Talk:Easter Island

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Annexation to Chile[edit]

There's no mention on the peruvians forcing rapa nui people to fight as slaves in the pacific war. As soon as liberated, the rapa nui along with the chinese fought in the chilean army against Peru as free men. Once the war was over, the rapa nui were brought back to the island and granted protection by the chilean government. THAT marked the desire of the rapa nui for being part of Chile: protection. It's a major event. They asked to be annexed. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 18:11, 24 November 2016 (UTC)

How The Moai Moved[edit]

There has not been a fresh idea on how this worked since like '98. Luckily, TRUtv has shown the way.

Long story short, the core investigation that needs to place is this: Did the inhabitants of Easter Island use sails to move the Moai from central quarries to their final resting places on the coast?

  • The inspiration for this theory comes from an episode of "World Most Outrageous" that I happened to flip through.
    • A clip was shown of a reporter near a massive collapsing outdoor awning structure. While the reporter and camera escaped unharmed, an SUV that was hooked via bumper to a support cable, was thrown easily into the air and tossed 50+ feet away.
    • The power to move that vehicle was produced with nothing more than a 30 mph wind and a poorly designed municipal public works project.
  • While many facts would need to align (heck, did they even have sails?) this theory seems just a plausible as any of the others offered and it meshed with that whole nebulous "walking/flying" folklore.
    • Take a big rock and tie some big sails to it...wait for wind...move giant rock...
    • Could work with Diamond: "When fishing becomes a mess, you sure as heck ain't usin' precious resources to sail stones around an island."

Thanks and let me know what you think...then let's talk about getting a little research project funded to see if we can hang glider rocks around Easter Island.

-sk71.87.115.171 (talk) 07:45, 6 September 2008 (UTC) business, economics, history, technology, and being awesome —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 07:43, 6 September 2008 (UTC)

Well it does have wind, and I love the idea of gliding statues from the summit of Rano Raraku to various sites around the island. But we need to focus here on the published scientific sources, and while we don't know for certain which techniques they actually used we don't need to invent new ones. But it would be interesting to know if the small Moai that used to be on Motu Nui was made of rock from that islet or the main island. ϢereSpielChequers 11:34, 6 September 2008 (UTC)

More Sections Needed[edit]

Trying to learn more about the modern island leaves a big gap in my knowledge. The photograph currently in the article suggests there is tourism and the article mentions immigration from mainland Chile. How is the economy structured? How do the citizens support themselves? What is the food source on such an isolated place? Thanks.-- (talk) 18:27, 22 December 2007 (UTC)

Incoherent Jumble[edit]

The historical section is a mess. Every other sentence seems to change directions.

"According to Carl Friedrich Behrens, Roggeveen's officer, "The natives presented palm branches as peace offerings. Their houses were set up on wooden stakes, daubed over with luting and covered with palm leaves," (presumably from Banana plants as the island was by then deforested)..."

This appears in a discussion of whether or not the island was de-forested! Talk about begging the question. GeneCallahan —Preceding signed but undated comment was added at 07:27, 29 September 2007 (UTC)

That's funny. THat is like saying "Deforestization of the forests occurred due to the deforestization of the forests during deforestization." -written by Calvert Deforest and Deforest Kelly. (talk) 03:31, 25 February 2010 (UTC)

Major misconception of what is a source.[edit]

This article suffers from shallow investigation and outdated ideas. Diamond is a secondary source reporting his opinions about other sources. These are what should be cited, not his book, which is an interpretation of the facts. Heyerdahl is thoroughly discredited by the lack of South American genes in the native population. The best current source is Bahn and Flenley, which is not even in the current list of citations. USAtoday reports on the AAA meetings are suspect at best. They summarize most of the avaiable studies and their arguements are pretty cogent. There are too many people on this page with an axe to grind about one thing or another to make any sense out of what it contains or intends. The current state palynology and archaeology suggests that people arrived around 3-400 CE. One persons recalibration of the dates does not out weigh the general consensus.

Their populations grew too large and consumed all of the available resources one way or another as is shown in the archaeological evidence. The arguement about rats vs people are not supported by other Polynesian islands with similar experiences.

Readers of this article should understand that this is a discussion between people with a point of view, not a dispassionate presentation of facts. For that read the actual source material

Kindly define what is the "actual source material". --Drieakko 08:35, 23 July 2007 (UTC)

The primary sources are the accounts of various visitors reporting what they've seen, various locals recounting what they know and scientists discussing their findings. Secondary sources are ones passing on information collected from a primary source and tertiary sources are ones that have collected info from secondary sources. I'm not sure how one classifies myths that have been handed down through dozens of generations, or how one best describes a discredited source like Von Daniken or a flawed source like Heyerdahl.

So Routledge, Metraux, Flenley and Bahn would all count as primary sources when they write about their own research but secondary sources when they quote Roggeveen and other early visitors, or interviewed people who lived through the slave raids. The image of the 1770 map is a primary source.Jonathan Cardy 06:32, 13 September 2007 (UTC)

Rapa Nui or Easter Island[edit]

Should this article be titled "Rapa Nui", maybe with a redirect from "Easter Island"?

I was thinking about that, but then I saw a Wiki policy somewhere that we should use the most widely used term, which in this case is Easter Island.Jonathan Cardy 21:42, 13 September 2007 (UTC)

I personally think that the article should be entitled "Rapa Nui" in order to preserve the original Polynesian name given by the island's inhabitants. Interestingly enough, the article on what is most commonly known as "Western Samoa" is entitled "Samoa," although the latter has always been used to describe all of the Samoan Archipelago as a whole. Someone should change both. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Youngnazarene (talkcontribs) 10:29, 15 January 2010 (UTC)

Or it can be called Rappa Nui on the Polynesian Wikipedia. Duh. --Kurtle (talk) 17:52, 5 April 2011 (UTC)

I think it should be called Easter IslandChristianblueeyes (talk) 20:30, 29 May 2013 (UTC)

At the end of the nineteenth century, Polynesians who sailed on whalers introduced the name of Rapa Nui (Big Rapa), probably because the island reminded them of another island called Rapa. This Polynesian name was embraced by the population and since then found its way into their myths. Elderly Rapa Nui at the beginning of the twentieth century told visitors that their ancestors lived on an island called Rapa. When they arrived to Easter Island a thousand years ago, they would have called the new island Rapa Nui in honour of their homeland. Eventually the population used this name not only for the island, but also for themselves and their language. However, mid-nineteenth century, this name was not yet in use on the island itself. In 1869, Roussel asked about the name Rapa Nui, but the population told him this name was completely unknown for them. Roussel already suspected that this name was given by other Polynesian sailors on the whalers. Every time Roussel asked about the name for the island he was told that the island never had any name, Te kainga at most, which means ‘the land’. That the Rapa Nui never used a name for the island in the past seems plausible. For centuries the island was deprived from any contact with the outside world (if there ever was any contact at all). Thus there never was any need to distinguish the island from another island. The Rapa Nui used many names for settlements and hamlets on the island itself. But until the arrival of the Europeans, the island was simply known as their secluded piece of Henua (Earth) in the vast Pacific. Taken from: The Resilience of Easter Island - A Historical Ethnography by Sebastiaan E.M. Roeling, Lulu Press 2015. ISBN 978-1-326-32911-2. See page 53. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 22:04, 15 September 2015 (UTC)

Your source appears to be a self-published book, and this is inadequate for use on Wikipedia.-gadfium 09:28, 16 September 2015 (UTC)

I would like to revive this discussion. Inhabitants of Easter Island prefer the term Rapa Nui in respect of their cultural heritage. Is it possible in this light to change the name? This would also promote the use of Rapa Nui in common language. Knippfisch (talk) 15:16, 24 February 2016 (UTC)

It would be unlikely to succeed for numerous reasons, but mainly WP:COMMONNAME and article title guidelines would leave it as EI. I will look later but believe Chile's official naming of the region/island is still EI (in Spanish). It is suggested to obtain more opinions then follow guidelines for a controversial move at WP:RM#CM.--☾Loriendrew☽ (ring-ring) 15:32, 24 February 2016 (UTC)
Wikipedia's role does definitely not include promoting a particular view or name. "Easter Island" is the usual name in English sources, and this is the English language Wikipedia. If you search for Rapa Nui you will find this article, as the name is what we call a 'redirect'. Doug Weller talk 19:31, 24 February 2016 (UTC)

Post contact history[edit]

More information on after-discovery history is missing. For example, the natives were subject to slavery, and several forms of exploitation that led to furthe loss of cultural transmission. "Someone" do it :) -- Error 02:27 May 15, 2003 (UTC)

I've added some bits but some of the information I have is contradictory so I've ordered a couple more books. Does anyone know a good source for the allegations about Doutrou Bournier and shipwrecking and forgery of artifacts? Also I've now seen four different figures for the number taken by the 1862 Peruvian slave raidJonathan Cardy 07:11, 7 September 2007 (UTC)

I've now sourced the Doutrou Bournier story from Fischer, I can understand why Routledge was a little too genteel to go into much detail other than his death.Jonathan Cardy 21:42, 13 September 2007 (UTC)

Statue costs[edit]

The article says

[The statues] must have been extremely expensive to craft; not only would the actual carving of each statue require years of effort...

but in Aku-Aku, Thor Heyerdahl writes that when he was on Easter Island, and requested that the natives make him a new statue, six men were able to make significant progress in only three days:

We sat down quetly on the grass and estimated the time needed by the ancient stonemasons to complete a statue. Each of us made his calculations. The mayor [one of those who had been working on the new statue] came to the conclusion that it would take twelve months to complete a medium-sized statue with two teams working all day in shifts. The tall old man said fifteen months. Bill [professor of archaeology] made an independent study of the rock and arrived at the same result as the mayor: the work on one statue would take a year, and then the problem of removing it would arise.

Dominus 04:10, 26 Jan 2004 (UTC)

Yes this needs rewriting though Tilberg is more up to date than Heyerdahl. Size of statue and material are also significant, does anyone know a source for estimates of how long the Basalt and Trachyte ones took to carve?Jonathan Cardy 07:11, 7 September 2007 (UTC)

South American Connections[edit]

The article states that "There is no evidence of any South American contact with the island as was once suggested by Thor Heyerdahl" without mentioning any of the evidence Heyerdahl pointed out. Here are some of those that at least need to be explained if dismissed.

1) Easter-islanders used stone in many ways to build religous and domestic structures. However, there is no evidence found on the island how they developed those skills. They seemed to have all the required knowledge of stonework and how to move giant structures already in their minds when they got started with the work. It would already be remarkable for a community of maximum 10,000 people to make all the inventions related to stonework, but even more remarkable it would be that they invented it all without any gradual steps that were required from much larger societies.

2) There are high-quality wall structures on island that resemble those in Tiahuanaco in today's Bolivia. The heyday of Tiahuanaco was 600-800 AD.

3) The round stone houses called "tupas" in Easter Island are very close to similar "chullpas" in South America. Both have also been used in the similar manner, to house those who have died.

4) The giant statues on the island are very dogmatic with very little variation during the about 500 years they were built. Once they got started with the highly stylized stonework, they stuck to the design with very little alteration. As stated before, there is no sign of gradual development of the statue production. Huge, stylized human statues are common in many prehistoric sites from today's Mexico to Bolivia. Statues on Easter Island have many similarities with the respective Indian work e.g. in Tiahuanaco, like the "hairdo", the ornamental "weeping eye" symbolizing the rain given by the Sun God and the way arms are carved in the stone. Another common cultural element are the statues' long ears that were a common upper-class symbol in South America.

5) Stone fish hooks found on the island have their similar counterpart on the South American coast. They are not known elsewhere in Polynesia.

6) Bone needles found on Easter Island were also common in South America. Outside New Zealand, sewing was unknown in Polynesia.

7) The paddles on Easter Island were double-bladed, again a South American tradition unknown elsewhere in Polynesia.

8) There are some dozen domestic plants growing on the island that are originally from South America.

9) Totora, the Titicacan reed growing in the volcanic lake in Easter Island (!), was bundled together and used in the very same manner than in South America.

10) Like Heyerdahl pointed out by doing it himself, the Indians had technical means to get over the Pacific ocean to Polynesia. Indians had these means to get to Easter Island for at least 2,000 years. During that time, there must have been countless people wondering what was on the other side of the ocean and trying to get there. If they had the way, time and opportunity, they most likely succeeded in the task.

Other points exist as well, but these are the main ones. South American influences do not mean that the inhabitants were from South America. It is clear that the population was largely from Polynesia and the culture in general largely Polynesian. To use this fact to deny all possibility of having any connection with the other side of the ocean, is not feasible. It seems reliable to assume, that people familiar with South American cultures got to the island and had a major influence on the existing Polynesian population.

I've long thought that Heyerdahl's hypothesis of South American contact with Easter Island, along with the likelihood population mingling, has some truth to it. The severe flamings I get when I mention this in some venues sometimes leads me to believe that these over-reactions belie nagging doubts but whatever. I don't accept the implied argument that taking Heyerdahl seriously is an attack on Polynesian culture. The plunge of Heyerdahl's reputation on the island (which began about 20 years after his visit), from being remembered as an archaeologist and explorer to being disdained as an adventurer and pseudo-scientist sort of saddens me. His archaeological monograph on the island (not Aku Aku) added much to scientific understanding of its history and is still referenced. Some of his assertions do contain leaps in logic and its true that he resisted peer review but his underlying observations IMO point to some sort of South American contact. I don't think he proved his hypothesis, neither do I think it has been disproved. Wyss 04:13, 19 February 2006 (UTC)
The problem is not that there was contact; the fact that there were sweet potatoes (native to South America) all across Polynesia means there had to have been some. That's an undeniable fact that can't be accounted for by any kind of cultural convergence. The problem is with the suggestion some have made that the South Americans made it all the way out to the speck of Easter Island and then never went any further, versus the Polynesians making one more hop to Chile after going all the way across the Pacific. I mean, if you didn't know that there were islands that are a long way apart (as the Polynesians obviously already did, but South Americans wouldn't), would you keep going 2,200 miles from the coast? And if you did know that lots of islands are out there, would you stop at Easter? Heyerdahl only showed that the South Americans' boats were capable (barely) of making it across such a distance. The fact is that Polynesians were serious seafaring people, and South Americans weren't. The fact that regular commerce continued over the 1,200 miles between Hawaii and Tahiti suggests that it wasn't impossible for regular contact to have gone on for some time between Easter and South America, allowing for cultural swaps like those mentioned above. KarlM 03:07, 10 January 2007 (UTC)

There is an interesting response to Thor Heyerdahl's claims on and the Marae article is worth reading for anyone who thinks the Rapanui unusual in being Polynesian who worked in stone. But may I propose the main place for Polynesia - South America contacts is the article Pre-Columbian trans-oceanic contact#Polynesians not Easter Island.Jonathan Cardy 21:18, 6 September 2007 (UTC)

Reordering of the history section -- a proposal[edit]

As it is the history section is inconsistent and controversial, starting from the incipit:

Early European visitors to Easter Island recorded the local oral traditions of the original settlers.

(how so? AFAIK, the first recording of oral traditions were made in late 19th century, over 150 after the island was visited, when the population was reduced to a few survivors).

I think that the history section should contain only the few uncontested facts: the the island was settled in (relatively) recent times, that in the past the island was forested, and that by the 19th century the island was deforested and its population reduced to about 100 inhabitants.

A separate section should then explain the different theories or hypotesis on what the causes of the deforestation and depopulation were:

  • the ecocide theory, that blames overexploitation of the natural resources, and conseguent war and famine
  • the climate change theory, that blames the Litte Ice Age period
  • the genocide theory, that blames slave raids and colonialism

For each theory, primary sources should be given (that is, writings by people who directly studied the island); the cited Diamond is a secondary source. StefanoC 08:11, 28 February 2006 (UTC)

Or perhaps there could be a description of a (more or less) "mainstream" reconstruction, with separate section reporting the alternate theories. StefanoC 08:30, 10 March 2006 (UTC)

The difficult thing here is that it isn't three separate theories. The main events of the 1860s and 1870s are reasonably well documented, OK precise numbers for how many were taken as slaves and how many died of Small Pox are unclear or unavailable, but does anyone have a source that disputes that both happened or that both were more serious than 25% of the surviving population dying from tuberculosis?

At different times in the two to four centuries between the peak population and the nadir of 111 people, Easter Island suffered from: Loss of trees and with them loss of the canoes from which they could catch fish other than from the shore. Inter clan wars that saw most Moai toppled, and an unknown number of deaths. Two documented major epidemics and possibly more. Half a century of slave raids culminating in the devastating event of 1862 Possibly famines from the occasional poor harvest.

What does seem to be contentious is: How long was it from first settlement to deforestation? How big was the population at its peak? How much if at all that fell by the time of European contact? What the carrying capacity of the island has been at various times and whether it has ever been exceeded? Were the inter clan wars caused by crop failure or the cause of crop failure? What the relative contributions were of several different disasters to the population collapse.

I may put something in about a circa 99% fall in population as I think that is non-contentious and well sourced. But I'm really not sure how to balance the more contentious bits, though I've ordered a couple more books and perhaps they will synthesis things.Jonathan Cardy 21:00, 6 September 2007 (UTC)

Section about Hunt contradicting Diamond[edit]

Diamond does talk about the rats being a part of the cause of plant extinction. I have not read Hunt's work criticizing Diamond, but if he says that rats contributed to plant extinction, he would be agreeing with Diamond. In "Collapse", Diamond says that all seeds found from a certain tree showed signs of rat bites, and could not germinate because of this. Where is the contradiction?

I just read the Rapa Nui section of Ronald Wright's book and the article by Hunt on the New Scientist website. I haven't read Diamond. But if the "established" opinion is that human settlement began about 500CE to 800CE and that deforestation was mainly due to human activity (with some help from rats) over the next 500 to 1000 years, then Hunt's contention that humans first arrived around 1200CE, bringing rats with them to accomplish deforestation in only 100 to 300 years (with some help from humans), seems like enough of a contradiction to make the debate worthwhile.LightSpeed 05:21, 15 April 2007 (UTC)

Apparently the statues numbered close to 900, weighed from 10 to 72 tons, and in many cases were transported long distances. It would seem almost inevitable that wood was a component of the transportation apparatus as rails and/or rollers, and may have been involved as well in erecting the statues. Has anyone calculated how many trees might have been required for these purposes - particularly trees sizeable enough to support heavy weights? If many were required, and trees were also cut for all the more conventional reasons, it is likely that human activity was a major contributor to the deforestation. Rats may have played more of a role in preventing regrowth than in the initial loss of trees. Fmoolten (talk) 01:30, 17 December 2007 (UTC)

Easter eggs[edit]

This is probably a coincidence but if it isn't it's worth exploring. The island was discovered on Easter Sunday, which is why it has it's name. According to the article, the natives maintained a tradition of going to a nearby island to find the first egg laid by a particular species of bird. The first one back got to determine how the island's resources were distributed.

Is this how the egg-hunting tradition on Easter got started? Seems awfully similar. -David Youngberg 04:59, 12 April 2007 (UTC)

No, Easter eggs are much older than the European discovery of Easter Island. See Easter_egg#History.-gadfium 06:51, 12 April 2007 (UTC)


There seem to be a number of innacuracies; for example, I see no reference that the original islanders brought dogs. Chickens and rats are the only animal newcomers cited. There are other errors. 16:53, 23 April 2007 (UTC)V.B.

If you can find a legitimate sourced reference to dogs or pigs on the island before European contact then that would be big news, current thinking is that those elements of the Polynesian toolkit didn't reach the island with Hotu Matua. Jonathan Cardy 07:46, 22 August 2007 (UTC)

Hanau eepe and hanau epe[edit]

"Verification needed" tags have appeared on the old dispute how to correctly spell the name of the legendary inhabitants of Easter Island. The "epe" appears in the meaning of "earlobe" in the Englert's old Rapa Nui dictionary from 1948 (by then, Englert had lived on the island for more than 10 years). His dictionary appears online nowadays. For "eepe" in the meaning of "stocky", see e.g. Fischer's island at the end of the world, page 42. See also Fischer page 48 for the note about the greatly lengthened earlobes of one part of the island's population. Whatever the correct translation, the related legends anyway emphasize the long earlobes of the hanau epe. --Drieakko 18:51, 15 May 2007 (UTC)

The word "eepe" appears also in Englert's dictionary in the meaning of "stout, corpulent". --Drieakko 04:56, 16 May 2007 (UTC)


The following exert from the History subheading in the First Settlers paragraph "or Indian balsa rafts have drifted to Polynesia, likely never being able to return due to their inferior navigational skills and less enduring ships" sounds quite offensive and implies that Native South Americans would not have been smart enough to make a return trip back to South America. TeePee-20.7 15:49, 18 May 2007 (UTC)

It is not offensive and least meant to be so. Polynesians settled everywhere in the Pacific, but South American Indians are not known to have surely reached any of the Pacific islands. Their ships were not enduring - Heyerdahl who built a copy of such quite literally witnessed how it fell apart at the end of his Pacific voyage. Having little experience in maritime travelling, Indians did not need navigational skills either. If their ship-building technology and navigational skills had been on the level of Polynesians, they surely would have taken over the Pacific islands. --Drieakko 17:08, 18 May 2007 (UTC)
To see racism in such a thing requires one to see things more racially than others. You have offended yourself. --Kurtle (talk) 17:56, 5 April 2011 (UTC)

Spinning off "History of Easter Island"[edit]

I'd like to spin of the history section to a separate article History of Easter Island. The section is fairly large compared to the rest of the article. --Drieakko 10:12, 15 June 2007 (UTC)

Good idea. You'll need to write a short summary of the history to stay in the main article.-gadfium 22:16, 15 June 2007 (UTC)

I like that but would go further. I suggest that all the controversies and alternative points of view be moved to sub articles such as Moai and Rongorongo, that the section on the name be moved to a minor part of the history, some of the repetition is tidied up and perhaps we need a culture article as a second section. Jonathan Cardy 12:59, 24 August 2007 (UTC)

Easter Island History now created, I think the sections on demographic history and ecological decline should be moved to it. Jonathan Cardy 23:01, 20 September 2007 (UTC)

Moai facing direction[edit]

Some Moai faced away from the sea, while others faced toward the sea. [1] MegaHasher 02:07, 13 August 2007 (UTC)

Most of those that were on Ahus were on the coast with their backs to the sea, at least one inland Ahu can be described as having its Moai facing the sea, but there was quite a bit of land in between it and the sea (I'm sure I've seen a quote smewhere that they faced their clan lands). And then there are the ones in transit or outside Rano Raraku.....Jonathan Cardy 17:51, 7 September 2007 (UTC)

It is interesting to note that most popular culture references to Moai incorrectly show them facing the ocean. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Bizzybody (talkcontribs) 03:52, 23 August 2008 (UTC)


The statements of Polynesian rats (Rattus exulans) causing deforestation is attributed to Hunt and also J. Stephen Athens. I could not find a direct reference to Athens other than Hunt's article. MegaHasher 02:38, 13 August 2007 (UTC)

It's also in Flenley and Bahn "the enigmas of Easter Island" page 198. The theory is that rats eat the seeds and prevented regeneration of the forest. Jonathan Cardy 22:22, 19 September 2007 (UTC)

Note that this is is entirely unproven. The argument originated from Hunt and goes like this: "R. exulans ate into extinction Pritchardia on the Hawaiian islands, hence it also seems to have eaten Paschalococos/cf. Jubaea into extinction on Easter Island, or at least it was the main reason for the ecological collapse and not human oxerexploitation."
There is a new paper by Hunt & Lito in which they retort to criticvism here, but the debate has deteriorated where it cannot be considered NPOV or science. For example,

Flenley and Bahn (2007a; 2007b) assert that the Jubaea chilensis palms of Chile live 2,000 years, but the basis of their speculation is unfounded.

is quite a cheeky statement from people whose competing hypothesis rests on the speculation that the fleshy fruit of Pritchardia are equally accessible to R. exulans as the tough nuts of the Easter Island palm. Yes there is evidence of rats gnawing and cacheing the seeds. But in Jubaea, there is actually a mutualism it seems: some of the seed end as food, others get gnawed at but not eaten and this actually seems to enable them to germinate faster - in Jubaea seed are dependent on mechanical or chemical action in the shell to germinate with reasonable odds of success, as common with palm "nuts" (pot coconuts often die in germaination because the hsk does not rot quickly enough in indoors climate).
In brief, there is no indication that Hunt's rat-induced collapse theory has any basis in fact at present. It might be true, it might be utter bullshit. Certainly, an adaptation to rodent gnawing might get lost on an island where no rodents exist - or it might not in a long-lived tree species in limited habitat and the absence of predators, because it is simply a neutral trait if the "nuts" are able to germinate for decades, until they have rotted enough naturally. And in any case, the initial colonization of the island was almost certainly by a palm that had very tough fruit shells, that would "like" to have a rodent nibbling away at them to be able to germinate properly; Paschalococos is best considered to be a derivative of proto-Jubaea stock at present.
Crudely put, Hunt says "a date is the same as a coconut, ecologically speaking, and therefore the human contribution to the ecosystem turnover on Rapa nui is minor". But neither is this true, nor does it answer how they got the moai there, nor is his maths solid science, nor does it explain the shift in the islanders' diet or the extinction of landbirds (for which the rats were responsible in some cases but almost certainly not in all; there were 2 species of rail relatives of which are known to be highly resilient against R. exulans colonization).
The truth is not found in Hunt's papers, and the truth is not found in the movie Rapa Nui. It is somewhere in between. That is the only scientifically possible conclusion of the available data.
But the new paper is worthwhile: it lists sources that discredit the notion that the "war of the 'long-ears' against the 'short-ears'" - if there actually ever was something like it - was anything else than the islanders' fight against raiding pirates and slavers.
See also here. To wit:

Hunt’s hypothetical population model is dissatisfying in this respect and seriously flawed for the period after the first European Contact with Easter Island. It even is at odds with the written text of his paper.

Good idea Mr Hunt, but you need to get up your own standards before starting the name-calling. Insofar, it is perhaps better to refer to the original sources for the cannibalism bit rather than to the Hunt papers. Who knows what else is "at odds with the written text"?
The same, of course, holds true for Hunt's detractors. Dysmorodrepanis (talk) 23:47, 26 November 2007 (UTC)
All this is, I should add, a word of caution. When you work in this field, you can sense a gathering storm. With words like "unfounded" and "seriously flawed" being thrown around by people who are not actually on different sindes, major ugliness seems to be brewing. Expect to see several more outlandish exaggerations by stupid media people in the due future. At present, the articles are nice and to the point and do avoid the controversy. A bit more mention of the rats could go in there, but again, if there is any other scholarly source than Hunt, I'd gladly take that. His work without doubt compares well to the standards of Heyerdahl's, but I don't think it's good enough for Wikipedia. And of course, news reports suck in such cases. Dysmorodrepanis (talk) 23:56, 26 November 2007 (UTC)
If you read the abstracts I linked, the data seems to point at a near-total collapse of the forest ecosystem between 1400 and 1500, or some 200-300 years after the arrival of humans and rats. If in the absence of new trees, almost all the upland forest could be wiped out in the time of 3 generations using stone-age technology, it is not really likely the rats did anything but settle a foregone conclusion. Dysmorodrepanis (talk) 00:04, 27 November 2007 (UTC)


I added Omphalos to the "See also" section because I feel the concept is clearly related. An Omphalos is a stone object that is the "navel of the world." And Easter Island is the "navel of the world". When I visited the island, there were many round stones about that were referred to as "navels". It makes sense to me to link the articles. --Elonka 03:27, 31 October 2007 (UTC)

Omphalos is a Greek concept. There is no relationship between Greek and Easter Island cultures.-gadfium 03:32, 31 October 2007 (UTC)
True, but I find it interesting (and I'm sure some of our readers would also find it interesting) that there are "navels of the world" on opposite sides of the planet. I don't think that there are enough to create a "Navels of the world" category, but it still feels like a "see also" is appropriate. --Elonka 05:01, 31 October 2007 (UTC)
I would agree to the last. It is the archetypical "see also", I'd even say. In biology, we have a term for this: convergent evolution. Dysmorodrepanis (talk) 23:50, 26 November 2007 (UTC)


No references to the predominant religion of nowadays in Easter Island, that is Catholicism, nor to the animist beliefs previous to the european arrival. I think these references should be added.Mistico (talk) 21:37, 11 January 2008 (UTC)

Great Island[edit]

Easter Island is Also Called the "Great Island"--Connie957 (talk) 20:37, 12 March 2008 (UTC)

Who calls it that? Please give a reliable source.-gadfium 21:58, 12 March 2008 (UTC)

Ethnocentric Garbage[edit]

The History section is full of it. There needs to be a clean up to distinguish actual facts from wild theories stemming from Thor Heyerdahl's now discredited stories.

(Pacaveli (talk) 04:55, 19 May 2008 (UTC))

History section rewrite[edit]

As said MANY times above the History section is a mess and needs to be COMPLETELY rewritten. I'd do it but I'm not the most qualified one on the subject, but this needs to be done ASAP. ☆ CieloEstrellado 00:49, 27 June 2008 (UTC)

I have replaced the extensive discussion of mythology with a summary of the article History of Easter Island. This undoubtedly needs refinement, but is better than the previous section.-gadfium 06:35, 27 June 2008 (UTC)
Wow that was fast. Thanks a lot! ☆ CieloEstrellado 13:37, 29 June 2008 (UTC)

Fresh water supply[edit]

There is little if anything about the supply of fresh water. There is a small lake in the crater of a volcano. I don't know how big it is but it can't be that big. In order to get more water it has to come from rain and if it is on top of a volcano there can't be much if any flow from higher sources. It would also help to know about the weather how much rainfall is there? How often are there droughts? The Island is only 64 sq. miles how many people can it feed? The natives had no access to outside food supplies. Any answers will be apreciated. Zacherystaylor (talk) 06:40, 5 September 2008 (UTC)

The three crater lakes are covered in Easter Island#Location and physical geography and the lakes in more detail under Rano Raraku, Rano Kau and Terevaka, and yes if you look at the maps or satellite photos Rano Kau is that big (though it is a pity that Rano Aroi doesn't appear on the maps we have - I suspect our maps are heavily influenced by the tourist routes). but the main article would benefit from more detail on climate and water supply. Also a paragraph about the various techniques the Rapanui had to capture rainwater, and their dryland farming techniques especially lithic mulch - I'm sure Sonia Hoa published on that. ϢereSpielChequers 07:29, 5 September 2008 (UTC)

Thanks I'll consider better ways of clarifying it but I don't know anything about how they capture rain water. If some one with more knowledge on climate beats me to it all the better. The best I could do is probably repeat the information in the ecology section which is where I expected to find it.

Zacherystaylor (talk) 07:20, 6 September 2008 (UTC)

They used various techniques, including some of their more interesting stonework. If you can wait a few days I'll reread the relevant bits of Fischer and update this, were you thinking of Water supply as a section in its own right? If so where? ϢereSpielChequers 11:15, 6 September 2008 (UTC)

Featured article?[edit]

The article about Easter Island is visited by many, and there are a lot of people working on the article, so I think that there should be enought "labor force" to rise the quality of the article to a FA or at least a GA. Currently i think that the "contemporary culture" and "mythology" sections need serious rewriting. But to get to the FA a more elaborate plan will be needed. Dentren | Talk 12:00, 21 December 2008 (UTC)

Well if it is going to be a featured article they should remove things like "The period when the statues were produced remains disputed"
(that second link will produce an annoying popup saying you're not subscribed, just keep dismissing it, go to the history of the island section...Brittanica is clear that there is no dispute about when the statues were made.)Point being, this is yet another example of how wikipedia is more about being a compendium of fringe theories, rather than a credible source of knowledge. Which is fine, wikipedia is quite useful for esoteric type stuff like what different kinds of Ewoks are featured in Star Wars, but it just reminds us why real encyclopedias are not GPL. The GPL (and other "copyleft" licenses) is a good license for software...but with an encyclopedia you need professional editors who are not going to allow stupid comments like claiming that the age of the statues is in dispute. That's like saying the age of the Earth is in dispute. Technically true, but highly misleading. The age of the Earth is NOT in dispute by credible scientists (unless you count 1% differences etc.), and either is the age of the Easter Island statues. If this is supposed to be an encyclopedia, then there can't be In Search of the Ancient Astronauts or Art Bell, Coast to Coast AM type stuff. (I do enjoy that radio show, but it's entertainment...) At least the Apollo article does not talk about "we never landed on the moon" theories, I'll give wikipedia that. (talk) 05:56, 14 March 2009 (UTC)
Well is there somebody more positive about it? Rongorongo and Decipherment of rongorongo are already Featured article no dubt there is expertise here to raise the article to FA status, why dont do a work plan? Dentren | Talk 22:41, 1 December 2009 (UTC)
No, "the Apollo article does not talk about "we never landed on the moon" theories", but there is an entire article devoted to Moon landing conspiracy theories! ;-) . -- (talk) 05:35, 1 February 2010 (UTC)

The Movie[edit]

I arrived here via Rapa Nui (film) and it seems that it is not mentioned or linked to in this article. Is this considered not 'encyclopaedic' for inclusion?, and/or has this been discussed before and given the thumbs down?. -- (talk) 05:35, 1 February 2010 (UTC)

Unclear introduction[edit]

This sentence doesn't make any sense, and does not flow at all from the previous sentences in the introduction: "Ethnographers and archaeologists now argue that the introduction of diseases carried by European colonizers and the slave raiding[4] that devastated the population in the 1860s had a much greater social than environmental impact." Who was ever arguing that slave raiding and disease had an environmental impact? The commonly made argument in anthropology/environmental science is that overpopulation resulted in total environmental devastation and, later, societal collapse. What am I missing?--Brokev03 (talk) 01:15, 23 January 2011 (UTC)

Hm. As a bedtime treat to myself, I'll hazard a guess, and change accordingly. Better meaningful and wrong than impenetrable - if wrong, it can be corrected by watchers with access to the article sources, but please, please let it not be simply reverted. Haploidavey (talk) 01:42, 23 January 2011 (UTC) And frankly, the "greater environmental impact" still doesn't make sense to me. Social, yes. But how could depopulation possibly have an adverse environmental impact? Haploidavey (talk) 01:59, 23 January 2011 (UTC)

Description of moai[edit]

I received the following comment on my talk page:

Hi Beyond My Ken,

I just happened to look into some of the editing of the Easter Island page, just for fun. I went into a part of the page where someone had written something bogous (to see what people are capable of ...) and saw that You had re-edited stuff many times. As an Polynesian archaeologists I have some knowledge about the place, but so far no practice in editing Wikipedia articles. I'll hope to learn.

If You still are active on this site perhaps You might correct this mistake?

Although often identified as "Easter Island heads", the statues are actually complete torsos, the figures kneeling on bent knees with their hands over their stomachs. Some upright moai have become buried up to their necks by shifting soils.

In the paragrah above it is stated that the statues are torsos, which is true. Then it goes on to state that "the figures kneeling on bet knees with their hands over their stomacks". This position refers to I believe four statues that are found which are shaped with legs and all. The classic statues, the moai, are only torsos, in the meaning that they are cut off above (or, perhaps, sometimes just below)the reproductive organ, that is the top of the thighes. So they are not really kneeling, as far as I can understand. At the very least this entry might direct people to think of the kneeling statues like Tuketuri, the first kneeling statue found, and which has a picture illustration just after this section in the article.

Well, hope this makes sense, and if You are not currently active on this site, give me a hint and I'll try to fix it sometime in the future.

My name: Reidar Solsvik, curator at The Kon-Tiki Museum, username: reidar.solsvik e-mail:


Reidar.solsvik (talk) 14:31, 21 April 2011 (UTC)

to which I responded on the commenter's talk page:

Thanks for the information on Easter Island, which I'll integrate into the article later today, when I have a little more time. It would be helpful to do so with a citation from a reliable source. Can you provide a cite for the information you outlined from a published source? Putting the information in with a reference will help prevent it from being deleted at a later time. Best, Beyond My Ken (talk) 15:30, 21 April 2011 (UTC)

I have not yet received a response from Reidar.solsvik, but AGF, I have made the appropriate change to the article. I am not an expert in this area, and I'm relying on the information that has been provided me. If anyone objects, or would like to discuss the change, this is the place to do it. I will make Reidar.solsvik aware of that. Thanks, Beyond My Ken (talk) 21:14, 21 April 2011 (UTC)

Hi again, References,

Skjølsvold, Arne Report 14: The Stone Statues and Quarries of Rano Raraku In Thor Heyerdahl and Edwin N. Ferdon Jr. (eds.) Reports of the Norwegian Archaeological Expedition to Easter Island and the East Pacific, Volume 1, Archaeology of Easter Island, Monographs of the School of American Research and The Museum of New Mexico, Number 24, Part 1, 1961, pp. 339-379. --> Specific pages is p. 346 for the description of the general statues and Fig. 91, p. 347. --> Specific pages for the kneeling statue is pp. 360-362.

Van Tilburg, Jo Anne Easter Island. Archaeology, Ecology and Culture, British Museum Press 1994:134-135, fig. 106.

Sorry for the dealy, hope You had a good easter. Reidar. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Reidar.solsvik (talkcontribs) 10:28, 26 April 2011 (UTC)

Very nice, thank you. And thanks for the refs, which I've added to the article. Beyond My Ken (talk) 13:22, 26 April 2011 (UTC)

Non-breaking space between linked text and ref[edit]

Discussion moved to Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style (footnotes)#Non-breaking space_ between_ linked text and ref because it's a formatting issue, not specifically related to this article Mitch Ames (talk) 11:05, 22 April 2011 (UTC)
Please continue the discussion there, not here

I removed a non-breaking space in the lead paragraph between the linked text "slave raiding" and the ref tag after it, to comply with WP:REFPUNCT. Beyond My Ken restored it because "without the nbsp, the ref becomes part of the link in some browsers". It seems odd that this problem should occur here, and that there is no mention of such possible problems in WP:REFPUNCT. Some questions for Beyond My Ken:

  • Which browser is having the problem?
  • Do you have the same problem with other articles?
  • When you say "the ref becomes part of the link", have you checked where clicking on the ref takes you? With both IE6 and Firefox 3.6, I see "slave raiding" and "[4]" in blue and they might look to be a single link, but hovering the mouse over "raiding" or "[4]" shows a different target in the status bar, and click takes me where it should.
  • If this is a reproducible problem, I expect that it would apply to other articles as well, and we should probably update WP:REFPUNCT accordingly. (I know we have WP:IAR, but we shouldn't have to invoke that for something that we know will happen in many places - WP:REFPUNCT should mention the problem.)

Mitch Ames (talk) 05:02, 22 April 2011 (UTC)

This is not a browser-specific problem -- or, rather, a number of browsers exhibit it, as both IE and Firefox will combine the ref into the link if it's not separated with a non-break space. (This doesn't happen all that often, because with frequency the ref is separated from the link with a punctuation mark, such as a period or a comma.) The problem is visual, not functional, in that the underline (which indicates the link) continues under the ref. I find this less than ideal, hence the nbsp to separate them. Beyond My Ken (talk) 05:19, 22 April 2011 (UTC)
Let me backtrack on that a little bit. I first saw the problem under IE, but then I believe I also saw it under Firefox. Either I was mistaken about that, or Firefox has fixed the problem. In any case, under IE the following:
Little Boxes[1]
still shows the underline under the ref. Since IE is, still, the browser used by more people than any other, I believe I'm justified in separating the link from the ref with a nbsp. If the problem is eventually solved, it's fairly easy to remove these spacers. Beyond My Ken (talk) 05:36, 22 April 2011 (UTC)
P.S. If you'd like, I'd be hsppy to send you a screen shot showing the problem. Beyond My Ken (talk) 05:43, 22 April 2011 (UTC)

Most remote?[edit]

There is a citation in this artilce claiming that Easter Island is the most remote inhabited island in the world. There is also a claim on the page for Pitcairn Islands that claimst Pitcairn is the most remote inhabited island. At least one of these has to be wrong. According to the coordtinates , it appears to be Pitcairn (130 degrees W vs 109 degrees W for Easter. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 04:35, 28 April 2011 (UTC)

If both claims are cited from reliable sources, then both claims can appear in their respective articles, since they are claims and not necessarily proven facts. If an independent reliable source compares the claims and decides that one is correct and the other is not, then we report that. Beyond My Ken (talk) 07:18, 28 April 2011 (UTC)
Since the claim in Pitcairn Islands is unsourced, I've removed it. Beyond My Ken (talk) 07:20, 28 April 2011 (UTC)

Tristan da Cunha is also claimed (and sourced) to be the most remote inhabited island. Easter Island is closer to it's closest inhabited neighbour, but Tristan da Cunha is closer to the mainland. Perhaps the article should be edited to reflect this, but I'm not sure on the wording. (talk) 11:45, 13 September 2011 (UTC)

File:Orthographic projection centred over Easter Island.png Nominated for Deletion[edit]

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Edit request on 30 June 2012[edit]

Please change in the Ecology section:

"Rat teeth marks can be observed in 99% of the nuts found preserved in caves or excavated in different sites, indicating that the Polynesian rat impeded the palm's reproduction. That, and the clearance of the palms to make the settlements, led to their extinction almost 350 years ago.[40]"


"Rat teeth marks were observed in 99% of the nuts found preserved in caves, though they were observed in less than 10% of nuts found in other locations across the island [Sources 1,2], indicating that the Polynesian rat may have had some impact on the palm's reproduction. However, since Chile has forests where the Polynesian rat and the Jubaea palm coexist, it seems likely that rats played at most a small part in the local extinction of the palms on Easter Island almost 350 years ago [Source 1]. Direct human activities like clearing forest for settlement and agriculture likely played the largest part [Source 1]."


1. Mieth, A., & Bork, H.-R. (2009). Humans, climate or introduced rats - which is to blame for the woodland destruction on prehistoric Rapa Nui (Easter Island)? Journal of Archaeological Science, 1–10. doi:10.1016/j.jas.2009.10.006

2. Vogt, B., 2009. Wasserbau unterm Regenbogen. Archa ̈ologie in Deutschland 4/2009, 12–16.

Aqaamz1 (talk) 17:48, 30 June 2012 (UTC) Not done for now: I don't have access to the source, so I want to make sure that the facts presented were expressly stated in the source. Are they or did you determine this based on the information in the sources? Ryan Vesey Review me! 20:27, 30 June 2012 (UTC)

5 April?[edit]

Hi James,

Your contribution is unreferenced and IMHO a superfluous ballast for the article. Regarding your information is widely available in ephemerides and almanacs and that it is already listed in the article, I agree with you: it is superflous ballast. I may remember you that The burden of evidence lies with the editor who adds or restores material, and is satisfied by providing a reliable source that directly supports the material. --Best regards, Keysanger (what?) 13:19, 6 February 2013 (UTC)

You think the actual date of discovery is unnecessary? I disagree. It is vital information for the article. You may prefer it if this article simply says "Discovered on Easter Sunday", but many readers will, I am sure, be frustrated at having to then find a different article which will list the date of Easter Sunday, as I was when I looked this article up. This was the reason I added the information in - it was important information which enhanced the article. BTW, you have misquoted my edit summary. What I wrote was "Easy enough to check by an ephemeris which day Easter Sunday was. Does not need referencing." The date of Easter Sunday for 1722 is mentioned in several other articles on Wikipedia (such as April 5) - do these also need the same references? I'm glad you "agree with me", BTW, though your previous statement seems to contradict that. Since you insist (correctly) on a citation for the actual date, I have provided one. Grutness...wha? 00:28, 7 February 2013 (UTC) PS - where do you remember me from? I don't remember you...
Oh, and in future, a simple {{citation needed}} is a far less antagonistic way of going about improving an article that the wholesale excising of information. I suggest, BTW, that you consider adding such a template to the entire "Location" section of the article, and several paragraphs in the Geology and History sections, much of which seems to be unsourced. Grutness...wha? 00:42, 7 February 2013 (UTC)

Please notice that the climate table contains wrong figures in temperature according to cited resource[edit]

I had just edited it but was removed afterwards. Pay attention to both the highest and lowest recorded temperatures please! 霎起林野间 (talk) 14:19, 6 June 2013 (UTC)

I checked it. It is correct but the units should be in Celsius, not imperial units. You might have misunderstood the data from the website because it displays it in °F although it can also be displayed in °C. Ssbbplayer (talk) 20:29, 7 June 2013 (UTC)

Thank you for your attention. Unfortunately I don't think a record low in December of 3°C (which is 37°F) is the same as the 55°F recorded in the database. Would you be happy to check it both carefully and kindly once more? Farewell. (talk) 01:42, 13 June 2013 (UTC)

Sorry I should have logged in before I posted.霎起林野间 (talk) 01:44, 13 June 2013 (UTC)

I verified that current version of the article is accurate against sources [2] and [3] (although they disagree with each other slightly).
There is a guy around, called "climate chart vandal", who quietly and slightly changes sourced climate chart data, just for fun. His latest sock is MarkoRF1 (talk • contribs • deleted contribs • nuke contribs • logs • filter log • block user • block log), and he visited this article on June 11 (reverted since). No such user (talk) 08:16, 14 June 2013 (UTC)
I see. It's true that the two sources disagree with eavh other, but only on the average temperatures (not on the recorded high or recorded low, as source [4] does not bear any information of them). My concern is that we should make these two categories accord with this source [5]. Don't you see they are totally different even in your version?霎起林野间 (talk) 13:56, 14 June 2013 (UTC)
"Totally"? They differ by less than one degree, on average:
Weatherbase 25 26 25 24 22 21 20 20 21 21 22 24 27,0 27,3 26,9 25,4 23,4 22,0 21,3 21,2 21,7 22,5 23,9 25,4
Weatherbase 21 21 21 20 18 17 16 16 16 16 18 19 19,8 20,2 19,9 18,9 17,7 16,5 15,7 15,4 15,5 16,0 17,3 18,4
The end result depends on methodology, number of years analysed, and so on, so I'm not too surprised. Not sure what to make out of this... No such user (talk) 10:02, 17 June 2013 (UTC)
I've stressed on it again and again that the differences were on recorded but not average. How come you are still looking at the average ones? That's ridiculous... One more thing, I checked it again and finally determined that the differences were only on the recorded low temperature from October to December (not "totally" actually), probably due to careless input. I've already corrected them and please check it. Thx! 霎起林野间 (talk) 06:45, 18 June 2013 (UTC)
Well, it wasn't quite clear, and my check was not thorough enough, obviously... Anyway, thanks for the fix. No such user (talk) 07:34, 19 June 2013 (UTC)
I would oppose to making these two categories accord with this source [6] because the data from is reliable (indicates period of recording and is exactly the same numbers as the one from WMO such as the one on Santiago) and is more precise than the weatherbase one (they rounded the numbers to the closest degree). Again I agree with No such user that the result depends on methodology, period of data recorded, etc. Right now, it the climate data is correct based on the source. Ssbbplayer (talk) 14:06, 19 June 2013 (UTC)
Not quite clear about your logic.霎起林野间 (talk) 14:35, 21 June 2013 (UTC)
Okay. I think this discussion has confused everyone. I have changed the values, using data from Deutscher Wetterdienst, a reliable source compared to weatherbase. It is fairly good, covering from 1912–1990. Ssbbplayer (talk) 03:00, 25 January 2016 (UTC)

Minor edit / clarification request[edit]

The stone chisels were sharpened by chipping off a new edge when dulled. The volcanic stone was first wetted to soften it before sculpting began, then again periodically during the process.

Line 445 above mentions the volcanic stone being wetted. At first I thought this was about the tool, and so should be "whetted", in the sense of sharpening, but upon re-reading think it is intended to signify the stone was moistened. If the later is intended, then to conform to standard grammar it should say "wet" (-ed is not added to "wet" to form the past participle of the verb). Otherwise, for the former meaning, it's "whetted". This sentence is not quite clear in its meaning anyway, I think, hence my uncertainty about what is meant. (talk) 10:40, 8 September 2013 (UTC)

Administration and legal status[edit]

In the article is stated: „As of 2011 a special charter for the island was under discussion in the Chilean Congress.” Any further information? 4 years have passed… Aotearoa (talk) 08:05, 20 April 2015 (UTC)

External links modified[edit]

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The infobox used in the article[edit]

Hi everyone! I was wondering why {{infobox settlement}} is used in this article as opposed to {{infobox island}}? Any objections to changing the infobox? 凰兰时罗 (talk) 21:18, 2 December 2016 (UTC)

External links modified[edit]

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Map point of interest icon misplaced[edit]

In the infobox for the Rapa Nui National Park there is a lovely vertical image of Chile with the location of Easter Island marked. However, due to the location of Easter Island far to the West, the icon appears in the middle of the article text. I'm not sure how to replace the image or remove the marker. Some guidance here would be appreciated. Ckoerner (talk) 20:50, 11 May 2017 (UTC)

Fixed [7]. The map is redundant to the one from the main infogox. On retrospect, it should be removed from the Wikidata as well – Easter Island won't fit into map of Chile anyway, so it's bound to cause problems on all Wikipedias that include the equivalent functionality. No such user (talk) 10:52, 12 May 2017 (UTC)

External links modified[edit]

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  1. ^ fake reference