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Don't Deface Wikipedia Pages, Justin Bieber People. It's Not Dignified.

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Don't Deface Wikipedia Pages, Justin Bieber People. It's Not Dignified.

Awards Season

Don't Deface Wikipedia Pages, Justin Bieber People. It's Not Dignified.

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  • <iframe src="" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript


From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Melissa Block.


And I'm Michele Norris.

The Wikipedia page for the jazz artist Esperanza Spalding was struck with a bad case of Bieber fever last night, the night when she won the biggest award of her career.

BLOCK: And the Grammy for Best New Artist goes to Esperanza Spalding.


NORRIS: To win that Grammy, Spalding nudged past four other artists including 'tween sensation Justin Bieber. Esperanza Spalding may not be a household name - at least, not yet. So Grammy viewers who rushed to Wikipedia to learn more discovered that her site had been defaced - apparently by disappointed Bieber fans, who wrote things like: Justin Bieber deserved it, go die in a hole. Who the heck are you, anyway?

Ouch. NPR Blogger Linda Holmes has been following the sabotage of Spalding's Wiki site, and she joins us now here in the studio. Linda, I guess the Bieber fans allegedly didn't get the memo about good sportsmanship

LINDA HOLMES: Apparently not, not unless they're being framed.

NORRIS: What kind of things did they write? Did they go on the site and just make edits on the Wiki page? Is that what happened?

HOLMES: Yes, the way Wikipedia works, anyone can go and make edits. And then anyone else can go in and fix it or take them out. And most of these things were only up for a very, very brief time and were taken down. But they live on forever in the history of the page, which will always show what former versions of the page existed.

NORRIS: Ah, so they can scrub it, but it's still there.

HOLMES: They can scrub it, but you still can go and see the old versions of the page if you go into the page's history, and that's how people are still being able to see all these things, even though they've been removed and no longer show up on her main page.

NORRIS: So what kinds of things did they say?

HOLMES: Well, I think the "go die in a hole" was probably the most famous one. They changed her...

NORRIS: Not nice.

HOLMES: No, no. It's not a particularly dignified way to express your fan-dom. They changed her middle name to quesadilla at one point, which has a couple of ugly aspects to it.

There was one edit that said she won the Grammy for Best New Artist by stealing it from Justin Bieber. So they were generally along those lines. And then there were responses where other people added bad remarks about Justin Bieber or Justin Bieber fans. And it's one of the many things that makes the Internet not look particularly good.

NORRIS: Have there been other examples of this, Justin Bieber fans flexing their muscle to bully other artists or to shower praise on the boy they seem to love?

HOLMES: Well, he has millions and millions of followers on Twitter. And I think if you follow him on Twitter, you see a lot of his interactions with his fans. They can be a very powerful group. Any poll that he's nominated in, if it's an online poll, he will rise to the top of it.

NORRIS: So it's like a Bieber swarm?

HOLMES: It is a Bieber swarm, the Beliebers, they call them.

NORRIS: One more time, the what?

HOLMES: The Beliebers.

NORRIS: Oh, the Beliebers, OK.

HOLMES: I don't think they call themselves that, but that is one of the many names I think they've gotten tagged with.

NORRIS: How did Wikipedia respond to this?

HOLMES: Well, they take all these things down. Fortunately, there are editors at Wikipedia who will undo things like this, and they do respond. They took it down. But as I said, there's an archive that will always show that these things happened.

NORRIS: Have the artists - either Justin Bieber or Esperanza Spalding - responded to this?

HOLMES: I haven't seen direct responses from them about this particular incident. Justin Bieber did tweet to his fans today that he was disappointed not to win, but that he was happy for her and that he did not think this was his last chance to ever win an award - which given his extreme youth, is probably very fair.

NORRIS: Linda, thanks so much.

HOLMES: Thank you.

NORRIS: That's NPR Blogger Linda Holmes. She writes the Monkey See blog at


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