Thursday, August 11, 2005

Blog Fest was well attended -- even by the PG

Another nice party from those instigators at was held.

I was the one with the tye-die t-shirt and kids in tow who seemed as if he just arrived from spending the day at the outdoor swimming pool.

Tim McN and a PG photographer was present. We didn't get our photo taken.

John of Drinking Liberally was there too. That event was a bit later, but at the same venue.

In other blog and wiki stories these hours, this is of interest and makes for a good reason to attend those types of gatherings.

Posted by Steve Outing: Mainstream Press Messes Up Wikipedia Story

This is an item about a story that I got wrong -- and so did many blogs, and mainstream media on at least four continents. And for those people distrustful of what they read in mainstream media (not to mention, blogs), it will probably encourage that viewpoint.

Here's the story: On Monday, the wire service Reuters carried this story
( about comments that Wikimedia president Jimmy Wales made to a German newspaper. In it, Wales supposedly said that the Wikipedia open-access Web encyclopedia ould impose stricter editorial rules to prevent vandalism. The Wales quote from ueddeutsche Zeitung read: "There may soon be so-called stable contents. In this case, we'd freeze the pages whose quality is undisputed." Reuters repeated that.

The story spread worldwide. Bloggers wrote about it (including me Lots of mainstream news outlets carried it, citing the German paper's report.

But there's a problem: Wales didn't say that. He told me in an e-mail exchange and a phone call this morning: "The interesting thing is that the media simply made up the story about us permanently locking some pages. It's just not true. ... There is absolutely no truth at all to the story. None, zero. It is a complete and total fabrication from start to finish."

Wales says the problem appears to be in the translation. He was in Germany recently and was interviewed by dozens of reporters, including from the Sueddeutsche Zeitung. He thinks the SZ reporter may have misinterpreted his comments. Then Reuters apparently translated his comments in German back to English, and his meaning got turned into something he didn't say.

(Here's what he did say, as relayed by Wales on (
: "I spoke to one journalist about our longstanding discussions of how to create a 'stable version' or 'Wikipedia 1.0.' This would not involve substantial changes to how we do our usual work, but rather a new process for identifying our best work." In other words, no announcement -- just a mention of longstanding internal discussions.)

Meanwhile, bloggers and mainstream news organizations trusted the Reuters report (and thus SZ's) enough to write it up on their own without contacting Wales to confirm that it was accurate. The faulty news spread quickly around the world.

Obviously, this is a rather sad indictment of media practices. An inaccurate report can quickly circle the world. It's not just a case where blogs pick up bad items and the blogosphere amplifies them; the same thing can happen with mainstream news outlets.

And here's yet another angle to the story that's unflattering to mainstream media. 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." ... Well, here's at least one correction. Mea culpa.

It stinks to get the news wrong at the first blush. It stinks much worse to not correct the errors when given the opportunity for a second take.

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