Mischief on Wikipedia

About a decade ago, I made a fraudulent entry on Wikipedia.   I was motivated by a curiosity about how long it would take for an obscure, and false, entry posted on Wikipedia to be removed by content experts.  The entry was an addition to a list of Lithuanian gods:


There is no Lithuanian god named Vytautus (which is usually spelled ‘Vytautas’) and no ‘god of good grooming’ in any pantheon of gods that I am aware of.

Well, the entry stayed on Wikipedia for several years, and was then removed, I assume, by an actual authority on Lithuanian gods.  However, sometime between when I inserted the entry and 2013, BBC broadcaster Andrew Marr (or his researchers) must have discovered the entry, and wrote the following in his book, The History of the World (which is also a BBC television series of the same name).


I’m not sure there is any lesson here that everyone doesn’t already know: Wikipedia is a good starting point for research, but cannot be treated as a lone authority on most subjects.  I suppose it is encouraging that eventually some expert did delete the fraudulent content, and suggests that perhaps the truth on Wikipedia can emerge given enough time and scrutiny.  Then again, now that it is in a book, perhaps it should be added back into Wikipedia, with appropriate sourcing, of course…;)