Thursday, October 04, 2007

wikipedia slips up

Like most people, I'm very well aware that Wikipedia is not the Oracle - it contains errors (like most encyclopedias) and is obviously open to abuse. Despite knowing this, I use it pretty much daily and - perhaps naively - believe pretty much everything I read on it.

The following error, which has been subsequently repeated elsewhere, could hardly be less trivial. Nevertheless, it's instructive in demonstrating how far Wikipedia has gone in becoming the destination of choice for reporters. In future, perhaps they should be a little more careful. In practice, I suspect they won't.

From the No Rock and Roll Fun blog:

"Ronnie Hazlehurst did not write S Club 7's Reach.

Why would you think he did?

It might be because
BBC News, The Guardian, The Times, The Stage and Reuters all said he did, in their obituaries of the TV theme king.But why would they think he did?

Because Wikipedia told them so, and so when the - hurried, harried - journalists came to write their obits for him, they just took the information at face value."
And the sting in the tail:

The great thing about this sorry saga is that, by Wikipedia's rules, Ronnie Hazlehurst really *did* write 'Reach', since it can be cited from numerous sources.
Fascinating stuff.

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