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Submission + - "I accidentally started a Wikipedia hoax" 5

Andreas Kolbe writes: The Daily Dot's EJ Dickson reports how she accidentally discovered that a hoax factoid she added over five years ago as a stoned sophomore to the Wikipedia article on “Amelia Bedelia, the protagonist of the eponymous children’s book series about a ‘literal-minded housekeeper’ who misunderstands her employer’s orders”, had not just remained on Wikipedia all this time, but come to be cited by a Taiwanese English professor, in “innumerable blog posts and book reports”, as well as a book on Jews and Jesus. It's a cautionary tale about the fundamental unreliability of Wikipedia. And as Wikipedia ages, more and more such stories are coming to light.
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"I accidentally started a Wikipedia hoax"

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  • one, not even the Wikipedians, has any idea how many there are. No one can even hazard a decent guess, although after 3+ years of heavy study of English Wikipedia and the "people" who run it, I can state with reasonable certainty that there are thousands of hoaxes on it at any given time. They tend to be subtle bits of misinformation, difficult to find and often lasting for many years.
  • What is really amazing, and most people don't know about, is that there is a software extension called "Pending Changes" that could be installed in a few minutes on Wikipedia. This requires an established editor to "approve" any new edits to articles before the edit goes "live" on the article page. It would snuff out at least 90% of the silly hoaxes, by my guess. The English Wikipedia actually voted *for* Pending Changes, but because the minority was so antagonistic, the Wikimedia Foundation retreated ba
    • English Wikibooks has "pending changes", and sometimes it can take weeks for even an uncontroversial edit to get through.
  • A few years ago one editor writing about Thomas Rainsborough added that after Thomas' death his brother became active amongst the Ranters for siz months. Eventually this factoid made its way to the article lede and the most high ranking Leveller in the New Model Army Rainsborough became the most high ranking Ranter, then all mention of Leveller within the article was changed to Ranter. And so it stood for a year, someone and changed Ranter in the lede back to Leveller but left the rest. Someone else came al

When you make your mark in the world, watch out for guys with erasers. -- The Wall Street Journal