Stephen Colbert Gives Wikipedia a C*ck-Punch

Posted in Humour, Stephen-Colbert, Wikipedia on August 2nd 2006 by Randy Reichardt

.: On Monday night, Stephen Colbert nailed Wikipedia on “The Word” segment of The Colbert Report. The “word” on the 31 July 2006 episode was wikiality, the antidote to reality. As Colbert noted, “All we need to do is convince a majority of people that some factoid is true, for instance, uh, I don’t know, that Africa has more elephants today than it did ten years ago”, and it will be considered true, even if it isn’t true (it isn’t) – an example of wikiality in action. (Wikiality is related to truthiness, which “refers to the quality of stating concepts or facts one wishes or believes to be true, rather than concepts or facts known to be true.”) On the show, Colbert encouraged his viewers to find the Wikipedia article on elephants and edit it to suggest that the population has tripled in the past six months.

Well, enough viewers began working on the Wikipedia site that at least 20 elephant-related entries were temporarily locked down by the Wikipedia moderator(s), as well as the Colbert Report entry. Read: I Blocked Stephen Colbert on Wikipedia, by Andrew (Talkerblog), the moderator in question. Andrew wants Colbert to put him “on notice” for blocking him, but Colbert appears to be ignoring him so far. Extensive coverage appeared quickly on sites like Techdirt, Newsvine, CNET News, and John Q chronicled the gritty details here. Much discussion is ensuing on the Wikipedia discuss page, Talk: The Colbert Report, about the show and the fallout on the Wikipedia site.

Nicely timed, The Onion nailed Wikipedia as well this week, with its headline, “Wikipedia Celebrates 750 Years of American Independence.” My favorite line from the article: “While other news and information websites chose to mark the anniversary in a muted fashion, if at all, Wikipedia gave it prominent emphasis over other important historical events from the same day, including the independence of the nation of Africa in 1847, the 1984 ascension of Constantine to Emperor of the Holy Roman Emperor, and the 1998 birth of Smokey, a calico cat belonging to Mark and Becky Rousch of Erie, PA.” (The Onion’s take on the Carolina Hurricanes’ Stanley Cup victory is hilariously funny.)

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