Chinese Housewife Spends Over a Decade Making Up Fake Russian History On Wikipedia

Wikipedia is an online treasure. Whether you’re looking for general information out of pure curiosity, or you’re writing an important paper, the free online encyclopedia delivers the best results. It’s not, however, a perfect system, which was recently proven when a housewife from China — known only as Zhemao — managed to pull off one of the biggest hoaxes in Wikipedia’s history. The bizarre story began a while back, when Yifan, a Chinese fantasy novelist, started browsing through Chinese Wikipedia as a source of inspiration for his new book. Focusing on Russian medieval history, the writer stumbled across the great Kashin silver mine and was so fascinated by it that he kept digging for more information about it. That’s when he decided to turn to the Russian Wikipedia site. Yifan was shocked to learn that there was never any Kashin silver mine and that the articles on Chinese Wikipedia were all fictitious entries written by the same person: Zhemao. After Yinfan posted his findings on the Q&A platform Quora, Wikipedia was prompted to launch an investigation into the matter. What they discovered is that for more than 10 years, Zhemao had written over 200 articles of fake Russian history, and contributed to hundreds more. She claimed to be the daughter of a diplomat stationed in Russia and to have a degree in Russian history, but after her hoax was revealed, she confessed to being a housewife with a high school degree and a rich imagination. Most of Zhemao’s fictitious articles on Russian history have now been deleted from Chinese Wikipedia, while a few have been improved upon to reflect reality. She has written a letter of apology on her English Wikipedia account, writing that her motivation was to learn about history.