Tuesday, April 29, 2008

More Wikipeida jokes: Now with substance!

A few days ago I posted a quick Wikipedia joke from 30 Rock with no particular purpose other than I thought it was funny. Over the weekend, I saw another Wikipedia reference, this time on The Simpsons:

I figure that if I keep posting everything I see on TV, I need to add some commentary to make it worthwhile for readers, so here goes.

What is interesting about these two jokes is that they are both reacting to the major criticism of Wikipedia: because anyone can change anything, the information on the site is inherently untrustworthy. In this case, a misinformed person like Homer can change whatever they want to fit their reality, and, in the case of the 30 Rock clip, individuals who don’t like how they are portrayed there can alter the facts to make themselves appear in a more favorable light.

Studies of Wikipedia have shown, however, that the site is fairly robust in that it recovers quickly from malicious edits. So, at least in this regard, the parody of the site on both shows is a little stale.

What I think the writers of The Simpsons joke get right, though, is the attitude of some Wikipedia vandals. In the clip above, when Homer mentions his desire to “change a lot of things” on the site, I believe the malice and sense of offense in his tone might be similar to what would prompt a person to do this.

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