Get more Mail & Guardian
Subscribe or Login

Heard about John McCain’s special ability?

United States Republican presidential candidate John McCain on Friday fell victim to cheeky editing of his profile on Wikipedia.

His profile starts with a brief overview of his biography, ranging from his graduation from the US Naval Academy in 1958 and his time as a naval aviator to the years spent as a prisoner-of-war during the Vietnam War.

“His war wounds would leave him with lifelong physical limitations,” the synopsis originally ended — but then the following sentence was added: “McCain’s slightly ‘puffed up’ swollen cheeks are the result of his special rodent-like ability to store nuts in his mouth for the cold winter.”

Minutes later, however, the unwelcome addition had been removed.

The veracity of Wikipedia, the internet encyclopedia that anyone can edit, has been criticised as it is relatively easy to vandalise an entry by adding false information.

However, the website’s dedicated volunteer editors keep a close watch especially on articles relating to controversial people and subjects.

The McCain article is classified as “semi-protected”, in order to prevent editing by anonymous users or by users with unconfirmed accounts.

Though sometimes defamatory — the article on Norway’s Prime Minister, Jens Stoltenberg, once sported a line accusing him of paedophilia — Wikipedia vandalism is often light-hearted.

A profile picture of Microsoft founder Bill Gates had horns drawn on to Gates’s head along with a moustache. And for 10 months, a Wikipedia entry informed readers of a Mediterranean island called Porchesia, population 354 897 — which never existed.

Subscribe for R500/year

Thanks for enjoying the Mail & Guardian, we’re proud of our 36 year history, throughout which we have delivered to readers the most important, unbiased stories in South Africa. Good journalism costs, though, and right from our very first edition we’ve relied on reader subscriptions to protect our independence.

Digital subscribers get access to all of our award-winning journalism, including premium features, as well as exclusive events, newsletters, webinars and the cryptic crossword. Click here to find out how to join them and get a 57% discount in your first year.

Riaan Wolmarans
Guest Author

Related stories

WELCOME TO YOUR M&G

If you’re reading this, you clearly have great taste

If you haven’t already, you can subscribe to the Mail & Guardian for less than the cost of a cup of coffee a week, and get more great reads.

Already a subscriber? Sign in here

Advertising

Subscribers only

Fears of violence persist a year after the murder of...

The court battle to stop coal mining in rural KwaZulu-Natal has heightened the sense of danger among environmental activists

Data shows EFF has lower negative sentiment online among voters...

The EFF has a stronger online presence than the ANC and Democratic Alliance

More top stories

Phoenix activist takes on Durban’s politically connected in November polls

Independent candidates look set to play a greater role in the metro municipality after 1 November

Libyan town clings to memory of Gaddafi, 10 years on

Rebels killed Muammar Gaddafi in his hometown of Sirte on 20 October 2011, months into the Nato-backed rebellion that ended his four-decade rule

Fishing subsidies in the W. Cape: ‘Illegal fishing is our...

Fishers claim they are forced into illegal trawling because subsidies only benefit big vessels
Advertising

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…
×