This is a very important topic to discuss here on Hacker News. I'll put it out there, as a person who had a different educational background and profile of activities in my teen years from most hackers, that most hackers have remarkably poor preparation in evaluating sources and figuring out which sources are reliable sources.
about his donation of funds to help young people in San Francisco obtain vaccinations. That resulted in a lot of anti-vaccine cranks decrying his donation, with one of those writing, "Just google it and do the research it's readily available" when asked to back up a statement decrying vaccines. The Internet is full of trash sources, and Google still spiders and indexes many of those as it searches the World Wide Web. Without thoughtful human brains thinking about which sources are reliable, the link structure that Google relies on in part as a signal of quality will include noise as well as signal.
gives an overview of the community experiment here, summarizing the site guidelines. The welcome message distills the basic rules into a simple statement:
"Essentially there are two rules here: don't post or upvote crap links, and don't be rude or dumb in comment threads."
But it takes actual reading and thought to know what's a crap link. And since stories once submitted can only be flagged (not downvoted), it is still dismayingly easy for crap links to gain top position on the main page--I saw it happen only yesterday.
To follow up on this topic, I'll mention that other Hacker News participants have informed us all about two frequent sources of submissions that really aren't much good at all, namely the press-release aggregation sites PhysOrg and ScienceDaily. PhysOrg appears to have been banned as a site to submit from by Reddit. ScienceDaily is just a press release recycling service, nothing more. Users here on HN think there are better sites to submit from.
"Everything I've ever seen on HN -- I don't know about Reddit -- from ScienceDaily has been a cut-and-paste copy of something else available from nearer the original source. In some cases ScienceDaily's copy is distinctly worse than the original because it lacks relevant links, enlightening pictures, etc.
" . . . . if you find something there and feel like sharing it, it's pretty much always best to take ten seconds to find the original source and submit that instead of ScienceDaily."
"What ScienceDaily has added to this: (1) They've removed one of the figures. (2) They've removed links to the Hinode and SOHO websites. (3) They've added lots of largely irrelevant links of their own, all of course to their own site(s).
"Please, everyone: stop linking to ScienceDaily and PhysOrg."
"Please, everyone, stop submitting links from PhysOrg and ScienceDaily. I have never ever ever seen anything on those sites that isn't either (1) bullshit or (2) a recycled press release with zero (or often negative) added value. (Sometimes it's both at once.) It only takes ten seconds' googling to find the original source."
To sum up, yes, as the interesting original blog post kindly submitted here points out, it is EASY to fool online news sites. And it is easy to fool whole groups of bloggers, and thus to fool news aggregation sites. Read a source carefully before submitting. Don't submit at all if the source is dodgy. Save the submissions and the upvotes and the comments for reliable sources that take care to verify factual statements.
This is why reputation and reliability matter. While the example in this post is the equivalent of "I got major news outlets like TMZ to think that Paris Hilton was getting married" many types of news aren't so inconsequential. In the first few days after the Connecticut shooting, there were so many inaccuracies it made me reconsider other "facts" I heard which were never obviously wrong (e.g. it became obvious that the shooter's name was wrong when he was in New York - most inaccuracies aren't like this). Like many blogs, the "source" of misinformation often originated in a single benign inaccuracy that was then propagated through other news agencies.
What I would love to see is a method for tracking or indexing reputation of a site by some automatic method. As it is, I can kind of infer how reliable a site is based on the language I see, and the types of headlines, and whether others have told me it's reputable. I would love to see that automated somehow. News aggregators try to solve this via upvotes, downvotes, or flags, but there are plenty of reasons to upvote that have nothing to do with reliability per se, and trying to use multiple upvoting buttons seems silly, because at the end of the day rank is a one-dimensional property, so you'll have to combine "funny", "reliable", "interesting" into some single number.
It's a "hard problem" but since the value of information depends so heavily on its accuracy, solving it would appear to be very lucrative and valuable to a society in which the quantity of available information grows by leaps and bounds each year. Google seems to have solved "relevance" and I would love to see someone solve reliability.
Is this a major problem with Google now? I know this is completely subjective, but my friends and I have talked about this a couple times, and we feel that Google used to be significantly more useful 5-7 years ago. Has SEO done that much damage, or has the way we use the search engine changed? Or perhaps something else?
The way we use the news has changed. Many years ago we would sit and read a newspaper. Nowadays its all about short headlines or very shocking bits (partially because of computer-based news consumption behavior and partially because of breadth of availability). Catering to the instant and very short nature of news consumption involves a greater indulgence in sensationalism. Google contributed to this insofar as it allowed us to select what sources and what articles to read based on the title or blurb.
I wonder, at a deeper level, if the political divide in the US is fueled by the "bubble" that google allows: many years ago, people read newspapers covering all points of view, but google news lets you select which sources you draw news from (allowing you to select only fox news and drudge report, for example)
I'm not sure this is quite as true as we think it is. Long before the internet we had physical newsletters and pamphlets and fliers with their own slants, and we had newspapers with agendas of their own and no particular standard of ethics, &c, &c. I'm not sure "headline makes me click it when I see it on Google" is a worse pressure than "headline makes me buy a paper when child selling papers on the corner shouts it".
That said, there's unquestionably room for improvement.
In a way, there is already a system like this in your brain. Reputation is something you formulate yourself based on meta-information about the outlet you're reading. You do this already: ever read an article and look up at the URL to check and see if it's hosted at a reputable source, like nytimes.com or salon.com?
What would help is more meta data available to the reader. So, instead of measuring an unmeasurable "truthiness" (because really, what is truth, in the philosophical sense...) how about a Chrome plug-in that pulls down meta data from other sites that have written about this outlet.
So, you read NYTimes, and your little plug-i pops up some links to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jayson_Blair or some such similar thing. You can read up on that and see that there have been issue sin the past, but for the most part, NYTimes remains reputable.
I guess it would need some sort of Hacker News-like inaccuracy tracker. Post bad stories, more up-votes, more likely to be detected as relevant meta info on the TLD it comes from.
Rob did two great things:
1) He did not trust the source, and questioned the authenticity.
2) He actually called him out on BS when he continued
The first false message from Joe is interesting, but once Rob replies, and Joe continues trying to push the lie, that's a little dick'ish. The second Rob replied, with his first, and extremely professional response, I would have apologized/congratulated him, and explained what I was doing.
Continuing the charade invites deserved anger. I don't like being lied to either, especially when I know the person was lying and keeps pushing the lie.
Amazing -- and this is the person that "Joe" is calling "completely unprofessional, childish, insulting and downright ugly in his comments". Joe, did it even occur to you that maybe those adjectives better describe people like you who not only set up hoaxes, but get their panties in a twist when someone's smart enough not to fall for them?
Or this is a brilliant cover up from Microsoft on a genuine leak. That is the fun with paranoia - there is always one more level of distrust.
Also specs of next gen devices are not that hard to guess.
Assuming goals are 1080p x 60FPS:
If you aim for sub 500 USD of production cost that retail at 350-400 there are not many balanced hardware solutions that could fit. My wild guess is that we will have 6GB of ram (it is dirt cheap so it makes no sense to have much less), because the invisible walls are something players and developers has complained a lot. 2GB of video ram and four core cpu. And maybe 7870/660ti class GPU and what is left of the budget for storage.
I'm not an expert on this but my gut tells me that Microsoft/Sony/whoever, when specing the device will make a bulk contract purchase for their equipment. So although retail market for cpu/gpu/ram may be so much right now they'll be able to get better hardware at a cheaper rate than any consumer wishing to build at the cheapest price avaiable. I would hope at least that next-gen aren't building at 660ti grade GPU.
I'm also assuming that if you are building a device that has a multi-year lifespan you can factor in the ever decreasing cost of components. Maybe the price of the components on day-1 are $500, but day-730 $350.
That the news agencies are too quick to run with a story is an old complaint. That doesn't make it any less real, it simply makes it less novel.
"Bad guys" exploit this effect to create false perceptions. It is used a lot in politics since perception is effectively reality if the next step is getting a vote. Sometimes it is used for espionage (corporate and geopolitical) to create a diversion. It has been used to make money in the stock market with option manipulation.
Because being "first" on a news story conveys additional profit (views, ad clicks, publicity) there is great incentive to be first, which will always be in tension with being accurate. There also seems to be a sliding scale on verification so leaking a rumor that the Prime Minister has died is less likely to run without verification than leaking a rumor that the Prime Minister has been photographed in a compromising situation. National impact vs scandalous impact. No doubt every publisher thinks "Hmm, what if this is a prank what is the worst that can happen?" Maybe I give them too much credit.
Reputation is important, takes a long time to build though. Can be lost quickly.
How many of you laughed at how credulous news sites are before verifying that this blog post was accurate? Finding a reliable news source is hard, and not just in the games industry. Even here on Hacker News I usually read a headline, wonder if it's true, check the comments for contrarian views, then read the article.
Journalist here. FYI, the day someone I don't know emails me with a "hot inside tip" is a day I spend tracking down the emailer and calling my sources within the target company.
Just so you know, even at the big news sites, good hot tips from unknown emailers just never happen. Great hot tips come from getting corporate employees drunk, then chasing down their leads from other directions when you're sober. Anonymous insider emails spilling the beans only happen when a company is about to, or currently going bankrupt, or some such other catastrophic melt-down. Then they come crawling out of the woodwork.
I like the site that said "but we ran a prominent disclaimer at the end of the article!", as if that made up for a lede and a series of breathless grafs reporting the contents of an anonymous mail as fact.
It's not as though brick & mortar journalists are any better nowadays either. See: Manti Teo
Even though one "journalist" couldn't find any evidence of the girl existing: no birth certificate, no death certificate, no records of her existence, they essentially let Manti Teo off the hook when he essentially told the guy to not further into it.
Then look at ESPN. They supposedly sat on the story for under a week because they were trying to land an sit-down TV interview with Manti Teo. ESPN the Sports Entertainment Network, won out over ESPN the Journalistic Sports Network.
It is pretty common for any news organization to embargo scoops to maximize their impact. They might schedule additional, related stories or or a special ad/launch campaign. These things take time and the newspaper will often work with the source/subject to make sure they maintain exclusivity. Startups might learn lessons on how to maximize initial launch impact by studying the behavior of news organizations.
You mean the same professional news orgs that publish 14 stories on Pussy Riot's plight but only a brief bit of wire copy from AP concerning Bradley Manning's first week of testimony? http://t.co/dCsfOEsf
How much faith do people put in blogs? I'd hope it wasn't as much as mainstream sources, who can rely on their brand. Bloggers (usually) need to produce primary documents to justify their claims.
A few year ago on April 1st, a bunch of bloggers got together and did this entire chain of a fake news story, each linking to the next one in the ring as "proof" of their story, no one actually ever leaving the ring. I thought it was amazingly self-insightful of them.
The conceit here is the idea that the traditional news organizations are reliable, honest, expert, and doggedly pursue the truth. This just isn't true. Some of them do, certainly, but in the average case they're just another bunch of lazy, self-interested folks who are looking for the easiest ways to get attention and generate ad revenue.
There's nothing special about blogging, it's just a medium. Organizations build up trust through their track record, the same as in any medium. There exists tabloids and authoritative news outlets in the print world too.
I believe that the video game journalism industry selects those that break stories fastest and quality is an afterthought or by-product. The difference is very slight, but I honestly don't think if people were suddenly paying for it, the quality of the stories would suddenly rise.
Nothing wrong with it, but as the tumblr account proves, bad actors can wreck havoc.
Well, if another revenue stream was, say, high-ticket industry research or conferences, then a site operating in that arena would suddenly find that it needs to be very credible and maintain a reputation for accuracy and professional reporting practices. They would need to swing from serving spotty teenagers to serving trade visitors with money to spend. I would expect this to immediately reflect in the quality of their news coverage.
Not always. Subscriptions for the Wall Street Journal are an foundation revenue source. I think this is also the case for the FT and the Economist.
I don't think it coincidental that these are financial papers. Information is valuable and businesspeople will pay for it. That has implications for their reporting, too. Their stories are under pressure for accuracy, because the readers are paying for information and will go elsewhere if they don't get good stuff.
I think ad-first news models are more prone to some bias to generate an audience. People generally don't like hearing things they disagree with, so anyone requiring a large audience finds themselves pressured to adopt particular attitudes to get and hold that audience.
Why don't business people assert the similar biases? They do. But the ones paying up for information -- e.g. WSJ subscribers -- are almost by definition more interested in information than people who aren't. That particular crowd is also alert to the potential in contrarian opinion, they know people can get _paid_ for knowing something unexpected. So they've incentive to overcome their own cognitive dissonance.
I read recently that the NY Times was moving to more dependence on subscription revenue. I think that would be great, the more a reader pays, the higher the demand for accuracy.
In 2012, something remarkable happened at The Times.
It was the year that circulation revenue — money
made from people buying the paper or access to
its digital edition — surpassed advertising revenue.
Do the ads in print or broadcast radio/TV pay much more than that?
Seems that a Super Bowl spot goes for about 4 million USD, reaching 100+ million viewers  - that comes out as about 40 bucks per thousand impressions, but this "impression" is an interstitial one for 30 seconds. This is apparently the highest USA TV price ever.
And, for print, most anything that is not paid research has a cover price mostly to pay for distribution (in particular, to get news stands paid for carrying it).
This is also why journalism is an actual field of study, not just a word to make oneself sound important. Assessing the credibility of sources is one of many very hard problems legitimate journalists face, and as a whole we have some obligations and expectations in place to ensure due diligence is followed.
Which isn't perfect, but certainly a good foil for situations like this.
Just as easy as someone can send out a fake news tip to a bunch of sources, a person can just as easily pick out a piece of news story that is being covered everywhere and write a fake blog post about how they created the news tip out of thin air. I'm not saying (or even think) that is what the author did, but it is interesting to think about the reverse of this.
He could have made up that he made up that news. I'm mean he could have just
The author is absolutely correct that this is not "journalism," however, I would argue that the state of the industry is not necessarily bad. What you have to consider most is the target market of this misinformation.
If the target were industry executives and product designers then, yes, getting accurate information on new products from competitors and the industry would be important but this is not the case.
The target market is, instead, eager-beaver fans who are bored at work or home and want something to entertain them and they find video game news and rumours entertaining. I've been part of that crowd in the past. To put it bluntly, I'd rather tons of inaccurate information constantly streaming into my RSS reader than one or two accurate updates a month.
This is a simple case of the market shaping the product. I wouldn't be so quick to attack the "journalists" who are simply giving their readers what they want.
Complaining that gaming news is not validated is about equivalent to complaining that the National Enquirer isn't top-rate journalism. We know and that's not the point.
fwiw, his list of "major sites" that got fooled is rather misleading and sketchy in its own way:
"yahoo" - syndicated content
"cnet" - (UK) cnet.co.uk's crave blog
"gizmodo" - (UK) gizmodo.co.uk
not saying that you couldn't fool major sites, but this is a misrepresentative. You say "Gizmodo' without qualification, people expect you mean Gizmodo.com -- Not Gizmodo.co.uk. But hey, anything for a headline/clicks/press, right?
Edit: It should also be noted that most of the sites listed are not gaming sites despite his tirade against gaming journalists
Am I the only one thinking it's a very selfish and unfunny move? What if I call him saying I'm a physician from hospital X and announce him that his father just died. Oh, and then, I'll post a blog explaining how you shouldn't trust people calling you and post that on HN. Obviously there is a chain reaction when a big news comes out. You don't want to have a reputation for the latest in the known news website. And, furthermore, it's very common for journalists to receive anonymous posts.. It's explicitly said in their news that it came from an anonymous source and that it wasn't totally trust-able; yet they admitted that what was said had much chance to be real because of some already known facts.
> And, furthermore, it's very common for journalists to
> receive anonymous posts.
Publishing implies validation, at least to a certain extent. Otherwise media become nothing more than a fully transparent channel; there's nothing useful about that in this day and age. This prank (which doesn't resemble the physician example you mention in the least) shows two things: First, fact checking and double or triple sourcing appear to be a thing of the past. Second, on the internet, anonymous tips mean nothing. Even if you disagree that the former point is an issue, you'll have to grant the latter.
The thing is: How can they check or double check? It's a confidential memo from an anonymous user. If it was possible to check it, that wouldn't be a big news ;-) And yes, I do agree that anonymous tips have no credibility. However, experience shows that some anonymous tips were true and, especially when it's the only information you have, might become relevent.
I hope you were being wryly ironic posting a Huffington Post link. The best part of the review was this:
"The way the media is organized today is bad, he argues, because it no longer cares for quality journalism. Sources aren't checked. Facts are dubious guesses at best. Mistakes are never corrected. No, the media cares more for gossip and things that make readers emotionally charged -- as that's what makes us share stuff."
What he's missing is that he seems to think this is unique to gaming or tech news. It's not. I've worked with 'Journalists' from prestigious institutions like the New York times and the New Yorker, and it's little better.
Collect some dirt, regurgitate some quotables with a little polish, copy some "facts" from Wikipedia (without attribution, ensuring that Wikipedia eventually cites the crap news article for non-factual facts), and we're off to the races.
srry but accidently pressed send. but one episode was about the liability of the media. and they did the same thing you did.
it was just before the eurosongfestival and the made a song wich was really similair to the song we would send to the songfestival. then they sent it to some newspapers. and if there wasn't a article about in their paper it was on their website. and they have even a hint because in the name of the mp3 stood rambam.
What I find hilarious about journalists in general is they wrap themselves in "truth" when in reality they basically will do anything to get your attention for just long enough to pawn off some product in a 30-45 second ad. The only reason they seek the "truth" is so advertisers will buy another slot.
In sentences like that, I tend to ignore everything before the 'but'.
To my admittedly uneducated eye, nothing in the rest of that article indicates any kind of remorse or regret over the author's actions.
The clause before the 'but' is how the author gives themselves permission to say what's after the 'but'. This does not necessarily impart any emotional (or even semantic) meaning onto the first clause.
Agreed. This is the second such story in recent memory, the first being the fake leak of the "Sony Nexus X" in late 2012. At this point I can't remember the last "real" fake leak.
To me this format all just seems like so much anonymous attention-seeking. The little tumblr-based "How I did it" blog posts are always absolutely dripping with poorly concealed pride about how successful the hoax was.