A Chinese citizen, who contributed to Wikipedia under the alias ‘Zhemao’, has spent a decade publishing content in the popular online encyclopedia of Russian stories that she has invented herself. The user, who even falsified her biography to gain credibility, has come to share more than 200 false articles and has contributed to hundreds already published. Wikipedia, however, has not caught on until now.
The Wikipedia foundation, which manages the aforementioned platform, in fact, would not have noticed if it were not for Yifan, a fantasy novelist who accessed the Chinese citizen’s articles in search of inspiration for her next story. Yifan realized that some of the events did not add up or were even completely made up. The discovery was picked up by the Asian yesixth Tonewho broke the story before the organization conducted an internal investigation.
‘Zhemao’, specifically, since 2010 publishing up to 206 invented Russian stories about wars and historical events in the country that never happened. He did it in a particularly technical tone, in keeping with the rest of the similar —and real— stories published on Wikipedia. In fact, the Chinese citizen claimed in her profile to be the daughter of a Russian diplomat and to be married to a Russian citizen. She also said that she had a degree in Russian history.
Yifan, however, realized that the stories posted by ‘Zhemao’ on the Chinese Wikipedia were considerably longer than those that could be read on the Russian or English-speaking Wikipedia. “Characters that do not exist in the English-Russian Wiki appear in the Chinese Wiki, and these characters are mixed with real historical figures so that the real cannot be distinguished from the fake. Even a long Moscow-Tver war revolves around the non-existent Kashin silver mine,” commented the novelist in a Chinese portal of questions and answers.
Wikipedia has already deleted most ‘Zhemao’ posts
The Wikipedia foundation, finally, verified that the publications of ‘Zhemao’ contained fictitious historical data. They found out that he also contributed some real articles to add fake content. Both his profile and most of his contributions have been removed from the portal.. Some of them, according to the aforementioned medium, are still available thanks to the collaboration of other users, who have eliminated the invented lines.
‘Zhemao’, for his part, has used his Wikipedia profile in English to talk about what happened. The citizen assures that she, in fact, is a full-time housewife and that he only has a degree in secondary education. He has also taken the opportunity to write a few lines by way of apology.
“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 collapsed. The problems I have caused are difficult to compensate for, so perhaps the only option is a permanent ban. My current knowledge is not enough to make a living. So in the future I’ll learn a trade, work honestly, and never do nebulous things like this again,” she says.
Despite the problem that could have been caused by modifying real stories with fictional events, many users have encouraged ‘Zhemao’ to write novels similar to the stories he wrote on Wikipedia, he says. Sixth Tone.