Wikipedia’s ‘Goan war’ unmasked as elaborate hoax after five years


It went undetected for five years on Wikipedia, but a seemingly meticulous entry about a 17th-century conflict between colonial Portugal and India’s Maratha Empire has now been outed as a hoax.

“The Bicholim Conflict” of 1640-41, described in detail in the online piece assessed as a “good article,” has been unearthed not as an episode of Goan history, but a tale by a mischievous user. Added to the site in July 2007, the entry was only uncovered as untrue by an eagle-eyed user in December.

“Fictitious war between the Portuguese rulers of Goa and the Maratha Empire which supposedly took place from mid-1640 to early 1641,” the new reference reads.

The fantasy conflict has been added to Wikipedia’s list of hoaxes that have dogged the site since it was founded in 2001. These include the nonexistent Indonesian island of Bunaka and Gaius Flavius Antoninus, the supposed assassin of Julius Caesar.