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Posted by on May 16, 2012 in Internet, Social Networks |

Reddit organized attempt to uncover deception Wikipedia

(Cc) xornalcerto

Professor T. Mills has a course at George Mason University in the U.S. called “Lying about the Past.” The course objective: to deceive Internet.

As told in an interesting chronicle The Atlantic, the class began to be issued in 2008, when students invented a man named Edward Owens, who had allegedly been beaten by the 1873 crisis in the U.S. and decided to become a pirate at bay Chesapeake in the U.S. to survive. The story said that he robbed some boats and yachts for pleasure. After the financial situation improved in early 1880, left his criminal activities and became a fisherman.

The fiction was carefully made, with a page on Wikipedia, YouTube videos, interviews with supposed experts, documents, transcripts, etc.. It was so convincing that even reached the pop culture blog from USA Today – left in shame when Professor Kelly unveiled the deception at the end of the semester.

The reaction to that deception was outrage, calling the action of vandalism. Although Wikipedia has a good overall quality of its articles, reviewing more than 4 million pages on the English version is practically impossible, which makes many jokes or attempts to “improve the attributes” of companies, for example, occasionally sneaking in the online encyclopedia.

In January, Professor Kelly announced that this year would be made two new attempts at deception on the Internet in its class. This time the plan was not to create new false entries in Wikipedia, but actual items expand adding pieces of fiction to create elaborate hoaxes.

One group expanded an article about a brewery where he set a flag that inspired the national anthem of the United States, adding that he had found the original recipe of the brewery in its infancy. They created a website, a fake twitter of the brewery and tried to expand the story but no one really cared.

The second group invented a serial murderer known as “Joe Scafe.” This old newspaper identified four women who had actually been killed between 1895 and 1897 more or less similar, Wikipedia articles created for victims, following the rules of the encyclopedia, adding an invented story about how they were discovered . They created false pictures about the things that had been found, and then announced the news in a post false Reddit under the title: ” Opinions please Reddit: think my “Uncle” Joe was rare or possibly a serial murderer?

Then, the sought Redditors articles in Wikipedia, and the first responses were some who believed the story. But 26 minutes later, readers began to appear that they discovered that this was a hoax. Gradually, the community dismantled the whole story – there were suspicious points in the story, people became suspicious about why the person had asked the question on Reddit instead of Googling about his alleged relatives – considering that the answers were in Wikipedia – and then noticed that sections of the victims had been created by the same people did just two weeks.

Thus, a deception that lasted months planned, fell apart in a few minutes.

This issue is not only a curious history: Reflects that things have changed between the first internet hoax of 2008, and what is happening now in 2012. Although it is possible to make people believe the most improbable – so the ingenuity of the people has not changed – yes there are community organizations to analyze and discuss the information better.

Wikipedia is centralized and publisher community is small. Discussions about the reliability of an item are on a separate page and editing as well, which makes it difficult for an ordinary user of Wikipedia note if anyone has encountered a problem.

Reddit instead has a large community and participatory allowing all exchange information. It can be a bit chaotic to read, but people will share data and correct errors publicly where everyone can read. Discussion is the heart of the site. Reddit is proud of the fact detect lies, using the collective intelligence of the community members who can vote for the most interesting or relevant comments.

Although the students failed in their plan to deceive the whole world, no doubt learned a lot about the behavior of people on the internet, a place where identities are misleading and where would all do well to suspect a bit from time to time.

The idea of Professor Kelly is very encouraging that skepticism in students when they read historical information, it is not the first time they occur deception. His method of teaching this, however remains controversial.

However there are communities that can help clarify these things, and perhaps Wikipedia should learn something from Reddit.

Link: How the professor who got caught by Wikipedia fooled Reddit (The Atlantic)

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