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Journo seduced by cult of nonsense

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Yes, Virginia, Wikipedia is a trusted source for journalists the world over. Just ask David Anderson of The Daily Mirror.

In late August, after the draw for this season's UEFA Cup, someone calling themselves godpants decided he would add a few words to the Wikipedia page detailing a Cypriot football club known as AC Omonia. "A small but loyal group of fans are lovingly called 'The Zany Ones,'" he typed. "They like to wear hats made from discarded shoes and have a song about a little potato."

This was complete nonsense. But three weeks later, when Manchester City traveled to Omonia for a first round UEFA Cup tie, David Anderson added the nonsense in his match preview, which ran in the printed Daily Mirror and on its website.

"Despite City's raised profile, they must make do with the UEFA Cup this season and [manager Mark] Hughes will not tolerate any slip-ups against the Cypriot side, whose fans are known as the 'Zany Ones' and wear hats made from shoes," Anderson burbled.

His byline says he'd already made the trip to Cyrus. But apparently, firsthand research was still less convenient than a peek at the free online encyclopedia anyone can edit.

Then, a day later, in his match report, Anderson repeated the nonsense. "Omonia made City pay for their wastefulness," he wrote, "when they opened the scoring four minutes after the break to send their fans - nicknamed the Zany Ones - completely wild."

After godpants admitted his little prank and his story turned up in Private Eye, the Zany Ones bit was removed from Wikipedia's article. But in a shining example of the twisted logic that governs this free encyclopedia/worldwide cult, the nonsense was reinstated - with David Anderson's UEFA Cup preview cited as a source.

It has now been re-removed. For the moment. ®

Bootnote

A tip of the hat to Ian.

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