My trust has been shaken!

The dark side of the Internets reveals itself yet again.

Internet site Wikipedia has been hit by controversy after the disclosure that a prominent editor had assumed a false identity complete with fake PhD.

The editor, known as Essjay, had described himself as a professor of religion at a private university.

But he was in fact Ryan Jordan, 24, a college student from Kentucky who used texts such as Catholicism for Dummies to help him work.


In his user profile, he said he taught both undergraduate and graduate theology, and in an interview with the New Yorker in July 2006, was described as a “tenured professor of religion”.

His real identity came to light last week when the magazine added an editorial note to the piece highlighting the deception.

“At the time of publication, neither we nor Wikipedia knew Essjay’s real name,” the note said.

I don’t know which looks worse for this: Wikipedia, or the state of journalism in the United States.

I can understand the wool being pulled over the Wikipedians’ eyes; the site as currently constituted practically begs for such abuse. But the New Yorker? Is nothing sacred–or at least, blessed with better fact checkers?

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