Wikipedia: Be Ready To Believe Us (plus Crescat Sententia update)

by John Holbo on November 9, 2006

Most humorous wikivandalism ever. (via Dave Moles.)

Perhaps one shouldn’t laugh at such things. It encourages bad behavior. For example, here’s vandalism more genuinely annoying and not creative or delightful in the least. Will Baude emails to inform that somehow Crescat Sententia lost their domain to some search engine optimization outfit. Which then offered to sell it back at an extravagant mark-up. Crescat Sententia has declined their offer and moved here. From org to net. Update bookmarks accordingly, and do not favor the old address with your custom, if possible. Apparently for a while the lovely SEO people were hosting a cache of an old page in the hopes of disguising what had happened. Naughty, naughty.

UPDATE: In defense of wikipedia be it noted that the vandalism only lived for 38 minutes before being reverted. Hmmm, there’s a good idea for a story. An eccentric treasure-hunter is sent off on a months-long quest for a lost tribe in South America, on the unfortunate evidential basis of a vandalized wikipedia page he read in the 12 minutes between when it was posted and reverted by the ever-watchful editors. Of course it turns out that, quite by coincidence, everything the vandalized page said was true. The vandal himself is somehow ensnared in the plot and ends up sacrificed to a giant snake.

UPDATE 2: It’s coming to me, as in a dream. It turns out wikipedia itself is an elaborate plot concocted by the Knights Templar, together with the greatest of their hashhashim enemies, one al-Whikid (!). To ‘hide their greatest treasures in plain sight’, they conspire to create wikipedia. During the Middle Ages it was maintained by monks on scrolls. A specific pattern of reversion edits constitutes … a map! So there is an esoteric as well as an exoteric wiki. Fortunately, Nicholas Cage stumbles on the aforementioned vandalized page. It contains a jpeg of a map to a tribe. The map is part of the true map, but the vandal was just using it as likely mash-up material. So the film will be like National Treasure meets Hackers meets The Da Vinci Code (‘don’t I know you?’). There will be a scene in which the true wiki is surreptitiously handed off in a USB thumb-drive shaped like Quark‘s head.

UPDATE 3: The vandal is played by Steve Buscemi. (Because he and Cage had chemistry in Con Air.)

UPDATE 4: And Ed Harris plays an earnest wikipedia command editor, thus reprising his stern, steady role in Apollo 13. When the Knights realize their plan has failed they attempt to sabotage the entire wiki, reverted every single page to stuff about Buffy the Vampire Slayer Firefly. In the wikipedia command room all the editors (buzz cuts, thin black ties, pocket protectors) are frantically scribbling their corrections to the erroneous Buffy Firefly posts on paper. Harris: “with all due respect, sir, I believe this will be our finest edit.”

UPDATE 5: Who do you think would win in a fight between Wikipedia and Aquaman?



Xanthippas 11.09.06 at 7:32 pm

That is beyond strange.


Xanthippas 11.09.06 at 7:33 pm

Oh, but it is funny (but I don’t say that encouragingly.)


mjh 11.09.06 at 8:38 pm

Obviously they don’t buy into the every topic in the universe except chickens philosophy.


radek 11.09.06 at 8:40 pm

It’s ok to laugh. Such high quality vandalism requires substantial effort (and it’s funny). On the other hand a revert takes a few seconds. So I don’t think it could become a serious problem. I’d be more worried about vandal bots or something like that.


Ginger Yellow 11.09.06 at 9:09 pm

Replace Buffy with Firefly and you’ve got a greenlight.


Kelly 11.09.06 at 9:16 pm

Back away from the caffeine… ;)


John Holbo 11.09.06 at 9:21 pm

OK, I’m going to go do some work now. Good suggestion, ginger yellow.


Seth Finkelstein 11.09.06 at 10:17 pm

Someone should make a compilation of Wikipedia “classics”. This is a good one:


Alan Bostick 11.09.06 at 10:21 pm

I want to see this movie.


John Emerson 11.09.06 at 10:37 pm

The hoax has a dead link because of a misspelling.

Marshmallow Man


chris miller 11.09.06 at 10:45 pm

Sandra Bullock already did this movie.


John Quiggin 11.09.06 at 11:00 pm

I enjoyed the post more than the hoax which is just a simple mashup as Dave suggests.


Scott Eric Kaufman 11.09.06 at 11:09 pm

Check out comment #12. Sadly, it seems like “Tyler Fairyland” is not a professional baseball player.


Xanthippas 11.09.06 at 11:10 pm

Okay I don’t understand this post anymore.


Matt Kuzma 11.09.06 at 11:23 pm

Wow. Somebody’s… overworked? This is the funniest CT article I’ve ever read.


Russell Arben Fox 11.09.06 at 11:56 pm

No, no, one more update: Steve Buscemi survives his encounter with Nicholas Cage in the jungle, wherein both realize that the South American tribe (complete with their pagan gods) had been set up centuries ago by the Knights Templar as a distraction, an attempt to lure those who have discovered the esoteric truth behind the wiki out into the open. Fleeing through the Amazonian swamps, both Cage and Buscemi separately realize that the real masters of the wiki are back in Paris (more Da Vinci Code!). Ed Harris and Co. are simultaneously tipped off to the truth, and send a crack squad of editors off to Paris to “revise” Cage, Buscemi, the Knights, and everyone else, thus burying their own unknowing complicitly in the conspiracy once and for all. In the ending chaos, Gandalf/Ian McKellan is revealed, Cage escapes, while Buscemi ends up hanging dead from Foucault’s pendulum.


Matt Weiner 11.10.06 at 12:06 am

Buscemi’s character has to be named Gettier.


Andrew 11.10.06 at 2:52 am

Hook me up with what ever you are taking man, that sounds like the release I need this weekend


~~~~ 11.10.06 at 3:35 am

Before you base your actions on information from wikipedia, it may be wise to ask for sources by using the {{citation needed}}-tag.


abb1 11.10.06 at 4:33 am

Hmmm, there’s a good idea for a story. An eccentric treasure-hunter is sent off on a months-long quest…

Top this: Alfred Hitchcock, The Night the World Ended:

Halloran plays a practical joke on a man named Johnny. He shows him a fake newspaper with a headline reading “World to End Tonight — 11:45 P.M.” Johnny believes the headline and decides to live it up. He gets into trouble and shoots someone. A few minutes before 11:45 he sees the real headline and realizes that he has been tricked. Johnny finds Halloran and shoots him. The reporter dies at 11:45.


Adam 11.10.06 at 5:49 am

Apparently people are not familiar with Bad Jokes and Other Deleted Nonsense. Expand your cultural horizons, everyone.


ajay 11.10.06 at 6:13 am

Of course it turns out that, quite by coincidence, everything the vandalized page said was true.

Of course, in Philip K Dick’s version, this is no coincidence: Cage gradually discovers that the reason Wikipedia outperforms traditional reference sources is that it is the summed perception of everyone online, and this means that it defines reality – an edit to a wikipedia entry actually changes the reality of the subject of the entry. The Hidden Masters of Wiki have only recently become aware of the tremendous power it gives them, and a struggle is breaking out between three factions, seeking respectively the good of humanity, the preservation of causality and their own aggrandisement.

The ‘edit wars’ become bloody as Cage, using a ruggedised Sony Vaio (product placement!) frantically edits the wiki’ed entry on the Invalides (where the final battle takes place) to trap the villains in a room with no exits!


ajay 11.10.06 at 6:23 am

The Hidden Masters, of course, operate from a soaring tower somewhere in the Himalayas – from its dizzy summit, thousands of feet in the air, a single editor watches over the world, his mind detached from worldly cares by fasting and meditation in order to achieve the true Neutral Point Of View.


Rich Puchalsky 11.10.06 at 9:37 am

Uh oh, Holbo is trapped in a hipster referential circle. It will probably end in the way that most cat-tail-chasings do: a sudden stop and the look that says “I meant to do that”.

“al-Whikid” was really good, though.


Cranky Observer 11.10.06 at 10:24 am

Do you really think that these things don’t go on at the commercial propriatary reference publishing companies? Cause I have seen them…



Sebastian holsclaw 11.10.06 at 1:14 pm

The wikipedia information would have to be from a self-published book about the Templars. Combining self-published with the Templars is a classic.


No Nym 11.10.06 at 1:45 pm

@ ajay:

Of course, if it happened like you say it would be because PK Dick ripped that whole thing right out of Tlon, Uqbar.


Alan Bostick 11.10.06 at 1:59 pm

Wikipedia could beat Aquaman with one hand tied behind its back.

But if Wikipedia and the Incredible Hulk together took on Batman and Fin Fang Foom, the outcome would be a stalemate.


bi 11.10.06 at 2:34 pm

Now I’m confused. Wikipedia is a secret text which used to be maintained by monks on scrolls, but it’s also a superhero?


Adam Kotsko 11.10.06 at 3:11 pm

The implicit message of this post: “I got an advance copy of the new Pynchon novel and read it in one night after scoring some really excellent coke.”


mds 11.10.06 at 3:57 pm

“I got an advance copy of the new Pynchon novel and read it in one night after scoring some really excellent coke.”

There’s a fair bit of redundancy in this statement.


asg 11.10.06 at 4:36 pm



heckblazer 11.10.06 at 4:50 pm

Didn’t Umberto Eco already write this novel?


plunge 11.10.06 at 5:00 pm

This site is hit or miss, but it is a pretty funny parody encyclopedia.


plunge 11.10.06 at 5:02 pm

This article is pretty masterful:


astronautgo 11.10.06 at 5:18 pm

But if Wikipedia and the Incredible Hulk together took on Batman and Fin Fang Foom, the outcome would be a stalemate.

The first fight, sure. But then Batman will have learned enough to prepare for the second fight, which means Batman wins. I suspect he would make counterintuitive use of Fin Fang Foom’s megabriefs.


Seth Finkelstein 11.10.06 at 9:00 pm

Since Wikipedia is partly composed of articles about fish, can Aquaman telepathically command that part of it?


Trevor 11.10.06 at 11:20 pm

I was Aquaman for Halloween. I could kick wikipedia’s ass.


Ophelia Benson 11.11.06 at 10:55 am

Buscemi, Cage, Ed Harris, Philip K Dick, Gandalf, McKellen – dang what boys-only imaginations you guys have; it’s tragic. Buddy movie buddy movie buddy movie. Have you never read your Fiedler? Fiedler, hell; have you never even met any women? Tragic, tragic.


Ginger Yellow 11.11.06 at 12:08 pm

“Didn’t Umberto Eco already write this novel?”

Foucault’s Compendium?

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