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BBC Nature foolishly stakes their reputation on Wikipedia

As a cost-saving measure, BBC Nature ( gets its listing pages about different species of animals from Wikipedia. That then forces them to implicitly admit that Wikipedia isn't a reliable source (see excerpts from the BBC FAQ below).

What's BBC's suggested fix for spreading possibly inaccurate information to readers of their site? They suggest that experts go fix Wikipedia.

While this is understandable from a money-saving perspective, the BBC is being penny wise pound foolish: they're staking their reputation on Wikipedia. If some information on those species listing pages turns out to be inaccurate, their visitors will blame the BBC and probably won't know the information came from Wikipedia or care much. The inaccurate information was on the BBC site, and most people will assume that means that the BBC stands behind it.

Depending on how BBC gets the information from Wikipedia, they might be embarrased by a case of Wikipedia vandalism. For instance, the BBC might end up printing on that "Pop songstress Katy Perry keeps Himalayan marmots as pets". Or, the BBC could become the victim of seemingly-correct but factually-inaccurate claims that were inserted either by a non-expert or someone playing a prank. For instance, someone could change:
They are widely distributed in the Himalayan mountains at elevations of up to 5,000m or even higher.
into this:
They are widely distributed in the Himalayan mountains at elevations of up to 5,500m or even higher.
Which one of those is accurate? Who knows: the first came from Wikipedia and the change could be easily made in Wikipedia and few would notice it (especially if it was preceded by a few stylistic edits).

Or, the BBC might find themselves involved in an edit war between experts, with one group saying that Himalayan marmots go up to 5000 meters and the other group saying they go up to 5500 meters. The BBC would simply broadcast the "facts" from whichever group of experts was winning the edit war at the moment when the BBC downloaded the data.

Surely the BBC can find it within their budget to avoid letting Wikipedia make them look bad.

Here's an excerpt from the BBC FAQ (
Why is the BBC using Wikipedia?

We know that many people would like to find out more about the natural world, and background information about the species, habitats and adaptations we cover is one of the key things that people expect to find on our pages.

However, we feel that we provide best value to the licence fee payer by concentrating our resources on providing great original content and making it easy to find that content on the web.

By incorporating content from Wikipedia we can offer good quality background information across the breadth of natural history content, while focusing on bringing unique content online.

Wikipedia is licenced under the GNU Free Documentation Licence, which means not only is there no licensing cost to the licence fee payer for this text, but it is also freely available to all our users to use and share in turn. At the BBC we are not only using the content that is already published on Wikipedia, but also improving those articles and creating new ones where none exist. This should improve, Wikipedia and any other site that uses Wikipedia.

What if I find some content that's inaccurate from Wikipedia?

Everybody is welcome to edit Wikipedia, and we are very keen to encourage experts among our users to contribute in this way. Links are displayed on every page that incorporates Wikipedia content, to edit entries please go to Wikipedia and edit the article there.

What happens if somebody decides to vandalise content on Wikipedia deliberately?

Our first resort is to rely on Wikipedia's own community and conventions which have generally proved robust in their response to vandalism. The Wikipedia policy on vandalism can be found here: [..]wiki/Wikipedia_vandalism. However, if it comes to our attention, for example via a user complaint, that there is a persistent problem with offensive or defamatory content being included from Wikipedia on any of our pages, we also have the option of suspending the inclusion of that information on the page in question until we're satisfied that the problem has been resolved. In the unlikely event that you have spotted something offensive please contact us and let us know.