Elephants Rampaging Across Africa -- The New Wikiality

You may already have seen this. I stumbled across it on www.fark.com yesterday.

This broadbast orignially on Monday night, and already nearly 100,000 people have watched it on www.Youtube.com. Watch it before the cease and desist order arrives.

If you aren't familiar with www.wikipedia.com, it is basically an online encyclopedia that anyone can edit. The idea is that the more people reviewing and editing articles, the more accurate the content will ultimately be. This generally works out well, but for hot button, political, vanity, or controversial entries, it can quickly turn into disaster.

I often link to www.wikipedia.com because the entries are usually accuarate enough for my purposes. The site is a great jumping off point for additional research. But nothing on Wikipedia should be taken as gospel.

Most people edit entries to improve accuaracy and for the greater good of the Internet. It is a powerful democratizing force.

And then, things like this happen:

This is one of the funniest Colber bits I have seen in ages. His schtick is often about mocking the concept of relative truth.

Basically, he edited elephants entry to say their numbers have tripled in 6 months. And that Oregon is Idaho's Portugal.

His fans jumped on his suggestions. Wikipedia SysOps have had to lock down most pages relating to elephants, Oregon, Idaho, and plenty of others. The impact of this charge will be felt through Wikipedia for some time, as posters seek out any and all elephant related entries to change.

There an extensive discussion about this on Fark. You will find similar discussions plastered across the internet.

Here is a discussion about the issue on the Elephants page of Wikipedia itself:

Some related Articles on Wikipedia (most locked to prevent editing due to these adventures):

On each of those pages, there is a tab at the top labeled "History" that will show all the recent edits and reversionsm such as:


The story has been picked up by CNET

Late-night TV personality Stephen Colbert claims he has no qualms with
wikipedia. "I love Wikipedia," he said during the July 31 episode of his Comedy Central show "The Colbert Report," adding that "any site that's got a longer entry on 'truthiness' than on Lutherans has its priorities straight.

And Ars Tecnica:

Last night, Stephen Colbert aired a segment on Wikipedia in which he discussed "wikiality," the process of creating the reality one wants to believe in. Colbert referred to the process as "bringing democracy to knowledge" and suggested that his viewers head off to the Wikipedia entry for "elephant" in order to update it with the "fact" that Africa's elephant population has swollen in the last few years. Such an entry would be an "inconvenient tusk" for Al Gore and other environmentalists.

And the Gothamist, a New York focused site:

Sure, "citizen encyclopediaism" isn't a real term, but either was "citizen journalism" at some point, and with Wikipedia...anything can be fact, and anyone can author an encyclopedia entry. Sure the facts are sometimes...totally false, but c'mon, even the Encyclopedia Britannica got Stalin’s birth date and the birth name of Bill Clinton wrong.

1 comment:

Jon Clarke said...

That show is intimidatingly funny.