Egg raid on Wikipedia

Last week, I made a surprisingly enduring contribution to the cultural canon. If you follow me on Twitter, or you’ve got me in your feed on Facebook, then yes, you’ve probably already heard this story. In any event, I’ll try and be brief.

On Friday morning, the good people at BBC 6 happened to play “Intergalactic,” the 1998 Beastie Boys hit. Although I’d heard the track many times before, I found myself wondering for the first time if Mike D’s claims of being “known to do the Wop” and of also being “known for the Flintstone Flop” were genuine. If he were really known for doing those dances, I thought, then surely his entry on Wikipedia would say so. But it didn’t, so I wondered aloud what the deal was.

It was a lame joke, and I was happy to let it lie – until my friend Susan pointed out that if I had a problem with something on Wikipedia, then I had both the right and the power to change it.

To be honest, I don’t like to mess around with Wikipedia. If you’ve ever vandalized one of their pages, and suffered the wrath of a cadre of nerds in the process, then you know it’s much more trouble than it’s worth. One time, I added a line to the entry on bears about how you’d better not go against a bear or it’ll “straight up kill you,” and within ten minutes it was gone and I’d been thoroughly chastised by some nerd.

And frankly, what’s the problem? That’s a perfectly valid and factual statement about bears. Tangle with a bear and live, Wikipedia, and then we’ll talk.

Anyway, that was my first and only experience as a contributor, and I wasn’t keen to repeat it. But then I realized that Mike D had gone on record – specifically, a record called Hello Nasty – about his reputation for doing the Wop and the Flintstone Flop. Furthermore, to my knowledge, nobody had ever presented a compelling case to the contrary. If a nerd were to get in my face about me repeating that claim on Wikipedia, then at best, he’d be shooting the messenger.

With that in mind, I changed this:

“Michael Louis Diamond, better known as Mike D (born November 20, 1965), is a founding member of New York hip hop group the Beastie Boys. Mike D raps, sings, and plays drums alongside fellow members Adrock, MCA, Money Mark and Mix Master Mike.”

…to this:

“Michael Louis Diamond, better known as Mike D (born November 20, 1965), is a founding member of New York hip hop group the Beastie Boys. Mike D raps, sings, and plays drums alongside fellow members Adrock, MCA, Money Mark and Mix Master Mike. He is known to do the Wop and the Flintstone Flop.”

The citation, I should note, was added after the fact by my girlfriend. I got so wrapped up in trying to figure out how to cite a recording that it didn’t even occur to me to link to one of those lame lyrics sites. Thank you, Kate!

At any rate, I assumed it would be gone within the hour. The fact that it’s still up there at the time of this writing is a bit of a shock. Could it be that the Wikipedia nerds have abandoned their sworn duty to manage that site in a relentlessly anal fashion? Perhaps, but I prefer to think they laid eyes on my revision and gave it a pass, however reluctantly, because it deserved to be there.

Then again, maybe Mike D’s Wikipedia entry just doesn’t get the sort of traffic that demands a schedule of frequent reviews. I mean, it’s not like you have to move quickly to keep up with the Beastie Boys these days, you know?

Anyway, there you go. That’s the one lasting thing I’ve done on Wikipedia. Well, I also changed it back to the original wording tonight after discovering that someone had changed it to “He is known to do the Wop also known as the Flintstone Flop,” because that’s incorrect and lame as well as being a grammatical nightmare. But since that basically counts as doing the same thing again, I think we’ll leave it at that. If you’re reading this and that was your doing, then I’m sorry, but come on.

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5 Responses to “Egg raid on Wikipedia”

  1. Justin says:

    There’s apparently a huge perpetual war going on at Wikipedia where you have a bunch of anime-obsessed nerds spending 20 hours a day guarding their articles like little fiefdoms and using the archaic bureaucracy of Wikipedia to keep them the way they are, even if they’re factually incorrect. It’s one of the reasons 40,000 editors quit just recently. There’s a great thread up about it on Something Awful forums that has actually done some good about changing one of them. Specifically the #crucifixion in art article which had a two-sentence mention of Jesus and then a full page about crucifixion in anime, replete with a picture of Sailor Mars being crucified. I’ll send you the link to the thread if you’re interested.

  2. Matt says:

    Actually, you know what? Please do.

  3. Justin says:

    I can shoot you my account id if it won’t let you access it. Send me an email if that’s the case.

  4. Not Michael Richards says:

    I was starting to like you until you said you changed it back. Pussy move. Holden Caulfield would definitely consider you a phony. Or write something like “I mean, not that there’s anything wrong with changing it back, I just think what you wrote was better. I get a bang out of stuff like that.”

  5. Matt says:

    Ah, you misunderstand: I changed it back to my original wording, and I did it because it was the right thing to do. I didn’t get rid of the line altogether, which I see someone’s done since.

    The other guy’s wording was incorrect. A few of us actually had an argument elsewhere about whether it’s “for the Flintstone Flop” or “as the Flintstone Flop,” and it’s definitely “for,” as the lyrics themselves will prove.

    Ah, well. We had a good run, guys. Now, let’s enjoy the holidays!