George splits Wikipedia
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.”