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The great Wikipedia April Fools Day joke: it’s true

A few media stories circulated today suggesting that English Wikipedia’s main page was a model example of a spoof/fake page in the spirit of on-line shenanigans.  In fact (no pun intended), there’s nothing fake or foolish about it.

According to Mark Pellegrini, long-time coordinator of the English Wikipedia front page, since 2007 Wikipedia has been running a tongue-in-cheek, but truthful smattering of wild articles on the first day of April:

Back in 2004/2005, the place was a mad-house come April fools. Highly respected people, even admins, would create fake articles. Then other people would discover them, delete the articles, and block the creators, etc. In short, come April 1, the place would go crazy.

As the person who chooses the featured articles, I was dragged into the mess. In 2005 and 2006, as a compromise, I choose the silliest featured articles I could find (Nintendo and Spoo, respectively). In 2007, Pharos had a genius idea — to  feature [[George Washington (inventor)]] — and write up the main page  blurb as if it were describing the actual George Washington. Everything in the blurb was absolutely true, but *a lot* of people were fooled.

Thus, a new tradition was born, which worked out well in 2008 (Ima Hogg)  and this year (Museum of Bad Art). Now the true-but-sounds-like-an-obvious-hoax  philosophy seems to taken root as  the de-facto policy for the day.

Thus proving it’s possible to be a fact-focussed, NPOV Wikipedian and have a solid sense of humor.

See you at the MOBA!

Jay Walsh, Communications<

One Response to “The great Wikipedia April Fools Day joke: it’s true”

  1. bob previdi says:

    I think certain folks just want to continue to keep information under a shell so the public continues to not understand. Then when a joke hits – I find it even funnier to see their comments.
    I do think the issue of fake news or wrong information needs to be addressed in a more formal way – as such with the way you are laying it out. This will take time however to be perfected.