In the media
College player falsely linked to sports scandal by Wikipedia; the Nobel Prizes
Wikipedia article falsely links player to college sports scandal for six years
Ben Koo of the sports blog Awful Announcing investigated (October 9) how player Joe Streater's name became involved in recent years with a historic sports scandal, the 1978–79 Boston College basketball point shaving scandal. The scandal involved Boston College basketball players conspiring with mobsters, including Henry Hill, who was immortalized by the film Goodfellas, to deliberately reduce the point spread so they could profit through illegal sports gambling.
Streater was a basketball player at Boston College, a private university in Boston, Massachusetts. One former Boston College player recalled that "He had mad skills and smarts." However, he was not even on the team at the time of the scandal, having left the team and college the previous season after playing only eleven games, less than half of the scheduled games for the 1977-78 season. Why Streater left, what he did following his time at Boston College, or even whether or not he is still alive are all unknown, and Koo was unable to locate Streater.
Despite the frequency with which he is associated with the scandal, Streater is not mentioned in any of the important accounts of the incident, including the famous 1981 Sports Illustrated article describing Hill's first-person account, Associated Press reporter David Porter's 2002 book, Fixed: How Goodfellas Bought Boston College Basketball, or ESPN's 2014 documentary Playing for the Mob. Porter told Koo that he did not know of any involvement in the scandal by Streater or why his name has been repeatedly mentioned. He said "I have seen the name over the years and am mystified as well."
Koo found many mentions of Streater's name in connection with the scandal outside of these in-depth reports, including some from media outlets like the Associated Press, ESPN, and Sports Illustrated, which had reported on the scandal without mentioning Streater, most prominently a widely circulated 2012 Associated Press story. Koo could not find a story mentioning Streater in conjunction with the scandal dating before 2008. Koo concluded that the connection resulted from writers and journalists consulting Wikipedia or other sources which had repeated inaccurate information from Wikipedia.
Koo traced the addition of Streater's name to the Wikipedia article on the scandal to an August 12, 2008 edit by User:18.104.22.168, a Massachusetts-based IP address belonging to Goodwill Industries. The edit added Streater's name to the article five times and changed the amount of a payment from Hill from $500 to $2000. In December 2008, edits from the same IP address deleted a large amount material from the article on the scandal, including all of the references, as well as material from the article for NBA coach David Blatt, who Koo noted played against Streater when they were both high school basketball players in the Boston area. (The only other edits from the IP address were two November 2009 typographical corrections to the article Morgan Memorial Goodwill Industries, which is now a redirect to Goodwill Industries.)
The day before Koo's story was published, four of the mentions of Streater were removed from the Wikipedia article about the scandal by an IP address originating outside of Massachusetts. The remaining mention of his name was removed the next day by a different editor. Streater's name had been in the article for six years.
Wikipedia and the Nobel Prize
Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai
Each year, the week of announcements from the Swedish Academy regarding the new Nobel Prize laureates leaves many people, including professional journalists and commentators, scrambling to learn about winners who are often obscure outside their own fields, and Wikipedia is one of their first stops for information.
Slate reports (October 9) on a warning left for journalists in the article for the newest literature laureate, Patrick Modiano, by a Wikipedia editor adding a major update following the announcement. Lest a journalist who needed to make a quick blog post crib unverified details from the article, under the section heading "To The Reporter Now Copying from Wikipedia", the editor wrote "Be careful boy. Primary sources are still best for journos." The warning was removed from the article eleven minutes later.
Huffington Post UK complained (October 13) that the article for new economics laureate Jean Tirole contained little information about his work and was mostly a list of his lectures. It noted that an IP editor added the remark "YO, SOMEONE EDIT THIS STUFF IT LOOKS LIKE KRAP", though it was removed by another editor three minutes later.
IBN Live compares (October 13) Wikipedia traffic statistics for this year's two Nobel Peace Prize winners, Kailash Satyarthi and Malala Yousafzai. Pageviews for Satyarthi spiked on the day of the announcement, suggesting that readers wanted to learn more about the lesser known of the two, while pageviews for Yousafzai surpassed those for Satyarthi for the next two days.
- Wikipedia history unearthed: Gawker reports (October 16) on the new Tumblr blog started by John Overholt, Curator of Early Modern Books and Manuscripts at Harvard University's Houghton Library. The blog, First Drafts of History, posts screenshots from the early years of Wikipedia of the very first edits to now key articles, like Barack Obama, iPhone, and cheese. Overholt is no stranger to Wikipedia, as he works with Houghton's Wikipedian in residence, User:Rob at Houghton.
- The missing puzzle pieces: In Dawn, Wikipedia editor Saqib Qayyum Choudhry urges (October 15) Pakistanis to contribute to Wikipedia and fill in gaps in coverage about their country.
- Take it easy: When The News asked (October 14) the English post-punk band Eagulls about the hatnote on their Wikipedia article which reads "Not to be confused with the American band The Eagles," vocalist George Mitchell replied "I think I might have to go on there and change it. Last time I read it, it made me feel pretty sick."
- Wikimedia Ghana: GhanaWeb reports (October 14) on the Wikimedia Foundation's official recognition of the Wikimedia Ghana User Group as a Wikimedia user group.
- Radio Free Tajikistan: Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty reports that Wikipedia is available again in Tajikistan as of October 13. Wikipedia and many news and social media websites, as well as SMS services, were blocked by the Tajik government on October 5 in anticipation of mass protests called for by opposition movement Group 24, protests which never occurred. Such blockages are a frequent occurrence in Tajikistan, which is nominally a democratic republic but has been ruled by President Emomali Rahmon since 1992.
- Your best friend: In the Chronicle of Higher Education, Dariusz Jemielniak (User:Pundit), author of Common Knowledge: An Ethnography of Wikipedia (see the Signpost book review), discusses why Wikipedia is "a Professor's Best Friend" (October 13).
- For just 20 cents a day: In Wired, Emily Dreyfuss explains (October 10) "Why I'm Giving Wikipedia 6 Bucks a Month".