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The Wikipedia Battle Over the Tragic Death of a Bollywood Star
When Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died in September, her Wikipedia article rocketed to the top of “The Top 25 Report,” a weekly list of the most popular articles on English Wikipedia. That week, Ginsburg’s article received more than 4 million page views. But the most-trafficked English Wikipedia page for a deceased celebrity in 2020 was not that of the “Notorious RBG,” but rather an Indian movie star who was relatively unknown outside his own country.
That would be Sushant Singh Rajput, a 34-year-old Bollywood actor who died of apparent suicide by hanging on June 14. The week SSR—as he was and is known to fans—died, his page received 11.5 million page views. According to the Wikipedia volunteers who compile the Top 25 report, only five other articles have ever seen weekly page views pass the 10 million mark—those of Prince, David Bowie, Kobe Bryant, and Stephen Hawking after their deaths, and Donald Trump’s after the 2016 election.
Since mid-June, SSR’s biographical Wikipedia page and the separate article about his death have become a widely trafficked internet battleground. Editors have fiercely disputed whether Wikipedia should reflect conspiracy theories about SSR’s cause of death and if the internet encyclopedia correctly states the actor’s height. (There’s a lot riding on whether he was shorter than 6 feet.) In a time when it seems increasingly hard to agree upon the facts, Wikipedia’s response to SSR’s death shows how even good faith attempts to document reliable information may inadvertently fuel the conspiracy theorists.
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Important: Looking for Your Feedback!
I have been working on a novel the past year and will be releasing some early chapters as a preview next month. Very excited to finally share this story. Here's a very short synopsis--
People trust Infopendium, the internet encyclopedia. Most Infopendium editors are volunteers, including a few exceptional teenagers. But corporations, political figures, and national governments are willing to pay "hired gun" editors to change the facts on one of the most popular websites in the world. When a pandemic disrupts life around the globe and certain forces seek to destroy the integrity of online information, the underdog editors must race to defend the truth against misinformation.
My question is: Based on that summary, which book title appeals to you? Currently considering these options:
C. The Editors
Please reply to this email and let me know what you think -- especially if you have a strong opinion! And be on the lookout for more exciting news about the book in November.