Wikipedia’s ‘Goan War’ unmasked as hoax

It went undetected for five years on Wikipedia.

"The Bicholim Conflict" of 1640-41, described in detail in the online piece assessed as a "good article", has been unearthed not as an episode of Goan history, but a tale by a mischievous user.

Added to the site in July 2007, the entry was only uncovered as a lie by another eagle-eyed user in December. "After careful consideration and some research, I have come to the conclusion that this article is a hoax — a clever and elaborate hoax," wrote user "ShelfSkewed", who found the sources cited also did not exist.

The fantasy conflict has been added to Wikipedia's list of hoaxes that have dogged the site since it was founded in 2001, such as non-existent Indonesian island Bunaka and Gaius Flavius Antoninus, supposed assassin of Julius Caesar.

"Fictitious war between the Portuguese rulers of Goa and the Maratha Empire which supposedly took place from mid-1640 to early 1641," says the new reference.

Wikipedia, which has editions in 285 languages, is open for anyone to edit and therefore "can be abused to create hoaxes", according to the site.

"Hoaxes in Wikipedia are considered vandalism, and persistent perpetrators of hoaxes are subject to blocking and banning." – Sapa-AFP

PW Botha wagged his finger and banned us in 1988 but we stood firm. We built a reputation for fearless journalism, then, and now. Through these last 35 years, the Mail & Guardian has always been on the right side of history.

These days, we are on the trail of the merry band of corporates and politicians robbing South Africa of its own potential.

To help us ensure another 35 future years of fiercely independent journalism, please subscribe.

Sapa Afp
Guest Author
Advertisting

‘My biggest fear was getting the virus and dying in...

South African Wuhan evacuee speaks about his nine-week ordeal

Border walls don’t stop viruses, but a blanket amnesty might

Why South Africa should consider amnesty for undocumented migrants in the time of the coronavirus outbreak.

Mail & Guardian needs your help

Our job is to help give you the information we all need to participate in building this country, while holding those in power to account. But now the power to help us keep doing that is in your hands

Press Releases

The online value of executive education in a Covid-19 world

Executive education courses further develop the skills of leaders in the workplace

Sisa Ntshona urges everyone to stay home, and consider travelling later

Sisa Ntshona has urged everyone to limit their movements in line with government’s request

SAB Zenzele’s special AGM postponed until further notice

An arrangement has been announced for shareholders and retailers to receive a 77.5% cash payout

20th Edition of the National Teaching Awards

Teachers are seldom recognised but they are indispensable to the country's education system

Awards affirm the vital work that teachers do

Government is committed to empowering South Africa’s teachers with skills, knowledge and techniques for a changing world

SAB Zenzele special AGM rescheduled to March 25 2020

New voting arrangements are being made to safeguard the health of shareholders

Dimension Data launches Saturday School in PE

The Gauteng Saturday School has produced a number of success stories