Lazy Journalism
September 19, 2008 2:07 AM   Subscribe

Fun lovin' prankster and b3ta user godspants edited the wikipedia page on Cypriot soccer team AC Omonia to include the "facts" that the fans are referred to as "the zany ones", wear hats made of shoes and sing a song about a little potato. Yesterday there was a match between Omonia and British club Manchester City. British Tabloid the Daily Mirror used the wikipedia "facts" in their build-up article. Daily Mirror obviously doesn't realise their journalist has been guilty of incredibly lazy research, despite the prankster emailing them, and the Mirror refers to the "Zany ones" in their post-match article the next day.
posted by hnnrs (43 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite

 
Oh print media. So set on hastening your own irrelevance.
posted by paisley henosis at 2:11 AM on September 19, 2008


Oh print media.

Yeah. Because bloggers would be so much more likely to check their facts.
posted by Jimbob at 2:30 AM on September 19, 2008 [9 favorites]


That's some good lulz right thar.

But then, it is the Daily Mirror.
posted by turgid dahlia at 2:42 AM on September 19, 2008


Out flew the web and floated wide;
The mirror cracked from side to side;

[with apologies to AT]
posted by mandal at 3:06 AM on September 19, 2008


There is journalists in the daily mirror?
posted by zouhair at 3:11 AM on September 19, 2008


This would be a little more damning against a non-nobody opponent. In a non-sports context. And in a real newspaper.
posted by DU at 3:14 AM on September 19, 2008


Oh print media. So set on hastening your own irrelevance.

You mock the newspaper (which, by the way, is no longer just print) for being easily gamed, but that's just what it gets for relying on an online free-for-all (in multiple senses) like Wikipedia. Sure, the Mirror is crap as newspapers go, and the Mirror sports section, like any sports section, is entirely unimportant, but that doesn't make Wikipedia trustworthy, as this story clearly illustrates.

Better than the Wikipedia or the Mirror: b3ta.com. My only news source.
posted by pracowity at 3:18 AM on September 19, 2008 [1 favorite]


Years ago, while working on a book, one of the older contributors told me how, when he was younger, he'd written up a small biog on a Dutch artist at "Van Rental, Hertz". He'd expected it to amuse someone for a couple of minutes and then be purged. It was printed (though, sadly, deleted the for second print run).

No publication gets it right all the time and in print you don't have the luxury of fixing it and pretending it never happened.
posted by mandal at 3:34 AM on September 19, 2008 [2 favorites]


but that doesn't make Wikipedia trustworthy, as this story clearly illustrates.

The abuse of Wikipedia occurs on both sides. Those who edit should feel some responsibility to not fill it full of crap and those who read it should assume that it is nothing but crap.

So bad on godspants for pissing in Wikipedia and bad on the Daily Mirror for drinking it.
posted by three blind mice at 3:41 AM on September 19, 2008 [3 favorites]


So does this mean I should be wary of that Wikipedia-citing article in the WSJ about the population of elephants having tripled in the past year?
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 3:47 AM on September 19, 2008 [1 favorite]


that doesn't make Wikipedia trustworthy, as this story clearly illustrates.

This story has nothing to do with Wikipedia. Inaccurate information is hardly confined to a single site on the Internet (or to a single medium among all media).
posted by DU at 3:49 AM on September 19, 2008


This story has nothing to do with Wikipedia.

Except that it is about Wikipedia, of course. Wikipedia and the Mirror and b3ta.com and a good joke.

Inaccurate information is hardly confined to a single site on the Internet

No one claimed it is.

But Wikipedia, while unfortunately becoming more and more frequently relied upon as a source of solid fact, is in fact (you could look it up) (in Wikipedia) a great roiling pot of tripe into which people are encouraged to toss more tripe.
posted by pracowity at 4:16 AM on September 19, 2008


Except that it is about Wikipedia, of course.

By this logic, it is actually about Cyprus. Or maybe that's an unimportant detail? I'd say Wikipedia is just as unimportant to this story as Cyprus.

The story is the journalist didn't know what they were talking about and unwisely used a single source to fill in that gap. If the single source they'd used was, say, an Encyclopedia Britannica dated before 1974 they'd have been just as hilariously wrong. Would you say the story was about the Britannica in that case?
posted by DU at 4:30 AM on September 19, 2008


Lazy, lazy, lazy boy! Must try harder - Oh, wait, it's the Daily Mail we're talking about...

Even the once respected British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) ran a non-story this week about the Irish Embassy reacting to joke songs being sung by Rangers Football Club fans at Celtic FC fans.

I blame the Internet...
posted by DZ-015 at 4:47 AM on September 19, 2008


This story has nothing to do with Wikipedia.

This story is one part "teh lulz", one part lazy journalist and one part Wikipedia. It's another example of the reliance by (apparently) professional people on Wikipedia being a valid and reliable source of information.

People have a tendency to actually forget that any yahoo can go on there and edit entries. This serves as a timely reminder.
posted by panboi at 5:16 AM on September 19, 2008


Even the once respected British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) ran a non-story this week about the Irish Embassy reacting to joke songs being sung by Rangers Football Club fans at Celtic FC fans.

If you nix 'joke' and insert 'bigoted', is it still a non-story, if you know the loaded political history of the famine?
posted by carbide at 5:28 AM on September 19, 2008


People have a tendency to actually forget that any yahoo can go on there and edit entries.

That is absolutely the least forgettable thing about wikipedia, and furthermore it's the least interesting facet of both this story and Wikipedia.

I hope your head falls off.
posted by blasdelf at 5:29 AM on September 19, 2008 [3 favorites]


Even the once respected British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) ran a non-story this week about the Irish Embassy reacting to joke songs being sung by Rangers Football Club fans at Celtic FC fans.

I just woke up an my brain is slow. Please explain the ironic, sarcastic or absurdist intent behind this comment, because I'm missing it, and therefore am dangerously close to thinking that you were being serious there.
posted by flashboy at 5:39 AM on September 19, 2008


This is still my favorite "bad info from the web" story. Big-ass spanish boat, indeed.
posted by Deathalicious at 5:58 AM on September 19, 2008


Oh, wait, it's the Daily Mail we're talking about...

No, it isn't.
posted by ninebelow at 6:02 AM on September 19, 2008


DZ-105 the Guardian, Scotsman, Telegraph (albeit with a Unionist spin) and many others reported the Rangers famine ditty. Unsure how this relates to the story here other than the fact that it concerns football and electronic communication.
posted by Gratishades at 6:12 AM on September 19, 2008


Friday beer fund indeed. Extortion.
posted by netbros at 6:13 AM on September 19, 2008


People have a tendency to actually forget that any yahoo can go on there and edit entries.

That is absolutely the least forgettable thing about wikipedia, and furthermore it's the least interesting facet of both this story and Wikipedia.

If our Daily Mirror journo had been aware of this "least forgettable" fact, he might have got corroboration on his facts and there wouldn't have been a story to begin with.
posted by panboi at 6:24 AM on September 19, 2008


I would wear a hat made of shoes.
posted by tommasz at 6:29 AM on September 19, 2008


I'm wearing a hat made out of shoes right now.
posted by No-sword at 6:37 AM on September 19, 2008 [1 favorite]


From email in the b3ta post:

I hope you take this in the spirit it was meant, and hope this reminds you not to trust everything you read on Wikipedia.

Any donations to our Friday beer fund would be most welcome. Perhaps your editor would like to contribute your fee for the article, as you evidently didn't do any fact checking.


The "shame on you for not fact checking" talk seems a little weird coming from a Wikipedia vandal. It's kind of like a craigslist scammer warning people to be careful responding to ads there. It would be nice if people like godpants didn't purposely ruin Wikipedia articles for lulz.

If our Daily Mirror journo had been aware of this "least forgettable" fact, he might have got corroboration on his facts and there wouldn't have been a story to begin with.

I think it's much more likely that he did know that anyone could edit Wikipedia, and was too lazy to fact-check a line about the Omonia fans.
posted by burnmp3s at 6:57 AM on September 19, 2008


If the single source they'd used was, say, an Encyclopedia Britannica dated before 1974 they'd have been just as hilariously wrong.

So...we have to wait another 34 years before it's accepted that Wikipedia is inaccurate?
posted by kittyprecious at 6:59 AM on September 19, 2008


I can remember when the Mirror was a great, leftish campainging newspaper, (RIP Paul Foot). Now it's just as bad, if not worse than all the other tabloids. Thank you Piers Morgan

Every couple of months I read the tabloids of the day whilst waiting to get my hair cut and I just despair at the state of them. Even the Sun used to be readable. Now they all seem to have settled down to Star level and are rapidly heading towards The Sport.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 7:02 AM on September 19, 2008


It would be nice if people like godpants didn't purposely ruin Wikipedia articles for lulz.

Im sure all the attention we just gave him will surely be a disincentive to him and other vandals.
posted by damn dirty ape at 7:19 AM on September 19, 2008


Give it a few weeks, and AC Omonia's fans will be known as the Zany Ones. When you are editing wikipedia, you are editing the future.
posted by b1tr0t at 7:36 AM on September 19, 2008 [4 favorites]


Hahaha. The wikipedia article currently refers to them as "Athletic Club Omnomnom". Somebody might want to go in and protect the page before this week's b3ta newsletter hits people's inboxes in a little while...

(Or, you know, don't. For the lulz.)
posted by flashboy at 7:40 AM on September 19, 2008


It would be nice if people like godpants didn't purposely ruin Wikipedia articles for lulz.

Some vandalism is amusing though when it isn't actually malicious. The comparison of Linux filesystems used to have a column labelled "murders your wife?" for which only the ReiserFS filesystem applied.
posted by Ziggy Zaga at 7:44 AM on September 19, 2008 [2 favorites]


But Wikipedia, while unfortunately becoming more and more frequently relied upon as a source of solid fact, is in fact (you could look it up) (in Wikipedia) a great roiling pot of tripe into which people are encouraged to toss more tripe.

Well, heck, that would make Wikipedia menudo! But I can easily access Wikipedia any day of the week, not just Saturday, so that's clearly not the case.
posted by LionIndex at 7:55 AM on September 19, 2008


What would be interesting is to see if these new "facts" influence reality- now that they've been referenced as the "Zany Ones", will the fans embrace the nickname? Will shoes actually begin appearing on heads? Will tunes of little potatoes begin to roll through the stands?

At the very least, even if the nickname sticks and is used by fans, that's once again an example of how powerful information is as a tool, even if that information is false.
posted by thatbrunette at 9:18 AM on September 19, 2008


I would just like to speak up on behalf of the Cypriot AC Omonia team to say that they are zany. That is incontrovertible.
posted by beelzbubba at 9:20 AM on September 19, 2008 [1 favorite]


[citation neededprovided]
posted by arto at 9:35 AM on September 19, 2008


Exactly, Arto -- this is a self fulfilling wikipedia entry. The Zany Ones is their nickname now. Fortunately, it's a pretty good nickname.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 10:50 AM on September 19, 2008


I can't believe I went to the pub for four hours and when I came back they were still called Athletic Club Omnomnom, which was completely missed by the edit wars that had happened in the intervening period. Brilliant.
posted by flashboy at 12:04 PM on September 19, 2008


If the single source they'd used was, say, an Encyclopedia Britannica dated before 1974 they'd have been just as hilariously wrong.

"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."

It wouldn't have been as hilariously wrong. C'mon.

Now, in Rand McNally, they wear hats on their feet and hamburgers eat people.

To me the biggest facet of Wikipedia that all the "anyone can edit Wikipedia" critics miss is the amazing speed at which it can be edited and corrected. Sure, pranks work, but only for a day (or as long as someone's committed to keeping the "prank" (i.e. politics) alive, which is where the site is less successful).

I'd like to see someone keep something as outlandish as the hats made of shoes fact in a similarly obscure wikipedia page live on its main page for over a year and prove it. (That is not a dare.) Proposed correctly, you could probably get the government to pay you for it.
posted by mrgrimm at 2:16 PM on September 19, 2008


The "shame on you for not fact checking" talk seems a little weird coming from a Wikipedia vandal. It's kind of like a craigslist scammer warning people to be careful responding to ads there.

No, it isn't. On any Wikipedia page, you can scroll down to References and Footnotes and click the links used as the basis for the information on the Wiki page, thereby quite easily verifying whether or not there's any factual basis for it. It's the cited material that you read, and the cited material that you cite. Any high school senior knows to do this, as teachers generally will not accept Wikipedia as source material. I have yet to see links at the bottom of a Craiglist ad that can verify whether or not someone is trying to steal your money.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 3:52 PM on September 19, 2008 [3 favorites]


Also via b3ta: Sonseed.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 6:32 PM on September 19, 2008 [1 favorite]


I'm not sure if it counts as vandalism, but my favorite Wikipedia article was titled "List of Famous People Killed by Stingrays" or sometimes like that. It's no longer there.
posted by Mr. President Dr. Steve Elvis America at 7:38 PM on September 19, 2008


I used to listen/read/watch closely when journos reported on a subject I thought I knew something about and assumed that if they did an adequate job I could trust them in other cases. I have since accepted that to be a mistake and that pranking journos is going after low-hanging fruit.

in other news: abc news does not know the difference between Lloyd's of London and Lloyds TSB.
posted by krautland at 11:04 PM on September 19, 2008


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