Day 50: Make people notice you today!

To accomplish today’s task, I committed an act of vandalism.

Nothing like this, though. No, I vandalized (the) Wikipedia.

One of the criticisms that comes up when (the) Wikipedia is being discussed is the fact that “anyone can edit” it – which means that anyone can vandalize it. And vandalism on (the) Wikipedia isn’t always ridiculous and obvious – sometimes it’s a subtler spread of misinformation (through lies, damn lies, and statistics). How much the latter happens, I don’t know, but I still use (the) Wikipedia, and I tell my students to use it – it’s an excellent place to begin learning about something, though it’s by no means the place to stop learning about that thing. It is, I’ve found, largely reliable and informative (and it’s often obvious when a particular article is neither).

My own vandalism was pretty blatant, albeit tucked into a few obscure articles. It involved werewolves.

If you click those links, though, you won’t see anything about werewolves, because my account was suspended (for vandalism, of course) and my edits were reverted almost immediately. It really was shockingly fast. There were several other Wulfstans I had intended to werewolfize, but by the time I got to the fourth one (less than a minute after I’d werewolfized the first Wulfstan), the ban-hammer had been dropped.

I felt mixed emotions. I was stunned at the celerity with which my attempt at cyber-vandalism had been thwarted. This also made me sad. I was impressed, though, at how well (the) Wikipedia responds to this sort of bullshit – and then I realized I’d been banned not by an automated process or vandalism-bot, but by a particular user, a person who spends a not-insignificant part of his/her day watching the “recent changes” page for this sort of shenanigan. I’m not sure how that makes me feel, to be honest.

But: at least someone noticed me today.


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