In a stark warning to fact-checkers everywhere, a Wikipedia article detailing a 17th century war between Portugal and India has been deleted after being debunked as an elaborate hoax. For the last five years, the article has existed on Wikipedia, detailing a brief war between colonial Portugal and India’s Maratham Empire known as the ‘Bicholim Conflict.’
The 4,500-word article on the war was even voted a ‘good article’ by Wikipedia’s readers, and at one point was even nominated to be a ‘featured article’ that would be prominently displayed on the site’s homepage.
The problem is that Bicholim Conflict never happened, and the entire article was nothing more than an elaborate joke.
The hoax came to light after Missouri-based Wikipedia user ShelfSkewed decided to investigate the article last December, and in the process found that it had been totally fabricated.
Wikipedia owned up to the hoax after it was brought to their attention by ShelfSkewed on 29th December, and quickly deleted the piece.
“After careful consideration and some research, I have come to the conclusion that this article is a hoax—a clever and elaborate hoax, but a hoax nonetheless,” ShelfSkewed wrote in a post recommending that the article be deleted. “An online search for ‘Bicholim conflict’ or for many of the article’s purported sources produces only results that can be traced back to the article itself.”
The article detailed the supposed conflict between Portugal and Maratham Empire from 1640-1641. According to the article, the brief war ended with few casualties and a “peace treaty that would later help cement Goa as an independent Indian state.”
“The conflict was fairly brief and its impact in terms of casualties and damage was minimal,” the article stated. “For this reason, it has not become much of a talking point amongst filmmakers and bookwriters.”
To date, the writer of the article hasn’t been identified.