The place of birth of Ena Begović
I stumbled accidentally over a discrepancy regarding the place of birth of the Croatian actress Ena Begović, and noticed that if you ask Google for the place of birth, it answers Trpanj, whereas Wikipedia lists Split. I was curious where Google got Trpanj from, and how to fix it (especially now that I am not at Google anymore).
In April 2018, Lole484, a user who gets blocked for sockpuppeting later, adds that she was born in "Trpanj near Split". There is no Trpanj near Split, but there is a Trpanj on Pelješac. Realzing that, they remove the "near Split" part. In 2019, Ivan Ladic - a sockpuppet of Lole484 - adds a reference to the city of birth being Trpanj, Večernji list, a well known Croatian news magazine.
In April 2020, an anonymous editor changes the place of birth back to Split, and adds a reference to the Croatian national encyclopedia. Today, I changed it back to Trpanj, accidentally while not being logged in (thus anonymously), to possibly encourage a discussion, after starting a conversation on the talk page on English and Croatian a few weeks ago that had one reply.
Interestingly, within a minute after changing the text, I went to Google and asked again for the date of birth, and Google again shows me Trpanj - but this time with the Wikipedia article and the updated snippet as a source. That is impressive.
When I asked Bing, Bing was saying Split for the last three weeks, since I started this adventure, whenever I checked. Today, it still kept saying Split, referencing two sources, one of them English Wikipedia, although I had already changed English Wikipedia. Not as fresh. Let's see how long this will stick. (Maybe folks at Bing should also talk with my colleagues at Wikimedia Enterprise to improve their freshness?)
The Croatian article was created in 2006 after the English one already stated Split, and Split was presumably copied over from the English version. Lole484 changed it to Trpanj in May 2018, and was later also blocked on Croatian Wikipedia, for unrelated reasons of vandalism. The same anonymous editor as on English Wikipedia changes it back to Split in April 2020.
Serbian and Serbocroatian started their articles in 2007, Russian in 2012, Ukrainian in 2016, Albanian and Bulgarian in 2017, Egyptian Arabic was created in October 2020. They all had Split from the beginning and throughout until today, presumably copied from English, directly or indirectly.
None of the other language editions had their article started in the 2018-2019 window when English and Croatian stated the place of birth as Trpanj.
The only other Wikipedia language edition that saw a change of the place of birth was the Bosnian. The article on Bosnian Wikipedia started a few months after the Croatian, in 2006 (and thus being the third oldest article), and presumably also just copied from either Croatian or English. Lole484 changed it to Trpanj in April 2018, just like on the other Wikipedias. Here it was reverted the next day, but Lole484's sockpuppet Ivan Ladic reinstated that change in January 2019. When I started this adventure, the only Wikipedia that stated Trpanj was Bosnian, all other eight language editions with an article said Split.
On Wikidata, the item was created in 2012, shortly after the launch of the site, based on the existing six sitelinks. The place of birth being Split is added the following year, imported from the Russian Wikipedia.
After I stumbled upon the situation, I added Trpanj as second place of birth, and added sources to both Trpanj and Split.
What's the situation outside of Wikipedia? Both places have pretty solid references going for them:
- Večernji list, article from 2016
- Biografija stated Trpanj, no date, but after 2013 (Archive has the first copy from October 2020)
- tportal.hr has an article on a photography exhibition in Trpanj about Ena Begović, saying the place is chosen because it is her place of birth, published 2016
- Jutarnji list, a well known Croatian newspaper, has a long article about the actress, calling their house in Trpanj the 'rodna kuća', their birth home, of Ena and her sister Mia. This does not necessarily mean that it is literally the house they were born in. Published 2010
- HRT (Croatian national broadcaster), published 2021
- Dubrovački Vjesnik, local newspaper close to Trpanj, lists Trpanj, article from 2020
- Slobodna Dalmacija, a local newspaper from Split, writes Trpanj (but note that this is the same author as the previous article)
- Juarnji list, published 2020 (but note that this is the same author as the previous article)
- Geni.com says Trpanj, last updated 2022
- Croatian national encyclopedia, published in 2021
- Filmski leksikon from the same publisher, no date, but after 2008 (Archive has the first copy from 2022)
- Proleksis, but same publisher as above, as of 2013
- Gloria, a Croatian magazine, says she was born in Split, but Trpanj was her home, published 2020
- film.hr via Archive, from 2007
- Espreso.co.rs writes Split, published 2022
- Find-a-grave lists Split on the site, but more importantly, the photograph of her grave avoids a mention of the place, but only gives the date of her birth and death
- ČSFD (Czechoslovak film database)
- Prabook, from the World Biographical Encyclopedia
- Svensk Filmdatabas
- TMDB (The Movie Database)
24sata says she grew up in Trpanj, gives her date of birth, but avoids stating her place of birth.
Only very few of the sources predate the English Wikipedia article, most notably:
- net.hr published the news of her death and burial in 2000, and lists Split as the place of birth
- IMdb from April 2005 via Archive lists Split, and throughout (I guess?) until today
I also looked up her sister Mia and found her profile on Facebook and sent her a message, but I assume she never even saw this message request. At least I never received an answer (and I didn't expect to). For Mia, the situation is similar: her article originally stated Split, was changed by Lole484 and reverted by an anonymous user, both in English and Croatian, whereas the other languages just list Split throughout.
There were many other sources, and they were going one way or the other. Many of the sources probably just copied from each other. The fact that there were some sources, such as Večernji, that stated Trpanj before it ever made to Wikipedia, but after Split was listed in Wikipedia, was swaying me to think it is Trpanj. Also, it was not always the strongest sources (e.g. usually I would rank the national encyclopedia over Večernji) that said Trpanj, but it was the most in-depth articles, that looked like the authors actually took the time to do some research. Many of the sources looked like they were just bots copying from Wikipedia or Wikidata, or quick pieces taking the base data from Wikipedia.
But then, finally, I stumbled upon one more source: index.hr re-published in 2019 an 1989 interview by Kemal Mujičić with Ena and Mia Begović. Here's a quote from the interview:
Rođene su u Trpnju na Pelješcu.
Ena: Molim vas, to posebno naglasite: Svi misle da smo Dubrovkinje.
Mia: Zanimljivo je da smo u Trpnju rođene kao podstanarke. Roditelji su tek poslije sagradili onu kućicu.
They (Ena and Mia) are born in Trpanj on Pelješac.
Ena: Please put an emphasis on this: everyone thinks we are from Dubrovnik.
Mia: It is interesting that in Trpanj we were born as renters. Our parents built the little house (in which we lived) only later.
Ha! It is amusing to see that Ena's worry was that everyone thinks they are from Dubrovnik. I couldn't find a single source claiming that (but she went to high school (gimnazijum) in Dubrovnik, which is probably the source of that statement from 30 years ago). Also, so much for birth house.
Given all of that, I am going with Trpanj, and making the changes to the Wikipedia languages as much as I can (if someone can help with Arabic and Egyptian Arabic for Ena and Mia, that would be swell, I cannot edit that language edition). Let's see if it sticks.
So, why did Google know the correct answer, even though their usual sources, such as Wikidata and Wikipedia where saying Split? I mustn't say too much but it is due to the Google Knowledge Graph team and their quality processes. Seriously, congratulations to my former colleagues at Google for getting that right!
Just for fun, I also asked ChatGPT (on February 15). And the answer surprised me: when I asked in English, it gave me, unsurprisingly, Split (certainly what the Web seems to believe). But when I asked in Croatian, it gave me a different answer! And the answer was neither Split, nor Trpanj, and also not Dubrovnik - but Zagreb! It is interesting that something like the place of birth of an actress would lead to different answers depending on the language. I would have expected this knowledge to be in the 'world knowledge' of the LLM, not in the 'language knowledge'. I can't check out Bing's chat interface, as I have no access to it, but I would be curious what it says and how long it takes to update.
Thank you for going along on this rather nerdy ride of citogenesis.
Ah, only a few hours after this publication, Bing got updated. And they not only switched from Split to Trpanj, they use this very blogpost as one of the two authoritative references for Trpanj!
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