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10 Idiotic Arguments Wikipedia Editors Have Had
By Karl Smallwood,
Toptenz, 16 May 2015.

Wikipedians is the colloquial name given to the fine, upstanding men and women who devote their free time to updating, fact-checking and otherwise maintaining the eternal font of information that is Wikipedia. Despite their lofty and noble pursuit of maintaining a free encyclopaedia containing all of human knowledge, sometimes Wikipedians argue. Luckily for us, sometimes these arguments are hilarious.

10. What Nationality is a Fictional Character?


By Wikipedia’s own admission, one of the more popular things its editors like to have long, drawn-out arguments about is the ethnicity and nationality of important historical figures. Thousands of words and countless petty insults have been written to decipher the exact ethnicity of notable people like Freddie Mercury, Nikola Tesla and adult film actress Raven Riley. Seriously.

Perhaps the most ridiculous example is the time editors spent thousands of words and several weeks arguing about the nationality of Niko Bellic, the fuzzy-headed protagonist of Grand Theft Auto IV and a man whom you may notice isn’t real. The game is intentionally vague about his origins, only alluding to him being from “a grey part of Eastern Europe.” The article still gets several edits a year and at one point there were 15 different citations about his nationality, none of which agreed with one another. Again, his nationality is never explicitly mentioned in-game, something you’d think such big fans would know.

9. How Do You Pronounce J.K. Rowling’s Name?


Until we researched this article, we thought the most interesting thing about J.K. Rowling’s name was that the “K” doesn’t actually stand for anything. She chose to initialize her name so that it wasn’t clear she was a woman, because books by women tend to sell worse to boys. That was until we stumbled on the Wikipedia talk page arguing about how to pronounce it.

For the record, Rowling herself says her name is supposed to be pronounced “Rolling,” but she’s aware that so many people wrongly pronounce it “Raw-ling” that she’s given up trying to correct the mistake. But surely Wikipedia, a bastion of facts and common sense lists the correct, British pronunciation for this famed British author’s name, right? The short answer is no. The longer answer is that people have spent months arguing about this, going as far as arguing that Rowling is wrong about the pronunciation of her own name. Gee, it’s no wonder she stopped trying to correct people.

8. Is It Okay to Put a Huge Picture of a Tarantula on a Page Discussing Arachnophobia?


Yes, there was once an argument about whether or not it was okay for the page discussing the crippling fear of spiders to feature a giant picture of a soul eating tarantula, a rare sub-species that lives exclusively just out of your line of sight. Thankfully, common sense prevailed, because there’s almost no situation in which it’s okay to post a giant picture of a spider. Except for the cutie just above, obviously.

Eventually, editors came to the agreement that the page shouldn’t have a featured image, instead opting for a drawing of Little Miss Muffet being frightened by an obviously fake spider further down the page. Which itself caused an argument, because of course it did.

7. Could a Tiger Beat a Lion in a Fight?


Do you remember that scene in Napoleon Dynamite where Jon Heder explains how awesome ligers are in the most patronizing, insulting tone of voice it’s possible for a human being to muster? Imagine that, only somehow 20 times more cringe-worthy, and you have the argument Wikipedians had about tigers.

The argument began over an innocuous comment in the original Tiger Wikipedia article alluding to the fact that tigers are the “most powerful living cat,” a true statement if you exclude the aforementioned ligers for being one of nature’s cheat codes. Even charities dedicated to saving tigers and lions agree that a tiger would win in a fight every time. This didn’t stop thousands of words from being dedicated to a pissing contest between tiger and lion fans about which respective animal would win, an argument the ancient Romans solved over a thousand years ago in the coliseum. However, this argument did lead to one of our favourite new insults, tiger fanboy, so we’re going to give this absurd debate a pass.

6. What Colour is a My Little Pony Character?


If you’re a fan of My Little Pony, well, whatever. That’s cool. However, if you’re a fan of My Little Pony who goes into a spittle-filled rage whenever someone mislabels the colour of your favourite Pony, please consider closing your laptop and enjoying a few minutes of fresh air.

As noted by Wikipedia itself, fans of the series were so incensed at the mislabelling of certain colours that several took to uploading pictures of their pony figures to debate the colour. Now, this would make sense if someone tried to insist that Applejack was purple, but the bulk of the argument started when one pony was labelled green and a fan took exception to this because the pony was clearly “aqua or turquoise.” He then added that calling it green was “pure propaganda” for…Big Green, we guess. It says a lot that this person, who was so angry at the original author for not knowing what colour the pony was, couldn’t actually say what colour the pony was in their post calling the author stupid for not knowing what colour the pony was. Ugh, we need to lie down.

5. Is Anakin Skywalker a Different Character Than Darth Vader?


We understand that the Star Wars prequels kind of sucked and that people want to distance them from the original series as much as possible. But, like it or not, since Disney has effectively erased the entire Star Wars extended universe, they’re all we have left in terms of canon. For better or worse, Hayden Christensen is Darth Vader.

This hasn’t stopped Wikipedians from arguing that he isn’t though. Some try to reason that Anakin Skywalker is an entirely separate character from Darth Vader, even though Anakin accepts the title of Darth Vader while still looking like Hayden Christensen. Who knew that getting a promotion turned you into a new person? This culminated in a several week long edit war trying to credit Darth Vader as a separate character in Revenge of the Sith. These guys are going to have either a field day or a heart attack when the 7th film is released.

4. Is a T-Rex a Scavenger or a Hunter?


Over the course of a day, two anonymous Wikipedians edited the same article over and over again about whether or not a T-Rex was a scavenger or a hunter…from the same IP address. Which meant that, to Wikipedia, it looked like one person was arguing with themselves about how baller T-Rexes were. Because both editors were likely in the same house, all of their edits were deleted. Their entire afternoon of arguing was rendered completely pointless, which is a sad thing to say about any conversation that involves dinosaurs.

3. Is It Okay to Upload Penis Selfies As “Visual Aids”?


If you’ve spent any time whatsoever online, you’re well aware that the Internet is full of penises. As proof that people wanting strangers to see their junk have no qualms about where they stick it, there was once an argument when random guys kept uploading pictures and videos of themselves to serve as visual aids on pages discussing masturbation, sex and a host of related topics.

You’d think it must have been immediately obvious that the guys doing the uploading were getting off on the idea of people seeing their junk, and weren’t doing it out of a desire to illustrate something that’s in no way difficult to find on the Internet. However, arguments raged for months about whether or not it was okay to feature a grainy picture of some creepy old dude’s “flaccid” wang  instead of an actually helpful medical diagram. Seriously, dude, if you’re going to upload a picture of your junk to the Internet under the guise of education, at least invest in a decent camera.

That said, we’d like to tip our hats to the anonymous Wikipedian who kept flagging the article on ejaculation for immediate clean up. Well played.

2. Is A Cow Aware?


As we’ve noted before, one of the most edited pages on Wikipedia is the page discussing Cow Tipping, because a number of editors disagreed with the caption on a cow picture. The caption, which was placed below a picture of a cow just doing its own thing, read “A possible unsuspecting victim.” It was quickly pounced upon by editors, not because jokes have no place on a website dedicated to imparting knowledge, but because there was no way to say for sure that the cow was “unsuspecting.”

Wikipedians tried to argue that because the cow was looking directly at the camera it couldn’t possibly be unsuspecting, seemingly suggesting that the guy who took the picture was planning to body-check the cow and the cow was onto him. Amazingly, this argument happened again when the picture was changed and once again given a humorous caption, with several editors insisting that the cow was clearly aware of its surrounding and therefore couldn’t be an unsuspecting victim of cow tipping. After 7000 words, several dozen edits and even more captions (including one that just read “moo”) someone stepped in, locked the article and changed the picture to a cow lying down just to shut everyone up.

1. How Does A Basic Math Problem Work?


The Monty Hall problem is a quirk of statistics. Say you have three boxes, one of which contains a prize and two of which contain  angry cobras. If given a choice of one box, you have a one in three chance of not being bitten by a cobra. If we were to remove one cobra box and then offer you a chance to change your pick, switching will statistically double your chances of not being cobra chow.

This simple thought experiment, which was originally inspired by a game show, is one of the most controversial pages on all of Wikipedia, with 1.2 million words (more words than the entire Harry Potter series) dedicated to arguing about whether or not this is true. This is despite the fact it can be proven with a pen and paper in about 30 seconds.

If you’re having a hard time grasping how the Monty Hall Problem works, don’t worry. When magazine columnist Marilyn vos Savant discussed it in the ’90s, she received thousands of letters from men (many with PHDs) telling her she was wrong because she was applying woman’s logic to a man’s problem. So if it’s taking you longer to grasp how this works than you’d like, at least you’re not reacting as badly as they did.

Top image: The Monty Hall paradox illustration that appeared in Wikipedia’s article “Monty Hall problem.” Credit: Cepheus/Wikimedia Commons.

[Source: Toptenz. Edited. Top image added.]