Someone Slipped Hundreds Of Fakes About Things That Never Happened On Wikipedia

totally made up

A mysterious Chinese Wikipedia contributor who goes by the name “Zhemao” has spent ten years creating fictional accounts of Russian history, writing more than 200 articles and contributing to hundreds more, a Chinese publication in English sixth tone reports.

Wikipedia editors have since noticed fake accounts – after ten years of unknowingly hosting their contributions – and promptly banned them from the online encyclopedia.

The network of lies that Zhemao has created is an amazing piece of work in itself, although entirely made up. Their contributions range from fictional tales of Slavic rivalries to stories about Qing dynasty officials – a dizzying hodgepodge of fantasy fiction and history worthy of a fantasy novel series. At the end of the day, you have to respect the bustle.

Fact check

It’s also a colorful reminder that we can’t take everything we read online for granted, especially when it comes to Wikipedia entries whose source is often dubious.

And this is particularly relevant, given that China problematic story control of historical narrative by propaganda (in fact, sixth tone itself is supervised by the Chinese government).

“Chinese Wikipedia entries that are more detailed than English Wikipedia and even Russian Wikipedia are everywhere,” wrote fantasy novelist Yifan, who came across Zhemao’s fictional Wikipedia contributions. Online Questions and Answersas translated by sixth tone.

“Characters that do not exist in the English-Russian Wiki appear in the Chinese Wiki, and these characters are mixed with real historical characters so that it is impossible to distinguish the real from the fake,” he added. .

Tell lies

After Wikipedia noticed the ruse, Zhemao issued a public apology.

“As the saying goes, to tell a lie you have to tell more lies,” reads the apology, translated as sixth tone. “I was reluctant to delete the hundreds of thousands of words I wrote, but as a result I ended up losing millions of words and a circle of academic friends fell apart.”

History leaves us with many questions: what were Zhemao’s true motives? Have fictional stories ever had real consequences in the real world?

Perhaps if Zhemao had chosen a different way to disseminate his work, we might be reading his historical fiction novels rather than an apology to Wikipedia.

READ MORE: She spent a decade writing fake Russian history. Wikipedia just noticed it. [Sixth Tone]

More on Wikipedia: Russia reportedly arrested man for editing Wikipedia on Ukraine

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