Jesurgislac’s Journal

February 12, 2009

Never, ever, try to win an argument by editing a Wikipedia page

The Telegraph:

Attempting to explain that the present financial crisis was unprecedented, Mr Brown said: “I’m reminded of the story of Titian, who’s the great painter who reached the age of 90, finished the last of his nearly 100 brilliant paintings, and he said at the end of it, ‘I’m finally beginning to learn how to paint,’ and that is where we are.”

During Prime Minister’s Questions on Wednesday, Mr Cameron said: “The Prime Minister never gets his facts right: he told us the other day he was like Titian aged 90. The fact is, Titian died at 86.”

Records on Wikipedia, the online encyclopedia, show that at 12.34pm – four minutes after the end of PMQs – the entry for the artist was altered to support Mr Cameron’s claim.

While previously his birth and death dates were set at 1485 and 1576, meaning Mr Brown could have been correct, they were changed to 1490 and 1572.

The editor’s IP address – the unique string of numbers identifying internet users – belonged to a computer in Conservative Campaign Headquarters in south-west London.

David Cameron says “The person at central office who then altered the Wikipedia entry – putting on the correct information, because I think Titian did die at 86, there’s some dispute among academics – but nevertheless that was the wrong thing to do. He shouldn’t have done that, he has been disciplined for doing that.” So, well, that’s nice.

I wonder how he was “disciplined”? Made to stand in front of a blackboard and write out “I will not edit Wikipedia to ‘help’ my boss win an argument”? Or will the words “from an easily-traceable IP address” be inserted there?


Update: “If the Conservative party is prepared to fiddle the figures with regard to the age of dead Italian painters, surely we cannot trust them on the economy either.” – Mark Lazarowicz MP, yesterday

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