A gay slur from the Wikipedia page about the St. Louis Cardinals baseball team made its way into Google’s Knowledge Graph box for a short time this week. The slur has been making news with stories appearing in a number of press outlets.
The Cardinals’ Wikipedia page has been home to a great deal of abuse during the past few days (they’re currently playing in the World Series against the Boston Red Sox) and now can only be edited by Wikipedia administrators.
What I find most interesting is that the slur was live on Wikipedia for a very short amount of time, yet Google’s crawler captured it and changed the text in the Knowledge Graph box.
Timeline of The Incident
It was removed and the page was reverted back to the prior version one minute later.
The slur reappeared twice on October 28, 2013.
What Does This Mean?
The gay slur was only showing on the Cardinals’ Wikipedia page for a minute or less each time someone edited the page. It seems hard to believe that Google happened to crawl the page on one of those extremely brief moments it was there.
A Google spokesperson would only tell us that “it was a technical issue on our end that let outdated information through.” When asked to clarify about the crawling of the Wikipedia page, the spokesperson said that Googlebot “missed the revert” from the defamed page back to the regular version.
(Screenshot thanks to Ben Cook.)