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World of the Bizarre

Bored housewife spends years faking Russian history on Wikipedia

By T.K. Randall
July 18, 2022 · Comment icon 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."

Source: | Comments (8)

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Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #1 Posted by Manwon Lender 2 years ago
Trust me on this, there much to it than is being reported this is a form of spy craft when someone builds a current profile for later use as an alias they also add ancestry going back hundreds of years sometimes to give a current profile history that can be traced! This is exactly how people assume new identities and simply disappear after some plastic surgery! She is in some serious trouble if she is being held in China she is done like a Thanksgiving Turkey!
Comment icon #2 Posted by Abramelin 2 years ago
Wikipedia isn't perfect, but the best way to check the page is to check its references.
Comment icon #3 Posted by Trenix 2 years ago
Now I usually don't post but appreciate articles. However this one is obviously politically driven and really has no purpose of being here. First off, no one should take the Wikipedia as literal for anything. Even in school, they would never consider it as a credible source so why are people taking it as that? Second, who cares. People lie on Wikipedia all the time, it's common knowledge. So then, why does this useless one for some reason gets recognition? Well obviously because it's about Russian propaganda coming from a far left source, Vice. Why am I not surprised? Imagine someone reading t... [More]
Comment icon #4 Posted by Saru 2 years ago
Nonsense, there was absolutely nothing political whatsoever about this choice of story and it has nothing to do with the Ukraine situation. The same story has also been covered by numerous outlets from both sides of the political spectrum.
Comment icon #5 Posted by Orphalesion 2 years ago
And then there's the stuff that sounds completely made up but is real, like: Everything about this, from the dubious sounding name to the underworld stuff sounds like it comes from some 13-year-old's Tumblr. Yet, I actually tracked down that one German source listed...and it actually exists. On this topic...seems like she wrote in on the Chinese Wikipedia, so it all would have been as easy as cross-referencing with articles in other languages, especially Russian ones.
Comment icon #6 Posted by DreadLordAvatar 2 years ago
Wikipedia is no doubt compromised. Now imagine all TikTok users data.  Lol
Comment icon #7 Posted by fred_mc 2 years ago
So, did it go better or worse for Russia in her version of history than in real life? Did Russia win more wars or lose more wars?
Comment icon #8 Posted by Brandonchpr 2 years ago
Isn't all of history a story we've convinced ourselves is true? Even our best evidence can merely create narritives that likely happend.

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