History Buzz May 15, 2012: T. Mills Kelly: How the History Professor Who Fooled Wikipedia Got Caught by Reddit

HISTORY BUZZ: HISTORY NEWS RECAP

History Buzz

HISTORY BUZZ: HISTORY NEWS RECAP

How the Professor Who Fooled Wikipedia Got Caught by Reddit

T. Mills Kelly encourages his students to deceive thousands of people on the Web. This has angered many, but the experiment helps reveal the shifting nature of the truth on the Internet. 

Source: Yoni Appelbaum, The Atlantic, 5-15-12

whokilledalice.jpglisaquinn565.wordpress

…These stories have two things in common. They are all tailor-made for viral success on the internet. And they are all lies.

Each tale was carefully fabricated by undergraduates at George Mason University who were enrolled in T. Mills Kelly’s course, Lying About the Past. Their escapades not only went unpunished, they were actually encouraged by their professor. Four years ago, students created a Wikipedia page detailing the exploits of Edward Owens, successfully fooling Wikipedia’s community of editors. This year, though, one group of students made the mistake of launching their hoax on Reddit. What they learned in the process provides a valuable lesson for anyone who turns to the Internet for information.

The first time Kelly taught the course, in 2008, his students confected the life of Edward Owens, mixing together actual lives and events with brazen fabrications. They created YouTube videos, interviewed experts, scanned and transcribed primary documents, and built a Wikipedia page to honor Owens’ memory. The romantic tale of a pirate plying his trade in the Chesapeake struck a chord, and quickly landed on USA Today’s pop culture blog. When Kelly announced the hoax at the end of the semester, some were amused, applauding his pedagogical innovations. Many others were livid….

Last January, as he prepared to offer the class again, Kelly put the Internet on notice. He posted his syllabus and announced that his new, larger class was likely to create two separate hoaxes. He told members of the public to “consider yourself warned–twice.”…READ MORE

About these ads
Leave a comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: