01 April 2007

Wales stranded on April Fool's Day

This morning Channel Nine's Sunday screened an item about Wikipedia in which Ellen Fanning interviewed Jimmy ("Jimbo") Wales, its founder. She surprised him by claiming that her own entry incorrectly claimed that she was the brother of entertainer Bernard Fanning.

Wales looked flabbergasted, and immediately went into his computer, apparently to check and then amend the mistake. He, or someone else with the authority to do so, has amended the article to reflect this morning's exchange:

In the April 1, 2007 episode of Sunday, Fanning interviewed Jimmy Wales, the founder of Wikipedia, correcting a substantial error of fact in her article that claimed that she had a brother, Australian solo artist and lead vocalist of band Powderfinger, Bernard Fanning. During the interview, Ellen stated to Jimmy that Bernard was not her brother.[2]

At the top is a box with a padlock and these words:

Editing of this article by unregistered or newly registered users is currently disabled because of vandalism to the article caused by the recent interview of Jimmy Wales. If you are prevented from editing this article, and you wish to make a change, please discuss changes on the talk page, request unprotection, log in, or create an account.

According to the Wikipedia archives, the revision with the error about Bernard Fanning was posted on 27 February this year by user, all except one of whose contributions (which are listed here) relate to media personalities and were posted on the same day.

Who is Someone with connections to the Sunday program?

Even if it wasn't intended as an April Fool's Day joke it's drawn attention to some of the shortcomings of Wikipedia, which I still think is a very good concept despite its potential for abuse. The Sunday website (link above) promises a video of the interview but as I post it's not appeared. If and when it does it'll be well worth watching.

As for Jimbo Wales, it'll be a long time before he agrees to be interviewed by someone without checking their Wikipedia entry.

Oh, and just to put myself at ease, I've checked to see if there's a Wikipedia entry about me. There isn't (which is what I expected), though I have several namesakes with entries: they can be distinguished from each other by applying the disambiguation guidelines, one of Wikipedia's more worthwhile innovations.

No comments: