Recently someone posted a link on a friend’s Facebook wall to another example – I’ve taken a screenshot as well as providing the link, as the nature of Wikipedia means that things can change rapidly – however the entry has been up there for at least a couple of weeks now.
Now people might not think gang crime in Tottenham and the murder of an unarmed man by the police are a matter for humour and creativity, but I think we have a long history of taking the piss and making light of tragedy and violence as a way of dealing with the after effects. Who hasn’t been to a friend or relatives funeral that has a wake full of jokes and laughter sometimes at the departed’s expense?
Wikipedia and wikis more generally open up opportunities for people to share their ideas and sometimes even alter reality – now in the example above, no one is going to believe that Tottenham Mandem are affiliated to Barry Aubergine Late Night Bingo Revelers, but a friend of mine who is a public figure had her Wikipedia entry altered to show that she had a child with a friend and colleague who is actually married to another friend of hers (she doesn’t have a child and the married couple are gay).
Another friend of mine claims to have altered the Wikipedia entry of a stand up comedian to add the “fact” that he had once been a drummer in The Animals. This was eventually deleted as it was unreferenced, however in the meantime the fact had been used by a journalist in a local paper reviewing a gig by the comic, this enabled my friend to re-insert the fact in the entry and provide a reference. Thus thanks to cuts to local newspapers and the omnipresence of Wikipedia reality is altered.
Research on the general accuracy and error levels of Wikipedia carried out a few years ago found that it was no less reliable than such respected institutions as the Encyclopedia Britannica which does make you wonder how many made up “facts” did their writers slip in like Easter Eggs on DVDs?
Jimmy Wales the founder of Wikipedia realised early on that people would want to use such an accessible technology to be more creative with their writing than the format of an encyclopedia allows and created Wikia to allow people to set their own rules for their own mini wikipedias. Making it commercial has allowed someone to make money from people’s creativity just not the writers themselves.
I’m sure we are not far off finding out that Tripadvisor carries not just fake reviews for restaurants and hotels, but entire made up hotels, and maybe entire fake areas of towns… Anyone for a hotel in San Serife?