Monday, January 16, 2006

Wikipedia to the rescue!

Wikipedia saved the day this weekend, proving that a bad reputation only lasts 'til the next news hook. Here's a play-by-play of the derring-do.

Thanks to Wikipedia, some spunky high-schoolers figured out that a prospective transfer student was in fact a 22-year-old sex offender. The guy, one Joshua Gardner, claimed he was the fifth Duke of Cleveland and a member of the British royal family. (from ABC news)

ABC says four reporters at the high school newspaper turned to Wikipedia to research the "Duke's" royal lineage. They found the name "Joshua Gardner" mentioned in connection with** edits to Wikipedia's Duke of Cleveland entry. Gardner's name also appears in the National Sex Offender Registry.

**As I write this, Wikipedia contributors are saying ABC was wrong to report that the Duke of Cleveland entry "was written by" Gardner. By doing so, ABC implied that a sex offender can just write a whole entry claiming to be the Duke of Cleveland, and nobody at Wikipedia will notice. But that's not what happened here. Gardner didn't write the original entry, he just contributed to a discussion of edits to it. So Wikipedia actually saved the day twice -- once from a sex offender, and once from the media! Thanks, Wikipedia!

FUNNY DETAILS (from ABC News coverage): Gardner claimed his name was "Caspian James Chrichton Stuart IV." Before they sussed him, the teen reporters spent two hours interviewing Gardner, during which he "spoke with a convincing accent and at great length about his British lineage."

Unrelated to your post: You asked about Cars covers. There are a handful, and many appear on a tribute album called Substitution Mass Confusion.
Thanks Liza!
"Duke, Duke, Duke, Duke of Cleveland, Cleveland, Cleveland..."
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