It’s nothing short of shocking that Wikipedia is as useful, functional, and accurate as it is, considering the incredibly high potential for sabotaging edits. Instead of having a scholarly Encyclopedia Britannica-style essay or a random collection of gibberish, we have both, where you can occasionally find an insane gem hidden in the otherwise staid article. Here are a few of the best of those insane gems.
(Always remember, college students, Wikipedia is not an acceptable citation, but it is a pretty great springboard for primary sources. Scroll down to “References.”)
- Pony controversy. People tend to get passionate about their hobbies.
- Hockey player Zach Parise officially elevated to “hero” seconds after scoring a goal in 2010 Olympics. At the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, Zach Parise scored a game-tying shot 24 seconds before the end of the gold-medal match between the US and Canada. Canada would eventually secure victory in overtime, but for several minutes, Parise was king in the eyes of Wikipedia and all Americans watching.
- Gary Oldman is a really, really good actor.
- Lunar eclipses sound pretty dangerous.
- One editor is not impressed with pirates. Pirates and ninjas were de facto internet memes before internet memes were even really a thing. Pre-Chuck Norris facts, even. The fact that I remember all of this makes me feel both old and kind of embarrassed for my generation.
- This is what MS Paint was made for.
- Batman. Far more informative than the complete article.
- Stephen Colbert keeps Wiki editors on their toes. The host of The Colbert Report started torturing Wikipedia since 2006, when, during a segment on “wikiality” (the concept that something becomes true if enough people agree to it), he pretended to edit a handful of articles. Only he actually had made those edits and pushed them live right before airing the episode. He encouraged his viewers to edit the page(s) on elephants to claim their population had tripled in the past three years, thereby solving the problem of dwindling population. (I can’t embed the video of his 2006 call to democratize knowledge, but you can view it here.)
- …and again during the 2012 election. Following a 2012 news report that speculated about a correlation between Wikipedia editing and vice-presidential candidate buzz, Colbert again encouraged viewers to make edits to VP candidates’ pages, leading to a lockdown of those pages. (The VP discussion starts 3:00 in.)