No one's laughing at the Wikipedia 'joke' entry

The latest chapter in the ongoing Wikipedia credibility saga revealed that a 38-year-old Nashville man was responsible for the now infamous posting of false information about John Seigenthaler Sr. and did so to play a prank on a co-worker. He thought that the online encyclopedia was nothing more than a "gag" site, according to a New York Times story.


Brian Chase, who had been an operations manager at a delivery company until , admitted he wrote the material suggesting that Seigenthaler, a former editor of The Tennessean in Nashville, had been involved in the assassinations of John and Robert Kennedy, the story said.

Now himself a Wikipedia entry, Chase apologized for the joke, one he said "went horribly, horribly wrong," according to a CNN story. Bloggers weren't laughing, and said the victim, more so than Seigenthaler, was Wikipedia and the open source and communal approach to information.

Blog community response:

"I don't think I'd like to be this guy's friend, if that's what he considers a 'joke.'"
--i, tim germer

"I'm sure this is one prank he regrets now! What's worse is that Wikipedia has since suffered major damage to its image, something that will take a lot longer to repair than the damaged entry. It's hard to walk that line between open and free and so open that there is no accountability."

"The future of Wikipedia remains unclear; it is an international initiative with a great deal of excellent material. However, unless the information can be independently verified, the material within it may be suspect."

Tech Culture
About the author

Michelle Meyers, associate editor, has been writing and editing CNET News stories since 2005. But she's still working to shed some of her old newspaper ways, first honed when copy was actually cut and pasted. When she's not fixing typos and tightening sentences, she's working with reporters on story ideas, tracking media happenings, or freshening up CNET News' home page.


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