Wikipedia is the extensive crowd-sourced nexus of knowledge on the internet. Anyone can sign up and edit, and anyone can re-edit your edits. Some of the editing battles have gone down in history for their rancor, duration, or silliness. And no detail is too small or obscure to fight about. For example, the picture that accompanied the article on economist Guy Standing, shown above, originally sported the caption “Guy Standing sitting at the BIEN conference in 2012.”
Yep. It’s the same joke poor Guy has certainly heard every day of his life, and some people found it in bad taste. Some editors changed the caption, arguing that “Guy Standing sitting” was a pointless, discursive joke. Other editors changed it back, arguing they were just literally describing what was happening, and that deliberately avoiding the phrase or changing the pic was needlessly confusing. It seemed like a classic battle between the philosophies of “One should never be cute, even by accident” and “Relax, that guy is sitting.”
The comments got heated. One user from Team Relax said, “It’s accurate, though. The photo is of Guy Standing, sitting, so it isn’t really vandalism.” A rival from Team Never Cute countered, “It’s still just a pointless joke. There’s no actual reason for it really being there. I suggest changing the picture to him not sitting.” But this argument would not be solved by finding a picture of Guy Standing standing. It would be solved with WAR.
The volunteer Wikipedia editors battled back and forth like this … for three years.
An article at Cracked goes into much more detail about the fight over Guy Standing, plus five other ridiculously petty edit fights in the name of accuracy and usability at Wikipedia.
(Image credit: Stanislas Jourdan)