The Blogosphere Explodes – Wikipedia Part VII: Snakes on a Wikiality

Newsvine web site has some interesting new news about what’s going on with Wikialitygate:

Stephen Colbert Causes Chaos on Wikipedia, Gets Blocked from Site
News Type: Event — Tue Aug 1, 2006 6:00 AM EDT
Corey Spring

In the segment, Colbert logs on to the Wikipedia article about his show to find out whether he usually refers to Oregon as “California’s Canada or Washington’s Mexico.” Upon learning that he has referred to Oregon as both, he demonstrates how easy it is to both references and put in a completely new one (Oregon is Idaho’s Portugal), declaring it “the opinion I’ve always held, you can look it up.”

Colbert goes on to declare that he doesn’t believe George Washington had slaves.

If I want to say he didn’t that’s my right, and now, thanks to Wikipedia *taps keyboard* it’s also a fact.

Here’s the fun part – Colbert actually did this. The Wikipedia articles on his show and George Washington were both edited by the user Stephencolbert to reflect the changes he declared on air as he tapped at his computer around 23:35 UTC – which is 6:35pm on the East Coast, during the taping hours before the show aired.

It gets better.

Colbert then urged his audience to find the Wikipedia entry on elephants and create an entry that stated their population had tripled in the last six months, a fact he freely stated to not know if it was “actually true,” with his sidebar stating “it isn’t.” Guess what happened next?

Scores of internet users took Colbert’s bait, repeatedly vandalizing approximately 20 articles related to elephants proclaiming the jump in their population over the last six months. Try looking up any article about elephants and you will find the article under a lock due to repeated vandalism, er uh, wikiality.

The brouhaha caught the eye of one Wikipedia administrator, Tawker, and his program to automatically spot vandalism on the site, reportedly eating up “too much” of his bandwith in the process. Tawker subsequently blocked Colbert’s Wikipedia account to ‘verify the identity’ of Mr. Colbert. Tawker, unlike myself, must be incapable of telling time, as the logs corroborate Colbert’s mischief. His notes on the block and blog entry, however, reveal he just wants to be mentioned or flown out to the show.

All this trouble over a man who, as his user page noted, is a ‘defender of truth.’


  1. Well, it was him, or it was a staff member. Funny either way.

  2. I feel fairly confident that it was a staff member (as opposed to someone who was at the taping of the show), I should have clarified that in the notes to my post.

  3. Well, it wasn't Colbert, get over it.

    Though I'm SURE I have his attention now, the "creation of the report board" was my little peice of "Klasic Kolbert" – or so I think it to be "the truth" and in "wikality" it's a fact…

  4. Yes, you have managed to get your name into a rather entertaining piece of Klassic Colbert. I should get over it? To paraphrase Ross on "Friends", I didn't realize I was under it.

If you're new to our Zoner community, please read the No Fact Zone Comment Policy before commenting. Thank you!