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Tomato, To-mah-toe; Potato, Po-tah-toe; Let's call the whole thing off.
August 7, 2010 9:01 AM   Subscribe

Brasil or Brazil? Aluminum or Aluminium? Yogurt or Yoghurt? Does even Jimbo know when he was born? Wikipedia's lamest edit wars.
posted by scalefree (84 comments total) 19 users marked this as a favorite

 
Brasil, aluminum, yogurt.
posted by zephyr_words at 9:06 AM on August 7, 2010


Woah. Minutiae alert!
posted by blue_beetle at 9:09 AM on August 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


I want to know who was so devoted to the wrong pronunciation of Rowling (it's like "rolling") that they kept their end of that fight going.
posted by Navelgazer at 9:12 AM on August 7, 2010


Minutiae or Minutiæ?
posted by Omon Ra at 9:12 AM on August 7, 2010 [18 favorites]


Brazil, aluminium, yoghurt. Well now that we've resolved that, on to the cow tipping debate.
posted by shinybaum at 9:14 AM on August 7, 2010 [3 favorites]


My favorite: the dispute over which edit wars should be on the Lamest edit wars list.
posted by Rhomboid at 9:15 AM on August 7, 2010 [11 favorites]


NERD FIGHT!!!
posted by mr_crash_davis mark II: Jazz Odyssey at 9:16 AM on August 7, 2010


(oops, meant to link to this anchor in the long page.)
posted by Rhomboid at 9:16 AM on August 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


who cares - or - who the fuck cares?
posted by edgeways at 9:17 AM on August 7, 2010 [4 favorites]


I want to know who was so devoted to the wrong pronunciation of Rowling (it's like "rolling") that they kept their end of that fight going.

That would be a gentleman named Jared, it would seem. "So are we just going to ignore all those people who pronounce it Rohwling?"

Heh. At first I thought this was a little thin, but then I started chuckling as I scrolled down. I keep forgetting that WikiPedia actually keeps track of stuff like this.
posted by Gator at 9:18 AM on August 7, 2010


Um, British English doesn't require "are" because there are multiple band members. In fact, quite the reverse. As the band is singular, it takes "is". I know this because I am a British English person.
posted by Lleyam at 9:18 AM on August 7, 2010


Yes, female, hairless.
posted by sebastienbailard at 9:19 AM on August 7, 2010 [5 favorites]


How do you even list the Beatles alphabetically? By first or last name?
posted by yhbc at 9:21 AM on August 7, 2010


Pwned. It's a typo of owned, like porn/pron. You say "poned." It means one has been defeated judiciously. I know this because I used to play WOW and I've been on the internet. You're welcome, WikiPedia.
posted by cmoj at 9:26 AM on August 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


Whoops. Never mind.

GEORGE Harrison, JOHN Lennon, PAUL McCartney, RINGO Starr

George HARRISON, John LENNON, Paul MCCARTNEY, Ringo STARR
posted by yhbc at 9:29 AM on August 7, 2010 [11 favorites]


The best so far is the Cow Tipping one wondering if it is appropriate to include a picture of a cow with the caption "a potential victim."
posted by drezdn at 9:29 AM on August 7, 2010 [5 favorites]


I'm sure I've shared this before:

The BC3K flamewar, which plumbs the deepest corners of lame before passing through the wormhole to epic.
posted by notyou at 9:32 AM on August 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


Now we know why they got rid of Pete Best.
posted by dirigibleman at 9:32 AM on August 7, 2010 [3 favorites]


Phew. Good thing we're not as anal about such things here.
posted by Hardcore Poser at 9:32 AM on August 7, 2010


"Anus: Should article use an image of a human anus?" I actually went to read some of the discussions on Wikipedia and came across so many gems, none more so than this extract from the "human anus" discussion page (warning, the actual article contains a picture of an anus so is NSFW. I guess we know who is currently winning this argument...).

"The anus is a remarkable muscle. As of 2001, there are roughly 6 billion people on the planet. Assuming each one takes a dump once a day, there are 6 billion times a day at least that the anus does it's work. Truly this is proof of its thorough design and well crafted construction. Unless of course you don't believe anything designed the anus. Anyways. Even more common than dump taking is farting, also done through the anus, that most durable and noble of organs."

"Is the anus proof of Intelligent Design? Perhaps it's time for another test in the courts!"

"I really wish we could crap by osmosis right now."
posted by marmaduke_yaverland at 9:36 AM on August 7, 2010 [3 favorites]


Oh, there's a whole lovely backstory to Jimbo's birthdate. Back in my big Wikipedia criticism days, I thought there was always a lot to be learned from it.
posted by jscott at 9:41 AM on August 7, 2010


How do you even list the Beatles alphabetically?

It is John, Paul, George and Ringo godamn it. Or maybe God damn it. Who the hell knows. Or who in the hell knows. I don't.
posted by marxchivist at 9:49 AM on August 7, 2010


Oh boy, Wikipedia's talk pages! That's where I'm a Viking!
posted by WPW at 9:52 AM on August 7, 2010 [5 favorites]


Tire, or Tyre?
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:56 AM on August 7, 2010


I was the central defender in a protracted edit war on "barbarian vs Germanic" in regards to early middle ages articles. Someones tried to expunge the use of "barbarian" from Wikipedia as being non-politically correct, "POV" or whatever nonsense. It was an incredibly painful experience and ultimately led back to a couple eastern European neo-Nazi sympathizer sock puppets, at which point their arguments fell apart, but some well meaning good faith editors got caught up in it taking the "Germanic" side, unable to tell the difference between modern day use of Barbarian and appropriate historical use.
posted by stbalbach at 9:57 AM on August 7, 2010


Can of beans or plate of beans?
posted by blaneyphoto at 10:00 AM on August 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


Much nerd insanity here: WALL-A units resemble giant WALL-E units.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 10:01 AM on August 7, 2010 [3 favorites]


The BC3K flamewar, which plumbs the deepest corners of lame before passing through the wormhole to epic.

Thanks for the pointer, BC3K looks like a good game.
posted by scalefree at 10:04 AM on August 7, 2010


Yes! See there are people out there with less of a life than Mefites.
posted by Some1 at 10:06 AM on August 7, 2010


I'm going with Mr. Izzard regarding "herb".
posted by foggy out there now at 10:07 AM on August 7, 2010


Am I the only one that's glad there are Wikipedians who care enough about their subject that they'll wrangle over the tiniest detail? If it resulted in crap or missing information it might suck, but Wikipedia is waaaay more complete than any other individual source out there.
posted by DU at 10:11 AM on August 7, 2010 [7 favorites]


Oh, there's a whole lovely backstory to Jimbo's birthdate.

I always assumed the whole point of it was an exercise in ego, just Jimbo testing how much juice he had. In an information economy it's the ultimate currency, to declare something both true & false then stifle dissent from even discussing the issue. Truth is what you say it is right now, regardless of what you said about it previously.
posted by scalefree at 10:13 AM on August 7, 2010


Well, obviously we need a British English Wikipedia and an American English Wikipedia. As anyone with any sense can see, that would solve all these silly English usage debates at a stroke!
posted by pharm at 10:17 AM on August 7, 2010


Meyh-taw-fihlturre.
posted by dunkadunc at 10:21 AM on August 7, 2010


I'm out to TCBY right now to order up a double serving of cool refreshing Brazilian Aluminum Yogurt. You'll forget how good it is!
posted by stevil at 10:23 AM on August 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


"Feces. Should this page include a picture of a large human turd?"
posted by ericb at 10:32 AM on August 7, 2010


I'm going with Mr. Izzard regarding "herb".

"Because there's a fucking "h" in it!"

I ♥ Eddie Izzard!
posted by ericb at 10:33 AM on August 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


The guy who invented aluminum (a Brit himself), spelt it "Aluminum". An anonymous OCD sufferer changed the prefix to "-ium" to conform to a misguided sense of proper British suffix behaviour.

The inventor was correct, the right suffix is "-um", and you Brits are wrong wrong wrong. Deal with it.

(Points off for fixating on my OCD honeypot.)
posted by Aquaman at 11:25 AM on August 7, 2010 [6 favorites]


Feces: "Should this page include a picture of a large human turd?"

hahahahahaha

*insert img tag war gag here*
posted by marienbad at 11:50 AM on August 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


Since many of these appear to be British/American English differences, I see this as partly a failure on Wikipedia's part to provide proper internationalization support for dialects.

Perhaps a light-weight Wiki descriptor to select a different word or phrase based on a user dialect preference? Sure it might prove useless, but it would be a supported way to force all the complainers to STFU. I large amount of it could even be automated, but not all of it.

Yep, I'm serious.
posted by hanoixan at 11:55 AM on August 7, 2010 [2 favorites]


Perhaps a light-weight Wiki descriptor to select a different word or phrase based on a user dialect preference?

I like this idea, albeit mostly because it would provide a great (and hilarious!) vector for hidden vandalism.
US Version: In the middle 1800's, there were many types of crude elevators that carried freight.

UK Version: In the middle 1800's, there were many types of crude FUCK YOU LIMEYS!!!! that carried freight.
posted by av123 at 12:27 PM on August 7, 2010 [5 favorites]


Limeys? what, is it 1760 now or something? Do you "Yanquis" still say that about us?

I mean, even coke has lime in it now.
posted by marienbad at 12:34 PM on August 7, 2010 [2 favorites]


some well meaning good faith editors got caught up in it taking the "Germanic" side, unable to tell the difference between modern day use of Barbarian and appropriate historical use.

Actually, that debate has a long and presumably inglorious history. When I went from studying history with Spanish schoolbooks to using German ones, I was greatly amused to see the "Barbarian invasions" ("invasiones bárbaras") mutate into the "migration of the peoples" ("Völkerwanderung")...
And my father was once angrily reprimanded by a German woman for using the French word "barbarisme" in its most correct usage (meaning a foreign, imported word).
posted by Skeptic at 12:38 PM on August 7, 2010


With all due respect, Aquaman, nobody "invented" aluminum, as it is an element. Your comment should be modified to identify the Brit guy as the "discoverer."
posted by contraption at 12:45 PM on August 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


Perhaps a light-weight Wiki descriptor to select a different word or phrase based on a user dialect preference? Sure it might prove useless, but it would be a supported way to force all the complainers to STFU. I large amount of it could even be automated, but not all of it.

Perhaps tagged with something like en-US or en-GB for US & British English? See:

Language tags in HTML and XML

Primary language tag based on ISO-639. Also see RFC 5646, Tags for identifying languages. The Apache web server, and probably most, can do content negotiation to present language-appropriate pages. Of course, you need entirely spearate pages in that case, it doesn't just do word replacements on the fly. One could create a Babelfish-lite that did so, I suppose.

By the way, Middle English is considered sufficiently different that it gets its own tag: enm.

...perhaps not exactly what you were looking for, but anything to delay getting back to schoolwork...
posted by foonly at 12:59 PM on August 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


spearate -> separate. Tomato, Tomtao...
posted by foonly at 1:01 PM on August 7, 2010


I can see that most of you think this issue actually isn’t one, but English-language Wikipedia faces the intractable question of which dialect of English to write in. (There are only three spelling traditions [U.S., Canadian, and British], but adopting one dialect requires altering certain words and phrases, as the blog Separated by a Common Language documents in detail. Hence the problem cannot actually be resolved by deciding how to spell aluminum or yogurt.)
posted by joeclark at 1:12 PM on August 7, 2010


Everybody Yoghurts, sometimes...
posted by drjimmy11 at 1:16 PM on August 7, 2010 [2 favorites]


I once engaged in a very long back-and-forth on the Minority Report talk page with this one dude who insisted that Mary Alice Smith appeared in a cameo. It took two whole months for him to stop adding it back into the article.

I don't go on Wikipedia anymore.
posted by EmGeeJay at 1:16 PM on August 7, 2010


(oh shit -- "anymore" or "any more"?!)
posted by EmGeeJay at 1:16 PM on August 7, 2010


Color or Colour? Honor or Honour? Favorite or Favourite?
posted by thebenman at 1:45 PM on August 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


(oh shit -- "anymore" or "any more"?!)

So long as you don't use it to mean "nowadays," you're good.
posted by kittyprecious at 2:07 PM on August 7, 2010


Without actually checking the Wikipedia page in question, I am willing to bet a significant sum of money that this link's characterization of the "Jesus" dispute is 50% inaccurate.
posted by dersins at 2:13 PM on August 7, 2010


Woah. Minutiae alert!

...led me to:
"Although "woah" is more formal and normally thought of as being correct, "whoa" is more common, but incorrect." This disagrees with the information in the talk page (and everything I ever learned in English class. Vandalism?

&

People need to realize that "Woah" is a word. Just because "Whoa" is more common doesn't mean it's not a word. It's like "e-mail" and "email." Both are words, but "e-mail" is more formal.
I think we have a winner!
posted by kittyprecious at 2:14 PM on August 7, 2010


"Anus: Should article use an image of a human anus?"

Some people don't WANT to be exposed to anus.
posted by homunculus at 2:15 PM on August 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


"House MD: Should we mention the show lack of asian diversity?"

WTF!?
posted by livingdots at 2:28 PM on August 7, 2010


What about Uranus?
posted by ericb at 2:45 PM on August 7, 2010


I wish they'd start using Wapuro Romaji instead of modified Hepburn Romaji.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 3:37 PM on August 7, 2010


nobody "invented" aluminum, as it is an element

That's an important distinction, thanks for pointing it out! I'll slip a note into my glove box for future reference.
posted by Aquaman at 4:04 PM on August 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


Brazil, aluminum, Yog-Sothoth.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 4:07 PM on August 7, 2010


nobody "invented" aluminum, as it is an element

In this case, nobody invented it.

But plutonium and elements beyond it are indeed elements, but can also not-too-unreasonably be said to have been invented. Though one could certainly argue either way.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 4:26 PM on August 7, 2010


African or European?
posted by obiwanwasabi at 4:53 PM on August 7, 2010


Some people don't WANT to be exposed to anus.

New edit war:
Proctophobia: Appropriate to use a huge picture of an anus on a page about fear of anuses?
posted by sebastienbailard at 5:46 PM on August 7, 2010


Color or Colour? Honor or Honour? Favorite or Favourite?

Tell that to the Word and Thunderbird spell checkers (F'n yanks).
posted by Popular Ethics at 5:51 PM on August 7, 2010


In fact, quite the reverse. As the band is singular, it takes "is". I know this because I am a British English person.
Eh? Did you go to school or read anything or listen to any of the British English speakers around you?

Bands take "are", without exception, from Radio 1 to Top of the Pops via the NME. As do football teams, the police and a hazy number of companies. Sometimes political parties, too.
posted by bonaldi at 6:20 PM on August 7, 2010


some well meaning good faith editors got caught up in it taking the "Germanic" side, unable to tell the difference between modern day use of Barbarian and appropriate historical use.

I don't see how barbarian is ever an appropriate word to use in an encyclopedia, unless you're strictly talking about the Greek or Roman perspective on those tribes.
posted by empath at 6:30 PM on August 7, 2010


I was ABOUT to make a "jail"/"gaol" joke, but they both redirect to "prison." Way to suck, Wikipedia.
posted by cthuljew at 8:31 PM on August 7, 2010


...you Brits are wrong wrong wrong. Deal with it.

Actually, it's wrong wrong wrong wrong.[1]
posted by emilyd22222 at 8:52 PM on August 7, 2010


Tell that to the Word and Thunderbird spell checkers (F'n yanks).

No, we 'yanks' simply don't like unnecessary 'u's in our words. Uses a whole extra bit!
posted by thebenman at 9:18 PM on August 7, 2010


I mean byte!!!
posted by thebenman at 9:19 PM on August 7, 2010


What this brings to mind is the debate I saw over whether to include her birthdate in Violet Blue's article. I mean, I was inclined to have sympathy for this person over the Boingboing censorship issue (which is pretty assholish), but to be freaked out (via proxy I guess) that one's true age is shown in one's Wikipedia article? Really?

Grow up. It is a salient fact about a person of note.
posted by marble at 12:58 AM on August 8, 2010


I have actually considered taking a photo of my own anus for the article (as far as I am aware, mine is pretty typical) just to put an end to this. Unfortunately, I don't think I'll be able to hold the camera at the right angle to get a decent shot. :( If you take a close look at the 'porn' anus in hi-res, it doesn't actually appear to have been shaved or bleached. --Kurt Shaped Box 22:52, 17 January 2007 (UTC)
I've always wondered who these people are, this legion that keeps Wikipedia up-to-date and well policed, because I've never met any of them in real life, despite mixing with nerds a LOT. And then I realized, it's because they're in their homes, bitching about how to spell Brasil, and taking pictures of their own assholes. God bless 'em.
posted by disillusioned at 1:52 AM on August 8, 2010 [5 favorites]


Am I the only one that's glad there are Wikipedians who care enough about their subject that they'll wrangle over the tiniest detail? If it resulted in crap or missing information it might suck, but Wikipedia is waaaay more complete than any other individual source out there.

I gather the fear among wikipedians is that argument-based editing selects for the most passionate users, rather than the most factually correct.
posted by Mike1024 at 4:40 AM on August 8, 2010


missing information it might suck,

There's plenty of deletion maniacs out there... a couple of times recently I've gone there looking for ultra obscure stuff and it's been cut by some zealot deletist
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 5:55 AM on August 8, 2010


There's plenty of deletion maniacs out there... a couple of times recently I've gone there looking for ultra obscure stuff and it's been cut by some zealot deletist

And they go after soft targets, as opposed to every damn Simpsons episode.
posted by sebastienbailard at 6:42 PM on August 8, 2010


Someone once made a Wikipedia entry about me. I discovered it only because I started getting hits on my blog from that page. There was a long deletion war going on about my noteworthiness. I settled it by writing a "please delete it" post on my blog. Fun times.
posted by vidur at 9:29 PM on August 8, 2010


What's so bad about there being an article for each Simpsons episode? There's also an article for each episode of The Wire, and an article for each of Beethoven's piano sonatas -- where do you draw the line? These are the kind of things that a quality encyclopedia should have. Lately I've been re-watching Deadwood and I had really wished for individual episode articles on wikipedia because the coverage is really sparse compared to other shows.
posted by Rhomboid at 11:57 PM on August 8, 2010


Adobe Framemaker and Madcap Flare (or is it Flair?) have what's called "conditional formatting," which means you can make some thing class A, B(,) or C, and then when you go to publish the document, you select American, British(,) or Canadjun, and presto! That's what you get. But recently at my job, I've been thinking we need actual quantum superposition of word-states. Sometimes the correct word depends on the observer, and sometimes multiple words need to go in the same place.
posted by Eideteker at 12:04 AM on August 9, 2010


Also, "yog-hurt"??? It's supposed to be like you're calling out to your friend Gertrude: "Yo, G(e/u)rt!"

And do British people say "Platinium" and "Tantalium"? Does vellum become vellium? I'm all for removing unnecessary letters wherever possible. "Color" works just fine without an extraneous U (and y'all pronounce it "cullah" anyway, so who even cares?). But then, I was on the NY Thruway tonight, so take it with a grain of salt (though "Through-way" doesn't really make sense. As opposed to a way that doesn't go through?).
posted by Eideteker at 12:12 AM on August 9, 2010


Um, British English doesn't require "are" because there are multiple band members. In fact, quite the reverse. As the band is singular, it takes "is". I know this because I am a British English person.

What? No.
British English:
The Clash are a band

US English:
The Clash is a band

We treat count and mass nouns differently. American English see a band as a single unit, British English as a unit comprising of several members. I know this because I am a British English person with a degree in Linguistics, taught by a US English-speaking professor.
posted by mippy at 1:48 AM on August 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


Well, for some reason I've been speaking US English all this time. I would certainly say that The Clash *is* a band because "The Clash" is singular. I'm not sure about the earlier comment about political parties... The Democrats is getting more people into school? Would you say that in US English? Surely, the Democrats are, but the Labour Party is...
posted by Lleyam at 3:47 AM on August 9, 2010


Oh, mippy, shouldn't that be "a unit comprised of"?! Ah, who gives a shit about this anyway? We all know what someone means regardless of the niceties of grammar.
posted by Lleyam at 3:49 AM on August 9, 2010


Oops, I'm totally wrong about that. Embarrassing. Apologies.
posted by Lleyam at 3:51 AM on August 9, 2010


Ah, who gives a shit about this anyway? We all know what someone means regardless of the niceties of grammar.
...
Oops, I'm totally wrong about that. Embarrassing. Apologies.

Yup.
posted by bonaldi at 5:59 AM on August 9, 2010


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