The 27 most controversial people on Wikipedia -- featuring Britney Spears, Bill Clinton, and Adolf Hitler

Wikipedia may look smooth on the outside, but just below the surface there is an ongoing war over how certain people and events are going to be remembered.

That war involves small edits made, sometimes over and over again, by the site’s most passionate users. If you look at the most edited pages you can see the topics that our society is still fighting over. Some of these pages have over 45,000 edits, and range from entertainers to religions to wars.

But one of the most fascinating areas of debate centres around people, and the list of public figures whose legacies are in dispute in the world’s most popular encyclopedia is incredibly varied. You have those you might expect, like ex-presidents or dictators, but also a run of professional wrestlers you probably never knew were so disputed.

We have compiled a list of the top 27 most-edited pages of people on Wikipedia, along with a sample edit from each. Edits removing portions of the text are shown in red, and edits adding new text are shown in blue.

27. Sarah Palin

Before edit:

Palin has opposed Democratic reform attempts under the Obama administration. She opposed the 2009 House bill, charging that it would lead to rationing of health care by a bureaucracy on the basis of social worth, which she described using the term “death panels”, though her charge was debunked.

After edit:

Palin opposed the 2010 health care reform package, saying it would lead to rationing of health care by a bureaucracy, which she described using the term “death panels.”

26. Kelly Clarkson

Before edit:

Her sixth studio album, ‘Piece by Piece’ was released in March 2015 and debuted at number one on the Billboard 200, thus collecting her third number one album and tying Carrie Underwood for most number one albums for an American Idol alumni.

After edit:

In 2015, Clarkson released her seventh studio album, “Piece by Piece”, becoming her third number one album on the “Billboard” 200 Chart.

25. Bill Clinton

Before edit:

Born and raised in Arkansas, Clinton became a student leader and a skilled musician.

After edit:

Clinton was born and raised in Arkansas.

24. Abraham Lincoln

Before edit:

His Gettysburg Address of 1863 became an iconic statement of America’s dedication to the principles of nationalism, republicanism, equal rights, liberty, and democracy.

After edit:

His Gettysburg Address of 1863 became an iconic endorsement of the principles of nationalism, republicanism, equal rights, liberty, and democracy.

23. Albert Einstein

Before edit:

However, in 1929, Edwin Hubble confirmed that the universe is expanding, Einstein exclaimed after his Mount Wilson visit with Hubble: “If there is no quasi-static world, then away with the cosmological term!

After edit:

After his Mount Wilson visit with Hubble, Einstein formally discarded the cosmological constant, claiming it is “theoretically unsatisfactory anyway.”

22. Triple H (wrestler)

Before edit:

”Paul Michael Levesque” (born July 27, 1969), better known by his “‘Triple H” (an abbreviation of his full name, ”Hunter Hearst Helmsley”), is an American business executive, professional wrestler, actor, and former bodybuilder.

After edit:

”Paul Michael Levesque” (born July 27, 1969), better known by his “‘Triple H” (an abbreviation of his full name, ”Hunter Hearst Helmsley”), is an American business executive, professional wrestler, actor, author, and former bodybuilder.

21. Edge (wrestler)

Before edit:

Weight = 252 lb

After edit:

Weight = 241 lb

20. Pope John Paul II

Before edit:

In 1994, John Paul II visited Catania and told victims of Mafia violence to “rise it up and un-cloak yourself in light and justice, shout EXECTO PATRONUM!!!”

After edit:

In 1994, John Paul II visited Catania and told victims of Mafia violence to “rise up and cloak yourself in light and justice!”

19. Madonna

Sample edit:

”Madonna Louise Ciccone” (born August 16, 1958) is an American singer, songwriter, actress, and businesswoman.

Changed to:

”Madonna Louise Ciccone” (born August 16, 1958) is an American singer, songwriter, actress, dancer, and businesswoman.

18. Christina Aguilera

Before edit:

”Christina María Aguilera”’ (born December 18, 1980) is an American singer, songwriter, and actress.

After edit:

”’Christina María Aguilera”’ (born December 18, 1980) is an American singer and songwriter.

17. Ronald Reagan


Before edit:

An icon among Republicans, he ranks highly in public and critical opinion of U.S. Presidents, and his tenure constituted a realignment toward conservative policies in the United States.

After edit:

An icon among Republicans, he ranks favorably in public and critical opinion of U.S. Presidents, and his tenure constituted a realignment toward conservative policies in the United States.

16. Paul McCartney

Before edit:

With John Lennon, George Harrison and Ringo Starr, he gained worldwide fame as a member of the Beatles, widely regarded as one of the most popular and influential acts in the history of rock music.

After edit:

With John Lennon, George Harrison and Ringo Starr, he gained worldwide fame as a member of the Beatles, one of the most popular and influential acts in the history of rock music.

15. John Cena (wrestler)

Before edit:

Cena announced that he would issue an open challenge each week on ”Raw” with his United States Championship on the line, where he would defeat the likes of Dean Ambrose, Stardust, Bad News Barrett, Kane, El Generico, Zack Ryder and Neville.

After edit:

Cena announced that he would issue an open challenge each week on ”Raw” with his United States Championship on the line, where he would defeat the likes of Dean Ambrose, Stardust, Bad News Barrett, Kane, El Generico, and Zack Ryder.

14. Elvis Presley


Before edit:

Presley’s ancestry was primarily a Western European mix: on his mother’s side, he was Scots-Irish, with some French Norman; one of Gladys’ great-great-grandmothers was Cherokee.

After edit:

Presley’s ancestry was primarily a Western European mix: on his mother’s side, he was Scots-Irish, with some French Norman; one of Gladys’ great-great-grandmothers, Morning Dove White, was possibly a Cherokee Native American.

13. Mariah Carey

Before edit:

During the recording of the album, Carey began to deviate from her R&B and pop beginnings and slowly moved into hip hop. This musical change became evident with the release of ”Butterfly” (1997), at which time Carey had separated from Mottola.

After edit:

During the recording of the album, Carey began to deviate from her slower R&B and ballad-oriented beginnings and slowly transitioned into hip hop. This musical change became further established with the release of ”Butterfly” (1997), which was released during the midst of her separation from Mottola.

12. Eminem

Before edit:

The revelation causes an uproar in the control room; a man identifying himself as Marshall’s publicist tries to stop the interview but is held back by Skylark’s producer, Aaron Rappaport.

After edit:

The revelation causes an uproar in the control room: Eminem’s publicist tries to stop the interview but is held back by Skylark’s producer.

11. Muhammad

Before edit:

Muhammad has been criticized ever since he claimed prophethood. He had been attacked by his non-Muslim Arab contemporaries for preaching monotheism, as well as for issues concerning his marriages, and his military expeditions across Arabia.

After edit:

Criticism of Muhammad has existed since the time he declared himself to be the Messenger of God. He has been criticized by his non-Muslim Arab contemporaries for preaching monotheism and equality of mankind. Other critics, in later times, criticized him for his multiple marriages and his military expeditions across Arabia. The Qur’an, in response to those critics, says: They want to extinguish the light of God ‘”with their mouths”‘, but God will perfect His light, although the disbelievers dislike it.

10. Kane (wrestler)

Before edit:

Early career (1992-1995)

After edit:

Early career (1992-1994)

9. Beyoncé

Before edit:

Mathew is African-American, while Tina is of Louisiana Creole descent (with African, Native American, French, and 1/16th Irish, ancestry).

After edit:

Mathew is African-American, while Tina is of Louisiana Creole descent (with African, Native American, French, and 1/32th Irish ancestry).

8. Roger Federer

Before edit:

Most commentators and players regard Federer as the greatest tennis player of all time.

After edit:

Many commentators and players regard Federer as the greatest tennis player of all time.

7. The Undertaker (wrestler)

Before edit:

At Battleground (2015) in July, Undertaker returned as a villian, attacking Brock Lesnar with a low blow and other maneuvers during his WWE World Heavyweight Championship match against Seth Rollins, which caused the match to end in a no contest (the next night on “Raw”, Lillian Garcia announced that Lesnar had own by disqualification).

After edit:

At Battleground (2015) in July, Undertaker returned attacking Brock Lesnar during his WWE World Heavyweight Championship match against Seth Rollins, which caused the match to end in disqualification.

6. Britney Spears

Before edit:

Spears’s eponymous eighth studio album ”Britney Jean” was released in 2013; it spawned the international hit “Work Bitch”, however the album made little commercial impact.

After edit:

Spears’s eponymous eighth studio album ”Britney Jean” was released in 2013; it spawned the top 15 hit “Work Bitch”, however it became the lowest-selling record of her career.

5. Adolf Hitler

Before edit:

”Adolf Hitler” (1889-1945) was the leader of the NSDAP (from 1919) and dictator of Germany from 1933 to 1945. Appointed ”Reichskanzler” on January 30, 1933, he assumed the twin titles of ”Führer und Reichskanzler” (leader and chancellor) after President Paul von Hindenburg’s death. Early years…

After edit:

”Adolf Hitler” (1889-1945) was the leader of the NSDAP (from 1919) and dictator of Germany from 1933 to 1945. Appointed ”Reichskanzler” on January 30, 1933, he assumed the twin titles of ”Führer und Reichskanzler” (leader and chancellor) after President Paul von Hindenburg’s death (August 2, 1934). Under his leadership, Germany started World War II and committed the holocaust.

4. Barack Obama

Before edit:

In foreign policy, Obama ordered 2014 American intervention in Iraq U.S. military involvement in Iraq.

After edit:

In foreign policy, Obama ordered 2014 American intervention in Iraq U.S. military intervention in Iraq.

3. Jesus

Before edit:

It is the last conversation with Jesus reported in the Bible until the Book of Revelation in which a man named John receives a revelation from Jesus concerning the Christian eschatologylast days when Jesus is predicted to return.

After edit:

It is the last conversation with Jesus reported in the Bible until the Book of Revelation in which a man named John receives a revelation from Jesus concerning the Christian eschatologylast days when Jesus is predicted to return victoriously.

2. Michael Jackson

Before edit:

Both of Jackson’s parents have denied the longstanding allegations of abuse.

After edit:

Both of Jackson’s parents have disagreed with the longstanding allegations of abuse, with Katherine stating that while the whippings are considered abuse today, such action was a common way to discipline children back then.

1. George W. Bush

Before edit:

”George ‘Dubya’ Walker Bush” (born July 6, 1946)…He is also the brother of Jeb Bush, former Governor of Florida.

After edit:

”George Walker Bush” (born July 6, 1946).

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