Internet

I Am Curious (Wiki)

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I'm pro-Wikipedia. I think it's an inspiring example of bottom-up collaborative creation. Knock it for its inaccuracies, and I'll reel off the usual defenses: Sure, it isn't completely reliable, but there are thousands of eyes monitoring it. When someone makes an obviously inaccurate edit, someone else will usually pounce to fix it. In the meantime, the uncertainty encourages a different, more skeptical sort of reading.

That said: Boy, but some weird crap manages to slip through the cracks there. From the entry on Curious George:

As stated in an interview, the book Curious George Takes a Job was inspired by a true story. A boy, whose name is not known today, was born in Hamburg in 1909 with Down's Syndrome. He was institutionalized by his parents, condemned to a life at the facility.

When the boy was 15, he escaped from the institution and fled into the city streets. Hungry and in search of food, he found the briefly unattended kitchen of a restaurant, where a cook found him playing with the food and eating it. The cook, intrigued, put him to work to clean dishes, and took him home that evening. Within the following days, the cook arranged with a friend to have the boy wash windows at an office building.

The boy's work went well at first. But in one office, he found colored paints. He used them to paint a mural on the wall of the office. The tenant returned to his office after a lunch break to find the boy busy painting, and he started to chase after him. The boy jumped out a third-story window, breaking some bones.

The story made local headlines. After several weeks of hospitalization, the boy was formally adopted by the cook, and he later became the star of an amateur movie. He was recognized in the coming years as a talented artist. Some of his artwork was sold by the renowned bookseller, A.S.W. Rosenbach.

Tragically, his identity, art, and other details of his life were lost in the ravages of World War II, and he is believed to have been put to death by the government of Nazi Germany.

That passage has been part of the article for over a year. During that time, the page has not suffered from an absence of attention. There has been a long-running battle about whether George is an ape or a monkey. There have been arguments over the political subtexts of the stories. There have been efforts to add obviously phony info to the entry, prompting editors to leave comments like this one:

I seriously doubt "Curious George Gets AIDS" was one of the books. I don't want to change it myself since last time I made a minor edit I was banned from making any further ones by Wikipedia.

Yet that shaggy-dog story about Curious George Takes a Job is still there. No one has even suggested that it be sourced with a citation stronger than the vague "As stated in an interview."

It is my power as a Wikipedia reader to make the necessary changes myself. But a bizarre and funny passage like that one deserves to be immortalized, so I'm blogging it instead.

Bonus links: A communiqué from the Curious George Brigade.

Fr. Archimedes Aloysius Anarchy's Curious George fan fiction, including such unforgettable tales as Curious George Goes to Jail and Curious George Does LSD.

A Curious George true crime story.

Curious George meets rave culture:

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  1. When I was a kid my older brother always used the phrase, “drop ether.” I guess it was his seventies version of “are you on crack?”

    I do remember one where Curious George goes to the hospital and drops ether. That one is my favorite.

  2. It’s not much of a surprise to see a defense of WP here, considering that they’re an egregious example of spreading disinfo. See this site I’m working on for a few examples.

    1. *Nothing* in WP can be trusted. The articles constantly change even if the underlying facts don’t. And, the more pernicious issue is that unless you’re familiar with a topic you don’t know what’s missing. Some of the things that are missing are due to people removing things they don’t want others to know. Considering that WP turns up at the start of most searches, it’s a very pernicious influence.

    2. I run a blog with 1000 posts on one topic, tagged with over 400 tags many of them very obscure. Many of the posts are summaries/excerpts from MSM articles, but a few involve original reporting. The site was almost immediately linked by the Yahoo directory; if anyone’s tried to get in there without paying you’ll realize how difficult that is. I added it to the closely-related WP entry, and, in bytes, it has 100 times as much content as that WP entry.

    It stayed there for several months until someone started a crusade to remove it. I went to arbitration on it and a higher-up said it wasn’t eligible.

    To summarize: it’s got 100 times as much raw data as the WP entry, covering the subject in very great detail and a great resource for those doing research. Yet, WP doesn’t want to link to it. Details here: tinyurl.com/2d6dso

    3. WP is very stingy on links, so if something’s there there’s a good chance that someone higher-up wants it there for some agenda-based reason or there was some sort of fight over it before it was allowed to remain.

    4. WP puts nofollow tags on almost all their outbound links, meaning that those linked receive no search engine benefits, even if some parts of the WP entry are based on the sites that are linked.

    5. However, some interesting sites don’t have nofollow tags on their links, meaning that WP funnels all the search engine juice they get from the useful idiots who link to them into a very small set of interesting sites.

    Also, it’s interesting that so many bloggers link to WP, when WP strongly discourages linking to blogs, and when the very word “blog” is a pejorative to many there.

    I won’t even link to them with a nofollow tag; if I have to I just write out the URL (i.e. non-HTML format).

    I used to make contributions, but I stopped for the reasons above. I’ve made one change there since 4/07, and it was reverted a few days later: tinyurl.com/2jmj9k

    I very strongly suggest dropping all your links to WP.

  3. considering that they’re an egregious example of spreading disinfo

    LonePot, meet KettleWacko.

  4. I like Wikipedia too, but not for it’s accuracy, but for how it makes us ask questions about the nature of knowledge. Having said that, Wikipedia as a difinitive encyclopedic source? Not really.

    Sure, it isn’t completely reliable, but there are thousands of eyes monitoring it. When someone makes an obviously inaccurate edit, someone else will usually pounce to fix it. In the meantime, the uncertainty encourages a different, more skeptical sort of reading.

    Those thousands of eyes are monitoring some of it. The open source software system has had some of the same problems, acknowledged by some open source advocates: The ‘many eyes’ theory tends find all the eyes looking at the rock star stuff, but very few eyes going over the detials of drudge and tedium.

    2. When someone fixes (corrects), someone can come back and uncorrect it just as quickly. Wikipedia does not move towards accuracy, it moves towards accuracy and inaccuracy at the same time. Wiki has addressed this to some degree, by doing what? Making it more top-down. Locking articles etc.

    3. Uncertainty encourages a skeptical sort of reading, especially for Wikipedia. The problem with a source like Wikipedia is that we know there is a tremendous amount of bad or inaccurate fact. Most of us don’t know what percentage is good, and what is bad, so out of self defense, we kind of have to discard it all.

    Again, I think Wikipedia is a great tool for raising questions about the nature of knowledge across a broad spectrum of people. It has value. It’s just hard to quantify.

  5. Also, it’s interesting that so many bloggers link to WP, when WP strongly discourages linking to blogs, and when the very word “blog” is a pejorative to many there.

    Interesting. Wikipedia is, in essence, a blog of knowledge.

  6. I do remember one where Curious George goes to the hospital and drops ether. That one is my favorite.

    I think I had a t-shirt back when I was in high school with an image depicting C.G. lying unconscious next to a bottle of ether. Is there really a book like that? I always just thought the cartoon on the shirt was just a blanket pro-drugs statement.

  7. As long as you make significant contributions to the wikimedia foundation, you can do whatever you want on wikipedia. Truthiness shall set you free!

  8. A few years back, a came up with a wikipedia game. The idea was to set some time limit (like 30 or 90 days) and to put something false on wikipedia that would last past the time limit. The crazier the lie, the more common the page and the ability to get it cited elsewhere would all add to your points. Length of time could also be a point getter.

    The author of the Curious George BS wins.

  9. After a little searching, the title is Curious George Takes a Job.

    I can’t believe I’ve never seen the shirt, yet remember the book so vividly. Funny what sticks from childhood memories.

  10. You forgot to mention Curious George Runs For President–And Wins!

  11. 2 months ago I made a substantial edit to an article that makes it factually inaccurate and it still hasn’t been reverted! Eat that suckers hahaha!

  12. What does huffing ether have to do with getting a job — and more importantly, where can I find a job like that?

  13. Wikipedia is awesome for
    1) 80% answer to stuff you have no idea about
    2) quick refresher to some more obscure fact in a field you are familiar with.
    3) pop culture trivia

    It sucks for everything and anything else.

    True fact: I just used wikipedia to answer a question on < a href=”http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sampling_rate”>sampling rate that my boss asked me about 3 min ago.

  14. I think they may have a page on html tags as well.

  15. I should point out that the quoted section has already been removed from the Wiki article. While the information itself may not be totally reliable, it is a great starting point to find more reliable sources through the footnotes, and a more casual source of information for the majority of readers not doing academic research.

  16. A few years back, a came up with a wikipedia game. The idea was to set some time limit (like 30 or 90 days) and to put something false on wikipedia that would last past the time limit.

    I’m not going to bother searching for it, but there’s a UK online newsletter that runs things like that. They were involved in some way (IIRC) with the Sinbad issue from some months back.

    Here’s the official WP policy strongly discouraging against using blogs as sources: tinyurl.com/55gknb

    And, if you don’t see anything wrong with WP, see if you can tell what’s wrong with this:

    en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_Heritage_Site

    Give up?

  17. My one and only substantial contribution to wikipedia.

    Shaggy God story

    Amazingly, it wasn’t immediately rewritten or or deleted.

  18. SugarFree,

    I may have to edit that Shaggy God article. Doesnt mention to obvious Niven stories: Protector and What Can You Say About Chocolate Covered Manhole Covers?

  19. Actually, rereading, maybe they dont fit. Those stories explain what “really” happened, not allegories.

    For those not familiar, in Protector, it turns out the fruit in the Garden of Eden was the plant that Pak breeders eat to turn into protectors. Humans are descendents of those Pak, the plant went bad on earth and so we never have had any 3rd stage (child->breeder->protector) protectors.

    In Manhole, the Adam/Eve story turns out to be near true, its actually done with 2 males and 2 females, humans are being carefully bred by an alien race to make an intelligent slave race.

  20. …including such unforgettable tales as Curious George Goes to Jail and Curious George Does LSD.

    Considering the title of the thread, “Curious George Gets Nookie” was probably the most appropriate fanfic title there.

  21. I should point out that the quoted section has already been removed from the Wiki article.

    I figured that would happen. But “already” is a stretch, given that it sat there for over a year before I called attention to it.

    While the information itself may not be totally reliable, it is a great starting point to find more reliable sources through the footnotes, and a more casual source of information for the majority of readers not doing academic research.

    Yes, that’s why I’m pro-Wikipedia. Well, that and the fact that they have the good sense to reject Lonewacko as a source.

  22. robc,

    Edit away. I’ve been building up stories to add to the list, I just haven’t got around to it yet.

    Shaggy god stories are a bit hard to separate away from The Last Man On Earth genre. I’ve been sorting them for awhile.

    Speaking of Last Man stories, Turner Classic Movies is showing The World, The Flesh, and The Devil on May 9th at 9:45pm EST. Never released on DVD in the US, I’ve only seen it once at the George Eastman House Film Preservative Archives in Rochester, NY. Double feature with Panic In The Year Zero.

    I think I wouldn’t mind being the Last Man on Earth if Inger Stevens was the Last Woman…

  23. I see you mention Moorcock, NutraSweet. You an Elric fan like me? Or a sissy Hawkmoon fan?

  24. Epi,

    Neither really. The only stuff of his I ever liked was the Jerry Cornelius novels.

    You may need Moorcock, but I can get by on just Philip K. Dick.

  25. I edit Wikipedia if I deem it necessary, but my fear of the WikiOverlords often stays my hand.

    Seriously- if you piss them off, they’ll hit you with the banhammer so hard you’ll shit blood. Things that piss off the the Wiki Sith Lords include: disagreeing with them, arguing with them, editing articles which they feel they own, and knowing more about something than they do.

  26. You may need Moorcock, but I can get by on just Philip K. Dick.

    I guess you’ll just have to Brin and Bear it.

  27. “but I can get by on just Dick.”

  28. Oh, Lonewacko, you delightful bigot. Wikipedia being one of your bizarre obsessive hatreds is almost too perfect. I would also like to nominate Sara Lee baked goods, any flowering plant not native to the Americas, and umbrellas to add to your list.

  29. But, seriously, I do have a very large Dick. Collection. Of books.

    I have a very large collection of Philip K. Dick books, I mean.

    And my penis is staggeringly vast.

    (spot the obscure sitcom ref.)

  30. (spot the obscure sitcom ref.)

    Coupling? The (good) British one, not the (bad but with awesome actors) American one?

    My penis is like an enormous train, BTW.

  31. grylliade,

    Sweet.

    “They’re just fat litter! Pets for furniture!”

    What a fine series, until the implosion during the fourth season…

  32. Jesse Walker writes: Yes, that’s why I’m pro-Wikipedia. Well, that and the fact that they have the good sense to reject Lonewacko as a source.

    How wonderfully cute. However, I don’t see a response to any of my points above. And, while others may disagree with my conclusions on various things, I’m also quite credible, having to make only a few corrections at most after several thousand posts. I’ve only deleted a few non-spam comments, and I’m not aware of anyone offering a correction to something I wrote in comments. If Walker has an example of me getting facts wrong, feel free to point it out.

    And, of course, I’m not the only blogger out there, so supporting WP’s braindead policy just because it would exclude me is kind of stupid, no?

  33. I have noticed a MarkedIncrease in LoneWacko’s HostilityToReason (in multiple senses) recently. Did you ChangeYourMeds, dude? Go back to the PreviousOnes.

  34. Speaking of Last Man stories, Turner Classic Movies is showing The World, The Flesh, and The Devil on May 9th at 9:45pm EST. Never released on DVD in the US, I’ve only seen it once at the George Eastman House Film Preservative Archives in Rochester, NY. Double feature with Panic In The Year Zero.

    Thanks for the heads up!

  35. Lonewacko, I’ve been linked in Wikipedia at least twice that I know of, and I’ll tell you how I did it: CashPayments to the MexicanGovernment.

    I was smart enough to do this back when the AmericanDollar was relatively strong compared to the peso, too. That’s because I have what you would call ForeSight.

  36. Yes, that’s why I’m pro-Wikipedia. Well, that and the fact that they have the good sense to reject Lonewacko as a source.

    nice burn, Jesse

    LoneWacko, we don’t care about the issues you care about, because you care enough for all of us. so keep it up! but go away.

  37. What a fine series, until the implosion during the fourth season…

    And even then it was watchable.

    However, I don’t see a response to any of my points above.

    Make a point for him to respond to first.

  38. Someone should do a “ten most outragous articles” on WP poll. For example, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Special_Period, which cites “The Power of Community: How Cuba Survived Peak Oil” and other nonsense.

  39. However, I don’t see a response to any of my points above.

    What points? “I have a ShitLoad of blog posts and they won’t link to any of them and they do nothing to improve my SearchEngine rankings, boo hoo.”

  40. Wasnt Coupling (the british one) originally a ripoff of Friends? I found it amusing when Hollywood then ripped it back off to make an american version. While Friends was still on.

  41. “How wonderfully cute.”

    How wistfully stupid.

  42. robc,

    Yes. Americans didn’t watch the American remake of the British remake of an American sitcom.

    The American Coupling was sort of like a pretty girl’s ugly sister. All the parts were the same but the placement was horribly botched.

  43. Wasnt Coupling (the british one) originally a ripoff of Friends?

    Other than the fact that there were three men and three women in the main cast, not many similarities to me. And I’m not saying that out of disdain for Friends; I liked the show, and watched it when it was on, and I still like watching reruns. Coupling was much more biting than Friends.

  44. grylliade,

    And the girls were better looking and the “Chandler” analog was much funnier. Combine that with “The Cupboard of Patrick’s Love” and you had a fine show.

  45. lonewacko,

    You don’t seem to understand any of the Wikipedia policies that make it manageable. You definitely don’t appear to understand “Assume Good Faith” or “Reliable Sources”. You see a conspiracy, we see you acting like a jerk who doesn’t appear to listen to what anyone says who disagrees with you.

    The Wikipedia is large enough that it is similar to modern culture in that you can browse for years and not intersect even a fraction of everyone else’s browsing. The Wikipedia that I Watch has it’s share of vandals and crypto-vandals. Sometimes, it takes a new vandal to make old crypto-vandalism stand out for deletion.

    “Assume Good Faith” works in favor of the crypto-vandals, which is what makes them lower scum than the “YOU SUCK” vandals. They are using the good faith of the community against it.

    So, remember the next time that you add sane-sounding bullshit to an article, there are probably a dozen people who see that edit come through on their watch list. All of them suspect that it is bullshit, but they assume good faith and either tag it with a fact tag or they hope someone else does.

    In other words, you’re not really fooling anyone. You’re just being indulged by someone else’s good faith.

  46. Congratulations to Reason! One person out of about thirty has tried (but failed) to rebut my points above.

    What I’ve witnessed over and over is that when I put negative information about a leftwing group into WP, it tends to disappear after a while. I might put it back, but there it goes again. While some of that has been links to my sites, others have not.

    It’s clear that Rimfax has no clue about the entries at the site I linked in my first post, my entries at my main site dealing with this issue, or the edits I made from about 2005-2007. The bottom line is that I provided much-needed information to several articles, and almost all of it was removed eventually.

    The burden of proof is on Rimfax to present examples of me entering incorrect or unnecessary information. Otherwise, it’s just arguing from ignorance.

  47. it’s just arguing from ignorance.

    you’ve described yourself perfectly

  48. A few years back, a came up with a wikipedia game. The idea was to set some time limit (like 30 or 90 days) and to put something false on wikipedia that would last past the time limit.

    Case in point. We’ve got people who actually use it as a playground for spreading urban legend. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

  49. disagreeing with them, arguing with them, editing articles which they feel they own, and knowing more about something than they do.

    Jim Bob: I’ve run across this, too. It’s the whole top-down irony of Wikipedia.

    Wikipedia is strangely top-down, until it isn’t.

  50. I’ve been a long time wikipedia contributor, and in all that time have made exactly one malicious edit. Mostly because one hit wonder Wall of Voodoo can suck it.

  51. We’re still waiting fer those lessons yer mom promised us!

  52. WP is very stingy on links, so if something’s there there’s a good chance that someone higher-up wants it there for some agenda-based reason or there was some sort of fight over it before it was allowed to remain.

    In the right context, you might have had a good point. But considering the context for your comment is a discussion of misinformation in a Wikipedia article about Curious George, this has to be the most hilariously paranoid comment you have ever made.

  53. “You may need Moorcock, but I can get by on just Philip K. Dick.”

    Awesome, it’s like, une embarrasse do richesse, or something, huh huh, huh huh.

    Moorcock, huh huh.

  54. lonewacko,

    Challenge accepted.

    I’ll get started on it tonight.

  55. Mike Laursen,

    Bikeshedding is one of the most popular pastimes on the Wikipedia. The smaller the minutiae, the bigger the agendas. An argument about capitalization can take tens of megabytes.

  56. lonewacko,

    Sorry, it didn’t take as long as I’d thought.

    Conclusion
    lonewacko’s source is obviously ineligible per WP:External Links and WP:Reliable Sources. Reams of editorial, blog, or inexpert forum content is still reams of unsupporting sources. Regardless, Jsw663 still threw you a bone and you didn’t even bother to respond on the arbitration page.

    In fact, your only contribution to your own arbitration was to make an opening statement. No offer of compromise and no acknowledgment of the options left open to you.

    Your “conspiracy” of liberals removing your link consisted of one editor who realized that your link violated several policies, including the one on self-promotion.

  57. The creative stuff should, of course, go on Uncyclopedia instead 😉

  58. Rimfax, I agree with your conclusion about lonewacko’s issues. It is against policy to use your own website, blogs, forums, etc. as a source on Wikipedia. Adding/editing information about yourself is no good.

    And if you’re going to use arbitration, it works best if you don’t start the process than stop communicating altogether.

  59. My response is at the link. Aren’t there higher-quality libertarians around?

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