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My Wikipedia Falsehood

July 18, 2008

I lie.  I do it all the time.  I’m doing it right now.  Couldn’t stop if I wanted to.  Most of my lies are outrageous, easily disproved falsehoods, which is convenient, because no one picks them up & runs with them as though they were true.

Recently, a friend (whose last name is Haddad – IMPORTANT DETAIL) mentioned the 80/20 Rule, which in our example referred to the fact that 80 percent of your profits as a company are derived from 20 percent of your audience.  My friend mentioned that it was also known as the Pareto Principle, and cited the Wikipedia as proof of this fact.  Before the phone call was over, I had edited the Wikipedia such that what originally read as:

The Pareto principle (also known as the 80-20 rule, the law of the vital few and the principle of factor sparsity) states that, for many events, 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes.

now read as:

The Pareto principle (also known as the 80-20 rule, Haddad’s Theorem, the law of the vital few and the principle of factor sparsity) states that, for many events, 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes.

Most Wikipedia lies are so easily disproven that they immediately get edited out, and I realize I’m probably killing this joke just by writing this entry (not to mention getting my IP address banned from Wikipedia), but four weeks later, the unattributed cribbing from the Wikipedia article not only still stands, but is spreading all over the web.  The funny thing is, there already IS a Haddad’s Theorem, about something completely boring & unrelated.  But the power of my Wikipedia lie has almost eradicated any actual mention of Haddad’s Theorem from the front page of Google.

It first showed up here on Linked In’s professional advice page, as user Joerg Kurt W says “The 80-20 rule, Haddad’s Theorem, or Pareto principle is also related to several other principles, like the ‘Iron law of oligarchy’ and ‘tipping point principle’.

From there, it appeared on the second entry of this Atkins Diet bulletin board.  Writer cgdat136 says “So, this has me thinking about the 80-20 rule, Haddad’s Theorem or the Pareto Principle: Will 80% of our efforts (goals) really be achieved by only 20% of us?

Then here, on a marketing blog called Ramblings of a Marketing Gurl.  In her Customer Segmentation entry, she writes that  “The Pareto principle (a.k.a the 80-20 rule, Haddad’s Theorem) states that 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes.

Currently only 2 of the top 10 Google results for Haddad’s Theorem involve the accurate mention of what the term refers to.  The other 8 are Wiki citations.

Like I said, I’m sure this ends with the publication of this entry, but it was interesting to see how quickly the lie took root & spread.

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9 comments

  1. …and it’s been edited out, as predicted.


  2. Touché, Internet.


  3. Maybe… I mean, if I don’t confess the lie here, it pretty much lives on indefinitely. It’s like giving the cops credit for catching a thief that turned himself in.


  4. i just fixed it back…


  5. LOL, nice.


  6. 80% of the Wikipedia falsehoods come from 20% of jonsonblog readers.


  7. Sadly, students around the world are using Wikipedia as a resource in papers thinking it’s trustworthy.


  8. WHo the hell has all this time?


  9. alright, JR…i am making some very anal librarian in North Dakota tremor with frustration as I changed it back to Haddad’s Theorem as i now am of the opinion this is now fact. And I will continue to do so. To JK’s point, who has time for this? I certainly don’t…but I MAKE time for it…



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