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A friend of mine was telling me (at a far too late hour for such a conversation) about a kid who kept trying to put up a fake quote on someone's Wikipedia page (forget who or what quote). His third attempt was just after the person in question died; he put up his false quote immediately afterwards, and it stayed up long enough to get cited in a large number of obituaries the next day. Apparently there's a growing phenomenon of people posting false information on Wikipedia (with fake cites or no cites), this information getting used by lazy reporters and then used as a citation on Wikipedia! What? Is this old news?

Ah, found the thing my friend was talking about:

Obviously, the idea that not everything one reads on Wikipedia and whatnot should be taken as absolute truth, despite a rather active staff to try and prevent false information. It's the mainstream media picking up on this that's amusing/frightening. Soon facts will be destroyed! Panic and flee! (for a bad-culture reference, I thought of the 'time machine' ride in Idiocracy)

The mainstream media publishing incorrect information! ohmy.gif Well I never!

Heres another example from last year:
We are actually encouraged by lecturers to use the science ones (about taxonomy, molecules, equations etc) because they are usually 100% accurate!
*mutters something about how the mainstream media are jerks and should never be trusted and how if someone would happen to be arrested for something and that something was misquoted in the paper, how that someone couldn't correct them*

Ahem. >_>
There are at least some Wiki pages that are blocked by the organisers, I think my fave though was when the Borat movie came out loads of people altered the Kazachstan page to read that he was their President/Prime Minister- it was quickly rectified but damn funny while it lasted (not the film btw wink.gif)
I'm not actually that worried. As far as I'm concerned, the fault lies with the journalists and not Wikipedia. I'm interested you are encouraged to use some pages, Becky - but it's quite possible some of the science pages are more accurate than others. However, we were always told for any research project NOT to use Wikipedia. If a Wikipedia article is cited properly, then the likelihood that the information is true goes up, I feel. You can always click on the cited links if you're unsure. What's worrying is that a journalist would log onto Wikipedia and take some random, uncited information for use in a story!

edit: Oi, I missed the fact that the article was then being used as a citation for the wrong information... multiple citations, maybe? I would say journalists should cite, but I don't know what the laws are on that. Eek. For the good of the rest of us, them journalists better start being more careful! tongue.gif
I would never cite Wikipedia for an academic paper. It's just not done in any of the classes I've ever taken. One of my psych professors even warned us that using Wikipedia as a reference would mean an automatic zero on the paper. It was drilled into me during college that it's not acceptable for formal writing.

I tend to agree with my former professors. I'll use Wikipedia as a source during casual discussion and Internet debates, but in papers and such it's just unprofessional. Tsk. Naughty journalists. You would get an F from Professor Ettinger. It doesn't particularly worry me, though. I just find it rather funny. If you look at the edit history for Maurice Jarre's page, the faulty information was only up there for two minutes!
What you do, though, is use it for research and then click on all the citations and put THOSE in your bibliography.
I definitely wouldn't use Wikipedia articles for any academic things, but using their citations can be pretty useful. That is pretty strange that you get *encouraged* to use their articles, though; I mean, I would say it is accurate on the overwhelming majority of information, but I would put science journal-y such things a reliable and Wiki as either an initial starting point or a last ditch 4 AM resort.

Also I'm not legitimately worried that silly denizens of the internet are going to use Wikipedia to destroy all factual information tongue.gif The concept amuses me though.

the faulty information was only up there for two minutes!

Hey, journalists gotta meet their deadlines, and sometimes people just don't have the courtesy to die many hours away from the next day's print biggrin.gif

The mainstream media publishing incorrect information! Well I never!

Nyah, I say tongue.gif It's that this is (possibly?) a recurring event, and also more difficult to track down than...well, never mind; it *did* take an absurdly long time to find out that NYT reporter was just making up quotes and stories from places he wasn't actually in (
Pfft! Lazy journos. I was told that using one source alone was a no-no and that one should visit multiple sources to get a more accurate picture.

And if you think using Wikipedia is bad now, how do you feel about the fact that Microsoft is winding up Encarta? They've not said it out loud, but the inference is that Wikipedia is a preferred source of info because it's more readily accessible (read: doesn't cost anything).

I don't think Wikipedia is as bad as it's painted, to be honest. Just don't use it as your only source.
I found it very handy when I needed to get a quick grasp of a wide range of philosophical positions. I had to get my head around Descartes and Heidegger (among others) in a weekend, so I read the Wikipedia entries and used those as a basis for exploring in further depth in the original texts. The Wiki entries gave a good overview, but like others on here I would never dream of trusting it fro anything important without triple checking elsewhere first.

It says a lot about the bad design and accessibility of information that Wikipedia is the source for so many journalists, usually beyond a person's official website. If the official source was more useful then Wikipedia wouldn't be necessary. Where the wiki really works is in summarising and making the data searchable in a reliable manner. That kind of ease of access isn't present on most websites because of lack of understanding of consumer needs by the creators, unfortunately it does then to create those loops where a journalist references a (fictional) wiki, then the fiction is backed up by referencing the journalist.
Sir Psycho Sexy
Oh yeah, the abuse goes on.

No, of course I don't actually have anything to add to this thread.
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