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Wikipedia hoax points to limits of journalists' research

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Geplaatst op 08 mei 2009 - 03:03

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Wikipedia may be a fantastic resource, but any savvy Internet user is aware of its limits. Edit wars, entries made and modified for PR purposes, hoaxes, and basic inaccuracies all creep into (and back out of) the system, meaning that any use of the information there for purposes that might be considered significant should require some serious fact-checking. And, accordingly, many academics don't accept references to Wikipedia, and its entries have been rejected as evidence by US courts. So, it's a bit of a surprise to find out that one Wikipedia hoax, perpetrated by a sociology student, managed to appear in a variety of news reports, and has stayed there even after the hoax was revealed.

According to the AFP, the hoax traces back to Shane Fitzgerald, a student at Ireland's University College Dublin. Upon learning of the death of the Oscar-winning composer Maurice Jarre, the student modified his Wikipedia entry, adding a completely fictitious post that was nicely designed to fit perfectly into any obituary. "When I die there will be a final waltz playing in my head, that only I can hear," the added material read in part.

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