[WikiEN-l] Fake it 'till you make it? Internal links that look like academic citations

Brian.Mingus at Colorado.EDU Brian.Mingus at Colorado.EDU
Tue Feb 26 08:46:41 UTC 2008

I was just reading about the New York Philharmonic Orchestra on en.WIkipedia after hearing they would be performing in North Korea. I'm certainly not the only person to do this; I imagine thousands of others have. The end of the article contains a new section on this particular news item, and something quite subtle struck me. Perhaps I am sensitive to this sort of thing, but here it is:

> Because of limited access to television sets, the question remains just how broadly such a telecast could be received in North Korea where only an estimated quarter- to half-million TV sets can be found.[10]

I clicked on the 10, and the citation was to:

>    10. ^ Wikipedia "Communications in North Korea"

I clicked on that, and here is the entire text of that section of the article:

>    Television
>    As of 2003, there are four television stations:
>        * Korean Central Television (also broadcast internationally via satellite)
>        * Mansudae Television
>        * Korean Educational and Cultural Network
>        * Kaesong Television targeting South Korea. [1]

I clicked on the reference for Kaesong and saw:

>       1. ^ CIA World Factbook: North Korea

I clicked on that, and here is the CIA's info on the subject:

>     (includes Korean Central Television, Mansudae Television, Korean Educational and Cultural Network, and Kaesong Television targeting South Korea) (2003)

Useless. I went back and noticed that Korean Central Television was the only non-red link, so I clicked that as well, and finally found the "reference," which is itself uncited:

>    The reach is limited, as only around 40% of North Koreans own a television set (with most of the owners living in large cities such as Pyongyang).

This kind of subterfuge strikes me as particularly nefarious. Certainly it is not in line with our goals to cite Wikipedia articles as if they were authoritative references? I would typically run a database query to see exactly how prevalent this practice is, but am unable to at the moment. Nonetheless, I find this single case disturbing!


More information about the WikiEN-l mailing list