Feeds

Copying Wikipedia's lies is not just for hacks, right Lord Leveson?

Prankster nobbles judge's report on press ethics

The essential guide to IT transformation

Last week, the judge tasked with cleaning up the British press was caught indulging in one of its filthiest habits: copying unreliable factoids from Wikipedia, the “encyclopedia anyone can edit”.

Lord Justice Leveson’s report on UK press ethics last week featured the statement:

The Independent [newspaper] was founded in 1986 by the journalists Andreas Whittam Smith, Stephen Glover and Brett Straub, and was published by Newspaper Publishing plc.

Whittam Smith and Glover were two of the three founders - but who is this Brett Straub? The name was inserted into the Wikipedia page for The Indie in October 2011 and, as often happens, left uncorrected for a year.

The Telegraph put in some leg work and discovered Straub is a recent architecture graduate of Pomona College in Los Angeles County. A friend at the college inserted his name on several Wikipedia pages, according to Straub, crediting him with not only founding a UK newspaper but also inventing Coca-Cola.

Californian Straub, 25, told The Telegraph:

I don't even read newspapers. I graduated college eight months ago and the biggest thing we learned is don't trust Wikipedia for facts.

That’s advice Lord Leveson and his team could use.

British newspapers have fallen for several hoaxes derived from their dumb dependence on Jimbo Wales’s Big Bag of Trivia.

Satirist Stephen Colbert makes merry at Wikipedia's expense

In 2010 the Guardian and the Mirror both credited Norman Wisdom with writing the wartime classic White Cliffs of Dover, and in 2007 almost every British news outlet credited the late TV theme composer Ronnie Hazlehurst with emerging from retirement to write a pop hit. There are many more examples - but these made the headlines because they featured in obituaries.

Sometimes the contributors themselves are fake. Five years ago an important contributor to religious articles at Wikipedia, who masqueraded as a professor of theology, was obliged to quit the site after it was discovered he was a 24-year-old with no qualifications, who derived his authority from the book Catholicism for Dummies. The Walter Mitty fantasist had been given a job at Jimmy Wales’s Wikia startup and promoted to Wikipedia’s “politburo”, its mediation committee.

In fact, as you surely know, the third founder of The Independent was Matthew Kelly, who went on to host Stars In Their Eyes.

And that’s a nailed-on Wikifact. ®

5 things you didn’t know about cloud backup

More from The Register

next story
Microsoft exits climate denier lobby group
ALEC will have to do without Redmond, it seems
Caught red-handed: UK cops, PCSOs, specials behaving badly… on social media
No Mr Fuzz, don't ask a crime victim to be your pal on Facebook
Barnes & Noble: Swallow a Samsung Nook tablet, please ... pretty please
Novelslab finally on sale with ($199 - $20) price tag
Ballmer leaves Microsoft board to spend more time with his b-balls
From Clippy to Clippers: Hi, I see you're running an NBA team now ...
Kate Bush: Don't make me HAVE CONTACT with your iPHONE
Can't face sea of wobbling fondle implements. What happened to lighters, eh?
Video of US journalist 'beheading' pulled from social media
Yanked footage featured British-accented attacker and US journo James Foley
Amazon takes swipe at PayPal, Square with card reader for mobes
Etailer plans to undercut rivals with low transaction fee offer
Assange™: Hey world, I'M STILL HERE, ignore that Snowden guy
Press conference: ME ME ME ME ME ME ME (cont'd pg 94)
Call of Duty daddy considers launching own movie studio
Activision Blizzard might like quality control of a CoD film
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
7 Elements of Radically Simple OS Migration
Avoid the typical headaches of OS migration during your next project by learning about 7 elements of radically simple OS migration.
BYOD's dark side: Data protection
An endpoint data protection solution that adds value to the user and the organization so it can protect itself from data loss as well as leverage corporate data.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?