(see update below)
A couple of days ago the L.A. Times shook the world when it reported that Hello Kitty, the ubiquitous Sanrio character who looks like a cat, is not, in fact, a cat. Anthropologist and Hello Kitty expert Christine R. Yano revealed the truth, which she herself only learned recently while preparing for an upcoming museum exhibition:
That's one correction Sanrio made for my script for the show. Hello Kitty is not a cat. She's a cartoon character. She is a little girl. She is a friend. But she is not a cat. She's never depicted on all fours. She walks and sits like a two-legged creature. She does have a pet cat of her own, however, and it's called Charmmy Kitty.
So Hello Kitty is a little girl (and a friend). But it took a brief edit war for her Wikipedia page to reflect that. In the past two days there have more edits to Hello Kitty’s Wikipedia page than in the preceding two months. All but a couple of them are a back and forth over whether she’s a cat, a little girl, or something in between.
The exchanges have been civil, though there are a couple of incredible comments attached to the edits. For instance:
I must object strongly to the revision of Kitty's species. Nowhere in the reference does it state that she is a human. She is clearly an anthropomorphic cat, very unlike a common housecat, but also not a homo sapiens.
Things have settled now, and Hello Kitty’s species is currently listed as “Cartoon cat-like girl.” But I really love that this happened, its emblematic to me of what’s really fantastic about Wikipedia. The site has been much maligned in the past for inaccuracies and the potential danger of open edits. It’s nice to be reminded that sometimes editors will get very, very involved in trying to nail down small facts, even they’re about the nature of a cartoon character.
Update: Carolyn Kellogg points out that Sanrio has clarified their position. I believe my point about Wikipedia stands, although they may want to change Kitty's species again.