Mary H.K. Choi on Wikipedia's 10th Anniversary

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It is crazily heartening to think that this site run by superfans and poindexters is the 5th most popular on the Internet. Consider this: alms aside, Wikipedia is fueled by competitive pedantry and emoness. How great is that? Sure, criticisms on veracity and accuracy are valid but we can all agree that it's bootleggy in incredible fashion. Remember when 50 Cent upped the tomfoolery ante when he meddled with the "Rick Ross (rapper)" page to redirect to "Officer Ricky," thereby calling attention to his adversary's previous career as a corrections officer and leveling the dorkiest gambit in rap beef history? No? Exactly. But for the couple of us who noticed, it was amazing.

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Wikipedia's a collaborative experiment akin to Simon Winchester's account of the creation of the Oxford English Dictionary in The Professor and the Madman, which outlines James Murray's mission to produce the tome in the 19th century. Murray was aided substantially by the diligent offerings of one Dr. William Chester Minor, a surgeon and lunatic murderer. Just as some contributors to Wikipedia will likely be.

Who am I to judge? I've never, ever edited a page let alone started one and it's perhaps the idea of Wikipedia celebrating a sizable milestone like a 10th birthday that leads me to feel slightly guilty about it. It's like the food co-op where I enjoy quality produce and economies of scale but completely shirk volunteering duties. The to-do lists look exhausting and the disambiguation chats for "Snow Bunny" make me want to shut the door quietly and leave everyone be. I've never milled around the Village Pump (the set of pages dedicated to technical issues and proposing improvements) to pitch in or chop it up and perhaps this is egregiously irresponsible since in matters of pop culture and hyper-cyclical fashion trends I am definitely a decently reliable guardian of knowledge.

It's why I'll always love Wikipedia and have positive thoughts about it -- guilt in the face of good will. I even once dated a man who had a page. He was in the business of seasonal construction and landscape architecture. After our first date he had updated himself to possessing a career in writing with promising aspirations in filmmaking. Citation was needed but I took it as a compliment. He cared. If I had the authority I would've given the article a star. Which is why ultimately I should never touch the thing.

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Mary HK Choi is former editor-in-chief of the defunct Missbehave and a contributing writer at The Awl and Complex. She is working on a series for Marvel comics.

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