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<   No. 1613   2007-06-27   >

Comic #1613

1 Mercutio: {looking at computer} Hmmm. Someone's updated the Wikipedia article to say that Earth has now surrendered to the Martians.
2 Man in Black: That's not possible.
2 Mercutio: Because Martians don't exist?
3 Man in Black: No, because that article has been locked.
3 Mercutio: But... that means... the person spreading these rumours...
4 Mercutio: Must be a Wikipedia admin!
4 Man in Black: I'm calling for backup. The situation is worse than expected.

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Information is power. Wikipedia administration abilities are therefore...

I'll allow you to finish that thought yourself.

A lot of fairly vocal people seem to dislike Wikipedia with varying degrees of intensity. Upon investigation, it's usually because some change that they didn't like was made to the information on it. Very often an article on some topic they cared about was deleted. Or an article on some topic they thought trivial (at least in comparison to the stuff they care about) wasn't deleted.

The trouble is you can't please everybody. By trying to do so, you pretty much guarantee that you end up pleasing nobody. The world would be a much nicer place if people just stopped caring so darn much about stuff that's really pretty trivial in the grand scheme of things.

Imagine what medieval peasants would say if you could explain to them the stuff that people waste most of their time worrying about these days.

2017-09-03 Rerun commentary: Wikipedia's general reputation seems to have improved noticeably over the past decade or so. I remember when it first started up, there were a lot of articles about it and how it was unreliable and a portal for misinformation, and how it would lead to the downfall of society and so on. To really be socially acceptable, you had to have a sort of low-level contempt for Wikipedia and the people who liked it.

While you certainly can still find bad or false information on it, Wikipedia is for the vast majority of things pretty reliable these days, and probably the first resource that most people turn to for general knowledge. For some topics, such as reminding yourself how to do all those fiddly bits of mathematics that you learnt at university but haven't used since, it's pretty darn good. (I use it this way myself a lot these days.)

That doesn't mean there aren't still some serious disagreements lurking on there. Most of them seem to be related to long-standing ethnic feuds. (Just look at the Wikipedia Talk page for any food item from the Balkans or Middle East region and see how many different claims there are to exactly which ethnic group invented it.)

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