Dec 05, 2016

With confusion over Amma's health, Wikipedia's truth warriors stay vigilant

BYShrabonti Bagchi

The Wikipedia profile of Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa provided an interesting glimpse into the confusion regarding her current status in the online world, even as Wikipedia admins maintained constant vigilance to make sure that the page did not jump the gun without official confirmation. There have been 22 edits on the page in the last 24 hours.
While it’s very easy to tweet about an important ongoing, rapidly unfolding event based on nothing but gossip and news received on channels like WhatsApp, it’s not so easy to get away with this on Wikipedia. Jayalalithaa’s page saw a number of live edits by users indicating that she was dead, but vigilant Wikipedia editors moved in quickly to establish that these updates were unsubstantiated. At the present moment, the page only reflects the fact that she is gravely ill. In fact, there is no mention of her recent illness in the introductory paragraph of the profile.

Screenshot captured on December 5, 2016 at 7.30 pm

Going through the ‘talk’ section of the page, one can see that user ‘SpacemanSpiff’, who has administrator rights, changed protection level for “Jayalalithaa” citing “frequent incorrect BLP updates due to fake news! ([Edit=Require administrator access]”. “BLP” refers to Biography of Living Persons.
The same accuracy warrior changed a reference on Line 55 of the profile speaking of the Tamil Nadu CM in the past tense, and corrected it to the present tense within 5 minutes.
Screenshot taken on December 5, 2016 at 7.17 pm

Earlier in the day, several users had updated the page giving false information about the death, and were rapped on the knuckles by admins. At 12.12, user ‘Ssven2’ undid a revision by user ‘Kavincivilion’ updating the page with news of the death with the pithy comment “Says who? Let it get confirmed mate.”
Like a boss! All hail Wikipedia’s truth warriors.

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Shrabonti Bagchi is a writer of FactorDaily.