Ge­orge splits Wikipedia

The Jewish Chronicle - - NEWS - BY RACHEL FLETCHER

FA­MOUS PEO­PLE are hav­ing ref­er­ences to their Jewish roots deleted on Wikipedia, crit­ics claimed this week.

The user-writ­ten on­line en­cy­clopae­dia has come un­der fire af­ter edit trails showed dis­putes over whether or not to state the al­leged Jewish roots of per­son­al­i­ties such as singer Ge­orge Michael, ac­tor Daniel Rad­cliffe and math­e­ma­ti­cian Grig­ori Perel­man.

Claims that Ge­orge Michael’s late mother Les­ley was Jewish were deleted and re­posted dur­ing a dis­cus­sion on a “talk” page in which the poster, “rv”, was ac­cused by a user known as “Mad­der” of hav­ing “only pro­vided one source to some trashy pop-cul­ture web­site [ Jew­tas­tic], and a search on Google shows this is the only site that makes this claim”.

De­bat­ing whether to re­fer to Mr Perel­man’s Jewish roots af­ter the Daily Tele­graph re­ported them, user “New­port” ar­gued: “No­body de­nies that there are good sources that say that he is Jewish [re­mem­ber­ing that Ju­daism is an eth­nic­ity as well as a re­li­gion], and no­body has pro­duced a source that he isn’t. We don’t work by spec­u­lat­ing about whether he would want it stated in the ar­ti­cle that he is Jewish.” But user “Bell­bird” re­torted: “Why should we let mono­ma­ni­acs d e c i d e what i s en­cy­clopaedic and what is not?”

As the JC went to press, all three en­tries had ref­er­ences to the men’s Jewish moth­ers or fam­i­lies. Fur­ther de­bate on how to clas­sify some­one as Jewish on the site con­tin­ues on “talk” pages about lists of Bri­tish Jews, with archived ma­te­rial dat­ing back to Novem­ber 2005.

A spokesman for Wikipedia in the UK told the JC: “With Wikipedia any­one can edit, and you have a his­tory of ev­ery­thing any­one says. The im­por­tant mes­sage peo­ple need to know is that Wikipedia is not a re­li­able source as such — it is some­thing a bunch of vol­un­teers try to keep good.”

Ge­orge Michael

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