World of the Bizarre
Bored housewife spends years faking Russian history on Wikipedia
By T.K. Randall
July 18, 2022 · 8 comments
Wikipedia is not always a reliable source. Image Credit: CC BY-SA 4.0 Colin / Wikimedia
An incredible hoax spanning hundreds of articles on the world's biggest online encyclopedia was recently exposed.
While Wikipedia is usually a good place to learn about things, there's a reason that many academic establishments frown upon an over-reliance on the online encyclopedia for fact checking.
Various news outlets recently reported on the discovery that a housewife from China - who posted under the name Zhemao - had spent years fabricating hundreds of pages of completely false Russian history that had managed to go totally under the radar.
Her writing was incredibly elaborate, well-written and interspersed with genuine information to disguise the fact that it was almost entirely fictional, yet believable enough to go unnoticed by the site's fact checkers and editors.
It wasn't until the Chinese novelist Yifan started doing research for a book that her ingenious and elaborate hoaxing started to come to light.
"The content she wrote is of high quality and the entries were interconnected, creating a system that can exist on its own," Wikipedia veteran John Yip told Vice
"Zhemao single-handedly invented a new way to undermine Wikipedia."
"Her entries appeared comprehensive, with proper citations, but some were made up, while others had page numbers that did not add up."
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