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Recent Society articles from Daily Dot

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    On the red carpet at Sunday's Golden Globes, Aziz Ansari responded to a reporter's question about who he was wearing by saying his outfit was designed by Kevin Dior, a Home Depot employee and brother of noted designer Christian.

    As is Ansari's way, he was joking around. Kevin Dior is not real, and would probably be really old, given Christian Dior was born in 1905.

    Predictably, a Twitter account in the name of Kevin Dior popped up. With more than 170 tweets to "Kevin's" name, the account has picked up 78 followers so far. Unfortunately, his tweets have dried up faster than a latex-based paint from a quality hardware store, as they seemingly came to an end Tuesday.

    Unlike many other, slightly more creative wits, @kevinHomedepot not only has a handle with odd capitalization, but sent the same joke to just about anyone mentioning the phrase "Kevin Dior" on Twitter. Some might call that spam.

    But wait! Here's another tweet that's more of a mediocre humorous observation than a joke with actual cadence and punch.

    This one is not as awful as Carrie Mathison's cryface, but it's not far off.

    These, however, require a call for a "cleanup on aisle lame."

    The actual Home Depot was lured in to respond to Dior, with the promise of a retweet that Dior made good on.

    Dior might only have one actual joke, but at least it's one he can tell in a second language.

    This is all your fault, Aziz!

    Photo by Neubie/Flickr


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    When Deadspin broke the news Wednesday that one of the nation's top NFL prospects, Manti Te'o, had a made-up dead girlfriend—a story the linebacker presumably gamed to land magazine covers and spots on ESPN sports shows—the Internet went ballistic.

    Twitter had a field day: "Manti Te'o," "So Te'o," and other related terms peaked at more than 3,000 tweets a minute. Many were incredulous—and for good reason: It's not 1993. You can't tell your friends you have a girlfriend you met at camp and only see once a year. Everyone and everything has an online footprint. You can't just get away with this.

    Or can you?

    If there's one thing to take away from this fiasco, it's that there's hope for Forever Alones who want to trick the world into thinking they're worthy of love. On the Internet, even in 2013, there are myriad ways to conjure a seemingly real lover from zeroes and ones.


    This is Allison. She isn't really your girlfriend, but she'll pretend to be for $5.

    1) GirlfriendHire

    Chase Hoffberger's new girlfriend seemed perfect. Allison had a sly smile and brown eyes and texted him constantly—nice things like "You are my only man. I'm gonna be be thinking about you!" 

    She was into roleplaying; she could "act as anything you need me to, whether it be hispanic, asian, black, white, mixed, etc." She was also 17. Oh yeah, and Chase bought her companionship for $5.

    He was testing the site GirlfriendHire.com, a virtual marketplace for "flings": For a given price, young women offer to perform nonsexual or sexual services (online) for a week. Flirt over text, critique your music taste, offer fashion advice, you name it.

    Chase, of course, just wanted an interview.

    2) NamoroFake.com

    This Brazilian site is the whole package: You pay for different levels of fake-girlfriend completion. For 30 days at a time, the site will create a fake Facebook profile and update it with authentic-sounding statuses and comments.

    The Te'o package will set you back a cool $99.


    Screenshot via HyperVocal

    3) Be a Sugar Daddy

    College might prepare kids for a job interview, but it leaves them crippled with debt and unable to stop mooching off their parents until their 30s. Traveling is an amazingly valuable experience that no one can have anymore because it costs thousands of dollars.

    Fortunately, if you are rich and go on fun trips, you can convince broke college kids to be your fake girlfriends (or boyfriends) and even let you wiggle your genitals around their genitals. It's a win-win and not exploitative at all! 

    How do you meet them? Easy! Sites like Sugar Daddie, SeekingArrangement.com, or Miss Travel make it happen.

     

    4) FakeInternetGirlfriend.com

    "Discretion is guaranteed," the site claims. It damn well better be. Why else would you pay a monthly fee for top-tier girlfriending? The Fake Internet Girlfriend experience specializes in revenge and family cover-ups: 

    Sometimes people hire a fake internet girlfriend to make an ex-girlfriend jealous. In fact, we get a lot of clients for this reason.

    Sometimes people don’t want to hear it from their family, they want to avoid the drama all together of the never ending questions about dating so they simply employ a fake internet girlfriend so their family will stop hounding them about finding the right girl.


    Screenshot via fakeinternetgirlfriend.com

    If the fake-girlfriend experts can't invent a dead girl who will win you media adoration, whom can you trust?

    Well, there's one last option.

     

    5) Pay spammers $200,000


    Photo by Trixieroxxx/Flickr

    Here's an overlooked fake-girlfriend method that's foolproof until you ruin everything by telling the cops about it. You can pay Nigerian spammers a lot of money to be your Internet girlfriend. It works so well, you won't even realize they're spammers.

    Just make sure to overlook the fact that your love has bank accounts in three different continents.

    This poor schmuck in Illinois found out about it the hard way. Turns out he wasn't looking for a fake girlfriend at all. He was looking for a real one. And he sent "her" hundreds of thousands of dollars because he thought she was missing.

    That's really sad, actually. 

    Don't do that.

    Photo via GirlfriendHire/Daily Dot


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    The website plans to add hygiene ratings from city health departments to reviews, starting with San Francisco. The data is culled from inspection reports and will soon be displayed in a link labeled "Health Score," right on top of the establishment's hours. 

    Yelp CEO Jeremy Stoppelman said the feature compounds with the site's mission to "enrich lives of consumers and small-business owners." (You know, except when site users don't game the website to promote false reviews.)

    "While ratings and reviews are incredibly powerful ways to guide spending decisions, we're always looking for new ways to supplement the information to provide a better experience for consumers," said Stoppelman in a statement.

    Health ratings will first roll out in San Francisco–based restaurants and will go live in New York in the "coming weeks," scoops the New York Post. Yelp developed its own in-house technology called LIVES (Local Inspector Value-entry Specification) so city health departments can seamlessly input the information on the site.

    But the scores' implementation worries some restaurateurs because the grades can change so rapidly. 

    “You can have an A grade then fail an inspection, but while waiting for the tribunal keep posting an A—while someone will have a ‘grade pending’ [and] may actually be fighting to change a B to an A,” said Jeffrey Bank, CEO of the Alicart Restaurant Group to the Post.

    The ratings aren't limited to the coasts. Scores in Chicago and Philadelphia will soon be added.

    Photo by Walter K./Yelp


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    Combine the absurdity of Eastwooding and a dash of Tebowing, and you’ve got the Internet’s latest ridiculous photo meme, Teoing.

    The new trend mocks the revelation that famous Notre Dame football player Manti Te'o's girlfriend never existed. Rather, she was a hoax possibly created by—but definitely involving— the linebacker for reasons that are still unclear.

    While the the university sorts out what happened, the Internet is reacting accordingly (and lazily) by posting Teoing pics. It's simple: Just pose next to your imaginary girlfriend by doing boyfriend-type things, like hugging or proposing to her. How original.

    The meme sprouted Thursday on a Tumblr called #Teoing and has already garnered 60 posts. Here's a look at some of the best ones.

    Photo via Teoing/Tumblr


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    In the wake of the rape and murder of a bus rider in India, the comments of an Indonesian jurist up for a position on the country’s high court sparked a conflagration of condemnation in that country, most of which were registered via social media.

    That public condemnation has broken the lock the judge was thought to have had on the seat.

    During a “fit and proper hearing” for his appointment, in response to a question about appropriate penalties for sexual crimes, Judge Muhammad Daming Sunusi told an Indonesian House of Representatives commission, “both the victims of rape and the rapist might have enjoyed their intercourse together, so we should think twice before handing down the death penalty.”

    The lawmakers before whom Sunusi was testifying are said by a number of sources to have laughed along with him at his “joke,” although several later disagreed with that characterization. At any rate, none of them upbraided him for his wildly inappropriate statement.

    When confronted after the hearing by journalists, the judge defended his comments, saying he was breaking the ice at a tense hearing and that the politicians laughed.

    The citizens of Indonesia did not laugh, however. They took to Twitter and Facebook, condemning the judge in no uncertain terms. As Foreign Policy reported, “Some went as far as suggesting that his wife and daughter should be raped, if only to put some sense into the judge.”

    Indonesia, with a population of about 238 million, is the fourth largest country in the world. It is the second largest market for Facebook and the third largest for Twitter, according to Tech in Asia, and mobile phones are inexpensive and their use widespread.

    The outrage was intense and sustained enough that a “tearful” Sunusi eventually issued an apology on television, claiming his family had told him on his return home that what he’d said was inappropriate.

    Now, all the major political parties have announced they will not support the judge’s elevation to the high court and a member of the National Commission on Child Protection, Muhammad Ihsan, is encouraging the country’s government to fire him from his current position as a judge at the Banjarmasin High Court in South Kalimantan.

    Anyone who spends any time online is unlikely to have moved through the Web without brushing up against repugnant ideas expressed grotesquely. But the Web can also serve as a way to correct those ideas, and in this case, it may have done just that.

    Photo by Jerry Toisa/Flickr


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    What kinds of games do your grandparents like to play? Bridge? Bingo? FarmVille? Seeing how many sentences into which they can work the phrase "back in my day?"

    One grandpa living in China is devoting his golden years to a different game: World of Warcraft.

    According to TechWeb, the 68-year-old retiree has not one, not two, but six, World of Warcraft. characters that have reached the game’s highest level, Level 90. His high-ranking characters, which he’s been working on for most of the game’s eight-year history, range from Warriors to Hunters to Monks.

    Each morning, often right after waking up, he will leave the confines of our world behind and join his fellow adventurers in Azeroth. He will also occasionally play with his young grandson, someone a bit closer to Blizzard's target age demographic for World of Warcraft.

    What's more, his six Level 90 characters may soon be getting some company. Four of his other characters, including a thief, all rank at Level 85 or higher.

    There's no telling how exactly he will be able to control both a Level 90 Monk and a Level 90 Thief, but with hours of daily gameplay available, it's certain that he will figure out a way to harmonize his personal team.

    Although online social games are on the rise in China, particularly as a way for the country’s rapidly-growing elderly population to connect with younger generations, this grandfather’s devotion to WoW is truly unique.

    Photo via TechWeb/Weibo


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    Somewhere in California there's a kid who's sitting at home alone on his computer.

    The kid comes from Oxnard, a SoCal suburb about an hour north of Santa Monica, and he's just entering into the 7th grade. He's 13-years-old—a boy—but he's learning about himself, beginning to figure out what's what and how what feels. He's exploring online. He's daring. He's going to places he's never been before.

    And that's when he sees a video clip of his science teacher having sex.

    The kid can't have that. His school can't have that. The entire California state educational system can't have that. And for that exact reason, Stacie Halas can't teach.

    Stacie Halas, 32, was a science teacher at Richard B. Haydock Intermediate School in Oxnard, Calif. She was blonde and tan and blue-eyed and attractive. She'd taught at Haydock since she first got into the business in 2009.

    She taught her students about physics and chemistry and, presumably, biology, until one day last March. That day, she was unceremoniously pulled from her classroom and told that she could not teach again. The reason: Stacie Halas used to star in porn films. Three of her students reported that she'd seen her in their searches for porn.

    She showed up because Halas is known outside the confines of her teacher's lounge as the porn star Tiffany Six. I'm in a coffee shop and didn't care to Google her credentials, but a quick scan on the old search engine reveals that she has more than 12 videos on streaming porn site 4Tube, starred in a few clips that tout her standing as a teacher, and once "did" an episode on Big Sausage Pizza, a porn site known for bringing my favorite food rather bluntly into the conversation.

    The school immediately suspended Halas from her duties. "Maybe it's not a crime as far as the penal code is concerned, but we feel it's a crime as far as moral turpitude is concerned," remarked superintendent Jeff Chancer, who sent a letter to area parents asking them to discourage children from peeking on their teacher.

    "We ask that you be particularly vigilant over the next few days with respect to the Internet being accessed by your child on his or her telephone or other Internet-ready device," the school warned. Halas could show up at any time.

    The school board fired Halas one month later in a unanimous vote. Nobody offered any type of official comment or statement, but reports noted that officials were concerned about the disruption it would cause if she ended up returning to the classroom.

    That's how things stood for eight months, until just the other week when Halas took to a state panel to appeal to get her job back.

    The three-judge panel heard her case and deliberated and on Jan. 11 came forth with a rather lengthy decision unanimously ruling that Halas was unfit to resume her post at Haydock Intermediate. The reason: her pornographic past can continue to haunt.

    How's that possible? Well, just run a search for Stacie Halas on Google. Then prepare to shield your eyes.

    Stacie Halas: one-time porn star and teacher, forever a victim of the Internet's endless archive. Or so that's what the panel purported in its report.

    "Although her pornography career has concluded, the ongoing availability of her pornographic materials on the Internet will continue to impede her from being an effective teacher and respected colleague," Judge Julie Cabos-Owen wrote in the decision.

    Speaking after the ruling, superintendent Chancer told reporters that he was happy with the commission’s final ruling, noting that Halas' decision to "engage in pornography was incompatible with her responsibilities as a role model for students and would present an insurmountable, recurring disruption to our schools should she be allowed to remain as a teacher."

    Halas may forever be barred from teaching in Oxnard, but anyone who's ever been to middle school knows that her name will echo through the halls for as long as the Internet shall live.

    Photo via Rehire Stacie Halas/Facebook


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    Do you remember what you were doing online this time last year? Something about telling your Facebook friends that some doofuses in Congress were going to break the Internet? Changing your Twitter avatar and tweeting #BlackoutSOPA? Calling up your representatives in Congress? Not browsing sites like Reddit, Wikipedia, Craigslist, and the Cheezburger Network, as they were all on strike?

    January 18, 2013, is the one-year anniversary of that strike, the biggest ever of its kind. It's credited with stopping the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), which in the name of copyright enforcement threatened to make it easy to shut down any site that hosted user-generated content. And now, activists are calling it Internet Freedom Day.

    The holiday seems to be the brainchild of the New America Foundation's Marvin Ammori, who proposed an observance in an editorial in early January. It's "shocking that we don’t already have an unofficial Internet Freedom Day," he noted, "given that the internet is one of the most revolutionary technologies the world has ever known."

    Unlike with the SOPA protests, though, Internet Freedom Day isn't a fully unified movement. Instead, a number of activists and groups are picking and choosing their own means to celebrate. A few ways to join in:

    1) Physically celebrate. If you're in San Francisco or Washington, D.C., at least. The Electronic Frontier Foundation is hosting a free Internet Freedom party from 6:00 to 8:00. Those in D.C. can meet with digital activist groups like Public Knowledge and the Center for Democracy and Technology for a 5:00 happy hour at Local 16.

    2) Join the Thunderclap. At noon eastern, your Twitter feed will likely be flooded with the following message: “One year ago today we stopped #SOPA. Celebrate #InternetFreedomDay by posting something you love about the net." They're using Thunderclap, a service that allows large groups to Tweet out a message in unison. More than a 1,200 users have signed up so far, and you can too.

    3) Sign the Declaration of Internet Freedom. To be fair, you can do this any day, but why not make it historic? The Declaration is comprised of just five simple principles, like openness, privacy, and expression, and you'll be joining more than 50,000 fellow activists, as well as prominent academics, entrepreneurs, and members of Congress.

    4) Tell Craigslist founder Craig Newmark how the Internet "gives you a voice." He's compiling brief answers (300 words or less), of the many ways people benefit from a free Internet. 

    5) Engage in civil disobedience. As noted by the activist group Fight for the Future, which set up a campaign at InternetFreedomDay.net for the occasion, Martin Luther King's famous "I Have a Dream" speech is actually copyrighted—by EMI Music. "If SOPA had passed, entire websites could have been shut down just for linking to it," Fight for the Future notes. "This speech is too important to be censored by broken copyright laws. Please share it today."


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    The millions of volunteers who write and edit the world’s biggest encyclopedia are usually faceless. But not Legolas2186.

    Lanky, with neat-trimmed hair and a bright smile, Legolas2186 greets visitors to his Wikipedia page with a photograph and an ebullient caption: "The one and only MEEE." Below, his page unfurls with the gaudy grandeur of a high school student's trophy room.

    First up is an award—or barnstar, in Wikipedia parlance—for his "tireless contributions" to the encyclopedia. Scroll down and you'll see another for "diligence" and another calling him a "superior scribe."

    "There is no point in me saying 'keep up the excellent work,' because I and many others know you certainly will. Thank You!" Wikipedian MelbourneStar gushed.

    Indeed, by all appearances Legolas2186  was a model, even exemplary, Wikipedian. In his five years as a volunteer editor, he'd racked up more than 36,000 edits, mostly on articles relating to Madonna, Lady Gaga, and other pop culture phenomenons.

    And he was well-rewarded. The community elevated 95 articles he worked on to "Good Article" status, an honor bestowed on less than 1 percent of the encyclopedia's 4 million English language articles. Another two were crowned with an even rarer status: "Feature Articles," the type of entry that's featured on Wikipedia's front page, some of the most valuable real estate on the Internet.

    But like his parallels in news media, Jayson Blair and Stephen Glass, Legolas was weaving together a portfolio of success with a web of cleverly constructed lies, false sources, and invented quotes. An investigation led by an enterprising team of Wikipedia editors dug up dozens of fabrications perpetrated by Legolas, who was later banished from the site.

    Legolas2186 is hardly the first hoaxster to fool Wikipedia. But his case shows the urgency with which the encyclopedia needs to modernize and adapt, as the editorial core it relies upon to fend off the Internet's unrelenting wave of trolls and liars grows ever smaller.

    ***

    Wikipedia rules the Internet's information ecosystem. Run just about any word through Google and the search engine will respond with a Wikipedia link somewhere high on the page. About 470 million people visit the encyclopedia every month, making it one of the top five most-visited sites in the world. With 100,000 active users and more than 23 million articles, it's the crown jewel of crowdsourcing. It dominates through sheer ubiquity.

    The key to that success is hardly a secret. Wikipedia lets everyone in. Anyone with an Internet connection can become an editor. And when you open your door to the world, it's no surprise someone graffitis the walls.

    Three weeks ago, the Daily Dot reported on an elaborate work of fiction called the Bicholim Conflict, a 17th century war that raged across the Indian subcontinent between mighty Maratha Empire and colonial Portugal. Wikipedia editors removed the hoax as soon as it was discovered—more than five years after it was created.

    Yet as long as that may seem, the Bicholim Conflict was only the eighth longest hoax in the site's history.

    Take Gaius Flavius Antoninus, for instance, an imaginary assassin of Julius Caesar who existed on Wikipedia for eight years. There's also Chen Fang, a Harvard university student who declared himself mayor of a small Chinese town on its Wikipedia page. He held that title for more than seven years, until he blew his cover by bragging about it to Harvard researchers.

    But Legolas2186's activities were far more insidious: He wasn't just tagging the walls with spray paint—he was knocking out stones from the foundation. And like Stephen Glass, The New Republic reporter who slipped pure fiction past his editors by falsifying his notes, it's easier to corrupt the system when you know it from the inside.

    It took five years for Wikipedians to finally discover something was wrong with Legolas, when the accolades on his user page started turning into probing questions. On Feb. 15, 2012  Wikipedian Binksternet noticed something off about an article Legolas2186 had nominated for "Good Article" status. Soon, Binksternet and about five other editors began combing through his vast edit history, looking for citation irregularities.

    They found them by the droves—and not on obscure topics like the Bicholim Conflict or tiny Chinese villages. Legolas2186 seemed to hunger for the Wikipedia limelight.

    He targeted his most pernicious lies at pages he hoped to promote, either to Good Article or Featured Article status. One of his biggest successes, the site's main Madonna article-—which he helped promote to Featured Article standing—sees roughly 15,000 visitors every day and is the one of the 500 most-trafficked pages on the site.

    Most of Legolas2186's fabrications were small things, insubstantial quotes and details and facts whose significance on a micro-level aren't immediately obvious. But taken as a whole, they represent a fundamental undermining of Wikipedia's core values and purpose.

    They are as perplexing as they are infuriating.

    Take, for instance, his fondness for music magazine Blender. He littered Wikipedia's Madonna articles with quotes from a Blender journalist, Tony Power, using his expert opinion to fill out articles for songs like "Material Girl," "Papa Don't Preach," and nine others.

    All of those songs were released in the 1980s. Blender, the first all-digital CD-ROM magazine, launched in 1994.

    Once, Legolas invented a Rolling Stone article so he could insert a seemingly pointless fact about Lady Gaga's wardrobe choice for her Monster's Ball tour. In another case, he bizarrely took a journalist's words and attributed them directly to Madonna.

    "There is the sense that Madonna, isolated by fame and shaken by the failure of her marriage, is reaching back to the stability of family roots," author Lucy O'Brien wrote in her book, Madonna: Like an Icon.

    On Wikipedia, Legolas2186 changed the quote to this: "Madonna explained that 'isolated by fame and shaken by the failure of my marriage, I could only reach out to the stability of my family roots... '"

    In response to the falsified quote, one Wikipedian wrote: "I find the suggestion that an editor has fabricated references and a quote from a living person to be very troubling."

    Legolas2186's dozens of fabrications, listed here, spread like a parasite to versions of the articles in other languages. But they don't paint the full picture of Legolas2186's time on Wikipedia. As he was dropping lies, the 28-year-old from India, who speaks Bengali as his first language, was also editing with care about subjects he approached with genuine passion. He created a special project to clean up and better organize the encyclopedia's entries on Lady Gaga, for example.

    "I don't have any intention to be an admin now, but sometimes I really feel like being one, just to stop [anonymous users] and the users who vandalize and enter misinfo in the Gaga articles. Especially the fans,” he wrote.

    He added as a personal aside: "Lady Gaga's songs are good but what I really like about her is her innovative style. She's like Madonna in her old days."

    ***

    Numerous studies have shown that vandalism—sneaking curse words or lies or libel into articles—gets cleaned up pretty quickly on Wikipedia. In one study from 2007, researchers at the University of Minnesota found 42 percent of false information was cleaned up almost "immediately." Of course, that still leaves 58 percent of falsehoods to linger.

    Small lies linger, and they matter—especially when they cross paths with important events. Earlier this year, British Lord Justice Brian Leveson copied a fact he learned from Wikipedia into the pages of a major judicial inquiry into Britain's phone-hacking scandals. Leveson's embarrassing gaffe, reported widely in the British press, misidentified a 25-year-old Californian, Brett Straub, as a founder of a major British newspaper. Straub hadn't even been born in 1986, when the paper was founded. His college buddy had copied his name into the entry as a prank years ago, then completely forgot about it.

    Writing in The Atlantic last year, Yoni Appelbaum pinned Wikipedia's hoax-discovery problem partially on structure. Appelbaum was looking into similar hoaxes perpetrated by undergraduate students at George Mason University. In 2008, as part a project for the class "Lying about the past," professor T. Mills Kelly encouraged his students to create a Wikipedia page for a fictional pirate, Edward Owens. The hoax wasn't discovered until Kelly himself announced it at the end of the semester, but by then the story of the Chesapeake Bay oyster fisherman, who turned to pirating after he fell on hard times, had already hit major media outlets like USA Today.

    A similar prank in 2012 went undetected on Wikipedia. But on social news site Reddit, where the link was cross-posted, users bore into the student's well-constructed lies, which included fake newspaper clippings, fabricated images, and blogs.

    They exposed it in 26 minutes.

    Calling Wikipedia's community "weak," Appelbaum observed that discussion on Reddit is funneled to a single location and new comments surface quickly, usually based on merit. Reddit rewards users who contribute, which in turn encourages skeptics. Parroting the facts in an article won't help you stand out in the rush for upvotes. Proving them wrong will.

    By contrast, on Wikipedia discussion is decentralized. "Although everyone views the same information, edits take place on a separate page, and discussions of reliability on another, insulating ordinary users from any doubts that might be expressed," Appelbaum wrote.

    "Weak" isn't exactly the right word. To the extent that its users hold a shared sense of purpose and online identity, Wikipedia's community is very strong. But the structural and technological components holding it together are indeed very weak. The site's internal communications tools are wallowing somewhere in the Internet equivalent of the 15th century.

    That doesn't just slow down the discovery of hoaxes, it scares people away. And meanwhile, pranksters like Legolas strain the time the site's editors do have—all of which only exacerbates Wikipedia's unprecedented editorial crisis.

    "Wikipedians want to make wikipedia better by contributing to articles," Jay Walsh, Wikipedia's communications head, told the Daily Dot. "The custodial work, preventing vandalism, does distract from the really important work.

    "We understand that when a group of highly active editors gets small, then you're going to lose some of those people who would do the day to day page-patrolling, or the in-depth analysis of page references."

    Study after study has shown that Wikipedia's editors are disappearing. One published earlier this month in The American Behavioral Science Journal, found that English Wikipedia editors had declined 30 percent from 2006 to 2011, from 50,000 to roughly 35,000.

    Wikimedia Foundation, the group that runs Wikipedia and its sister projects, is well aware of the editor crisis. The Foundation's 2012-13 annual report plan calls the problem "intractable," highlighting it as one of the organization's three main priorities for the coming year:

    “Our projects' success depends on a thriving, diverse, healthy editing community, and yet editor numbers are declining."

    The causes, the report says, are "insufficient site usability and discoverability of fun stuff to do" and the "declining support, hospitality and appreciation offered to newcomers by the community, as well as a growth in the editorial learning curve for newcomers due to increasing policy complexity."

    The Foundation’s solution is to chip away at the problem from a variety of fronts. This includes recruitment campaigns in Brazil and India; a kind of mentoring program for new editors, called the "Tea House;" and a much-needed overhaul of the site's editing software, which would make writing a lot more intuitive. The foundation has more radical ideas in the works as well, most notably an overhaul of its backend communication tools that would make editing the site a lot more social and fun.

    Action needs to happen sooner rather than later. Wikipedia added 3.5 million articles last year alone. As editor numbers shrink, the encyclopedia—and the Internet at large—only grows, creating a gap that will become only more difficult to close.

    ***

    I asked Doctor Charles Ford, a psychology professor at the University of Alabama at Birmingham who's written books about compulsive liars, what might have motivated Legolas2186 to lie so frequently and effortlessly. Generally speaking, Ford said, compulsive lying has ties to either a learning disorder or narcissism (though he emphasized he couldn't speak specifically about Legolas2186, having never met him).

    "One may assume a sense of power from being able to fool others, and the [more] you fool the more powerful you are," Ford wrote in an email. Other compulsive liars have a warped sense of reality because they believe themselves to be the center of the universe.

    "They then define what is real and not real.”

    Photo via Wikipedia

    Is the smiling young man at the top of the Wikipedia page really Legolas2816? Or is it an image of the person he wanted to be?

    He didn't respond to multiple requests for comment and hasn't been seen on Wikipedia since early last year.

    At the bottom of his talk page, his legacy is marked with a single note:

    "This account has been indefinitely blocked upon review of outstanding claims of fabrication of sources and quotes. Damaging the integrity of Wikipedia is not acceptable behavior."

    Illustration by Jason Reed


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    It only took 18 hours and 1 million likes, but in that time, Norway's Petter Kverneng went from hopeless to hopeful to downright ecstatic. That's because Petter Kverneng has now been granted the opportunity to sleep with a girl who's long since held him in the friendzone—and he's got Facebook to thank.

    Kverneng, 20, and his 19-year-old friend Cathrine Johansen have known each other since high school, when the two were part of the same big group. They were always friends—nothing more, nothing ever. Anything else has long been strictly out of the realm of possibility.

    On Thursday, the two friends were hanging out with several others when the conversation shifted to this week's story about the girls who raised 1 million Facebook likes and forced their dad's hand to buy the family a dog. The friends started spinning ideas of all the things they'd do if they were to raise 1 million Facebook likes, and the conversation naturally led its way to sex.

    Within minutes, Kverneng and Johansen had drawn up an offer and snapped a photo for the testing: The two would sleep together if their photo could nab a hefty million. 

    The two posted the photo onto Kverneng's Facebook account that night. When they woke up, they realized how quickly the Internet can make a silly thing spread. 

    Kverneng's Facebook post eclipsed the million-like mark only 18 hours after the two finished putting quotation marks around the "likes" on their poster. Kverneng spoke with local press when the likes count was closer to 500,000, saying that he expects the arrangement to go through as planned. 

    "It began as a joke, but now we'll take it seriously," he said. "We must of course keep what we promise."

    To which Johansen was a bit more reserved. 

    "We need to see if it reaches 1 million," she said in response.

    That part's said and done. Here's hoping the two end up working something out. 

    Photo via Petter Kverneng/Facebook


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    A Boy Scouts counselor in Nevada has taken to YouTube to express his distaste for the Boy Scouts of America's stringent policies against LGBT culture—and to come out himself as a gay member of the longstanding community.

    Reno native Derek Nance has spent his summers at the Mataguay Scout Ranch since he first set foot on the 840 acre California property 10 years ago. He considers it his favorite place in the world, the land where he's met his best friends, answered his foremost fears, and learned his most valuable lessons.

    But because of the Boy Scouts' archaic views towards gays and homosexuality—simply put, the organization doesn't tolerate it—Nance has long had to keep a few secrets to himself. He can't admire any sort of texts he receives from boys, can't talk about the actors he thinks are cute, can't share in the emotional roller coaster that comes with falling in and out of love.

    Nance has long been out with his friends and family back home. But in one of the communities he's held most dear, he's had to remain silent. Until this week.

    On Thursday, Nance took to YouTube to announce to the Boy Scout community that he was gay and had been mostly public about it for many years. From his bedroom and with his uniform hanging in the background, Nance delivered the news swiftly and with purpose. Then he broke into the main message behind his entire video.

    Nance knows full well that his coming out prohibits him from maintaining a job at Mataguay, but he had to take the chance.

    "The only way we will we ever change the Boy Scouts' discriminatory policies is if those on the front lines representing themselves to thousands of scouts every single summer start engaging in some open dialog on this issue," he said. "Lawsuits from the ACLU or confidential reviews by the Boy Scouts are not going to change policies. The first step to coming to an agreement on this issue is to drop the old pretenses or stereotypes and start talking."

    It seems as though the talking has already started. In July of 2012, 10 Boy Scout staffers in Sacramento, Calif., quit in response to the firing of a gay staff member named Timothy Griffin.

    Videos like Nance's have gone up in the past. There are organizations and online networks dedicated to bringing these topics to the forefront of conversation. Nance will be there to push those conversations along—and he'll patiently wait until that day comes when he's welcomed back into the Boy Scout community.

    "It has taken me many years since first coming out to finally speak up against the Boy Scouts' policies," he said. "I hold everyone who continues to work at camp in the highest regard, and I encourage you to do so for as long as you can. Until the time comes that I can again work at summer camp without having to hide who I am, this uniform will proudly hang in my closet waiting for things to get better."

    Photo via Derek Nance/YouTube


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    We love the Internet. Except when we hate it. Every week, Jordan Valinsky bottles the angst of his Millennial generation and finds something to despise about the Web.

    We the people need to collectively learn how to shut up.

    In a pivot to make democracy feel like a focal episode of American Idol, the White House stupidly decided they wanted to hear from us. So they concocted "We the People," a (very) special subsection on President Obama's website to hear the public's ideas.

    When the site launched in 2011, the White House foolishly tricked us by saying that they wanted "to hear from you," and pitching We The People as a perfect way "to take action on a range of important issues facing our country," not limited to debating if Michelle Obama's new bangs: hot or not? Hot!

    Anyway, the gullible public stupidly believed that the White House wanted to hear from us. Instead of using it as deserving platform to make it mandatory for people to watch the wonderfully underrated comedy Happy Endings, we pitched some of the dumbest things.

    The site transformed into a writer's room filled with loser applicants from the Onion mixed with a low-brow appeal of Big Bang Theory. Ugh, Death Star jokes?

    As discovered by Daily Dot writer Mike Fenn, people just pitched the dumbest things in a ploy to be funny. People thought they were so clever jumping on the anti-Piers Morgan bandwagon, trying to get the CNN host exiled back to Britain.

    Then he had the petition’s creator, nutcase Alex Jones, on his show and things got weird. How awkward is it for you now to have your name on that "deport Piers Morgan" petition? Does it still feel good to see you sort of near its crazed creator who lives in a perpetually conspiracy-fueled word of nonsense?

    Another petition we all wasted our stupid brain on was asking the White House to build a fully functional Death Star to wisely kill all of our enemies in one attack. I guess it's a Stars Wars reference but the only thing I remember from that bore was falling asleep halfway through the first one.  Also, so glad the 4chan-based petition creators managed to sneak in those Ron Paul references.

    "The Administration does not support blowing up planets," supposedly "hilariously" responded the White House. That time could've been better suited releasing an update on cool dog Bo Obama since he's been suspiciously quiet since his Christmas video.

    Anyway, I hate everyone involved. Let's start with the White House. It'\s creation seems like a stupid ploy to act like the cool parent at the sleepover, trying to relate to us by asking us about the "cool, modern technology" we're using. There has to be a better way than creating a Kickstarter-meets-Change.org website to communicate with us. I have unlimited texting. Can I text you my problems?

    Then, ugh, the people signing these things. How awfully bored are you that you're trolling the White House? We should go back to the simpler times when you rightfully trolled the Westboro Baptist Church. There's really no good reason to subject Pres. Obama to your painful Star Wars jokes.

    Where is the petition to shut this down?

    Photo via w3zi/Hashgram


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    With a new, deeper Facebook search on its way to a Web browser near you, it'll be easier than ever for people to unearth all the embarrassing pages you may have liked, drunk photos you've been tagged in, or places you've checked into when you were supposed to be somewhere else.

    Earlier this week, Facebook announced Graph Search, which is slowly coming to everyone's page. It hopes to foster deeper and new connections between people by letting you make complex searches, like "friends of mine who live in the same city as me and like Justin Bieber"—so you know who's banned from the soundsystem at your next party.

    Let's face it, you probably have a few things you wish you hadn't shared. You may now be panicking in case your mother, prospective employer, or next potential date stumbles across it. 

    Fear not! There's a way to hide those things before they turn up in Graph Search and cause you a lifetime of shame and ignominy. Here's our guide to clearing up your Facebook profile before your friends discover your fondness for that thing they all really hate (we're not giving flippant examples because hey, to each his own).

    First and foremost, it's important to note that Graph Search won't change any of your current privacy settings. So if you've made your profile completely private, relax. Nothing there will turn up in Graph Search. Only people with whom you've shared your likes, photos, check-ins, and personal information (whether those things are friends-only, shared with a list, or made public) will be able to see those details in Graph Search. 

    Thankfully, for the rest of us who've shared way too much with far too many strangers, Facebook has ways to hide all the nasty little details we've posted.

    While for now, Graph Search only covers your profile information (name, age, city, relationships, etc.), photos, interests (a.k.a. likes), and places you've been to, Facebook provided what was a very early look at the function this week. Graph Search will eventually index everything you have shared, so it's worth taking the time to look through all your privacy settings.

    For a quick fix, take a look at the privacy shortcuts option at the top right of your homepage. From here, you can select the default privacy setting for your future posts, view your Activity Log (we'll get to that in a bit), and decide who can contact you.

    In the actual privacy settings page, the Limit Old Posts tool lets you change the privacy setting to friends only on every non-private item you've ever posted on Facebook. It's a fast fix, but what if there are things you want the entire world or just a subset of your friends to see?

    Clicking the "update info" button on your profile takes you to a page where, oddly enough, you can update your profile information. Not only that, but you can change the privacy settings for each item.

    Say I don't want to the entire world to know where I'm living. I can change the option highlighting my current location to friends-only, like so.

    Easy.

    Your photos will probably take a little more time to wade through, depending on how many you have. You can change the privacy settings on individual photos or albums. Making matters more complicated is the issue of photos posted by others in which you've been tagged. Facebook's video on Graph Search privacy explains who can see such photos and how to untag yourself from multiple photos at once.

    As for places, you'll need to head over to your Map (accessible from your profile). From here, you can make your visits to places semi-private or private or delete them if you don't want them turning up in search. 

    To edit who can see your likes, click on the Likes tab in your profile. The edit function will let you control who can see which category of likes. While you're there, it's worth taking a look through the history of pages you've liked to see if there are any potentially embarrassing things you've liked you don't want anyone to know about.

    While you're taking care of business, you may find it helpful to go through your Activity Log (again, you can reach this from your profile) to see which of your Facebook activity is public, friends only, or private. Everything you've ever done on Facebook, save for your private messages, should be listed here. Taking the time to change your settings on potentially scandalous posts may be a slog, but you might thank yourself for it later if a prospective employer takes a peek at your profile and finds no cause for concern.

    Lastly, Facebook eventually plans to include Instagram data, along with Open Graph actions in Graph Search. This covers any app from which you share information to Facebook. Take a few minutes to change who can see activity from each of your apps (and clearing out the ones you don't use anymore). You'll be glad you did.

    And you're done! Good job, good effort. Have a drink to reward yourself. Just don't take pictures and share them later.

    Photo by PhotoCo/Flickr; Screenshots via YouTube, Facebook


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    Ohayocon, one of the midwest's largest anime conventions, kicked off Friday, and like clockwork there was a sexual harassment scandal—this time before the convention even happened.

    On Wednesday, two days before the con began, Tumblr user ifyouwereamermaid made a post alerting her Tumblr followers to what she felt was a legitimate threat from an upcoming Ohayocon attendee. "I’m not sure how serious this is," she wrote, "but people should know about this anyways."

    Included in the post was a screencap of a comment that Facebook user Thomas Tapalansky had made, taken from a now-deleted Facebook thread with a mutual friend of ifyouwereamermaid':

    “I’m gonna fuck at least 3 underage girls this weekend, and if they’re drunk that’s also rape. I’m gonna break soooo many rules.”

    The comment was presented without context. Ifyouwereamermaid also screencapped a photo of Tapalansky himself, warning others to stay away from him. She also included a photo of Tapalansky's twin brother, apparently not realizing they were different people, and later alleged that Tapalansky was a freshman at Ohio University.

    The post quickly flew around Tumblr, garnering over 13,000 enraged reblogs and causing several people to alert both Ohayocon security and local police departments. Ohayocon reportedly notified Columbus police, but did not make an official statement.

    Last night, Tapalansky responded in a lengthy post to the Ohayocon forums entitled "Thomas Tapalansky, Wrongdoings and Misunderstandings." In it, he stated that he had been "targeted" by ifyouwereamermaid, and that his comment about raping three underage girls at the convention was a joke taken out of context:

    "ifyouwereamermaid” intentionally TLDR;’d the conversation and snagged a piece she found offensive. Not only did she misinterpret the situation, she took it upon herself to turn 13,000 people against me all while giving them my name, AND the likeness of both I as well as my TWIN BROTHER.... Not only did you believe her, you went so far as to make DEATH THREATS, and various other VERBAL THREATS against ME.

    Do you all understand the implications of such an action? She intentionally fed you all biased information, gave you a picture of MY BROTHER an innocent bystander (the one on the right which you all made fun of btw;), and then did nothing to prevent harassment."

    Though he stated that he understood "the need for an alert system within a community," nowhere in Tapalansky's post was an apology for the original statement that created the alarm.

    Sexual harassment concerns have sadly become almost routine for fan conventions, to the point that many conventions have begun instituting sexual harassment policies. Earlier this year, the entire Readercon board resigned amid controversy after it failed to apply its own famously strict "zero tolerance" harassment policy to one convention attendee.

    Among the "social justice" blogs of Tumblr, the same stringent "zero tolerance" mentality applies—and with good reason. Numbers vary wildly, but somewhere between 5 and 50 percent of rapes go unreported—and at fan conventions, those numbers, combined with the large-scale interactions of strangers in unfamiliar spaces, create tension and fear.

    Reports of sexual harassment alone have skyrocketed as fans grow more comfortable speaking about their experiences, with a Black Cat cosplayer sexually harassed at Comic Con, a Brony alleging she was choked while attending Everfree Northwest, and pages of testimonials on Cosplay.com about personal experiences being harassed during convention cosplay—all in the past year alone.

    A recent YouTube video even advises viewers on "how to avoid being a convention creeper."

    Tapalansky insisted, "I’m not a rapist, I’m just a guy." However, during a recent confessional thread of rapists on Reddit, the vast majority of people with stories to tell came across as average guys who cited peer pressure, what they perceived to be mixed messages, broken homes, confusion, and other factors in their decision to commit rape.

    Ifyouwereamermaid later clarified that she "did not see [Tapalansky's statement] as a joke even in context."

    But on Tumblr, once news of Tapalansky's rebuttal spread, Tumblrites were quick to dub ifyouwereamermaid the real creeper, accusing her of cyberbullying him, committing libel, and posting just to gain followers.

    Still, not everyone was as quick to forgive. In an extended comment, Tumblr user Nerysdax wrote:

    [A]ll I see from him are upset reactions about how he’s being treated now, but not once does he consider what his “joking” words mean to rape victims, nor does he consider how rape jokes perpetuate rape culture. Now he feels threatened going to the con. Welcome, Mr Tapalansky, to feeling just a tad of the experience of being a woman on a daily basis.

    After briefly wiping or deleting his Facebook account, Tapalansky apparently returned with a tongue-in-cheek profile picture mocking the whole thing, which one Tumblr user boiled down to, "one, this guy is a douchebag...  two, ohayocon handled this like champs...three, the tumblr collective again exhibits the intelligence of a rabid squirrel."

    All in all, just another day for Tumblr, then—and, increasingly, for con attendees.

    Photo via Facebook


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    Donald Trump will not let go any slight against him go unnoticed, as evidenced by his public rants against the likes of Jon Stewart, Lawrence O'Donnell, and a British director who made a film about the celeb realtor. 

    The latest to draw the ire of the man with the magical toupée is Deadspin, who on Wednesday broke the week's biggest story, exposing the fact that Notre Dame linebacker and Heisman Trophy semifinalist Manti Te'o had a dead girlfriend who wasn't actually real. 

    Since Wednesday, the day it was published, the story has been viewed more than 3.69 million times, a real coup for the Gawker-owned sports blog. The exposé was so widely read, it reached the highest floor of the gaudy Trump tower, location of the penthouse home of one Donald John Trump. 

    Trump took time from his busy schedule of plastering his name on ostentatious buildings across the globe to congratulate Deadspin on a job well done:

    The man with the firing hand, by the way, got one of the authors wrong. Timothy Burke and Jack Dickey, not Tom Scocca, penned the piece.

    Instead of taking a compliment from Trump, the publication's Twitter account responded in true Deadspin fashion.

    Trump's initial reaction was sorta like this:

    GIF via mctalko/Tumblr

    The Apprentice star then fired off a slew of tweets bashing Deadspin for its less-than-gracious response.


    As is his hyperbolic nature, Trump's last two statements were exaggerations

    But, hey, when you're Donald Trump, you don't have to concern yourself with facts. The truth is only for plebes and poor people!

    Trump didn't stop there. He also took time to point out that Tom Scocca is leaving the site.

    Scocca, Deadspin's managing editor, is indeed leaving—though he's moving to Gawker, the company's flagship property.

    The incident, as unpleasant as it was, taught Trump a very valuable lesson.

    Too bad it didn't teach him to stay off Twitter.

    Photo via Gage Skidmore/Flickr


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    What happens when you try to celebrate Internet Freedom Day by uploading Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have A Dream" speech?

    Why, the record company that owns the copyright to King’s famous words comes along and takes it offline, of course!

    That's what happened to activists at Fight For the Future, who decided, as part of their Internet Freedom Day campaign Wednesday, to upload Dr. King's best-known speech as a "small act of civil disobedience." They noted that Friday's Internet Freedom Day is only three days before Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, "a day that we celebrate one of the greatest freedom activists of all time."

    Through a twist of copyright fate—or a perfect example of how corrupt copyright law can be, depending on who you talk to—"I Have A Dream" belongs to EMI Publishing, which purchased the rights from the King estate in 2009. EMI previously made headlines by repeatedly claiming, incorrectly, that a prominent YouTuber's two original songs were actually clips from a 1974 disco hit it owned the rights to.

    Fight For the Future knew the risks when they uploaded the speech to video sharing sites Amara and Vimeo Thursday evening. Still, they didn't expect EMI to act this quickly.

    "We thought people would have a chance to share it," Fight For the Future cofounder Tiffiniy Cheng told the Daily Dot. She received no particular notice, just an automated, standardized takedown informing them of copyright infringement.

    Still, Cheng wasn't deterred. "We're gonna get it up on YouTube," she said.

    And, true to her word, here it is (for as long as it escapes the label's notice, anyway): 

    Photo via Wikimedia Commons


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    Diamond Joe Biden, the fictional version of the vice president created by The Onion, took time off his busy schedule of washing his Trans Am— or was it using the Freedom of Information Act to stalk Jennifer?— to do a question and answer session on Reddit.

    Diamond Joe followed Arnold Schwarzenegger's suit and took to the popular news site to do an AMA ("Ask Me Anything") to promote his autobiographical ebook, The Onion's The President of Vice.

    Amongst the topics discussed were President Barack Obama's drug habits, the White House's best locale for self-pleasure, his fear of Russian President Vladimir Putin, and his Trans Am, of course.

    For your convenience, we've compiled some of Diamond Joe's better answers.

    "What's the most amazing way you've ever opened a beer bottle?" (brettjonesdev)

    "What is the best place in the White House to 'Five Knuckle Shuffle?'" (Sunshine_Hipster)

    Plenty of great spots to release the tension, but I prefer to rub one out up on the White House roof.

    "I wanna hear your best sex story. Graphic details." (drawingdead0)

    Gotta buy the book for that one pal, Joe doesn't stay buzzed and baked on karma alone.

    "What's this we're hearing about you being a Corvette guy?" (Spoonsy)

    The above question was a direct reference to the following tweet, posted by the Office of the Vice President's official Twitter account.


    Photo via Office of VP Biden/Twitter

    Great response for sure, but not as amazing as Diamond Joe's:

    I might be wiggin' out a little right now, but I think there's some imposter out there spreading bad shit about me. I'll tell ya right now, whatever they say nothing can come between me and my Zam.

    "Palin or Bachmann?" (worldrace)

    Now, I'd sure like to get under the hood of both members of the Grand Old Poon party.

    "What was your longest sober streak?" (astartledgrandpa)

    The amount of time between chugs.

    "Mr Vice President you're a Catholic. What's your reaction to the Manti Te'o/Notre Dame controversy?" (jrizzi)

    I'd definitely be down for bonin' that dude's fake girlfriend.

    "Hey Diamond Joe, I gotta hear the craziest thing you ever woke up next to and what you drank to get there. Then I'm going to do it." (Taylorlessthan3)

    Mei Xiang the panda, at the National Zoo. And you probably guessed, Cuervo and lots of it.

    "you vs. Putin, Thunderdome rules- who wins and how?" (PopularScyence)

    Putin. Jesus fucking christ, that guy is scary. I don't want to go within twenty miles of that dome.

    "Would you rather shag one Adele-sized Mila Kunis, or 100 Mila Kunis-sized Adeles?" (Isuspectnargles)

    I'd be grinning ear to ear if either of them were sitting on my lincoln log. Both are sexy as hell.

    "How much does your chance of being laid increase when Van Halen's 1984 is played in the b.g.?" (socalscribe)

    I don't need to take chances, cuz it's damn near always a sure thing. But nothing wrong with some sweet tuneage playing while a lady is romancing the bone

    "Yo, Diamond Joe, where does Barry keep his stash? is it in the nuclear codes briefcase? please tell me it's in the nuclear codes briefcase." (chass3)

    Barracuda's a close bud of mine, but a little too clean to have his own stash. In my autobiography I talk about the first time I got him high.

    Photo via Aaron Fulkerson/Flickr


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    One little known but awesome corner of Wikipedia has its own little known but awesome corner of Tumblr.

    “The Best of Wikipedia: Sandbox” does what it says on the tin, bringing you the best of edits made to Wikipedia’s Sandbox, a testing page where users can tweak the code for whimsy and practical use to their hearts' content.

    Like any sandbox, Wikipedia's is regularly wiped so new testing can begin. But every test attempt is saved in the history of edits. Now bestofwikipediasandbox on Tumblr has done the grunt work of combing through the submissions of wacky edits, bringing us the most interesting changes, from the creepy to the amusing, to every penis joke known to man.

    Below are some of our favorite highlights from the highlights.

    1) Looking for Lenny in all the wrong places

    Godspeed in your quest, noble searcher of Kravitz.

    2) Whose line is it, anyway?

    The "please leave this line alone" section of the sandbox is the line that creates the Sandbox header. Naturally, it's just begging for editing—like so:

    ...and like so:

    Sometimes, things turn violent.

    And sometimes, there are tears.

    3) Ascii Amazing

    Whether they're celebrating free love...

    Wikipedia itself...

    or Moth men...

    The ASCII artists of the sandbox never disappoint.

    4) What is a sandbox, really?

    In which someone attempts to define a sandbox by defining an hourglass...

    Did you know that sand is magic?

    ...and bonus points for this edit, which shares ancient wisdom:

    5) Miss Indonesia is the fairest of all...

    From this Sandbox edit, we learn that Miss Indonesia is not over 9,000, as the famous Dragonball Z meme goes, but over 5,000. Still, impressive. We'd like to see that bathing suit.

    6) The Toilet Code

    Some edits speak for themselves, really.

    7) The Milkshake War

    Hostilities ended when the two parties realized that Daniel Day-Lewis had already drunk everyone's milkshakes, everywhere.

    All images via bestofwikipediasandbox/Tumblr


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    The Halo character Commander Carter-A259 was recently spotted in a location far from the planet Reach: the Seattle Children's Hospital.

    And it was all thanks to video game company Bungie and a father’s plea on Reddit.

    On Jan. 3, redditor fiscal_ posted a thread in the r/medicine subreddit about his son Brady's upcoming liver transplant. According to him, the 5-year-old suffered from "alpha 1 antitrypsin deficiency, cirrhosis, esophageal varices," had a "history of ascites" and also suffered "one chest bleed and also an episode of sbp (Spontaneous Bacterial Peritonitis)."

    "He was in kindergarten when we got the call earlier today, so it's bizarre thinking about him being healthy one day and a 10 hour procedure followed by all of the hell the little guy is going to go through afterwards," fiscal_ lamented.

    The surgery was a success. As Brady began the lengthy recovery period, fiscal_ again turned to Reddit, this time in r/halo, a subreddit devoted to the popular video game franchise.

    "My son received a liver transplant 2 days ago, we are currently recovering at Seattle Children's Hospital. It's been a bumpy 2 days, so I'm trying to find something to get a smile out of him. He absolutely loves Halo," fiscal_ wrote.

    "Does anyone have any contact info for the Bungie Foundation? I was hoping they could guide me towards something that could get some smiles out of him after the transplant and some post op trauma."

    Redditors quickly helped out fiscal_ by sharing his story with Bungie via company forums and on Twitter.

    On Jan. 20, fiscal_ updated r/halo on how things had progressed with Bungie.

    "With the help of some redditors, Bungie contacted me and we got to meet Christine [Edwards]," fiscal_ wrote. "My family can't thank Bungie enough. I know that they have had a huge impact on how well my son has been recovering after his surgery."

    On behalf of the company, Edwards presented the young patient with a replica of Carter-A259's famous helmet. His father told the story of Bungie's goodwill gesture with a photo album that detailed Brady's recovery and excitement at the gift of the helmet.

    "They did let him keep the helmet. He totally thinks he is Carter, now," he revealed.

    Redditors responded to fiscal_'s post with over 200 comments full of well-wishes, pleasantries, and even offers to help with Brady's medical expenses. Citing his place of employment's insurance policy, fiscal_ politely declined such offers but directed redditors to donate to The American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases on his son's behalf.

    As Brady completes his recovery, redditors can expect to hear more from both the pint-sized Carter A-259 and fiscal_.

    "My son and I sat down and did an AMA about 3 months ago, a lot of redditors seemed to enjoy it. My son had an absolute blast with it, so we are planning a follow up in the next few weeks if there is some interest," he wrote.

    "Thanks again for all of the love and support."

    Photo via fiscal_/imgur


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    A Texas attorney and at least 23 women have started a class-action suit against revenge-porn site Texxxan.com and its host, GoDaddy.com, in what might be a significant milestone in the evolution of laws against revenge porn.

    “Revenge porn” is the most common form of “involuntary porn,” the publication of nude or sexually explicit photos without the subject’s consent or even knowledge. The photos are usually submitted by malicious ex-lovers or occasionally by hackers who broke into the victims’ phones or computers to steal the pictures. 

    The man most associated with revenge porn is Hunter Moore, who arguably invented the genre in 2011 with his website Is Anyone Up?

    That site went down in April 2012, but a few months later, two other dubious entrepreneurs founded another involuntary-porn website, Is Anyone Down. It works much the same way: soliciting anonymous submissions of nude photos, along with the models’ identifying information. Victims who find their photos and information on the site can have them taken down—for a hefty fee.

    Texxxan.com operates on a similar model, except that it limits its involuntary porn submissions to people from Texas. That’s why Beaumont attorney John Morgan is suing under state, rather than federal, law.

    Most involuntary porn sites say they are protected by section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which “grants interactive online services of all types, including news websites, blogs, forums, and listservs, broad immunity from certain types of legal liability stemming from content created by others.” Victims could, in theory, sue whoever submitted the content—except such submissions to revenge-porn sites are almost always done anonymously.

    This apparently leaves the victims with nobody to hold accountable. However, Morgan says that section 230 doesn’t apply to involuntary porn sites because they actively solicit content without the models’ approval. But Morgan intends to also sue Texxxan.com’s (presumably not anonymous) subscribers; the site switched to subscription-only as soon as news of the class action suit went public.

    One of the plaintiffs in Morgan’s suit against Texxxan is Beaumort resident Hollie Toups, notable for being one of the relatively few revenge-porn victims to make her full name public. Other plaintiffs are members of the organizations End Revenge Porn and Women Against Revenge Porn, both founded by involuntary porn victims.

    End Revenge Porn is also hosting an online petition calling for revenge porn sites to be made illegal. The petition explains how current laws fall short of that goal. It states, in part: 

    “The non-consensual posting of material like this has led some victims to suffer extortion, identity theft, defamation, stalking, and harassment at the hands of the perpetrator and other Internet users.”

    Photo via Jamiesrabbits/Flickr


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