Wiki World

Despite New Rules, Wikipedia Can’t Dislodge Gibraltar From Home Page

Gibraltar still gets Wikipedia ink, over cofounder's wishes.
(Photo: Wikipedia)

(Photo: Wikipedia)

Oh, the curious case of Gibraltarpedia.

Last September, CNET reported that a well-placed Wikipedian named Roger Bamkin was using his influence at nonprofit Wikipedia to promote the British territory of Gibraltar—whose government was the client of a public relations firm run by Mr. Bamkin.

The upshot was, Gibraltar was showing up an awful lot in the “Did You Know” section of Wikipedia’s home page—17 times in the month of August. And while it is interesting to ponder how hungry you’d have to be to eat your shoes, as Gibraltar’s inhabitants are said to have done during a siege of the fortress city in 1333, 17 times seems a little excessive.

Excessive, and quite likely, damaging to Wikipedia’s reputation as a source of unbiased information. In October, Wikipedia cofounder Jimmy Wales, who proposed a five-year moratorium on Gibraltar-themed DYKs. Alas, Mr. Wales may be Wikipedia’s spiritual leader, but sole rule-maker he is not, and while Wikipedia editors did agree on a vetting policy for Gibraltar-related nominations, the new process hasn’t don’t much to stem the tide.

According to the Register, Gibraltar showed up in Wikipedia’s Did You Know box nine times in December, 11 times in January, and six times so far this month. What’s more, the paper’s readers are apparently obsessed with spotting Gibraltar-themed DYKs: They’ve been asked to stop alerting editors every time a new entry shows up.

Follow Patrick Clark on Twitter or via RSS. pclark@observer.com