A woman tried to rewrite the history of Russia on Wikipedia

A woman tried to rewrite the history of Russia on Wikipedia

Using the pseudonym Zhemao, a Chinese woman created a huge, fantastic and completely false alternative history of late medieval Russia on Wikipedia, writing more than 200 highly detailed and invented articles. Extremely rich silver mines that never existed, battles that never took place and characters never born fueled the fictional universe of Zhemao for over ten years, until a writer of fantasy stories named Yifan, her compatriot, discovered that something was wrong. . All of Zhemao's material has now been deleted from Wikipedia.

The Discovery Looking for inspiration for a new story about her, Yifan learns about the great silver mine in the city of Kashin. Founded by the principality of Tver, an independent Eurasian state between the thirteenth and fifteenth centuries, it grew to become one of the most important cities of the time, with about 30,000 free workers and another 10,000 slaves working in the mine. Its great riches made it fundamental to the princes of Tver, but also triggered the envy of the rulers of Moscow, who waged war on their neighbors to conquer it. The mine remained under the control of Moscow until its exhaustion in the mid-eighteenth century.

Hundreds of articles in the Chinese language reported information and links to this dark period of Slavic history, without it ever having existed. Yifan realized that it was all huge fake news only after trying to deepen the story of Kashin, discovering how the articles in languages ​​other than Chinese on the subject were shorter or totally non-existent. The culmination of her search for her came when she realized that the great Kashin silver mine, at the center of the battles between Tver and Moscow, never existed.

The investigation After Yifan's report, Wikipedia opened an investigation into it, discovering how a collaborator had used at least four puppet accounts to write fake articles on Russian medieval history and the Chinese Qing dynasty, starting with since 2010 . Each account served to give credibility and support the others, but in the end they were banned from Wikipedia and the content they created completely removed.

According to the Shanghai magazine Sixth tone, on his profile Zhemao described himself as the daughter of a Chinese diplomat stationed in Russia, with a degree in the country's history and Russian citizenship for marrying a local man. Her first fake articles concerned a famous Qing Dynasty official. Since 2012, however, you have begun to devote yourself to Russian history, modifying existing articles on Tsar Alexander the first. From then on she gradually spread stories of her own invention about the rivalry between the Tver principality and Moscow, all over the Chinese Wikipedia.

After being discovered, Zhemao posted an apology letter on her account of English Wikipedia, explaining that she is actually a normal housewife with a high school diploma. Although many Wikipedia editors have argued that the woman's actions have undermined the credibility of the entire Chinese Wikipedia, Zhemao has also become a character admired by some users, for having substantiated her inventions with very precise details, such as the type of clothing, money or tools used in the fake silver mine.