awestruck and wondered, "How can a company of such incompetent people be so successful?" and then I realized it was because our competitors were equally incompetent. It didn't take me much longer of looking around and talking to people to decide that it wasn't limited to my industry. Most people are not good at their jobs.

I think that's why the banking system is in the state it's in. You have a bunch of people running these banks who aren't good at their jobs. They're doing what seems to be working for their colleagues and competitors, but it's the blind leading the blind. No one knows what they're doing.

If that doesn't fill you with dread and terror, realize that it's the same for your doctors, your policemen, and everyone else who your life depends on. They're probably not very good at their jobs and they don't know what they're doing.

Lazy (5, Insightful)

timpdx (1473923) | more than 5 years ago | (#27853777)

The press is lazy, always have been. Nothing like sourcing your story in a few keystrokes.

Re:Lazy (2, Interesting)

lgw (121541) | more than 5 years ago | (#27854071)

. I expected it to be in blogs and sites, but on mainstream quality papers? I was very surprised.

Bloggers actually check their facts, or their posters or competition will. Newspapers simply don't. The AP's habit of running absurd or blatently photoshopped images convinced me of this. Is it any wonder that Blogs flourish while major newspapers die?

The death of objective journalim was the death of main stream reporting. Bloggers just do a much better job of biased journalism than the mainstream press.

Re:Lazy (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27854193)

Bloggers just do a much better job of biased journalism than the mainstream press.

Most bloggers only comment on news and sometimes combine multiple news sources. It is very rare that they are the primary source of information.

It's more like "this person said this, but look here where he said the exact opposite" or things of that nature. They usually weren't there in person in either event and had to rely on other media sources for that information.

That's not always true and there are some bloggers that don't just scour Google News to come up with blog topics, but they are very few instances relatively speaking.

Take the wars for example. You may have people blogging about things going on here, or the politics of it or maybe the news reports coming out of the area but you're not going to get a whole lot of people live blogging in the middle of a war zone.

Bloggers need to come off their high horse a bit and try to imagine what the blogosphere would be like if there weren't people willing to put themselves in the thick of things to bring us the news.

Basically I think for the most part the news agencies are good, granted there have been some problems as this article shows. But it's mostly good reporting while blogging is mostly meta-reporting.

And for the record, I've never worked in journalism but I do have a semi successful blog.

Re:Lazy (4, Insightful)

lgw (121541) | more than 5 years ago | (#27854361)

Most bloggers only comment on news and sometimes combine multiple news sources. It is very rare that they are the primary source of information.

True enough, but the same is true of a cable news network or a major newspaper. The primary sources are people "on the ground" where something newsworthy happened. Bloggers and the mainstream press distribute this information, they don't (usually) generate it. Mere distribution no longer adds value. Fact checking, comparing sources, and providing context all add value. Bloggers are getting better at all these things.

but you're not going to get a whole lot of people live blogging in the middle of a war zone.

The only good, reliable news coming out of Iraq for the first few years of the war was from Iraqi bloggers. Everyone else was full of crap, with the exception of the US Military briefings, which quite reliably told you what the US Military wanted you to think (newsworthy in its way).

Re:Lazy (4, Insightful)

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) | more than 5 years ago | (#27854347)

Okay, let me get this straight: you accuse mainstream journalists of failing to check their facts and a lack of objectivity ... and then you use bloggers as an example of how to correct these problems?

As for the first claim, go on believing that "[b]loggers actually check their facts, or their posters or competition will" if it suits you, but I can pretty much guarantee that you will find more errors of fact per story in just about any political blog than you will find in just about any newspaper, or radio or TV news show. There are simply too many blogs, and too few people with the time and motivation and skills to fact-check, to keep the blogosphere honest. You could put up a blog post claiming that Obama eats live kittens every morning for breakfast, and there would be a substantial number of people who will not only believe you, but would champion you against those who said "Um, no, actually he doesn't" as a Bold Politically Incorrect Speaker Of Truth To Power.

And as for the second, I would argue that the pretense (which is all it can ever be) of journalistic objectivity has done more damage to journalism than its lack ever did. People know perfectly well that reporters -- and, at least as importantly, the people who pay those reporters -- have opinions of their own, and that those opinions will influence news coverage. MSM journalism (newspapers, radio, TV) is actually much more useful when you can discern those opinions within minutes of picking up a paper or tuning into a station instead of trying to read between the lines to puzzle them out.

Re:Lazy (5, Interesting)

lgw (121541) | more than 5 years ago | (#27854475)

Okay, let me get this straight: you accuse mainstream journalists of failing to check their facts and a lack of objectivity ... and then you use bloggers as an example of how to correct these problems?

No, you've entirely missed my point. My point is that bloggers do a far more entertaining job of non-objective journalism than the MSM, and the MSM's level of fact checking (*and* hard-hitting investigative journalism) has recently fallen to to level of bloggers - or below!

If the MS wants to survive, it needs to do what blggers are bad at. There's no longer any value in mere distribution, and the first-hand reporting of news will predominately be live-blogging by random people who happen to be on the scene, before much longer. In theory, the MSM could be adding reliable fact checking, and neutral-POV context, to this raw reportage.

In practice they simply aren't - they're merely culling the raw data down to whatever supports their idiological position, and running with it unchecked. And blogs are far better at that!

Re:Lazy (1, Redundant)

Dragonslicer (991472) | more than 5 years ago | (#27854695)

The AP's habit of running absurd or blatently photoshopped images convinced me of this.

[Citation needed]

Re:Lazy (1)

BrokenHalo (565198) | more than 5 years ago | (#27854239)

I know one "journalist" in the resources industry who just blatantly and shamelessly copies and pastes entire articles from companies' websites - even the images. He gets paid good money for it, too.

Re:Lazy (1)

firmamentalfalcon (1187583) | more than 5 years ago | (#27854657)

Is it laziness or is it pressure from the deadlines? When I think of the press, I think of fast-paced people who work all day and all night, the opposite of laziness.

Wikipedia motto (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27853779)

"we have a massive, unearned influence on what passes for reliable information."

Re:Wikipedia motto (5, Insightful)

phantomfive (622387) | more than 5 years ago | (#27853887)

And this is really good. Because people KNOW it is unreliable. In the past, they depended on things like Encyclopedia Brittanica, or *ahem* newspapers, thinking they were reliable, when the truth is, they were never any more reliable than a publicly editable website. And now people are becoming more aware of the unreliability of what they know.

If you really want to know something, you have to verify it yourself. Don't rely on someone else's interview, go interview the person yourself. Don't rely on someone else's experiment, or someone else's first hand account, if you want to know something, verify it yourself. In many cases this is of course impractical, but at least you should be aware that your knowledge might not be accurate.

Newspapers still have a place, and that is to get the information out quickly. They've never been accurate, but they do a good job letting you know roughly what happened so you can go out and investigate the matter in more detail if you need to.

Re:Wikipedia motto (1)

unlametheweak (1102159) | more than 5 years ago | (#27854263)

And now people are becoming more aware of the unreliability of what they know.

I'm not to sure if people are becoming more aware of anything. Aside from (some of the) people who read the Irish Times and/or Slashdot, I'd say things are pretty much the same as usual, with the same small retractions being printed occasionally. I don't see any evidence that people are becoming more intelligent. One would hope that educated people who work in very public facing industries (like a newspaper) would at least use some common sense.

Re:Wikipedia motto (5, Interesting)

phantomfive (622387) | more than 5 years ago | (#27854521)

I think things are changing. I think the popularity of the [citation needed] meme is an indication of this: even 10 years ago on the internet people would not ask for citations nearly as often as they do now, which shows people who are online at least are paying more attention to where things come from.

A week or so ago, I was in a cafe, and a ~40 year old teacher was explaining loudly to her companions how the internet is changing the way we know things (and how she was uncomfortable with it).

These days every high school or college student knows about Wikipedia, and they all know it is unreliable. It is only one step from realizing that one source is unreliable to realizing that many things are unreliable, and Wikipedia is opening the door for many people to this line of thought. This is a good thing.

Re:Wikipedia motto (5, Insightful)

cdrguru (88047) | more than 5 years ago | (#27854265)

Sorry, but that is a absurd attitude. The whole idea of progress is that we can actually know that electric light bulbs work and why so we don't have to repeat the entire series of Thomas Edison's trials. OK, Edison was a tinkerer rather than a scientist but that doesn't mean we have to discount his work.

Look it up in Encyclepedia Brittanica and you will find it there. Verified and checked by a lot more than one person. People with a professional regard for what they are doing. Do errors creep in? Sure they do, but they are not only caught they are accidental.

Wikipedia's innaccuracies are intentional, it is part of the design. The general dumbing-down of knowledge and discounting "experts" in a wholesale manner. The idea that all knowledge is an opinion and everyone has an equally valid opinion if they care to express it.

Does that mean that if I believe John F. Kennedy was killed by lizardmen from a far off planet that this is equally valid as people that believe he was killed by the mafia? On Wikipedia you might find either, on alternate days. And I bet I can find more than one source to cite about suit-wearing lizardmen being the real source of all our problems here on Earth. Sorry, the truth is not an opinion. It doesn't work for History and it doesn't work for Science.

Rough quote from Stranger in a Strange Land: "Scientists indeed! Half guess work and half superstition." This is indeed the attitude of far too many today and certainly in the US the education system is doing nothing to combat this problem. This quote is from a book written in 1960 or so and is in defense of the "science" of astrology. Yes, there are plenty of people that believe that astrology is just as relevent as physics.

Wikipedia is a silly idea that is just getting worse all the time. It was obvious it wasn't worth much from its inception to some people but every day that goes by you would think it would be clearer and clearer. Instead we have people defending it and claiming the silly foundation of Wikinonsense is true. Sorry, but science isn't an opinion. History isn't an opinion. There are facts and there are lies people want you to believe. Sorting them out is important, and you will never, ever be able to sort them out using Wikipedia as a reference.

Re:Wikipedia motto (2, Insightful)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | more than 5 years ago | (#27854353)

It might be absurd... if it weren't true.

Studies done in regard to this, using random sampling, found Wikipedia to be just as reliable in its facts as Encyclopedia Britannica. Now, we know that Wikipedia contains errors... so why (given the actual evidence), are we so reluctant to accept that the Britannica is also flawed?

Personally I feel that Wikipedia will now continue to go downhill in quality, precisely because of their blind insistence on citations, every time, rather than accepting the word of acknowledged experts. Plus the development of "camps" that gather around certain subjects and "police" them so that they always say what those few people think.

But so far, it has done very well.

Re:Wikipedia motto (4, Insightful)

derGoldstein (1494129) | more than 5 years ago | (#27854591)

In absolute science categories, they do depend on experts, and in some areas these camps (or "tribal" mentality) helps, since a few people set the tone, and many others follow and "enforce" it, within a given field.
It's when this happens around subjective categories that this become a problem. There's no real way to judge how "neutral" an article is other than asking other people for their opinion, which is never neutral.
I really don't see Wikipedia as one cohesive blob of information. When it comes to exact sciences, it's excellent, and I rely on it heavily. When it comes to technology, it's almost as good, though there are, as you said, camps that could bias a subject overall.

I never use it for politics, current events, or controversial individuals (or any controversial subject, for that matter). You're better off looking elsewhere, or at the very least only taking their articles as jumping-off points.

By the way -- Jane Q. Public, in regards to that other comment thread [slashdot.org] -- you're right, my last comment was more in reaction to the rest of the comments, I usually don't jump to conclusions or make these types of assumptions.

Re:Wikipedia motto (1)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | more than 5 years ago | (#27854747)

No problem.

The "camps" to which I referred might be helpful at times, but my belief, based on personal experience, is that they hurt more than they help. But of course your mileage my vary and I am sure not everyone's experiences are the same as mine.

Re:Wikipedia motto (4, Insightful)

owlnation (858981) | more than 5 years ago | (#27854411)

Wikipedia is a silly idea that is just getting worse all the time.

The parent's post is great, mod it up. My take on this is that, of course wikipedia is a silly idea. If only people could treat it that way. As a silly idea, it's quite a good silly idea. If wikipedia was about having fun with knowledge it would be one hell of a lot more useful than it currently is.

Problem is, of course, the wikinazis. They don't think it's silly. They take it seriously (far too seriously) and fraudulently proclaim it to be something it isn't, and never will be -- a reliable source for information. This fraud, in turn, convinces the weak-minded to conclude it's reliable -- in this case the weak-minded are journalists, but it could be many other professions.

If people stopped taking Wikipedia seriously, then it would be a lot more useful. And a lot more fun too. It might even accidentally become reliable that way too.

Re:Wikipedia motto (4, Interesting)

phantomfive (622387) | more than 5 years ago | (#27854429)

Sorry, but that is a absurd attitude.

Only because you didn't understand my attitude.

The whole idea of progress is that we can actually know that electric light bulbs work and why so we don't have to repeat the entire series of Thomas Edison's trials.

If you want to have first-hand information about all those tests that didn't work, then yes you will do well to repeat them all. Most of us don't actually need that detail of information; most people are happy to flip a switch and have it work. And there is something that I have verified personally: 99% of the time when I buy a light bulb from the store, and plug it in, light comes out. Light bulbs work. I have verified that. If I want to know how they work, I will need to dig deeper.

Verified and checked by a lot more than one person. People with a professional regard for what they are doing. Do errors creep in? Sure they do, but they are not only caught they are accidental.

You may be unaware of this study, which suggests that Wikipedia and Encyclopedia Britannica have similar error rates. You may not like the conclusion, so feel free to do your own study.

Does that mean that if I believe John F. Kennedy was killed by lizardmen from a far off planet that this is equally valid as people that believe he was killed by the mafia? On Wikipedia you might find either, on alternate days.

And now we get to my real point: everyone knows that wikipedia is unreliable. It is a feature. The only thing it is good for is as a starting place for research, a starting place for knowledge. And it does a very good job of that. Encyclopedia Britannica does an ok job at it too, but often people expect it to be more than a starting point, they expect it to be definitive. Which it is not.

Sorry, but science isn't an opinion. History isn't an opinion. There are facts and there are lies people want you to believe. Sorting them out is important, and you will never, ever be able to sort them out using Wikipedia as a reference.

Good thing no one expects that of Wikipedia. As a starting point for research, it is unsurpassed.

Re:Wikipedia motto (1)

owlnation (858981) | more than 5 years ago | (#27854589)

You may be unaware of this study, which suggests that Wikipedia and Encyclopedia Britannica have similar error rates. You may not like the conclusion, so feel free to do your own study.

Long proven to be a skewed small-scale study carried out by biased researchers. Let's not mention this study again, other than to ridicule it. Or as an example of wikipropaganda. It has no basis in truth -- much like most of wikipedia.

Re:Wikipedia motto (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27854273)

"And now people are becoming more aware of the unreliability of what they know."

If only they really would take a hard look at what they think they know.

Re:Wikipedia motto (1)

Anon1072 (1444945) | more than 5 years ago | (#27854279)

+1, Italics!

Re:Wikipedia motto (3, Insightful)

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) | more than 5 years ago | (#27854613)

If you really want to know something, you have to verify it yourself. Don't rely on someone else's interview, go interview the person yourself. Don't rely on someone else's experiment, or someone else's first hand account, if you want to know something, verify it yourself.

The problem with this principle is that if we followed it consistently, we'd never get anything done. As a scientist, am I supposed to go down the reference tree of every paper I cite and reproduce every result back to Newton? Personally verifying every piece of information we receive would drastically reduce the knowledge we have available to use.

In many cases this is of course impractical, but at least you should be aware that your knowledge might not be accurate.

That's where trust comes in. Sometimes there are formal methods for establishing trustworthy sources (peer review is by no means perfect, but all in all it seems to work pretty well) and sometimes you have to judge informally, by personal acquaintance or reputation. But you have to have some sources you trust, somehow, or you'll be paralyzed.

Re:Wikipedia motto (1)

Dragonslicer (991472) | more than 5 years ago | (#27854737)

As a scientist, am I supposed to go down the reference tree of every paper I cite and reproduce every result back to Newton?

Yeah, right, as if anybody would trust that guy's ideas. Definitely need to check all of the references in his work.

Current "Journalism" is Mere Quotes (5, Insightful)

BoRegardless (721219) | more than 5 years ago | (#27853783)

As the author noted.

We see it all the time, where no one wants to delve into details & analyze something.

After all, that takes time & "I have to get my Latte @ Starbucks."

I am also struck by the lack of actual questioning of people "journalists" interview. It doesn't happen for the most part. It is mostly "star-struck fan time" when journalists interview the politicians and famous people.

Re:Current "Journalism" is Mere Quotes (1)

interkin3tic (1469267) | more than 5 years ago | (#27853829)

Put another way: you can say you're a journalist, but that doesn't mean you ARE a journalist.

Re:Current "Journalism" is Mere Quotes (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27853859)

"I am also struck by the lack of actual questioning of people "journalists" interview. It doesn't happen for the most part. It is mostly "star-struck fan time" when journalists interview the politicians and famous people."

The interviews you see are the ones the subjects agree to be in. They happen on their terms or not at all, so this is to be expected no matter what the state of journalistic integrity.

Re:Current "Journalism" is Mere Quotes (1)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | more than 5 years ago | (#27854365)

The interviews you see are the ones the subjects agree to be in. They happen on their terms or not at all, so this is to be expected no matter what the state of journalistic integrity.

Absolutely true. But there seems to be a lot less "star" interviewers who aren't willing to play that game than there used to be. If the interviewer is a star in their own right, like say Ted Koppel, then you'll often get the high and mighty to submit themselves to a real interview just for the cachet of being interviewed by a star.

Hey, it was "fake but accurate" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27854083)

It's not like "journalists" have never been there before....

Re:Current "Journalism" is Mere Quotes (4, Informative)

nine-times (778537) | more than 5 years ago | (#27854349)

It is mostly "star-struck fan time" when journalists interview the politicians and famous people.

It might actually be worse than that. Lots of journalists know that if they ask real questions and press for real answers, the person they're interviewing won't like it, and will stop submitting to the interview. The journalist will get a reputation for being difficult, and other people won't give them interviews either.

So they might not be that they're star struck, but instead kissing ass to get access. And then there's laziness. It's hard to do a good job.

Google (5, Insightful)

bluefoxlucid (723572) | more than 5 years ago | (#27853795)

And on the Internet you can spend $8 a month and $8 for a domain name per year, and have your own private site. Devote a shrine to anything, write bullshit, and Wikipedia's massive peer review team ("The Whole Fucking World") can't stomp all over you and delete your edits. Best of all, if you have a shiny Web design, people will 1) incorporate your shit in Wikipedia, citing it; and 2) use your shit to debunk other (actually factual) shit in Wikipedia because another "not-Wikipedia" site says Wikipedia is wrong.

Re:Google (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27853919)

Funniest part is when they argue your site is a better resource than any musty old stack of books because it's *~on the internet~*.

Re:Google (5, Funny)

beckett (27524) | more than 5 years ago | (#27854045)

godaddy can cut this cost in half for you.

Re:Google (2, Informative)

derGoldstein (1494129) | more than 5 years ago | (#27854283)

(*some restrictions apply, see site for details)

Incompetent Crowdsourcing (5, Insightful)

benjamindees (441808) | more than 5 years ago | (#27854199)

Note that this is the same type of failure as what happened in the mortgage bubble. Realtors and buyers and auditors were not actually determining the real value of the houses they were trading, but were merely checking to see what everyone else thought the value was. Most of the players (at least those with the most control) had an incentive to inflate the value. So the result was a spiral of home prices that rose far beyond the true value.

Now that the market has corrected and prices are closer to the actual value, all parties are crying foul and saying they don't want to have to "mark to market" or face foreclosure or bankruptcy for their inability to correctly determine the true value of their investments.

In the same way, Wikipedia does not check for actual truth of the statements it publishes, just that they are corroborated by some other medium or by some other website. This process is subject to the same manipulation and error that has decimated the global real estate market. In the same way, the consequences of failure are externalized by Wikipedia and not borne by any of its editors, contributors, or sponsors.

Caveat emptor.

Re:Incompetent Crowdsourcing (2, Insightful)

Lehk228 (705449) | more than 5 years ago | (#27854515)

it was the banks offering huge loans to people who couldn't afford the actual payments (not the one or two year introductory payments) that drove prices higher and higher as massive amounts of fraudulent wealth was created.

if you pay attention to history you will see that this is not the first time the international banking industry has undermined the security of the people in order to consolodate money and power. and this won't be the last time unless we the people push through a comprehensive reform on the fraudulent concept of a corporation. as it is you and any number of people can, for a tax increase, create an organization that takes the fall for a bad business deal or for dishonest trade practices so nobody has to give back the money they made and nobody goes to jail.

instead we need to make all voting stockholders proportionally responsible for all debts of a folded company, and non voting preferred holders liable only for tort debt and any debt incurred that the officers of the company knew would never be paid back before the company folded.

Baloneycraft (1)

Peter Trepan (572016) | more than 5 years ago | (#27854201)

I'm trying to make this into an art form with my new blog [blogspot.com] . I write completely fabricated science stories with the "ring of truth." My goal is to author a meme with the power of "Did you know we only use ten percent of our brains?" or "Did you know a dog's mouth is actually cleaner than a human's?"

Re:Baloneycraft (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27854625)

Dude, a dog's mouth -is- cleaner than a human's, everyone knows that.

Re:Baloneycraft (1)

neomunk (913773) | more than 5 years ago | (#27854701)

If that's the case then get rid of the articles "The Greatest Place on Earth" and "The Greenest Color", as they give the joke away too easily.

The other two you have posted as of now sound perfectly "sciency" enough to do exactly what you're talking about, if they catch on. The bit about Einstein's hair is hilarious BTW, and I can easily picture one of my acquaintances repeating such a story to me as factual.

deathbed confessional (3, Funny)

ifeelswine (1546221) | more than 5 years ago | (#27853801)

i think that perhaps news that the composer was on his deathbed was leaked and this guy put his wiki entry in. then the composer decided to check the interweb before checking out and realized he had final words to utter. and now he's a decomposer.

Nothing new (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27853815)

Journalists are lazy, film at 11. 90% of reports are just verbatim regurgitations of the AP wire (which has been subverted before too.)

My take on this is that it was just a troll, and he's invented a high-minded "social experiment" excuse now that it's got a little out of control.

Newspapers (4, Informative)

Frankie70 (803801) | more than 5 years ago | (#27853817)

Both the Guardian & the Independent has this quote in their obits.
So did BBC Music Magazine.
http://www.google.com/search?q=%22maurice+jarre%22++%22music+was+my+life [google.com]

The Guardian has even published a retraction blaming it on the Wikipedia vandalizer - poor Guardian.
http://www.guardian.co.uk/film/2009/mar/31/maurice-jarre-obituary [guardian.co.uk]

This article was amended on Friday 3 April 2009. Maurice Jarre died on 28 March 2009, not 29 March. We opened with a quotation which we are now advised had been invented as a hoax, and was never said by the composer: "My life has been one long soundtrack. Music was my life, music brought me to life." The article closed with: "Music is how I will be remembered," said Jarre. "When I die there will be a final waltz playing in my head and that only I can hear." These quotes appear to have originated as a deliberate insertion in the composer's Wikipedia entry in the wake of his death on 28 March, and from there were duplicated on various internet sites. These errors have been corrected.

Re:Newspapers (3, Insightful)

lamadude (1270542) | more than 5 years ago | (#27854267)

The Guardian blaming wikipedia really shows they have no shame about it at all. I thought it was one of the better UK newspapers, very disturbing...

Re:Newspapers (4, Insightful)

daybot (911557) | more than 5 years ago | (#27854637)

The Guardian has even published a retraction blaming it on the Wikipedia vandalizer

Actually they've worded it quite fairly and I think they're brave to have admitted to falling victim to the hoax.

This is news? (4, Insightful)

JoshuaZ (1134087) | more than 5 years ago | (#27853821)

This has happened so many times before that it isn't funny. To use one example off the top of my head, there was a debate on the page about Rutgers where someone claimed with no good sourcing that the University had had an opportunity to be in the Ivy League when the league was first formed. Edit-warring over this continued for some time until someone found a recent source that made the claim. Suspicious editors thought something was up and contacted the newspaper in question. It turned out they had gotten the claim from "somewhere on the internet" that is, Wikipedia.

Bottom line. Don't take a fact in Wikipedia unless it is sourced. Even then, check the talk page to make sure there's been no serious recent disagreement about the matter (checking the history helps too). And then, you can only trust claim as much as the source used. And don't trust things you hear in the general media without some fact checking.

Re:This is news? (2, Insightful)

Aphoxema (1088507) | more than 5 years ago | (#27854299)

The problem is it's the trivial nonsense people bother about arguing over, not scientific fact which is easier to take for granted.

Re:This is news? (2, Informative)

samkass (174571) | more than 5 years ago | (#27854327)

I hear the African elephant population has tripled in the last six months.

It's not news, it's public humiliation (3, Insightful)

derGoldstein (1494129) | more than 5 years ago | (#27854369)

You're right, it's not news, but that doesn't mean it should become accepted. Every time this happens there's a responsibility by the publisher to own up, and to reassess their practices. In effect, this is a type of public humiliation, and it serves the consumers of the content (not just in a "haha! Look at those idiots!" sense, but in the long run).

It's not news but it's a very sad state. I'd rather get my news 30 minutes later, and *fact-checked*, rather than "here's the latest from Twitter"...

Re:This is news? (2, Interesting)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | more than 5 years ago | (#27854399)

Even then, check the talk page to make sure there's been no serious recent disagreement about the matter (checking the history helps too).

It would be really nice if wikipedia made such historical inquries easy, like a javascript interface where you could highlight a portion of the article and have it return a list of edits to that pertain to that part of the article.

Wikipedia is ran by fucking bastards (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27853849)

They include j.delanoy, mentifisto, pathoschild, spacebirdy, nawlinwiki, pmdrive1061, Tiptoety, MER-C and others. If you see them, vandalize their edits and tell them hagger on wheels sent you.

New tag needed (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27853867)

OWNED!

Re:New tag needed (1)

derGoldstein (1494129) | more than 5 years ago | (#27854307)

"PWNED" is more current and will yield better SEO.

mainstream quality papers (5, Funny)

amicusNYCL (1538833) | more than 5 years ago | (#27853869)

I understand those words individually, but when you put them together like that they don't make sense.

Re:mainstream quality papers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27854149)

It makes perfect sense to me. Especially in this context.

Re:mainstream quality papers (5, Funny)

mathx314 (1365325) | more than 5 years ago | (#27854301)

They are papers of mainstream quality, not quality papers in the mainstream. I can see how you got confused though.

Re:mainstream quality papers (1)

jmyers (208878) | more than 5 years ago | (#27854373)

Makes perfect sense, E-Z Wider 1 1/2 for sure. What was the article about again?

hirarious (3, Funny)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 5 years ago | (#27853885)

I've pretty much given up on articles without citations. I don't find them particularly interesting any more because they beg too many questions in the light of skepticism. Perhaps the eventual fallout of this sort of thing will be that others have the same attitude :) Also a very good reason to cite Wikipedia with a permalink (which the cite link will do for you) as it will let people at least know WHY you said something TOTALLY WRONG.

Re:hirarious (1)

sjames (1099) | more than 5 years ago | (#27854033)

Of course, even with citations, we saw in a previous /. that it may be a 'self supporting' citation. That is, the citation may be a 'source' that copied the previously uncited info from Wikipedia.

Re:hirarious (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27854559)

The bit that happened with the color articles and the nonsense that color names map to exact RGB numbers and proceeded to list them all. The coordinates mixed with the made-up names started popping up around are were used as sources for the color articles themselves. Some of it jumped between language versions of wikipedia. My "favorite" is the article on the color zinnwaldite. Which among other things claimed that beige telephones are really zinnwaldite and so is Pluto. That article actually survived a deletion attempt, though looks like a second one finally got it. Someone made a recreation as that can be seen at Desert sand (color) [wikipedia.org] with the word zinnwaldite changed to desert sand, and the coordinates changed slightly.

Re:hirarious (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27854601)

That happened to me once when trying to rewrite an article stuffed full of [citation needed] by someone that didn't like the article and lost an edit war.

There was one statement that I couldn't figure out why it was there. A Google search turned up dozens of hits for the statement. Every single hit was for a copy/paste from the article I was editing.

High journalistic Standards (5, Interesting)

hduff (570443) | more than 5 years ago | (#27853899)

On the Diane Rehm Show on NPR, the topic today was the demise of newspapers and what could be done about it; suggestions included government bailouts and subsidies or reorganization as not-for-profit organizations. The "politically correct" argument was that they wanted to preserve the newspaper business model per se, but preserve "journalism" and all those high standards and ethics it embodied as opposed to the unprofessional world of bloggers and news aggregators who could (obviously) not hold themselves to high standards.

Perhaps the journalists could be Jarre'd back to reality?

Re:High journalistic Standards (4, Insightful)

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) | more than 5 years ago | (#27854421)

As long as there have been reporters, there have been people who lied to reporters. Fitzgerald's stunt is just a high-tech version of this. It doesn't mean anything in terms of the quality of reporting today vs. some half-mythical golden age of journalism.

Well played (4, Insightful)

rastoboy29 (807168) | more than 5 years ago | (#27853949)

If it had to be done, this was a good way to do it.  Maybe it should be done more.

You're not even supposed to cite encyclopedias. (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27853961)

:\
And now they'll use this as another way to explain how wikipedia is "inaccurate".

seems reliable to me... (5, Funny)

formattedFury (1549017) | more than 5 years ago | (#27853967)

And they tell me I can't use Wikipedia as a source for my high school research papers... Please, if the press can do it, I can do it.

Shane Fitzgerald's Wikipedia entry (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27854037)

There is currently no Wikipedia entry for Shane Fitzgerald. In the event that there is ever a Wikipedia entry for Shane Fitzgerald I wonder if it will ever be vandalized or maybe just used to store spurious quotes allegedly uttered by Shane Fitzgerald.

Think of the hilarity that could ensue. Make up something inane or stupid or obscene or whatever, attribute it to to Shane Fitzgerald and toss it into his Wikipedia.

e.g.

"I'm so hungry I could eat a bag of dicks." -- Shane Fitzgerald

shrug (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27854063)

I get my info from EncyclopediaDramatica, because that's always accurate.

Fuck Jarre (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27854069)

Have you heard about the huge explosion in african elephants!?

Making a point by being an asshole (2)

Junior J. Junior III (192702) | more than 5 years ago | (#27854121)

if I was going to do something I should do it quickly. I knew journalists wouldn't be looking at it until the morning,' The quote had no referenced sources and was therefore taken down by moderators of Wikipedia within minutes. However, Fitzgerald put it back up a few more times until it was finally left up on the site for more than 24 hours. While he was wary about the ethical implications of using someone's death as a social experiment,

This is like someone expressing surprise and having ethical qualms about a biology experiment involving stabbing someone repeatedly until they finally die. While it does show that wikipedia is vulnerable, how is this any different from showing that a human body is vulnerable to stabbing, and if you try to stab someone enough times, eventually you will kill them?

What does this prove, exactly? That truth is malleable and that people with bad intent can use this fact to further their own ends? Did we not know this before?

Re:Making a point by being an asshole (2, Informative)

MicktheMech (697533) | more than 5 years ago | (#27854205)

While we all knew that Wikipedia was not exactly a reliable source, I think the prevalence of "good" news organizations using it as a primary source is new and informative. Oh... and the experiment didn't actually kill anybody.

Re:Making a point by being an asshole (1)

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) | more than 5 years ago | (#27854467)

Yes, it's interesting to know that Wikipedia is now being used as a source. But setting up this kind of "experiment" is still a jackass move. GPP's example of stabbing someone to death was a bit melodramatic, sure, but the principle is still the same.

Re:Making a point by being an asshole (2, Insightful)

ImOnlySleeping (1135393) | more than 5 years ago | (#27854537)

The point had nothing to do with Wikipedia, but with the poor journalism practiced by people that purport to hold themselves to a higher standard.

Happened before, will happen again (1)

RobDollar (1137885) | more than 5 years ago | (#27854131)

This happened with a composer a couple of years ago, his wikipedia page was updated saying he wrote a pop song (performed by SClub 7 if I remember correctly).

This was quoted in his obituary, and since many papers have *supposedly* banned the use of wikipedia in their newsrooms.

The problem is perhaps wikipedia is such a fast resource for grabbing large chunks of information, it just makes it too easy for the "journalists".

A Good Read (4, Informative)

Cornwallis (1188489) | more than 5 years ago | (#27854147)

I'd suggest reading Mark Helprin's "Digital Barbarism" for much more on this topic (as an aside from the main thrust supporting copyright). It amazes me how the Internet has lowered the bar. Hell, when my daughter was three years old she used to cite herself as an authority: "Daddy, according to me..."

~Innovating (4, Interesting)

drDugan (219551) | more than 5 years ago | (#27854277)

Why is Wikipedia no longer innovating?

The basic premise of the project evolved rapidly as the encyclopedia was developed in the early years- creating rules, policies and a vibrant and effective community; and now is a massive and globe-changing entity. However, to remain relevant, the site and the ideas that drive it must continue to evolve. To me, as a slightly disinterested outside observer, it seems that Wikipedia hasn't changed what they do or how they do it now for several years.

There is *so much* they could do to make explicit and transparent the edits, the timeliness of added information, and many other things - to handle issues like this - but they are not. Why?

Re:~Innovating (3, Insightful)

owlnation (858981) | more than 5 years ago | (#27854443)

There is *so much* they could do to make explicit and transparent the edits, the timeliness of added information, and many other things - to handle issues like this - but they are not. Why?

Because Jimbo Wales is earning from it nicely the way it is, thank you very much.

Re:~Innovating (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27854445)

go help them... it's an open project

Re:~Innovating (4, Insightful)

teslatug (543527) | more than 5 years ago | (#27854555)

They got bogged down due to their own weight. It's not easy to do anything when you have millions of people using your site, millions of articles, etc. They were able to innovate when they were small, nimble, and could afford mistakes.

Wikipedia evolution? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27854583)

However, to remain relevant, the site and the ideas that drive it must continue to evolve

What's there to evolve?

You pick a topic, write something (hopefully) meaningful about it, let other people modify it to add information.

What exactly do you need changed in this procedure? Beyond these three points, everything else is window dressing.

I can appreciate the desire to prove (2, Interesting)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | more than 5 years ago | (#27854381)

... that this happens. But to be honest, if this had been done to a relative of mine right after his or her death, I would probably track down the author and attempt to break some limbs.

sudo journalism (5, Funny)

w0mprat (1317953) | more than 5 years ago | (#27854437)

Check facts (Y/N):> Y

Option not available. Please try another option.

Check facts (Y/N):> N

Publish article (Y/N):> Y

Licensing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27854575)

Since this was actually original content added to wikipedia, what can be inferred about the license and the usage it was given?

As per the GDL, doesn't the derived article in the paper must fall under that license as well? I've seen stuff like this on TV as well using videos from YouTube's users...

It enrages me that big content providers don't give jack shit about the little guy's stuff and STEAL to their heart's content in the name of fair use for they own profit, and the little guy doesn't have the right to use a picture or fragment of video/music to illustrate a point...

Nice! (1)

Anenome (1250374) | more than 5 years ago | (#27854707)

Shane Fitzgerald PWNS the media. FLAWLESS VICTORY XD

LIVE History in Wikipedia (4, Interesting)

seer (21011) | more than 5 years ago | (#27854715)

This is something I've wanted since Wikipedia became big. I'd like to have a slider bar that allows me to highlight (say, in red) everything that's been changed within the last 7 days. And everything (say, in yellow) everything that's been changed within the last month.

That way, when I'm looking at an article on Albert Einstein I'll know when there is something strangely recent put in there. Also, when I'm looking at the swine flu article, I'll be able to set the slider bars for 12 hours/3 days and see what's new.

Yes, yes, it'll be a few more database hits, but think if everything you could do with this. And not just as a viewer, but as an editor.

Now, someone with way more time on their hands than me, please Make It So.

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