NEW YORK (Reuters) - Condolences flowed for U.S. comedian Sinbad after the online encyclopaedia Wikipedia announced his death on Thursday, but it turned out the grieving was premature and the comic was alive and well.
The hoax entry said the 50-year-old entertainer, who appeared in several television series and starred in films including “Houseguest,” and “Jingle All the Way,” had died of a heart attack on the morning of March 14.
The news was quickly picked up by an Internet user who forwarded the e-mail link and prompted widespread mourning.
But Wikipedia spokeswoman Sandra Ordonez said the Sinbad entry had been vandalised and although the error was quickly caught and changed, some Internet users had sent e-mails with a link to the old version.
“This caused people to inadvertently change the entry throughout the day to the vandalised version,” said Ordonez.
“We are currently looking into who made this edit, and have protected the page. We regret any confusion or distress this may have caused Sinbad and his fans everywhere.”
Wikipedia is an online encyclopaedia that anyone can edit.
Although Sinbad, whose real name is David Adkins, could not be immediately reached for comment, his sister Donna Adkins said in an e-mail to Reuters: “For the record, Sinbad is healthy, well, alive & enjoying life!”
Ordonez said there were “various checks and balances” to make sure the information on Wikipedia was correct.
“Wikipedia is routinely vandalised and errors are caught quickly,” she said.
“But we are not familiar with a case that has received as much widespread attention as this one.”