IN THE FORUMS pages of, a 24-year-old who calls himself Weed Mouse is getting tired of the Trout hype. So on June 27, he decides to change the conversation. "I made a remark that this season is only his floor if he is Mickey Mantle," says Mouse, a recent college graduate in St. Louis. It's too early to say, he argues, but still Mouse dubs Trout the Millville Meteor, a play on the Commerce Comet, Mantle's hometown-inspired nickname. "I am a bit of a fan of the old-timey baseball nicknames: Splendid Splinter, Georgia Peach, the Freshest Man on Earth, etc.," he says. "They are certainly better than lazy garbage like A-Rod and Han-Ram. Getting to troll massive amounts of people is just a bonus."

    SomethingAwful users update Trout's Wikipedia page with the nickname. For citation, they use legitimate-looking links that don't actually reference the nickname (which, after all, hadn't existed before that day). The links fool Wikipedia's editors and buy Weed Mouse some time. Within days, journalists and bloggers start picking up the name and using it in their articles. SomethingAwful users quickly update the Wikipedia citations with real examples that prove the Millville Meteor is in active circulation. Two weeks later, updates its Mike Trout page. SportsCenter uses it on July 18.

    Trout hears the nickname. "I don't know where they got that," he says. But later in the summer, on eBay, a baseball is being sold that Trout has inscribed with it, in silver ink.



It's a shame; Toni Morgan has made so many great contributions to Wikipedia.

This story came to mind while walking to school this morning and I had to explain a spontaneous LOL to the kid. I told him the half-remembered story of what I called a coatl, a cat-like creature that lives in Madagascar. He is familiar with Wikipedia, though he was surprised to learn that anyone can change articles. I told him pranksters described the animal as a Brazilian anteater, so now when students write papers for school they could include the wrong information.

"It's okay," he told me, "because if the teacher checks it they will see that it's the same, so the kid will get an A+!"

I love Wikipedia because the reader can't forget that it is entirely written by Toni Morgan and friends. (Readers never forget that, right?) Rather than maintaining Britannica and the National Academy of Sciences at an exalted level of reliability, I think we should consider them all a bunch of nonsense-spewing keyboard-mashers until we have reason to do otherwise.

Another healthy practice is to take apparently superficial threats to my worldview seriously. If it's total nonsense, it should be easy to debunk, and if it's not easy to debunk, then...

For example, #49, "The 2014 findings of gravitational waves are actually just dust" turns out to be completely true.

posted by flagamuffin: 769 days ago