Psi proponents often gripe about biased and inaccurate coverage of the paranormal on Wikipedia. Longtime parapsychology researcher and laser physicist Russell Targ has complained about Wiki's characterization of his work as "pseudoscience." Biologist Rupert Sheldrake, who has investigated psychic phenomena, has likewise had his problems with Wiki.
But the issues with Wikipedia seem to go considerably beyond parapsychology, or even controversies in general. A recent study showed that, of ten Wikipedia pages on medical conditions, nine contained false or misleading information.
And then there are outright hoaxes. Perhaps the most famous is the case of the Bicholim Conflict, a wholly fictitious war that enjoyed its own Wikipedia entry for five years. During that time, not only was the hoax undetected, but it gained considerable acclaim from the Wiki community.
It was voted a “good article” by Wikipedia’s readers, and at one point was even nominated to be a “featured article” that would be prominently displayed on the site’s homepage.
“’Featured Article’ status is a bit of a badge of honor on Wikipedia, a recognition bestowed to only the highest quality pieces on the site,” the Daily Dot notes. “Out of more than 4 million English Wikipedia articles, only 3,772 are ‘featured.’”
The Biochim Conflict entry was a pretty elaborate deception:
The entry covered in excruciating detail a yearlong battle in 1640 between the Indian Maratha empire and Portugal, which never happened.
Wikipedia purports to offer protection against such things by requiring citations. The main source of the Bicholim article was to a book published at Oxford University Press; unfortunately, the book (like the battle itself) was a figment of some anonymous imagination. In true crowd-follower fashion, numerous scraper sites and Wikipedia copycats copied the article (allowed under the Creative Commons license) and re-posted it, thereby perpetuating the hoax ...
The process is easy to duplicate, and the integrity of Wikipedia—if there ever was any—has long ago been destroyed by blind obeisance to the “open crowd” drumbeat of positive anonymity.
Wikipedia itself offers a helpful list of Wiki hoaxes, most of which were extant for more than a year. They include: