Winnipeg home to 375,000 porn stars, and other Wikipedia monkey business

(Update: Listen to a discussion of this subject on CJOB’s Richard Cloutier Reports)

Since it was founded in 2001, Wikipedia has grown enormously to become the go-to place for people looking up information on everything from local history to medical ailments. The enormous online encyclopedia is not without its faults, however, as it allows anyone who signs up for a free account to edit articles to their heart’s content.

This has turned Wikipedia into a key battleground in political wars, and into an outlet for malcontents to voice their frustrations. You can view some of the debates and discussions between users on your next visit to the site by clicking on the “Discussion” tab at the top of the page, and seek out some of the mischievous edits that others have undone by going to the “View History” tab.

For example, take the following edit below. It comes from a rejected June 11, 2010 edit of the City of Winnipeg’s Wikipedia page which suggested that Winnipeg was home to approximately 375,000 porn stars and has something other than the third-fastest growing economy (see link below) in Canada. Judging by the text, it wasn’t just online that the offending author had made a mess of things.

Here’s a little commentary that someone left on the Portage Place Wikipedia page in the early hours of Dec. 21, 2008. It describes the mall as being “full of gangs that threaten the lives of customers” and takes some nasty swipes at the Winnipeg Police Service. Needless to say, the article was quickly changed back to its original version.

An interesting but not very credible alternate life story for Mayor Sam Katz. According to a Mar. 8, 2009 edition, the mayor’s hobbies include “hunting small people and later cooking them for dinner”. This bizarre article also suggests that he previously owned a retail pornography store in Brandon, and had been arrested for beating up Dan Vandal, Al Golden and Mary Ann Mihychuk. Uh-huh. Yeah. Sure.

A more recent addition to federal Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff’s Wikipedia page. “Iggy tried driving a bus all over the place instead of paying attention to the place where hes the MP from. The bus broke down and everyone thought it was big funny. hahaha Iggy your retarded,” is not exactly the sort of thing you’d expect to find in the Encyclopedia Britannica.

Maybe this 2007 contributor really does feel that Home Depot sells “a wide range of crap from China” and is staffed by “do-it-yourself idiots that don’t know anything”. But it was rightfully removed for being unencyclopedic.

If you think this stuff is juvenile — and it’s all quite tame compared to some of the things written about Stephen Harper, Barack Obama, Jack Layton and Sarah Palin — just wait until the mayoral campaign gets into full swing this Fall, followed by provincial and federal campaigns.

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About theviewfromseven
A lone wolf and a bit of a contrarian who sometimes has something to share.

4 Responses to Winnipeg home to 375,000 porn stars, and other Wikipedia monkey business

  1. cancelbot says:

    Wikiscanner could provide some insight as to where some of the malicious edits are coming from.

  2. John Dobbin says:

    Over the years, I have tried to make sure that the Winnipeg article was well researched, foot noted and encompassing.

    I usually expect a certain amount of vandalism but the article and various sub-articles on Winnipeg remain quite good and because people care about keeping things accurate, the vandalism is dealt with swiftly.

    If only such vandalism was dealt with as quickly to the city proper.

  3. theviewfromseven says:

    A further note on the Sam Katz article: There has apparently been some feuding going on between a user called “Amyappleton” and other Wikipedia users who have repeatedly undone her enthusiastically pro-Katz edits. “Appleton” has been criticized for forgetting that “Wikipedia is an encyclopedia, not a campaign site”.

  4. Hart says:

    Going to be talking about this post on CJOB in about 5 minutes….

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