Friday, August 12, 2005

Wikipedia Story Misreported

Earlier in the week, Reuters carried a story that was picked up by the mainstream press about some comments that Jimmy Wales (Wikipedia's founder) made to a German newspaper -- Sueddeutsche Zeitung. It was reported that Wales said Wikipedia was thinking of stricter editorial rules to prevent vandalism and even considering the possible freezing of some pages:
There may soon be so-called stable contents. In this case, we'd freeze the pages whose quality is undisputed.
The story that Wikipedia was going to eschew its policy of openness made headlines. And of course many blogged about it including me: Is the Wiki Cracking?

Wales has now come out and, in an email to Steve Outing of Poynter Online, said that there is no truth in the story:
[. . .]
the idea about us permanently locking some pages. It's just not true.
[. . .]
None, zero. It is a complete and total fabrication from start to finish.
Wales in that email clarifies that the problem appears to be in the translation of his comments. He was in Germany and the reporter may have misinterpreted his comments. Reuters then probably translated his comments in German back to English, and his meaning got twisted into something he didn't say.

Mainstream news organizations and the blogosphere believed the Reuters report and published or posted it. The inaccurate report quickly spread across the world.

To add to this gaffe, Reuters is now apparently not interested in changing and correcting their earlier story. Wales says:
The story seems to have legs, even though we've contacted Reuters and every other outlet to try to get a correction, no one seems to care at all. ... No response. We're important enough to write about, but not important enough for them to listen to at all.
I do hope that the same is not the case with the blogosphere. We were guilty of posting about an inaccurate story and we should admit that it was an error. And issue a correction. . .Like this one.

Steve Outing's Post: Mainstream Press Messes Up Wikipedia Story

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