9 Beautifully Pointless Wikipedia Edit Wars You Need to Know About
By Guy McDowell, Make Use Of, 23 November 2015.
By Guy McDowell, Make Use Of, 23 November 2015.
Society would operate much more efficiently without the people. A case in point is Wikipedia.
It’s a beautiful resource and repository of knowledge that is openly public, and that’s where the problems begin. Anyone can edit a Wikipedia article, and edits aren’t subject to formal editorial review - just a review by other users. Sometimes that causes an article to become more volatile than the comments on a Justin Beiber video.
Image: Mark Hillary/Flickr
For you, that can make for interesting reading. In these articles, you probably couldn’t care less about the topic itself. But the edit wars…oh what a beautiful voyeuristic feast for the fastidious! If you get a kick out of people watching, reading pointless edit wars on Wikipedia could be your new hobby. Oh Wikipedia, you saucy source of knowledge and weird fun.
1. Laying the Smack Down
Is it surprising that a great number of lame edit wars revolve around professional wrestling? As much as we all love pro-wrestling, secretly or openly, it really is irrelevant. So why the animosity? What’s the fuss?
The WWE No Mercy article was a hot topic for editors because of a hyphen.
The question: is it a “Fatal Four Way” or a “Fatal Four-Way”? More importantly, who knew there were any pro-wrestling fans that know how to hyphenate?
Image via Giant Bomb
Jokes aside, the back and forth on this happened faster than the WWE Intercontinental Championship belt changes hands. Reverting an edit in Wikipedia 3 or more times in a 24 hour period triggers the Three-Revert Rule (3RR). Wikipedia Administrator AuburnPilot had to protect the article from any further entry. He dubbed it the “…the lamest edit war I have ever seen…”. The article doesn’t even mention the Fatal Four-Way anymore.
2. Vampires Suck
We all love a good story. Yet, how many of you are so dedicated to something fictional that you would get into an edit war over it? Apparently there are a few of you out there.
How about arguing over the Highgate Vampire of London, England? There are two groups of vampire hunters who got into a tangle over that article. Yes, there are two vampire hunter groups. One is the orthodox Vampire Research Society, and the other is the revisionist Highgate Vampire Society.
Check out this haughty exchange:
“I have made one or two very small changes of wording to satisfy the other participant in this debate, e.g. ‘catacomb’ instead of ‘vault’.”
“To satisfy “the other participant”? Nothing I suppose to do with the fact that Simpson is incorrect? Because she is incorrect.”
Intense. Almost as intense as the next battle over a mythical creature.
3. If You Can’t See It, Can You Care?
This holy edit war erupted over the Invisible Pink Unicorn. If you’re not familiar with the Invisible Pink Unicorn or IPU, she’s a goddess born out of mocking people who believe in gods. You might know of another deity from the pantheon of mock gods, the Flying Spaghetti Monster. Forget the obvious discussion of how something can be invisible and pink at the same time. What’s really important is how you could visually depict her invisibly pinkness.
Kevin Rector had to “…remove another ridiculous non-picture.”, whatever a non-picture is. Perhaps it’s the one that ToastyKen posted that featured “…a pink unicorn but it has an alpha channel that makes the unicorn transparent, thus approximating the appearance of the Invisible Pink Unicorn.”
We’d show that image here, but an image of nothing goes against our style guidelines.
EEquor retorted, “…either show that the Invisible Pink Unicorn is not in the picture, or stop removing valid images.” Huh?
4. The Devil Made Me Edit It
Maybe these kinds of edit wars about non-things stems from the devil being in the details. Speaking of devils, why not have an edit war over one? Why not Beelzebub?
Surprisingly, the war wasn’t over any facts around the alleged demon. It was over where his picture should go and which way he should be looking. According to DreamGuy if Beelzebub is facing right, he should be on the left side of the page. Satanael believes the big bad dude’s portrait should be on the right side of the article, regardless. This went back and forth, and in the end, turns out DreamGuy was sort of correct.
According to the Wikipedia Manual of Style, “It is often preferable to place images of faces so that the face or eyes look toward the text.” Nonetheless, Beelzebub is on the right, looking right in today’s version of the article. The ultimate resolution is, who cares? You can’t even see his face.
5. Et tu, Wikipedia?
Not all lame edit wars are about things that don’t matter. Take the Caesar salad for example. There was bickering back and forth over a two year period about the meal starter. Which, incidentally, is the perceived time between finishing the salad and getting that big juicy steak.
You might think the point of contention would be how to make the best Caesar salad. Nope. Would you believe someone called Canolis was upset because there wasn’t a citation of a source that said anchovies are a common ingredient? That happened.
More believable are the scraps concerning where the salad was invented. Was it ancient Rome or was it in 1920s Mexico? Doug Weller took out a link by EdNerd to a site that allegedly said the salad was Roman, stating, ”…I did find a link to Weekly World news that said JC (Julius Caesar) invented it, & after eating it a Senator went to the vomitorium inventing the Tossed Salad.” EdNerd’s big retort was that he was a “Roman historian, who are you?” EdNerd has been blocked from editing since then. The salad was created in Mexico and named after Caesar Cardini, the guy credited with creating the salad.
There is still debate on how to spell Caesar…er, Cesar…um, Cesare? Frankly, who cares as long as it ends up in your belly?
6. The Winter of Our Disc-ontent
If caterwauling about Caesar salad isn’t bad enough, imagine duking it out over the Compact Disc. Was this an argument about the technical specifications or history of the technology? No. Those things would actually matter.
The fight was about whether the 'd' in disc should be uppercase or lowercase. RightGot argues, “Does it use capitals? I don’t think so. It has “compact disc” in lowercase. Also my CD player says “compact disc” on it in lowercase. If it were proper to spell it “Compact Disc” why don’t CD players have it in capital?”
That seems reasonable, if not trivial. Despatche offers this compromise: “We could use “compact disc” to refer to the basic idea of one, which would fit with the “generic” concept (and I would think most people use “CD” or “compact disc” to refer to the entire family of products in that light); then we could use “Compact Disc” to refer to the original type itself. That… would solve everything, I think.”
7. Edit War II: The Wrath of xkcd
What happens when you have Star Trek Trekkies and Grammar Nazis fighting over a movie title? That kind of epicness finds its way into the hands of uber-nerd comic xkcd for further fight fodder. Surely, the end of the Internet is nigh.
This battle was, again, over whether a single letter should be capitalized or not. The letter is in the movie title, Star Trek Into Darkness. Should it be ‘into’ or ‘Into’? Does grammar or artistic license apply to titles? Is this the perfect example for Parkinson’s law of triviality? Or should that be Parkinson’s Law of Triviality? Who knows?
Xkcd, one of the most awesome webcomics, attempted to put the argument to rest. Let’s throw convention to the wind and go with ~*~ StAr TrEk InTo DaRkNeSs ~*~. That ought to take care of that. But it didn’t. In the end, the “I” was capitalized. So that was a big waste of a 40,000 word argument.
8. The Megalomaniac with Monorchism
This edit war concerning the whether a song is copyrighted or public domain seems reasonable. Copyright laws are powerful and tricky things. But does it matter for a folk song? It can. There have been legal battles over Happy Birthday to You. Is it reasonable to take up the copyright torch for a song you didn’t write about a certain dictator who was missing something from his wedding tackle?
Such is the case for the song Hitler Has Got Only One Ball. Wikipedia user TMC took up that torch. Why? Who knows? The reasoning was removed as it was a personal attack on the original poster of the lyrics.
Image: Recuerdos de Pandora/Flickr
Thankfully, Tarquin wasn’t having any of that. He reverted the edit. This went back and forth for a few days. Finally TMC was blocked from Wikipedia indefinitely.
Image via Tumblr
To answer the real question, no one is really sure if Hitler had only one ball. But he certainly had a lot of nerve.
9. Lame Duck Session
We’ve established there’s a lot of odd ducks out there, warring on Wikipedia. Many of these arguments have certainly been lame. But only one is lame and about ducks. You wouldn’t believe the uproar about who, or what, is a fictional duck.
Apparently, to make the list of fictional ducks you must be:
1. A duck. More importantly, identifiably based on a “…species in the Anatidae family of birds.”
2. Fictional. That is, the duck has to come from, “any form of narrative which deals, in part or in whole, with events that are not factual, but rather, imaginary and invented by its author(s).” Thanks for clearing that up.
3. Notable. This is wide open for interpretation, apparently.
Take for example the case of Jemima Puddleduck. She’s the main character in the book, The Tale of Jemima Puddleduck. [Thibbs] argues that “…it may well be that the book is notable but that the character isn’t.”
Deltasim is baffled by this. Perhaps as he should be. Jemima is a title-character in a Beatrix Potter series of books. Jemima is right up there with Peter Rabbit and the Flopsy Bunnies. Surely that makes her notable! Someone finally relented and Jemima has taken her rightful place amongst other notable fictional ducks, like Urk. Doesn’t everyone know Urk? Yeah, exactly, yet Urk is somehow notable.
If we’ve learned anything from these pointless Wikipedia edit articles, we’ve learned that world peace will never happen. When we stop fighting over things like race, religion, or politics, we’ll find something to fight about. Sure, it’s just edit wars now, but it’ll escalate. Nations will take sides, father against son, sister against sister, lines will be drawn, edited, and redrawn. Unless we stop the madness now.
That’s one narrative. The proper one is, “Who cares?
Top image credit: I Am Incorrigible via YouTube.
[Source: Make Use Of. Edited. Top image added.]