Blunders, hoaxes and public humiliation – Wikipedia’s ‘top’ 15

Most of the time, Wikipedia does an amazing job of providing useful, correct and relevant information on almost any topic you can think of. But from time-to-time, errors slip into the system, vandals play practical jokes and some people get humiliated in front of the whole world. Here’s a list of some memorable Wikipedia blunders — some serious, some hilarious.

  1. David Beckham was a Chinese goalkeeper in the 18th century.
  2. Now that is impressive. He’s over 200 years old and can still bend a ball into a net with such ease? This statement was the result of a hoax which someone had edited into Beckham’s Wikipedia page, according to The Times Online.

  3. Journalist John Seigenthaler helped assassinate the Kennedys.
  4. Seigenthaler’s Wikipedia page suggested that somehow he was involved in the assassinations of both John and Robert Kennedy. The retired journalist wrote a full editorial in USA Today about the misleading information which was on the site for an incredible four and a half months before someone picked it up.

  5. Nancy Zimpher is a Prostitute.
  6. The former University of Cincinnati president’s Wikipedia entry at one stage stated that she was a “president/prostitute” and that “critics also claim that she doesn’t care what alumni, boosters or students think. An example of this would be getting rid of midnight madness.” The entry ends with, “Nancy Zimpher is a witch, and flys around on a broomstick.”

  7. Wikipedia blocks Stephen Colbert.
  8. The popular American comic was blocked by Wikipedia after he jokingly said that “if you make something up and enough people agree with you–it becomes reality,” according to A phenomenon he referred to as “wikiality”. He went on to edit George Washington’s Wikipedia page on the show, and a Wikipedia entry for elephants. Colbert fans joined in the game, “repeatedly vandalizing approximately 20 articles on elephants before all being placed under a lock.”

  9. Tony Blair worships Hitler.
  10. The former British prime minister’s Wikipedia entry stated “posters of Adolf Hitler on his bedroom wall as a teenager in” February 2006, according to a report my The Times Online, the entry went on to state that he started “a false war against Saddam Hussein.”

  11. Robbie Williams is a hamster eater.
  12. According to a report by The Independent in 2006, Robbie Williams’ Wikipedia entry suggested that the singer ate pet hamsters for a living “in and around Stoke,”.

  13. Sergey Brin is sexy, dating Jimmy Wales, and dead.
  14. The Google’s co-founder Wikipedia page has seen more changes than his company’s seen betas. Remarks on Brin’s bio have claimed he’s gay and dating Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales and that he’s dead, having ended his life in Moscow. The entry also suggests he was “very smart and sexy”.

  15. Wikipedia contributor lied.
  16. According to MSNBC, an anonymous Wikipedia contributor who edited thousands of entries and claimed to be a professor of religion turned out to be a 24-year-old college dropout. The hoax was discovered after The New Yorker “published an editor’s note stating that a 2006 Wikipedia profile in the magazine had erroneously described Essjay’s purported academic resume.” He was so respected in the Wikipedia community that he had even been made an arbitrator by Wikipedia and was hired by Wikia Inc.

  17. Joseph “Sepp Bellend” Blatter
  18. This hoax nickname added to Blatter’s entry resulted in the South African government unwittingly referring to FIFA President Sepp Blatter as a “Bellend” — a popular British slang name for the tip of a penis.

  19. Miley Cyrus dies.
  20. Arguably one of the biggest teen stars in the entire world, fans were shocked when a hoax involving social media site Digg and Wikipedia falsely reported her death in September 2008. The sites claimed that Miley Cyrus was killed in a car crash on her way to the Hannah Montana set, but it never happened.

  21. Hemingway’s Death in the Afternoon is about Spanish whores
  22. Hemingway’s nonfiction work “Death in the Afternoon” was reported by Wikipedia to be “a non-fiction book by Ernest Hemingway about the ceremony and traditions of Spanish whores.” The book is actually about Spanish bull-fighting, and the entry was later corrected.

  23. Plato discovered Ancient Florida.
  24. A teacher discovered that the Wikipedia entry on Plato read that he was an ancient Hawaiian weather man and surfer, writer of cosmo girls and founder of the punahou in Ancient Florida.

  25. Anothy Benis and NPA “Hoax”
  26. Benis, the creator of the NPA theory that claims human personalities are comprised of narcissism, perfectionism and aggression, created a Wikipedia entry about his theory. This infuriated Wikipedia users, criticizing the site for letting the creator of a theory promote his own ideas on the site, calling it a “vanity entry,” according to Ars Technica. Wikipedia deleted the entry, claiming that Benis was not notable enough to write his own entry.

  27. Denshaw is full of sheep hurling yokels.
  28. According to the Telegraph, the entire village of Denshaw near Greater Manchester was targeted when someone edited its Wikipedia entry and wrote that it was ” home to an obese population of sun-starved, sheep hurling yokels with a brothel for a pub and a lingering tapeworm infection”.

  29. Meaningless symbols on the Wikipedia logo.
  30. Wikipedia is also guilty of designing a logo that includes “meaningless” and fake characters. The logo features the globe designed as a puzzle. Each puzzle piece contains a symbol or character from different languages. According to a report by The Guardian the logo is wrong, one Japanese character and one Devanagari character were designed incorrectly and are therefore “meaningless.”




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