The Wikiback effect was discovered in a clever test to see how much hasty reporters depend on Wikipedia for their material. The Columbia Journalism Review reports that a Shane Fitzgerald, a student at University College Dublin, experimentally inserted some fake quotations into Wikipedia. He chose the article about a French Composer, Maurice Jarre, on hearing of Jarre’s recent death. The Guardian picked up three quotations.
Fitzgerald wrote in the Irish Times this week that he was shocked to see his quotes used by so many reputable news organizations. “Quality newspapers in England, India, America and as far away as Australia had my words in their reports of Jarre’s death,” he wrote.
Craig Silverman says
The Wikiback Effect is when errors contained in Wikipedia entries serve to expose the laziness and fallibility of professional journalists. Basically, if you’re a journalist and you crib from Wikipedia, it will get you back.