Plenty of instructors out there put the kibosh on using Wikipedia as a reliable source while their students look into transferring into the class of someone with a more “modern” take on research, but these ten editing scandals show that even the pros take shortcuts, but it still isn’t necessarily a wise move.
10. The Obituary Hoax
Multiple newspapers had egg on their faces when they relied on Wikipedia for facts to include in the obituary of Oscar-winning French composer Maurice Jarre.
Shortly after Jarre’s death in 2009, an Irish university student, Shane Fitzgerald, edited his Wiki page to include a heart-warming – but totally made-up – quote falsely attributed to the late composer: “When I die there will be a final waltz playing in my head.”
The student didn’t think that the inaccuracy would go far before being outed as unsubstantiated, but multiple prestigious newspapers across the world, including the UK’s Guardian, included the quote in their publications, prompting more than a few embarrassing retractions.
9. The Fake Professor
Wikipedia relies on the expertise and integrity of its editors. So, when it turned out that an editor known as Essjay was not a university professor but was, in fact, a 24-year-old community college dropout with nothing more than a high school diploma, things got awkward – particularly as he had also become a Wikia employee.
Wikipedia users combed his history on the website and found that the man, real name Ryan Jordan, had been using his fake “expertise” to back up his arguments.
He was, eventually, deprived of his editing privileges, but not before the media and academics noted the serious damage to Wikipedia’s credibility.
Full story at Search Engine People.
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