Seeing how far a fib can travel is a game as old as time, and now there’s Wikipedia to up the ante. In the 80s Stuart Maconie spread it around that Blockbusters host Bob Holness played sax on Gerry Rafferty’s Baker Street. It was taken as plain fact in many circles, and the man himself saw the funny side and said it was true in interviews, albeit with a cheeky smile.

Wikipedia has provided a service by which fibbers of the highest order can perpetuate the most convincing, or far fetched untruths they can think of. That is, until a Wikipedia editor spots it or a newspaper mistakenly prints it. In honour of those who spend their time making stuff up for other people to find at an unspecified time in the future, we’ve gathered together the best lies perpetuated by Wikipedia, from reports that the Queen is dead, to sublimely ridiculous stories about hats made of shoes. Read on for fibs and giggles.

1. Football fans with hats made of shoes
Some members from the group B3ta were responsible for a remarkably wonky view of Cypriot footie fans. The source? This quote, about fans of the team AC Omonia: “A small but loyal group of fans are lovingly called “The Zany Ones” – they like to wear hats made from discarded shoes and have a song about a little potato.”

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Somehow this fact made it into the football pages of the Mirror, where reporter David Anderson noted the headgear and nicknames given to AC Omonia’s fans. How Anderson managed to slip this one in without a) questioning just how one might fashion a hat from discarded shoe, b) without the subs noticing, and c) missing out the funniest bit about the potato song we just don’t know.

2. The composer of the Last of the Summer Wine theme tune also wrote hits for S Club 7
Ronnie Hazlehurst was a famous BBC TV Theme composer, and wrote the themes for Last of the Summer Wine, Yes Minister and Are You Being Served? When he died in 2008, a fib secreted into his Wikipedia page, which falsely stated that at the age of 72 he teamed up with Cathy Dennis to compose “Reach for the Stars” for S Club 7. Unsurprisingly, he wasn’t actually hanging out with Cathy, writing songs for teenagers in crop tops at the age of 72, but it managed to make it into a worrying number of obituaries for Hazlehurst.

3. Approved employees of the Blood Authority may perform weddings
This one has managed to stick around, despite being entered by a member of the Blood Authority shoving it into the page whilst at the bar in order to win an argument in a pub, although how an argument like that started we can only begin to imagine. Nevertheless, it’s survived. Take note: if you’re looking for a shotgun wedding of an evening, it’s probably wise to steer clear of bars near the blood bank.

4. Wanky Balls festival
The Independent newspaper got caught out by Wikipedia when it said that The Big Chill festival was previously known as the Wanky Balls festival. The paper stated casually that “The Big Chill was founded in 1994 as the Wanky Balls festival in North London. Unsurprisingly, it was never called the Wanky Balls festival, and this lie in fact originated with the Wikipedia page.

5. Vernon Kay and the Queen are dead
What do Vernon Kay and The Queen have in common? They’ve both been pronounced dead by Wikipedia. Vernon Kay was reported to have slipped off a yacht on the ocean off Greece, in some poor fool trying to bring his fantasies to life.
The Queen was reported dead on Wikipedia on 30 March 2005, completely erroneously. Needless to say the edit didn’t last long.

6. Sepp Blatter has a funny middle name
FIFA president Sepp Blatter was presented with the Order of the Companions of Oliver Reginald Tambo, an award which honours people from outside of South Africa who’ve worked towards improving perceptions of South Africa and promoted its interests and aspirations. Blatter was awarded the Order after the 2010 World Cup, although the Wikipedia citation read that it was awarded to one “Joseph Sepp Bellend Blatter”.

7. John Seigenthaler and the Kennedy assassinations
Less funny than the rest, but all the more important is the story of John Seigenthaler, who struggled to clear his name after his Wikipedia entry was vandalised. Someone (without much of a sense of humour) edited his bio so that it read: “John Seigenthaler Sr. was the assistant to Attorney General Robert Kennedy in the early 1960′s. For a brief time, he was thought to have been directly involved in the Kennedy assassinations of both John, and his brother, Bobby. Nothing was ever proven.”

The bio was on Wikipedia for 132 days, and spread to other sites like Answers.com too. Seigenthaler still doesn’t know who wrote it, and has no way of finding out because of data protection laws. This means that he also can’t sue, since sites like Wikipedia and ISPs cannot be sued for what their users have written. You can read the whole of his story here.

Because of the coverage his story generated, his bio has continued to be a target. These latter edits are considerably more humourous than the original edit though, with the longest surviving (30 hrs 50 minutes) stating that “On November, 22nd, 1963, John Seigenthaler, Sr. killed and ate then-President John F. Kennedy.”

Have you ever read any glaring lies on Wikipedia? Shout out in the comments with your finds!

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