I contributed for the first time last night to a Wikipedia discussion page.
The entry on Godwin’s Law was missing the most interesting fact – that Godwin deliberately created his law as an experiment in memetics. He wanted to see if he could create deliberately create a meme and watch it through usenet.
I have made minor edits to Wikipedia pages before but this seemed such a blatant omission that I thought it would be more polite to enquire about it in the Talk page first. I was not familiar with Talk page etiquette so I tried to reverse engineer it from the existing comments. There seemed to be a bunch of substantive discussion about the content of the article, neatly divided into sections, with a bunch of name-calling and complaining about the edit wars (Lawrence’s Law – any Talk page at wikipedia will have a bunch of substantive discussion followed by name-calling and complaining about the edit wars. Just don’t call anyone a Nazi!) so I carefully inserted my question at the end of the substantive discussion.
Shouldn’t there be a reference to the fact that an Godwin originally proposed Godwin’s Law as an exercise in memetics?
Less than 8 hours later, I logged in to find that my entry had been moved, formatted, attributed and had it’s own little sub-section with name-calling and complaining about the edit-wars. I was also gently prompted to pay more attention to the four or five rules of etiquette that I had broken. Someone even asked me for a cite 🙂 Those guys are efficient! I would certainly trust them to keep my trains running on time.
The Onion article about Wikipedia would be funnier if there were a grain of truth in it. It might have been true once-upon-a-time but just try adding some random crap to a wikipedia page and see how long it lasts. The WikiGnomes will have removed your weeds before you have even finished planting them. They are Nazis in the best possible sense of the word.