University Challenge

Wikipedia is answer to TV quiz show question

Instead of being a place where you can go to get answers to trivia questions, Wikipedia itself became the answer to a trivia question last week when it was featured on a BBC quiz show. And at the same time, the media were also casting doubt on whether Wikipedia could indeed be used to answer such questions.

The question to which Wikipedia was the answer featured on an episode of "University Challenge: The Professionals" on BBC Two on Monday evening, 20 June. "University Challenge" is a show using a quizbowl format, hosted by Jeremy Paxman. This episode featured teams representing "The Today Programme" and "Masters of Wine".

As one of the starter questions on the show, a question was asked that called for Wikipedia as the correct answer. The form of the question was, "Which internet resource was founded in 2002 by Jimmy Wales and Larry Sanger?" As neither team knew the answer to the question, Paxman then commented, "I recommend it if you do not use it."

In the absence of a transcript or recording of the show, the exact wording of the question is uncertain, and several Wikipedia editors reported it in different variations. Steinsky pointed out that if the show's researchers had used Wikipedia to get their information, they would at least have gotten the year of its creation right.

Setting the record straight

Moving from entertainment to regular news, press coverage of the demise of the Los Angeles Times wikitorial experiment continued to bring out comments about Wikipedia. Following up on the theme adopted earlier by Stacy Schiff (see archived story), Boston Globe columnist Alex Beam in reviewing the events took the opportunity to call Wikipedia "notoriously unreliable".

As one possible datapoint on this argument, the Wall Street Journal pointed out Thursday that Wikipedia carried an inaccurate figure for US military casualties during the Korean War. The number of deaths in that conflict, long reported as 54,000, had been revised downward to 36,000 several years ago after it was discovered to include all US military deaths from those years, regardless of whether they were related to the war. Wikipedia, however, still had the earlier figure — which was promptly changed within minutes of the article becoming available online.

Also this week: UpgradeDonationsQuiz showArticle blocksContestFeatures, adminsKDESpoken RSST.R.O.L.L.

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I tracked down a video recording of the University Challenge episode mentioned and the question is now included in full and verbatim on Wikipedia:Wikipedia on TV and radio. --Bonalaw 09:13, 30 July 2005 (UTC)[reply]


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