The lesser known Mountweazel
Not only is Mountweazel a great word, it is a useful tool used to find blatant plagiarism, copyright infringement and more. It is a fictitious entry or deliberate mistake and has a number of business uses.
Ordnance Survey and Google Maps regularly include small roads that do nt exist, to spot those that use their maps without permission. The A-Z ofLondon is believed to include 100 of these “trap streets”. For example, see if you can find the mythical ski slope when next in Hagerstown park.
In the 1960s, the BBC believed pirate radio stations in the North Sea were stealing news output, so that added some short fake stories and were not surprised when several of the pop stations repeated the news as fact. The Trivia Encyclopedia deliberately included false information about the first name of TV detective Columbo and then sued the makers of Trivial Pursuit who had used the information.
When writing an update recently, I thought for a few seconds whether the correct word was “learnt” or “learned” and eventually went with a completely made up word “leant” due to my poor typing skills. It’s frustrating that it was not possible to amend that update. It did however, remind me of the Mountweazel, (which should not be confused with a small brown mammal of the family Mustelidae – copyright Wikipedia) and I should have insisted that the incorrect spelling was a deliberate mistake to attract attention.
One Mountweazel that I recommend in business is used to find out if people read text properly (or at all). In a past job, when redefining an important advice process for advisers and support team to follow, we once added a line some way into the explanatory document stating that “the first person to read this can email the writer and win a bottle of wine”.
No-one emailed to claim the wine.
[First published on Linkedin]