Update – below was “fixed” with Wiki’s correction and Google’s refreshed index. Looks like the bogus snippet lasted about 1-2 days at Google – probably even less at Wikipedia because they have people reviewing the edits.
Search credibility is still a challenge for Google and Wikipedia as today’s second result for the query “New York City” indicates:
|new york city has just been hit with a nuclear bomb and it has destroyed half of the cityand has left thousands dead. george bush says the people involved …
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_York_City – 315k – Cached – Similar pages
This is a very clear example of the challenges of information systems that have no human intervention in the routine editing process (Google) , or have defective human intervention (Wikipedia). What happened here was a malicious change of the NY City page at Wikipedia followed by Google’s spidering of the bogus content. I’m hardly a naive user but during my search tonight for NYC info I did a double take on this Google query result and quickly had to reason out that it was bogus. Wikipedia’s been fixed and this will probably go away within days when Google refreshes it’s listing, but you can sure see how things can get out of hand fast online.
A recent study suggested Wikipedia and Brittanica were about equally authoritative, and I do think this is an exception to the normal super quality at Wikipedia.