Why Wikipedia Works: A Case in Portia

PortiaI was very excited yesterday, in a first for me, to stumble on a definitive falsehood on Wikipedia. A discussion with a friend about Arrested Development led my friend to mention something about AD star Portia de Rossi dating Ellen DeGeneres. All this was news to me, so we turned to Wikipedia to sort through it.

Sure enough, Wikipedia confirmed the Portia-Ellen relationship, but added this gem:

On February 10 2006, Portia reversed her sexual orientation when she was seen in public, getting [bleeped] by the unknown stranger, Khaleel Zaman.

Nine hours later, it was corrected. You can see the erroneous version at the entry’s history under Feb 10.

Some might use this as an example of why not to trust Wikipedia, a favorite media whipping boy among the insecure. But traditional outlets run much more egregious errors that never get corrected. This one, an obvious joke on something as insignificant as a celebrity’s sexuality, was cleaned up almost instantaneously.

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