Wikipedia in popular culture

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With increased usage and awareness, there has been an increasing number of references to Wikipedia in popular culture. Many parody Wikipedia's openness, with characters vandalising or modifying the online encyclopedia project's articles. Still others feature characters using the references as a source, or positively comparing a character's intelligence to Wikipedia.


[edit] General

Image:Foxtrot wikipedia.jpg
FoxTrot comic strip about Wikipedia.

Wikipedia is parodied at several websites, including Wikiality and Uncyclopedia.

In the July 2006 issue of Mad, in the Fundalini pages section there was a short joke with a mock picture of Wikipedia called "WonkyPedia." WonkyPedia featured its own logo, in which the letters on the puzzle globe were replaced with MAD characters and the letters M A D. The article shown was on Lincoln's assassination. The HTTP address followed the appropriate pattern: "". The same parody returned in the next issue as "Wakipedia". The phrase it advertised was "The Free Encyclopedia (you get what you pay for!)".

Likewise,, the online publication affiliated with former Mad rival Cracked, has satirized Wikipedia's maintenance templates.<ref>Template:Cite web</ref>

[edit] Vandalism of Wikipedia in popular culture

Image:Penny Arcade comic-20051216h.jpg
Penny Arcade satirizies Wikipedia with a hypothetical scenario of Skeletor vandalizing the He-Man article

The May 7, 2005, FoxTrot comic strip showed one character appending his older sister to unflattering Wikipedia articles. In a similar joke, the web comic Penny Arcade also satirized Wikipedia with a comic strip depicting Skeletor vandalizing the He-Man article.<ref>Template:Cite web</ref><ref>Template:Cite web</ref> The web comic PvP featured a similar gag with the character Marcy adding embarrassing information about Francis, though she denies it's vandalism, claiming truth.<ref>Template:Cite web</ref><ref>Template:Cite web</ref>

In an article from The Onion, the character Larry Groznic writes an article about how he was banned from Wikipedia for starting an edit war on the "Weird Al" Yankovic page, and goes on to criticize the content on the said page.

On the July 31, 2006 episode of The Colbert Report, Stephen Colbert encouraged his viewers to vandalize Wikipedia. He also coined the word "wikiality" for his segment "The Wørd". Colbert checked Wikipedia to determine whether he had referred to Oregon as being California's Canada or Washington's Mexico before deciding to call it Idaho's Portugal and adjusting a Wikipedia article to say so, retroactively. During "The Wørd" segment Colbert asks his viewers to vandalize the Elephants page with the text "the number of Elephants has tripled in the last six months". This has been attempted many times, causing that page and related pages to go to a restricted editing mode under the semi-protection policy of Wikipedia; noted in a later episode.

On November 2 2006, The Toucher and Rich Show received an email, from a fan who searched for Mantown on Wikipedia, and found it was a society for gay men to start families in. This was notable because Mantown is also the name of the club for Toucher and Rich's rivals, "The Hillman Morning Show" on WAAF. After a Hillman fan edited the page to remove references to homosexuality, Toucher and Rich fans edited the page to make it seem overtly homosexual, including pictures of The Village People, Gay Pride Parades, Richard Simmons and The Fab Five, with captions claiming the pictures were of the Hillman show crew. The page also got filled with many inside jokes from the show, and Toucher and Rich would read page updates live on the air. Editing stopped when the page was locked and later deleted.

Image:White Nerdy YOU SUCK cropped.jpg
Al takes revenge on Atlantic Records using Wikipedia

In the song "White & Nerdy", by "Weird Al" Yankovic, the titular "nerd" says that "editing Wikipedia" is one of his nerdy activities.<ref>White & Nerdy lyrics:

My ergonomic keyboard never leaves me bored
Shopping online for deals on some writable media
I edit Wikipedia
I memorized Holy Grail really well
I can recite it right now and have you ROTFLOL</ref> In the video, Al is shown editing the article Atlantic Records by typing in large letters YOU SUCK, referring to the record company not permitting him to include "You're Pitiful", a parody of James Blunt's song "You're Beautiful", on his new album. This has resulted many people to vandalize the Atlantic Records page to simply say "You Suck!" inspired by the music video, resulting in the page being semi protected. Yankovic has said that he does not approve of the vandalism, though he admits being amused by it.<ref name="Herald">Adams, Cameron. “Weird Al Yankovic.” Herald Sun, October 5, 2006.</ref>
Further information: Atlantic Records#Media references,  You're Pitiful#Controversy, and White & Nerdy#References in video
Further information: Wikipedia:List of media personalities who have vandalised Wikipedia

[edit] Citations of Wikipedia in popular culture

Image:Bunny 303.png
Bunny strip which features Wikipedia. The tombstone reads: "RIP Jeph Jacques" with the bottom caption: "The Moral of the story is you cannot always trust what you read on Wikipedia."

On the March 1, 2006, episode of The Colbert Report, Arianna Huffington challenged host Stephen Colbert on his claim that he had coined the word "truthiness." She cited Wikipedia, claiming that he had merely "popularized" the term. Regarding his source, Colbert, in character, responded: "Fuck them."<ref name="Colbert-Huffington">The Colbert Report, "Faith", Comedy Central, March 1 2006.</ref>

Colbert refers to Wikipedia as his source of information for research on Sigmund Freud, on the 9 May 2006 episode of The Colbert Report. With his normal sarcastic and deadpan delivery, Colbert's segment "The Wørd" mocked Wikipedia's sometimes-questionable information with the screen posting "Even the accurate parts."<ref name="Colbert-accurate">The Colbert Report, "Superegomaniac", Comedy Central, May 9 2006.</ref>

On the October 30, 2006 episode of Prison Break, Michael Scofield searches for Agent Mahone and reads an article on Wikipedia with a similar layout and his image in the top left.

Hannelore, a character in webcomic Questionable Content, suffers from obsessive-compulsive disorder. She references Wikipedia's article on head lice as the reason why she cut most of her hair off.<ref>Template:Cite web</ref>

In the Homestar Runner cartoon No Hands On Deck!, Homestar Runner mentions that "'Kipedia said vulcanized was the way to go" in reference to the type of nails used to build a deck<ref>Template:Cite web</ref><ref>Template:Cite web</ref>. At the time the cartoon was released, the Wikipedia article on decks made no reference to nails or vulcanization<ref>Template:Cite web</ref>.

The cartoon FoxTrot features Peter being criticized by his teacher for copying a homework assignment directly from Wikipedia. Peter replies, "Who's to say I didn't write the Wikipedia entry myself?"

Following Jericho episodes on Network 10 in Australia, a promotion would appear encouraging viewers to log onto Wikipedia and search for "Jericho (tv series)" for proof of the hype and theories surrounding the show.

During a debate on Québécois nationhood in the Canadian House of Commons on November 27, 2006, Conservative Member of Parliament Scott Reid mentioned Wikipedia.<ref>Hansard, November 27, 2006.</ref>

[edit] Inaccuracies on Wikipedia in popular culture

Wikipedia was satirized in The Onion with a front page article in July 2006, "Wikipedia Celebrates 750 Years of American Independence", alluding to the frequent inaccuracies in a publicly editable publication.<ref>Template:Cite web</ref>

Various notable people including Jeremy Clarkson<ref>Template:Cite web</ref>, Ian McKellen<ref>Empire Magazine, May 2006.</ref> and Mitch Albom have made comments in the media, questioning Wikipedia worth on articles regarding themselves.

[edit] Wikiality

In a July 2006 episode of the satirical comedy The Colbert Report, Stephen Colbert announced the neologism wikiality, a portmanteau of the words Wikipedia and reality, for his segment "The Wørd". Colbert defined wikiality as "truth by consensus" (rather than fact), modeled after the approval-by-consensus format of Wikipedia. He ironically praised Wikipedia for following his philosophy of truthiness, in which intuition and consensus is a better reflection of reality than fact:


According to Colbert, together "we can all create a reality that we all can agree on; the reality that we just agreed on." During the segment, he joked "I love Wikipedia... any site that's got a longer entry on truthiness than on Lutherans has its priorities straight." Colbert also used the segment to satirize the more general issue of whether the repetition of statements in the media leads people to believe they are true. The piece was introduced with the tagline, "The Revolution Will Not Be Verified," referencing the lack of objective verification seen in some articles.

Colbert suggested that viewers change the elephant page to state that the number of African elephants has tripled in the last six months. The suggestion resulted in vandalism of Wikipedia articles related to elephants and Africa.[1] Wikipedia administrators subsequently restricted edits to the pages by anonymous and newly created users.

Many believe Stephen Colbert himself vandalized several Wikipedia pages at the time he was encouraging other users to do the same. Regardless, the user, whether it was Stephen Colbert himself or someone posing as him, has been blocked from Wikipedia indefinitely.<ref>"Colbert Causes Chaos on Wikipedia", Newsvine, August 1 2006. Retrieved on 2006-09-28.</ref> This user was not blocked for vandalism, joking, or 'poking fun at Wikipedia', but because the user violated Wikipedia's username policies, which state that using the names of celebrities as login names is inappropriate. The account will be reopened if and when Colbert or Comedy Central confirm its identity.[2]

Global Language Monitor, which tracks trends in languages, named wikiality and truthiness the top T.V. buzzwords for 2006.<ref>""Truthiness," "Wikiality" named TV words of year", Reuters, August 27 2006. Retrieved on 2006-08-28.</ref><ref>Template:Cite web</ref>

Shortly after the episode aired, a fan-created Wikipedia parody site opened at Wikiality, inspired by the term. On October 19 2006, the term was mentioned again on the show, this time with given as the url for Wikipedia.

See also: Consensus reality

[edit] Wikipedia as a character trait

Hank Scorpio, a character from The Simpsons, mocks intelligent girl Lisa Simpson for citing her knowledge of him and his illegal activities (which he assumes she simply read from Wikipedia) during a prison break scene in Simpsons Comics #117.<ref>An exact citation of the Wikipedia referencing passage of The Simpsons Comics #117:

Lisa: Say, aren't you Hank Scorpio, the criminal mastermind?
Hank: I prefer the term "Entrepreneurial mastermind", but yes, that's me.
Lisa: You blackmailed the federal government into giving you control of the American east coast. Now everyone thinks you are dead.
Hank: Aren't you adorable? We're all about to be shot as escaped prisoners, and you're reciting my entry in the Wikipedia. I hope you're proud of her, Homer. She's great!


In 2006, commenting to The New York Times on the demands on Central Intelligence Agency analysts to produce instant information, John E. McLaughlin, former acting U.S. Director of Central Intelligence, stated, "intelligence analysts end up being the Wikipedia of Washington".<ref name=McLaughlin>Tim Weiner, "Langley, We Have a Problem", The New York Times, 14 May 2006</ref>

An review of a new television series about terrorists noted that the characters routinely gave detailed background of events in the history of Islam and stated, "no one, and I assume even terrorists, talks like a walking Wikipedia."<ref name="sleeping cell">Wajahat Ali, "Sleeping Cell",, 16 January 2006</ref>

[edit] Miscellaneous

Wikipedia has its own parody sites: Uncyclopedia, Wikiality

On the June 5, 2006 episode of The Howard Stern Show, wack packer Eric the Midget called in and complained that his parents had read about a stunt that he did for the show, that involved him measuring his penis, on Wikipedia (which he called "Wackipedia"). Stern read the section of the article regarding penis measuring on the air. Also, Gary Dell'Abate commented on the air he and the Stern Show staff enjoy the picture of Lynch in this article.

The video game Digital Devil Saga features several "Mantras" which the game's characters can equip in order to learn skills. One of the Mantras is named Wikipedia.<ref>digital_devil_saga_mantra_grid.png</ref> None of the people involved in the game's localization seem aware of how this came about, so its origin is still a mystery.[citation needed]

In May 2006, British chat show host Paul O'Grady received an inquiry from a viewer regarding information given on his Wikipedia page, to which he responded, "Wikipedia? Sounds like a skin disease."

The webcomic Applegeeks has used the phrase "Why spend money for education when Wikipedia has the same information for free?" multiple times.<ref>Template:Cite web</ref><ref>Template:Cite web</ref>

On the show X-Play, Morgan Webb looked at the Wikipedia article of Point Blank DS, and then looked at the article on their show. After reading it, the logo in the top left corner of the page spoke to Morgan in typical X-Play fashion. It also pointed out that since the show's inception, they have made 337 fart jokes. When asked why it could talk the logo stated that Wikipedia had become self aware in 2004 due to the massive amounts of information provided by the public.

On the E! network program The Soup, during the "Reality Show Clip Time!" segment a clip of Flavor of Love 2 was shown in which someone mentioned Google as a point of research on September 8, 2006, to make fun of this, host Joel McHale said "Well at least it's better than saying 'WikipediaWikipediaWikipedia'"

Something Awful once featured Wikipedia's article on Knuckles the Echidna as an ALOD (Awful Link of the Day), satirizing the amount of detail that sometimes goes into seemingly irrelevant topics. The link description adds that the article at the time was longer than each of the articles about Echidnas, The Internet, the internal combustion engine, William Shakespeare and Western Culture. The topic was also satirized in the front page, which featured a fake Wikipedia style article about Albert “Al” Calavicci from the TV series Quantum Leap written by Something Awful contributor David Thorpe.<ref>Template:Cite web</ref> Thorpe elsewhere linked the existence of such articles to Aspergers Syndrome, stating "Don't make fun of Aspergers. If it weren't for Aspergers, we wouldn't have 20-page Wikipedia articles about Knuckles the Echidna."<ref>Template:Cite web</ref>

[edit] Notes

  1.   Namely "Loxodonta", "African Forest Elephant", "African Bush Elephant", "Pachydermata", "Babar the Elephant", "Elephant", "Oregon", "George Washington", "Latchkey kid", "Serial killer", "Hitler", "The Colbert Report" and "Stephen Colbert" are/were temporarily protected. "Oliphaunt" has also been vandalized.

[edit] References and footnotes

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[edit] See also

Related articles

[edit] External links

Wikipedia in popular culture

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what is world wizzy?
  • World Wizzy is a static snapshot taken of Wikipedia in early 2007. It cannot be edited and is online for historic & educational purposes only.