During a segment on Monday’s Colbert Report, host Stephen Colbert praised Wikipedia‘s “wikiality” the “reality” that exists on the user-policed online encyclopedia and, to prove his point, apparently edited Wiki entries, including the one for the Colbert Report, sometime during the taping of his show while urging viewers to do the same.
Colbert goes on to declare that he doesn’t believe George Washington had slaves.
“If I want to say he didn’t that’s my right, and now, thanks to Wikipedia *taps keyboard* it’s also a fact.”
Here’s the fun part Colbert actually did this. The Wikipedia articles on his show and George Washington were both edited by the user Stephencolbert to reflect the changes he declared on air as he tapped at his computer around 23:35 UTC which is 6:35pm on the East Coast, during the taping of his show, hours before it aired. … Colbert then urged his audience to find the Wikipedia entry on elephants and create an entry that stated their population had tripled in the last six months, a fact he freely stated to not know if it was “actually true,” with his sidebar stating “it isn’t.”
Colbert Nation did the rest:
Scores of internet users took Colbert’s bait, repeatedly vandalizing approximately 20 articles on elephants before all being placed under a lock. The move also subsequently caused Wikipedia administrator Tawker to block Stephen Colbert from the website.
We’d call that “truthiness” in action.