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Colbert’s Wikiality (Part Deux) August 3, 2006

Posted by earthlingconcerned in pop culture, The Colbert Report, Wikipedia.
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Fresh off of writing an article on the Pop Culture of Wikipedia a few nights ago (Monday), I tuned into the Colbert Report and realized he was initiating his own type of popular influence onto the site. With his next to next to latest, “The WØRD”, he defined another word that will surely make as many headlines as last year’s “truthiness”:

Wikiality: the method of making something up, but getting enough people to agree with you so it becomes reality.

He went on to suggest to his loyal viewers that they should create a new truth on the status of elephants by editing the article on the animal to state that the elephant population has tripled in the last six months. Subsequently, throughout the next 24 hours, fans of the show edited the articles on Elephants, The Colbert Report, George Washington, Truthiness, Oregon, Bears (his arch nemesis on the show) and even the Wikipedia entry itself. Some of these pages have subsequently been locked to further edits by anonymous users and in some cases, by all users. To me, doing this makes sense, this has been done throughout the history of Wikipedia. Whenever controversy, or at least large scale vandalism occurs, the sites get blocked from further edits. George W. Bush has been blocked on and off throughout the last few years of his term. Israel has also recently made it on the list due to the current middle eastern conflict. It’s nothing new and barely anything that should bring ruin to the five pillars of Wikipedia. That, of course doesn’t mean Colbert would leave things alone after the first night!

On the 2nd of August, two nights after introducing the world to “Wikiality”, Mr. Colbert, in an effort to fill the time after his supposed guest Joe Lieberman (“Showless Joe”) failed to show (he started the interview into an empty chair), he decided to accept viewer phone calls. The third caller, A very sarcastic Maurice K. (from Beltsander, California) described his displeasure over the blocked access to the elephant page. His nasally, whiny voice may well have defined the new stereo-type for a Wikipedia user. Proclaiming that it was “indeed a dark day for the elephant fan community”, and when Colbert allowed him to share with the audience what he was planning on posting, he began, “When fully erect, an adult elephant penis is surprisingly…” before he was cut off by Colbert. During the interview of the actual guest, Linda Hirshman (author of Get to Work: A Manifesto of the Women of the World) got back onto the topic after disagreeing about some facts Colbert had on Latchkey Kids. He replied that he got his info after reading it somewhere, at which point she said, “probably somewhere like on Wikipedia?” He said he knew it was up written there, and she said, “it will be soon.” After this he looked directly into the camera and began with something along these lines, “Edit the Latchkey kids entry on Wikipedia, it is a fact that they become adults who go crazy.” And it sure was, 13 seconds after it was aired, the site was blocked for further edits and the discussion page began in an excited frenzy of thought! So it continues, Colbert keeps Wikipedia on high alert (ha!).

But really, what does this all mean? In the end, it doesn’t mean much more than a pretty funny commentary on Wikipedia. It just brings further light to how the strength of Wikipedia can also, at times, become a weakness. It’s just a little bit more work for a few frustrated editors. Without the current design, It wouldn’t be possible for six and a half million articles to be written on practically everything one can write on (to varying degrees of comprehensiveness (see below)) in several languages in under six years. Moments of large scale vandalism like this are bound to happen once in a while. Blocking further edits to heated topics should not be considered as dangerous censorship to an enlightened and free movement of open thought (please) but minor policing by those who have kept anarchy from taking over all this time. All of these protections are put in place after being discussed on varying levels (be it behind every articles “discussion” tab, or Community Portal and elections for the Board of Trustee are currently being advertised at the top of every single Wikipedia page. So for the forseeable future, the concept of wikiality is something that Wikipedia editors will have to keep an eye out (and considering the pace of the new blocks, it seems like the wikipedia community is watching Colbert closely). And remember, Colbert’s comments on Wikipedia bring attention to him, but also Wikipedia itself. All publicity is good publicity!

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Comments»

1. Colbert’s Wikiality (PART DEUX) | MyFourDay.com - August 3, 2006

[…] read more | digg story Bookmark This:These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and discover new web pages. […]

2. Lea - August 11, 2006

Hey! I’ve quoted your post here http://crouchingtigerhiddenlea.wordpress.com/2006/08/11/colberts-wikiality-by-earthling-concerned/

Hope you don’t mind, but I rather enjoyed it. If you’d prefer I removed it — I was sure to link you and credit the blog, but either way, it’d be understandable — let me know. No problem doing so if you’d prefer it. 🙂

3. earthlingconcerned - August 11, 2006

Not a problem. Thanks for letting me know.

4. Earthling Concerned » The Colbert Report (Updated) - August 16, 2006

[…] Colbert’s Wikiality (Part Deux) […]

5. Earthling Concerned » Snakes on a Plane and Late Night Television - August 23, 2006

[…] The primary reason for this post is to point out something else I’ve noticed about the hype. It all begins with the internet. The only reason so much time and effort has been given to Snakes on a Plan by shows like the Daily Show and the Colbert Report is because they get most of their information from the same places the average web user does. While the writers of the show browse through the news for something interesting or funny for the afternoon taping, they stumble upon the same blips of randomness that the rest of us do. They’re not the ones making the news, or for the most part, even sending people out to find the news (like one would hope traditional reporters do). Because of their research methods, the writers begin to notice something big is happening with Snakes On A Plane. All the Blogs and message boards are talking about it. Fan made videos are all over the place. Call it the reverse Colbert Effect (I’m losing myself in an ongoing loop of confusion here but won’t attempt to resolve it) if you want, but the internet does indeed deliver the stories to the show. Only recently has it gone the other way (ie. Colbert Bridge, Wikiality, etc.) I guess this transparency of information exchange from one medium to another rely on each another quite nicely. […]

6. uno - November 21, 2006

and now there’s a colbert based wiki at http://www.wikiality.com for the purposes of truthiness.

7. Snakes on a Plane and Late Night Television - earthling.concerned - October 16, 2008

[…] deliver the stories to the show. Only recently has it gone the other way (ie. Colbert Bridge, Wikiality, etc.) I guess this transparency of information exchange from one medium to another rely on each […]

8. The Colbert Effect - earthling.concerned - October 16, 2008

[…] but, maybe I’m just overanalyzing this whole situation like I have been since my first two articles! Beyond this, there is nothing for me to report except that the Samuel L. Jackson […]

9. The Colbert Effect (Updated) - earthling.concerned - October 16, 2008

[…] but, maybe I’m just overanalyzing this whole situation like I have been since my first two articles! Beyond this, there is nothing for me to report except that the Samuel L. Jackson […]

10. business directories - July 14, 2013

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