I still remember when I used to study in college that our profs didn’t allow us to use Wikipedia as a scientific source. I guess nowadays this is no problem anymore?
Anyway, the argument was that because of the user-generated content anyone could manipulate articles on Wikipedia. Of course, there have been several studies about the accuracy of Wikipedia and comparisons between its former rival Encyclopædia Britannica, but those are pretty boring reads IMHO. Just for the sake of completeness you can dig deeper into this here and here.
But is it really that simple to change an article on Wikipedia? Anybody who ever tried to change an article for fun has experienced that the change didn’t last long. But those are clumsy attempts from amateurs. How well do the editors hunt down sophisticated attacks by people who really try hard to infiltrate false information into Wikipedia?
That’s what I asked myself when I stumbled upon this article by Kim Renfro and Gus Lubin which gives an excellent in-depth look into the stunning work of Wikipedia’s hoax hunters. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I did. For the complete list of all busted hoaxes click here.
BTW: What actually does concern me are not the hoaxes on Wikipedia but the hoaxes I see every day on my Facebook timeline, shared by people who do not know how to check and evaluate the reliability of a source/link. Sadly, this is getting worse every day. Have you experienced this phenomenon, too?