With more than 5.5 million articles, Wikipedia is an invaluable resource, whether you’re throwing a term paper together at the last minute, or have already broken your resolution not to get into petty fights on the Talk pages. We explore some of Wikipedia’s oddities in our 5,545,462-week series, Wiki Wormhole.
This week’s entry: Deleted articles with freaky titles
What it’s about: As sprawling and authoritative as Wikipedia is, it can be easy to forget that the site is created by people, and people are, on the whole, a bunch of weirdos. So not only do people try to create Wiki articles with bizarre titles ranging from “Aqua-hoochie” to “Cookies that talk and drive cars into lakes and don’t listen to their mothers because they don’t care,” but also Wikipedia editors, being Wikipedia editors, compile and categorize lists of these weird titles (before deleting them—do we really need a Wiki page called “Toe names”? We do not.)
Biggest controversy: Someone’s been trying to sneak some very odd porn into Wikipedia. Pages have been added and deleted on “Nomad porn,” “Snowman porn”; weirdly specific stuff like “Arm hair fetishism,” aeroneurophycosis (“in which the sufferer develops a sexual atraction [sic] to aircraft”) and “Partial Unbirthing Fetishism” (We really don’t want to know.); as well as “Players of 3D Space Cadet Pinball Who Can’t Get It Up To Satisfy Their Wives,” which, let’s face it, someone out there has a fetish for. Someone also added a page with the plaintive title “Why do people have sex.”
Strangest fact: There’s apparently no limit to how long a Wikipedia article title can be, as evidenced by the likes of these:
- “Too So A lot of Much Super Hiper Ultra Mega Very Breaking News 2014 November house fire near a university campus in Maine”
- “Using or carrying a firearm or destructive device during and in relation to a crime of violence or possessing a firearm or destructive device in furtherance of a crime of violence”
- “The small, select group of actors who, when not using a voice-over in Japanese-American luxury car commercials, play the unknowing, naive, taken-advantage-of griftees of other more savage, advanced, predatorial entities”
We’re also pretty confident no one actually died from deleting, “This article contains a curse. Anybody who edit/move/delete or otherwise modify this article will be cursed to die in 11 days. There are no exceptions. 12 people were dead for not heeding my advice. You don’t want to be the 13th person do you.” Good news, Hollywood, the next Ring reboot is already written for you!
Thing we were happiest to learn: There are some great band names in here. Ant Tantrum. Atoms In Bulgaria. The Beef Seeds. Confederate Air Force. Drugbunny. Evil Pig. Fake Fake. Improper Fraction Arena. Men Without Pants. Monkey Wedding. Peanut Butter Jones. Stoned Jesus. Super Panda. Vegetable Monsters. And everyone’s favorite Brooklyn hipsters, Pick Up The Phone Booth And Die.
Thing we were unhappiest to learn: People seem confused on how to get information out of Wikipedia. Lots of people have posted Wikipedia articles in the form of a question, Yahoo! Answers-style. Questions range from basic stuff like “How does a [sic] airplane fly,” “How to get high,” “Why do we have homework,” and “How to fly a donkey,” to weirdly specific stuff like, “How to Eat a Scorpion While it is Mating,” “Where does autism come from wonder the turtle family?” and “How do i stop my son from looking at picachu porn.” There are also some profound questions posed in Wiki article form, including “What is God,” “Where did I come from,” and “Whe [sic] are we gettn our letters from the schools.”
Also noteworthy: Some of these sounded pretty good. We’re honestly a bit sad that we won’t be able to do a Wiki Wormhole entry on “The Smurfs and communism,” “List of US governors with facial hair,” “List of people famous for singing badly,” and “The Main Street Hot Dog Lady.”
Best link to elsewhere on Wikipedia: This is one of several pages Wikipedia curates that refer to the site’s own ephemera. The deleted page “Orange (huge or color or colour since Wikipedia can’t come to a consensus on spelling)” leads to Wikipedia:Lamest edit wars, which is exactly what it sounds like.
Further down the Wormhole: The curator of this page implores readers not to create their own pages specifically to be deleted and added to the list, assuring readers that there are already an infinite number of monkeys adding misguided Wikipedia articles as it is. The “infinite monkey theorem” supposes that an infinite number of simians, armed with typewriters, would eventually type out Hamlet simply given the laws of chance. Numerous writers have weighed in on the concept, including Jonathan Swift, the Irish satirist best known for Gulliver’s Travels and A Modest Proposal. One of Swift’s literary influences was his own great-great-great-uncle, Francis Godwin, who wrote The Man In The Moone, a fanciful 17th-century science-fiction story about an adventurer who travels around the world then flies to the moon. Godwin rooted at least some of his story in contemporary astronomy, as well as English folklore, including the strange tale of the Green children of Woolpit. We’ll examine this possibly-true story next week.