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Lolita's Wikipedia Page
August 23, 2011 6:50 PM   Subscribe

Case History Of A Wikipedia Page: Nabokov’s 'Lolita' Since 2001, the Wikipedia entry on Vladimir Nabokov's Lolita has been edited 2,303 times. It's a popular entry, too: of approximately 750,000 Wiki articles out there, it ranks at 2,075 in traffic. In the past ten years, the entry has grown to the detailed, 6,000-plus-word monolith of today. The two Lolita films now have their own pages, while the entry on the novel has expanded to include sections on such subjects as Lolita's Russian translation and its literary allusions. An edit is made, on average, about every other day.
posted by sweetkid (36 comments total) 15 users marked this as a favorite

 
Sort of creepy, eh?
posted by tomswift at 6:52 PM on August 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


When you need information about Lolita, you go to Wikipedia. You see, you have absolutely nowhere else to go.
posted by infinitewindow at 7:00 PM on August 23, 2011 [12 favorites]


The perfect Wikipedia article is, by virtue of the collaborative editing process that creates it, "not attainable": "Editing may bring an article closer to perfection, but ultimately, perfection means different things to different editors."

Bosh. Perfection here would be a gargantuan palindrome, logically set upon 3"x5" index cards, ultimately describing a butterfly.
posted by Capt. Renault at 7:01 PM on August 23, 2011 [24 favorites]


Young boys are my weakness. I just like their sweetness. Some boys really make me swing. There ain't nothin' like a pretty young thing.

Young boys you make me move. Young boys you set the groove. Young boys taste as sweet as honey.
posted by uncanny hengeman at 7:01 PM on August 23, 2011


Capt... I favorited that for the use of the words "Bosh", "gargantuan", "palindrome, and "index cards" in the same sentence. Nice job, very nice.
posted by tomswift at 7:10 PM on August 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


I frequently check the comments history when looking something up. Actually in the incredibly excellent maths section you can learn more (or just get a glimmer of understanding) from the discussion. But if a general topic has had huge edit swings, that can be as informative as the actual article.
posted by sammyo at 7:11 PM on August 23, 2011 [2 favorites]


I'm pleased to see they used Ira Matetsky as a jumping off point - I know him both irl and on Wikipedia, and he's good people. Even better, he's thoughtful, articulate people, which makes him the sort of people we need to see speaking about Wikipedia more often. We get a whole lot of people who have been banned from the project writing unhappy articles about us, but not so many editors in good standing who really understand the qualities that make Wikipedia work.

Also, if you spend enough time on Wikipedia, your bullshit-detector gets honed to a razor point and you can start accurately judging whether something is true with a single glance at the article history. Wikipedia editor superpowers, I have them.
posted by badgermushroomSNAKE at 7:16 PM on August 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


Well, it is a book about obsession.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 7:17 PM on August 23, 2011 [12 favorites]


How did they ever make a Wiki of Lolita?
posted by Senor Cardgage at 7:21 PM on August 23, 2011 [9 favorites]


"Oh, my Lolita, I have only words to play with!"
-- Humbert Humbert
posted by brain_drain at 7:26 PM on August 23, 2011 [3 favorites]


I read Lolita for the first time a few months ago. Generally when I finish a book I like to go through and read its wikipedia page to see if there were any major themes or plot points I missed, and how any film adaptations differed from the book. When I finished Lolita, I went to the wikipedia page and started scrolling. And scrolling. And scrolling. I quickly realized that digesting the wikipedia page would take more work than reading the book in the first place.

I like that this is a thing, and not just me being scared off by ten miles of words.
posted by phunniemee at 7:29 PM on August 23, 2011 [3 favorites]


MetaFilter: me being scared off by ten miles of words
posted by hippybear at 7:31 PM on August 23, 2011


That's the first time anything I've said has been turned into a MetaFilter: blah blah thing! heeeee!
posted by phunniemee at 7:37 PM on August 23, 2011 [10 favorites]


Metafilter: blah blah thing! heeeee!
posted by villanelles at dawn at 7:39 PM on August 23, 2011 [56 favorites]


I like the author made into a positive what many critics see as a negative of Wikipedia.

One thing though, it is possible to stop the endless churn by establishing consensus on the talk page - it doesn't mean set in stone, but at least make it stickier and harder for drive-by editors to mess with. Consensus takes work and is a gamble but that's how WP was designed. The classic example is the epic Gdańsk (Danzig) Vote.
posted by stbalbach at 8:38 PM on August 23, 2011 [2 favorites]


Late at night, I would tell myself that there was nothing wrong with being driven to distraction by a scholarly Wikipedia article. Under no circumstances would I have allowed my edits to be driven by anything more than a desire for completeness.
posted by benzenedream at 9:58 PM on August 23, 2011


Since 2001, the Wikipedia entry on Vladimir Nabokov's Lolita has been edited 2,303 times

2011-2011=10. 10*365.25=3652.5.

An edit is made, on average, about every other day.

2303/3652.5=about two edits every three days.

yeah, I'm THAT guy.
posted by hal_c_on at 10:08 PM on August 23, 2011


Although during the first three years there are only about 50 edits. So if you start counting from 2004 it's about one edit a day.
posted by bjrn at 10:51 PM on August 23, 2011


"of approximately 750,000 Wiki articles out there, it ranks at 2,075 in traffic."

This made me curious what the most viwed article on Wikipedia is. This led me to the Wikipedia Statistics page, which lead me to WikiRoll, which says that of all (English) articles, apart from the Wikipedia Main page, an article on 404 Errors is the most viewed article on Wikipedia.

Bizzare.
posted by Effigy2000 at 11:19 PM on August 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


Simple answer is that there are some 404 error pages that link to the Wikipedia article on 404 error messages. Either that or people see them and google.

It's also just for the day as well. It's even weirder that this is the second most viewed article today. There must be something linking to it somwhere.

The stats for the month make a bit more sense. Although I wonder why Fermat is so popular this month.
posted by delmoi at 11:30 PM on August 23, 2011


I never thought I would learn about tarantula hawks because of a thread about Lolita.

Hint: a Tarantula Hawk is neither a tarantula nor a hawk.
posted by WalterMitty at 11:40 PM on August 23, 2011


Although I wonder why Fermat is so popular this month.

Fermat was honored in a Google logo theme the other day. Nobody googlebombs like Google.
posted by Saydur at 12:19 AM on August 24, 2011 [4 favorites]


WalterMitty: Pepsis Blue.
posted by cthuljew at 12:51 AM on August 24, 2011


Isn't "Lolita" supposed an allegory about the Decline of Western Civilization? Or is that interpretation someone's joke?
posted by Yakuman at 4:01 AM on August 24, 2011


Yaku: I don't know. Check the wiki.
posted by Saxon Kane at 5:07 AM on August 24, 2011 [2 favorites]


By far my favorite wikipedia entry is the one for The Beatles. It's in-depth, incredibly well-cited, and translated into every language I've ever heard of and then-some.

On cursory inspection it appear to be edited a little more than once a day on average.
posted by taumeson at 5:53 AM on August 24, 2011


2011-2011=10. 10*365.25=3652.5.

yeah, I'm THAT guy.


2011-2011 = 0

I'm the pedant that follows THAT guy around.
posted by biffa at 5:54 AM on August 24, 2011 [7 favorites]


I never thought I would learn about tarantula hawks because of a thread about Lolita

Holy perverts that's turbocharged wasp is terrifying.
posted by jimmythefish at 6:46 AM on August 24, 2011


She was Lo, plain Lo, in the morning, standing four feet ten in one sock. She was Lola in slacks. She was Dolly at school. She was Dolores on the dotted line. But in my arms she was always Lolita.[Citation?]
posted by shakespeherian at 6:47 AM on August 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


Tangentially related, I recently made a comic strip about Lolita.
posted by COBRA! at 6:57 AM on August 24, 2011


Also tangentially related, I found a book, Cleaning Nabokov's House, in the new book section at the library yesterday.
The novel opens like this: ''I knew I could stay in this town when I found the blue enamel pot floating in the lake. The pot led me to the house, the house led me to the book, the book to the lawyer, the lawyer to the whorehouse, the whorehouse to science, and from science I joined the world.''

Barb Barrett has inadequate skills for relationships. In particular, she cannot follow her husband's instructions. Because of this character ''flaw,'' she falls through the safety net of her lousy marriage, losing custody of her children and her home as she plummets. Guided only by her intense inner life, and a questionable business plan, Barb is determined to reinvent herself. She moves into a house once occupied by the literary genius Vladimir Nabokov, author of the notorious Lolita. She discovers what could be Nabokov's last unpublished manuscript and from there begins a painful yet joyous journey that is deliciously romantic, both darkly comic and wise.
Good book so far. I'm up to the whorehouse. ;)
posted by Celsius1414 at 7:37 AM on August 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


Delmoi - It's even weirder that this is the second most viewed article today. There must be something linking to it somwhere.

That article was linked on Reddit yesterday (TIL in 1990 McDonalds produced an anti-drug cartoon featuring all popular cartoon characters at the time, and it was balls to the wall insane)
posted by trueluk at 8:04 AM on August 24, 2011


"The writing, editing, rewriting and re-editing process of a Wikipedia page creates a new entity—the Lolita Wikipedia page, which is not Nabokov's Lolita, but a work in its own right."

I wonder what Nabokov what have thought of this notion. Perhaps he would have taken a certain pride that his book has received so much more attention than any of Thomas Mann's.
posted by homunculus at 9:57 AM on August 24, 2011


I like that this is a thing, and not just me being scared off by ten miles of words.

I'm not sure how I feel about being thing has become a thing.
posted by jabberjaw at 11:01 AM on August 24, 2011


Reminded by shakespeherian's comment of the excellence of Nabokov's prose, I decided to search out an text of the book - to discover that Google autocomplete refuses to acknowledge the existence of the word "Lolita", presumably classing it amongst such unutterables as footjob, voyeur and clitoris. Somewhat unusual for a great work of fiction ...
posted by iotic at 12:13 PM on August 24, 2011


"the Lolita Wikipedia page, which is not Nabokov's Lolita, but a work in its own right."

In it's own way, more significant than the book. After hundreds of years of print, legions are collaborating. (Much like those ongoing 'you too can add a paragraph' stories that preceded it - and the net.)

Imagine the world we'll live in when everyone can collaborate on everything.
posted by Twang at 2:46 PM on August 24, 2011


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