In the news
Wikipedia wrongly blamed for Super Bowl gaffe; "digital natives" naive about Wikipedia; brief news
UK tabloid wrongly blames Wikipedia for US national anthem gaffe at Super Bowl
Performing at this year's Super Bowl (an American Football game on February 6 that was the most-watched US television program in history), singer Christina Aguilera mixed up the lyrics of the US national anthem, causing boos from the audience and subsequent media outrage.
An article by the UK's Daily Mail claimed on the following day that she had been "singing botched lyrics found on Wikipedia". As proof, the tabloid presented a screenshot showing the wrong lyrics sung by Aguilera in the 23:52, 6 February 2011 (UTC) version of the article The Star-Spangled Banner (taken from the diff view of an edit correcting them at 23:59). It claimed "the mistake on the website, as seen hours before the Super Bowl and since fixed by a user, matches the mistake she sang". However, as was quickly pointed out by Wikipedians, the article's revision history indicates that the wrong lyrics had in fact first been inserted at 23:51 on February 6, i.e. after Aguilera's performance (in fact the immediately preceding edit at 23:50 consisted of removing a statement about the incident).
Several other news publications cited the Daily Mail's claim, including The Guardian  and The Age . Wikimedia UK has requested a correction from the Daily Mail. Jimbo Wales remarked: "I wonder how often we link to the Daily Mail as if it is actually a source for anything at all? The number of times we should do so is really quite small – for most things they are just useless".
The New York Times also mentioned Wikipedia in its coverage of the incident, but more correctly, highlighting Wikipedia's timeliness instead of its alleged unreliability: "Aguilera’s flub was heard by tens of millions of viewers. Twitter was immediately abuzz with talk of her mistake, and by the third quarter her Wikipedia page was changed to include the incident."
Students largely unaware of talk pages, version histories, NPOV and verifiability
A blog post from The Chronicle of Higher Education reports that "Wikipedia’s editing process is still a mystery to students", based on a study ("Young adults' credibility assessment of Wikipedia", appearing in this month's issue of Information Communication & Society) that had 210 US college students carry out information-finding tasks, such as: "You are helping your nephew with his homework. He needs a map of Charles Darwin's voyage around the globe, the entire voyage. Help him get such a map".
While 77% of the participants used Wikipedia at least once during the tasks, and most students appeared to know that Wikipedia content "comes from other regular Internet users like them", the study's authors (Ericka Menchen‐Trevino and Eszter Hargittai from Northwestern University) observed that
|... many lacked more detailed information about how the site works. None of the students made any references to Wikipedia policies and editing principals [sic], such as the importance of neutral point of view or verifiability. The respondents also never mentioned discussion pages or an article’s history page as ways to investigate the credibility of content on the site. There was no mention of the concept of Wikipedia editors who are not anonymous but have a documented editing history. Given their lack of mention, there is a good chance that these concepts are not familiar to our respondents.
The CHE quoted Menchen-Trevino's "surprise" about these results for members of what is often called the "digital native" generation, and Hargittai as stating that "students learned what they did know about Wikipedia from professors and peers rather than from information available on the site itself", and that many of them increasingly "approach Wikipedia as a search engine."
- Deletion of programming languages sparks controversy: The deletion of a number of programming language related articles (Nemerle and Alice ML, both of which are currently going through deletion review) caused controversy on the programming section of Reddit and Hacker News. It also prompted the widely read programmer Zed Shaw to write a post titled "Wikipedia's Notability Requirements And The Slash", criticizing Wikipedia's deletion policy and calling on people to not donate to the Wikimedia Foundation and to try and fix what he sees as problems with the notability requirements. He also announced that he had registered the domain notnotable.com and suggested using it to host deleted articles (similar to Deletionpedia).
- Against demonization of Wikipedia: A comment titled "Wikipedia – not the devil", by the editorial board of The Current (a student newspaper at Green River Community College in the US) objected to "anti-Wikipedia policies" by teachers and lecturers: "It's time to end the rampant misconceptions surrounding the popular collaboratively created encyclopedia known as Wikipedia, and whether it's a citable source of information. It is a qualified source for generalized information – and can be cited as such – but, like any legitimate encyclopedia, it should never be used as a primary source."
- Wikipedia compared to Asimov character: A comment in The Hindu ("An empire without kings") praised Wikipedia as "today's de facto standard for fast and fairly reliable information on the Internet", and compared it to the fictional supercomputer Multivac that answers mankind's questions in Isaac Asimov's science fiction stories.
- Wikipedia's deceptions exposed?: Christwire.org published what it describes as an interview with a Conservapedia editor, who accused Wikipedia of deceiving the public, e.g. by hiding the fact that it was "secretly supported by anti-US atheist Muslims" and by describing Christwire as a parody site.
- Public Policy Initiative: An article titled "Public policy students publish work on Wikipedia" in The Reporter, a news publication by Western Carolina University, proudly reported that the institution "is one of 21 universities stretching from Harvard to Texas Southern to Berkeley selected to participate this spring in the Wikimedia Foundation’s Public Policy Initiative."
- Using Wikipedia to drive unflattering images away: In an article on SEO news site Search Engine Land, a marketing consultant described how he had successfully used Wikipedia in "updating Google image results for online reputation management" for a model who wanted to remove "unflattering and outdated" photos from the top Google image search results of her name. The process involved securing rights to an image that the client liked, so that it could be donated under a free license, and replacing the existing image in the Wikipedia article (after finding out that "merely taking down the offending image" didn't work).
- Wikipedia acknowledged but not cited: Lorcan Dempsey from the Online Computer Library Center mused that "we still don't appear to know what to make of Wikipedia", describing two cases: First, he noted the mention of Wikipedia in economist Edward Glaeser's new book "Triumph of the city" ("Following common practices, Wikipedia is not listed in the bibliography or citations, because any Wikipedia fact was verified with a more standard source. But I still have a great debt to the anonymous toilers of Wikipedia who made my research much easier at many points in time.") Secondly, he reported that his daughter had been given an assignment in high school to insert errors into Wikipedia (she "had her changes corrected almost straightaway, to the extent that it was not possible to complete the assignment as given. In fact, she ended up being barred from editing pages as her behavior was seen as unacceptable").
- Quora and Wikipedia: In an article title "Why Quora Is Not Wikipedia", Sébastien Paquet (professor of Computer Science at Université du Québec à Montréal) explained the differences between Wikipedia and Quora, a question-and-answer site that has gained prominence in recent months, by noting Wikipedia's principles against original research and about citing reliable sources. "Wikipedia is past-bound: it offers knowledge of what has been known. ... By contrast to Wikipedia, Quora is not past-bound. It is future-oriented."