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Posts tagged Wikipedia

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The power of Wikipedia: How I became gaming's most popular and anonymous photographer.

Evan Amos is the guy who took all those photographs of video game consoles on Wikipedia:

At first I took photos of food items, candy bars and electronics, but I began narrowing my focus on video game systems. I started making lists of every console ever released. Before the video game crash of 1983, there were numerous systems, many now barely remembered, with little information available. Message boards and fansites had few details, with the same poor, low-resolution pictures. I realized that relatively recent history was being lost to time, all because the internet did not have good information and media about these game systems.

It makes complete sense in retrospect that the photos were taken by an editor, but until reading this, the possibility never crossed my mind. I think I just assumed that they were press kit photos.

He has a Kickstarter for documenting consoles that wraps up in two hours from when this post is scheduled to post.

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The Decline of Wikipedia: Even As More People Than Ever Rely on It, Fewer People Create It

Tom Simonite with a long piece for the MIT Technology Review:

The volunteer workforce that built the project’s flagship, the English-language Wikipedia—and must defend it against vandalism, hoaxes, and manipulation—has shrunk by more than a third since 2007 and is still shrinking. Those participants left seem incapable of fixing the flaws that keep Wikipedia from becoming a high-quality encyclopedia by any standard, including the project’s own. Among the significant problems that aren’t getting resolved is the site’s skewed coverage: its entries on Pokemon and female porn stars are comprehensive, but its pages on female novelists or places in sub-Saharan Africa are sketchy.

He talks about the development of Wikipedia’s bureaucracy and automated editing tools and quotes some people who have researched Wikipedia who think those developments have had a negative impact on retaining editors.

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Wikipedia: Hare

The latest bit from Wikipedia that cracked me the heck up is in the opening section from the article on hares:

Normally a shy animal, the European brown hare changes its behavior in spring, when hares can be seen in broad daylight chasing one another around meadows; this appears to be competition between males to attain dominance (and hence more access to breeding females). During this spring frenzy, hares can be seen “boxing”; one hare striking another with its paws (probably the origin of the term “mad as a March hare”). For a long time, this had been thought to be intermale competition, but closer observation has revealed it is usually a female hitting a male to prevent copulation.

I love the way this is phrased, implying that someone came up with the nifty male dominance theory and everyone thought it was fine and dandy — and then a hundred years later, someone finally bothered to check if it was right.

"Yo guys, so I’ve got this funny story…"

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Wikipedia: The Fantastic Four (1994 film)

I was, until quite recently, completely unaware that the 2005 film Fantastic Four was not the first live film adaptation of the superheroes. The first was a low-budget film that was completed in 1994 but was never released. It is, by all accounts, a not terribly great B movie.

My favorite part of the article was this:

Speculation arose that the film had never been intended for release, but had gone into production solely as a way for [producer Bernd] Eichinger to retain rights to the characters; Marvel Comics’ Stan Lee in 2005 said this was the case, insisting, “The movie was never supposed to be shown to anybody,” and adding that the cast and crew had been left unaware. [Producer Roger] Corman and Eichinger had dismissed Lee’s claims, with the former stating in the same article, “We had a contract to release it, and I had to be bought out of that contract” by Eichinger.

I just really love the idea of slapping together a movie based on a high profile license just to maintain that license.

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Wikipedia: List of dates predicted for apocalyptic events

Gaze upon my favorite Wikipedia article of right this second: “List of dates predicted for apocalyptic events.” As one may be able to infer from the title, it contains a giant table of failed predictions for the end of humanity, the end of the planet, the end of the universe, etc. 169 of them at the time I write this, in fact. I counted. (With a computer, not by hand.)

To restate: Wikipedia editors have compiled 169 distinct instances of people being incorrect, most of them not notable in any way, and presented them as encyclopedic information. This article has existed for over a year and a half, and over 1,300 edits have been made to it. All solely to catalog people being wrong.

I hereby coin “wikismug” for those situations where you read something on Wikipedia and just know the submitter was grinning smugly as they hit submit. This article is some of the most concentrated wikismug I’ve ever seen.

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Wikipedia: Alfred Chicken

Alfred Chicken is an old platformer for a few systems: Game Boy, NES, etc. It apparently had an unusual advertising campaign in the United Kingdom, according to Wikipedia:

Karl Fitzhugh, the Product Manager of the Amiga version of the Alfred Chicken video game, ran as the Alfred Chicken Party candidate in the 1993 by-election in the Christchurch, Dorset constituency. The exercise was done to promote the original game’s release. Fitzhugh finished second last with 18 votes, two votes ahead of the Rainbow Party candidate.

He also finished five votes behind the “Ian is King” party candidate.

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Wikipedia: Chiune Sugihara

Chiune Sugihara was an awesome guy who was a Japanese diplomat to Lithuania during World War II.

Sympathetic to Jews who were trying to leave Lithuania after it was occupied by the Soviet Union, he took it upon himself to write thousand of exit visas for refugees, despite having orders from the Japanese Foreign Ministry to the contrary.

Sugihara continued to hand write visas, reportedly spending 18–20 hours a day on them, producing a normal month’s worth of visas each day, until 4 September, when he had to leave his post before the consulate was closed. By that time he had granted thousands of visas to Jews, many of whom were heads of households and thus permitted to take their families with them. On the night before their scheduled departure, Sugihara and his wife stayed awake writing out visa approvals. According to witnesses, he was still writing visas while in transit from his hotel and after boarding the train at the Kaunas Railway Station, throwing visas into the crowd of desperate refugees out of the train’s window even as the train pulled out.

In final desperation, blank sheets of paper with only the consulate seal and his signature (that could be later written over into a visa) were hurriedly prepared and flung out from the train.

What a badass.

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Wikipedia: Max Headroom broadcast signal intrusion

The 25th anniversary of this is coming up. I had never heard about it until now.

The Max Headroom broadcast signal intrusion was a television signal hijacking in Chicago, Illinois, on the evening of November 22, 1987. It is an example of what is known in the television business as broadcast signal intrusion. The intruder was successful in interrupting two television stations within three hours. Neither the hijacker nor the accomplices have ever been found or identified.

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Wikipedia: Bambi

There’s a lot of gold in the “Production” section of the Bambi article on Wikipedia.

Sidney Franklin, a producer and director at MGM films, purchased the film rights to Felix Salten’s novel Bambi, A Life in the Woods in 1933, intending to adapt it as a live-action film. Deciding it would be too difficult to make such a film, he sold the film rights to Walt Disney in April 1937.

I can’t possibly fathom why this wouldn’t work as a live-action film!

There was a scene involving two autumn leaves conversing and eventually dying by falling to the ground, but the artist found that talking flora didn’t work in the context of the film and instead used a visual metaphor of two realistic leaves falling to the ground.

Screenwriters what were you on, dogs. Why would that have been a good idea.

There was a scene of Bambi stepping on an ant’s nest and showing all the devastation that he caused, but it was cut for pacing reasons.

Yes, it was cut because it threw off the film’s timing. Not because an ant massacre might not be appropriate for a movie like Bambi. No siree bob.

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Wikipedia: SimCopter

The game gained controversy when a designer inserted sprites of shirtless “himbos” (male bimbos) in Speedo trunks who hugged and kissed each other, who appear in great numbers on certain dates. Their fluorescent nipples were drawn with a special rendering mode usually reserved for fog-piercing runway landing lights, so they could easily be seen from long distances in bad weather. An unintended emergent behavior of the code caused hundreds of himbos to swarm and crowd around the helicopter, where they would be slashed up by the blades, and then need to be air-lifted to the hospital — which earned the player easy money.

First off, what.

Secondly, what.