Last night, a friend mentioned to me over instant messenger he thought he learned former United States president Gerald Ford had died, but he hadn’t been able to confirm that. Knowing that Wikipedia is often updated quickly with information about people’s deaths, I went to their entry for him first. Not only did the article have a death date, but the date had a citation pointing to a news article about his death. Using citations in this manner should help improve Wikipedia’s reputation and support recent news that makes its way into the ‘pedia. Some of you might know about several incidents where Wikipedia seems to have broken the news about someone’s death before some of the major media shared the information. Of course, at least one of my colleagues would add something here about how waiting for a fact to appear on the Web before adding it and citing it in an article is not always the wisest idea, but many more of our colleagues will be pleased with footnoted information, regardless of the delay.
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