Thursday, April 1, 2010

April fools' continues to fool

Wikipedia has developed this nice tradition that on April Fools' Day, content on the Main Page should be TRUE and link to actual encyclopedic articles, instead of being simple jokes. So today's Featured article, is on Wife selling and although the practice might come across as unbelievable, awkward and unrealistic, it is all part of our history. The Topics in the news are all recent news events, though not of the usual importance and the wording is more playful than on other days. Similarly, Did you know contains not a single lie. Lastly the Picture of the day, featuring a picture of a "GET FAT" advertisement campaign as a secret to beauty. Unthinkable perhaps in current times, but very real in 1895.

Just cliches, obfuscation and wordplay are used to trick the reader into making assumptions, that though understandable, are simply incorrect. The page is probably one of the most carefully prepared main pages of the entire year. All selections have to adhere to the same content rules about quality as every other day of the year.

What is most fun is how people react. Some people are truly upset that an encyclopedia would have material like this on its frontpage. Most of those people do not realize that everything on the page is true. Basically the editors are putting the joke on the "quick critics". The people with an opinion about Wikipedia, without truly knowing what and why they are critiquing. The rest of the people are confused and often enticed into reading. If they persevere, they will have a laugh or two and actually learn something. Journalists don't seem to be the best readers btw. Few seem to have actually clicked beyond the front page. 1, 2, 3, 4 Ah well, deadlines I guess. :D

I find it a great tradition and hope that it will be continue for years to come.
P.S. Wikipedia April Fools' main pages from: 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009.