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Britain's most popular radio station played host to a half hour of Wikipedia fun yesterday, as DJs Scott Mills and Mark Chapman took turns to deface their own entries.

The pair were inspired by a Wikipedia entry on a colleague. Edith Bowman, claimed the site, was romantically linked with a string of stars, including the 78 year-old singer Harry Belafonte.

"Who are you romantically linked with?" Mills asks Chapman.

"Well, I'm just writing that at the moment," replies Chapman.

Listeners then joined in the fun, to add their own creative amendments.

After half an hour, Wikipedia's bureaucrats locked the pages down. But much to the DJs' amusement, the erroneous information remained.

"We can't be held responsible for anything," concluded Chapman, drily, inadvertently summing up the Wikipedia philosophy.

Former Britannica encyclopedia editor Bob McHenry described Wikipedia as a game without consequences, but what a game it is.

The site celebrated the Martin Luther King public holiday this week with dozens of racist and derogatory edits. The site's bureaucrats have now proposed to lock down the slain civil rights leader's page on one day a year, MLK Day. Which leaves the racists only 364 days each year to do their worst.

Collective intelligence at its finest. ®

Bootnote

The Tucson school district last year stopped buying textbooks in favor of laptops. "If we can rely on almost limitless information available on the Internet, why do we need a textbook?" asked district superintendent Calvin Baker - a question which has now answered itself.

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