Relevance is not Symmetrical

June 8, 2007 3:43 AM

Via JWZ1 I found Wikigroaning: the art of picking two vaguely related subjects on Wikipedia (say Lizards and Dragons), and spotting which article is longer, more carefully written and more thoroughly researched.

(Like I've said before, Wikipedia is fun for just this reason, and the prevalence of what Wikipedians call fancruft doesn't necessarily make the serious articles any less valuable.)

My favourite Wikipedia foible2, however, one that amuses me almost every time I look something up on the site, is the assumption on the part of its editors that relevance is a symmetrical relationship.

Which means that every book, movie, historical figure or event that was mentioned even in passing during just one episode of The Simpsons will have a note to that effect on its Wikipedia page, because that's just what you needed to know about the Franco-Prussian War. (Ditto any popular song that has been covered by some unsigned punk band that played two gigs in a Wikipedia editor's neighbourhood).

1 quoting Something Awful, but JWZ gets to the point faster so that's where I'll link.
2 Well… second-favourite after the List of Notable Llamas, which has sadly now been deleted from the site.

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