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Fame without proof on Wikipedia

By Gregory Kohs

Wikipedia contains a little-known project page called “Unreferenced BLPs”. These are a collection of biographies of living persons (BLPs) that lack any links to independent, third-party sources that verify what’s said in the Wikipedia article about the subject person. That is, these are Wikipedia biographies that might blather on about someone, and you have no idea if what’s being said is even close to true.

However, in a charitable moment, let’s review how Wikipedia came to house these (currently) 372 biographies without references. The problem used to be much worse! Back in January 2010 there were over 50,000 entirely unreferenced biographies of living people. The editing community set a goal to get this number down to a more manageable 20,000 by September of 2010, but that met with failure. Fully a month after that milestone objective, over 24,000 biographies of living people still lurked on Wikipedia with not so much as a single reliable source to back up the content. To the Wikipedians’ credit, though, after another 14 months of work, the list was finally whittled down below the 500 mark.

Taking a peek

How do unreferenced biographies differ from a nicely-sourced Wikipedia bio? For starters, unsourced work on Wikipedia often features an inferior writing style. Take the article about Gino Latino, a professional wrestler. The Wikipedia article title fails to capitalize the stage surname of “Latino”, and it closes with this interesting claim:

“Gino Latino is officially recognized as one of the most entertaining Professional wrestler (sic) of all time.”


Making oneself look larger than life

Recognized by which authority? We may never know. The wrestler character is supposedly portrayed by real-life person Andre Jimenez, Jr. Who authored the Wikipedia article about him? An editor going by the name:

…continue reading Fame without proof on Wikipedia