Pirate Hoax

First, read Michael Feldstein’s post on the Pirate Hoax and the original article in the Chronicle.

Yes, it is important to show that Wikipedia can be a source of (deliberate) misinformation. And I like the learn-by-doing aspect of the method, actually. There are probably other ways to bring active, participatory, project-based learning to the topic. And I’d hate to see the same method applied to a civil rights class, for example.

I’m not sure it was the wrong thing to do because it was Wikipedia. Michael makes the point that doing the same exercise with a personal blog would be okay. And I buy that there is a distinction between a community space (including Wikipedia) and an individual space (a blog or facebook page identified with an individual).

But I’m still not sure that would make it okay for me. Deliberately duping people is the big problem for me, in addition to the Wikipedia policy violation (which makes it vandalism). “It’s for a good cause” rings hollow to me…for whom is it a good cause?

If you haven’t seen the “Reality Check” episode of This American Life it is worth watching. Here’s a little taste, courtesy of YouTube:

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One Response

  1. I wrestled with this a bit myself, and I suppose I could go either way. Having the students construct a hoax on their blog as a way to learn how hoaxes are constructed was a fine idea. Having them *advertise* that hoax in an effort to actually spread it, not so good. And then the vandalism was beyond the pale.

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