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...a sweatshop of moxie

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Boris Johnson Gets Wikijacked

There is a fine old tradition on Wikipedia of altering entries with every intent to either amuse or fraudulently claim something about the subject at hand. To be expected, given that it's user-generated content -- this allows for the modern equivalent of the old Chinese whisper campaign and general hijinks.

Anonymity just seems to bring out the worst in humans, alas.

Maybe it's my rotten luck, or maybe it's far more common than I imagine it to be (who controls these things?), but often when I'm looking up a conservative politician or famous figure, their entry has just had some funny business done to it.

I call this phenomenon Wikijacking.

In the past, I have been around at the right time for Margaret Thatcher's reputed date of death. Let's not forget the time I posted on Benedict XVI's entry reflecting his reputedly unusual method of election (which Dan Brown should call "Secrets of the Gay Opus Dei Conclave" and make another fortune).

And now, Boris Johnson joins this distinguished list of conservatives who some people simply cannot keep from altering with their dirty typing paws.

Behold, Boris Johnson's Wikipedia entry, of a few moments ago!


Can you imagine if some wag uploaded a photo of Barack Obama like that? My dears, we'd never hear the end of it.

But for the wispy, blond-haired toff Mayor of London, well, he's just fair-game, isn't he?

Actually, knowing Boris as we all do, he'd probably be the first to laugh. I too laughed. Similarly, I am not suggesting someone SHOULD put up a photo of President Obama in such a guise. Only the terminally obtuse would think that.

What I am suggesting is that conservatives are quite often the targets of monkey business, err, so to speak, done to their entries on Wikipedia.

Furthermore, if an exactly similar entry was fudged by someone about say, Fidel Castro's date of death, or putting up a gorilla photo on President Barack Obama's Wiki entry -- that we'd never hear the last of those "hateful, racist conservatives" and their appalling deceitful behaviour.

See, it's not the fact of Wikijacking that bothers me, though as an historian I confess it rather does. It's the double-standard associated with it.

No worries though.

I'll keep posting on this activity so long as I catch it and, as the saying goes, shame the devil whilst I'm at it.




UPDATE: As of 13:24, almost 20 minutes after I first noticed it, the ape pic is still up. LATER: 13:32...finally rectified.

ADDED: What brought me to Wiki BoJo? Simple, I was watching a BBC series called "Who do you think you are?" -- a genealogical programme which shows famous people's attempts to locate their ancestors.

As everyone knows, Boris is particularly cosmopolitan, being the descendant of a journalist/politician in Turkey, who was executed for daring to oppose their beloved talismanic President, Mustafa Kemal. The programme had just gotten to the part where he uncovered that his great-great-grandmother was the illegitimate daughter of Prince Paul of Württemberg when I said, "Aha, interesting. I think that is Queen Mary's ancestor, wonder if it's the same chap. Maybe Wikipedia has more information?".

The rest, as they say, is bingo what's my name-o.

I'm about to watch the Jerry Springer episode, though you'll be happy to know his Wikipedia entry is virgin. Democratic ex-mayor of Cincinnati, don't you know.

Labels: , , ,


  • Sorry guys! I'm awfully busy today, as I tend to be at the ends of weeks.

    I'll be back later, but please enjoy yourselves on Sundries nonetheless. ;)


    By Blogger vbspurs, at Thu Feb 12, 01:45:00 pm GMT-5  

  • How about this: they can change Boris Johnson's pic to an albino ape as long as George Galloway's is swapped for a picture of a horse's ass.

    That's bipartisanship I can stand behind.

    By Anonymous Starless, at Thu Feb 12, 10:36:00 pm GMT-5  

  • ADD: I'm not 100% behind the idea of a double standard in Wikijacking as much as the idea of partisanship in demographics. Liberals tend to be better in some areas of communication, conservatives better in others. Liberals in "new media" (television, Internet), conservatives in old (print and telephone campaigns, radio).

    Case in point. ["Fairness Doctrine", BTW, is an hilarious misnomer.] Why are liberals so hot on this subject? Because there really is a lack of "fairness" or because they just suck at talk radio? Air America anyone?

    By Anonymous Starless, at Fri Feb 13, 09:06:00 am GMT-5  

  • Come on, surely you understand why it is worse to put a monkey picture for Obama than for Johnson?

    Black people have been compared to monkeys for hundreds of years, initially because white First Worlders considered their intellect to be similar to monkeys and in all cases to reduce their standing on society. To call someone a monkey therefore dredges up racism against blacks (which starts with slavery, goes to US segregation then to today's disparity in earning power etc).

    To call a white public school and Oxbridge educated man (albeit with an old Turkish heritage) is somewhat different. It's puerile and stupid but doesn't bring the same connotations to the table.

    Does no one understand that?

    Apologies for being anon- but I don't have a blogger account.

    Chris N

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at Tue Feb 17, 09:56:00 am GMT-5  

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