Wikipedia's Circular Logic Pops Up Again

from the where-does-truth-come-from? dept

Germany has a new minister of economic affairs, named Karl Theodor Maria Nikolaus Johann Jacob Philipp Franz Joseph Sylvester Freiherr von und zu Guttenberg. That's a mouthful, and apparently a number of German media outlets went to the guy's Wikipedia entry for some help. But some prankster had added a "Wilhelm" in the middle, which got printed in several places. The change on Wikipedia was noticed and corrected, but then reverted to the incorrect Wilhelm version -- with one of the press stories cited as the source. So, somebody inserts an incorrect "fact" into Wikipedia, the "fact" gets reprinted elsewhere based on the Wikipedia entry, gets correctly removed from Wikipedia, then incorrectly reinserted using one of the incorrect articles as "proof" of its veracity. That sounds pretty similar to establishing your newsworthiness for inclusion in Wikipedia by getting a newspaper article written about how you're not in Wikipedia. All's well that ends well, though, since the minister's correct name now appears in his entry. But as Wikipedia continues to be perceived by more and more people as a very authoritative source, this sort of incident is likely to happen again.

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  1. identicon
    Fabio Prudente, 12 Feb 2009 @ 8:11am

    Wikibooks has a major problem

    This is just a minor issue, and things tend to stabilize at long time. I think the real problem is happening with Wikibooks.

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