When April Fool’s Jokes Infiltrate Wikipedia

By Patrick Biz
Contributing Writer, [GAS]

A lot of people are saying that Wikipedia is loaded with errors, and for good reason. Wikipedia contributors aren’t forced to verify their sources before posting anything, but if they were, it would greatly improve the quality of the online encyclopedia. Here’s a very good example of such a dumb error:

On March 31st, blogger Patrick Curl from There’s a Blog in my Soup, published an April Fool’s prank saying ProBlogger Darren Rowse is filling for bankruptcy. For those who don’t know Darren, he’s the man behind ProBlogger, one of the biggest blogs in the blog-and-make-money online niche. Darren has more than 45,000 RSS subscribers!

Guess what happened next? Someone who read the prank went to Wikipedia and updated Darren Rowse’s page, reporting the man is going bankrupt (see the very last line)! The information has no references, but still, it is still there as I am typing this post. If it’s gone by the time you read this, just check out the page history and look for the March 31st version @ 17:01.

Guys, it should be illegal to post April Fool’s jokes on March 31st ;-)





39 Responses to When April Fool’s Jokes Infiltrate Wikipedia

  1. good pick up – have edit the page for accuracy. The problem is that when someone plays an April Fools Joke about someone else that it can actually go beyond a joke unfortunately and impact that person's life. While I understand the 'joke' in this case it unfortunately was taken seriously by some. On the day itself I actually had 6 emails from people (some of which were business partners) asking about it. The impact could have been much larger and actually hurt my reputation if I didn't manage it.

    I guess it's a warning to those who play jokes to consider the ramifications. I personally would rather play April Fools Jokes with my own name than another persons.

    • When I read this April Fool's jokes, I was appalled. As a lawyer, I believe it was slanderous. Once I realized what day it was and googled to see whether this "news" appeared anywhere else, I realized it was a "joke." I didn't find it amusing at all. The worst part is that it succeded in doing exactly what the jokester wanted. That is, it got everyone talking about and writing about him. But it did so at the expense of Darren Rowse's reputation. Not funny.

  2. good pick up – have edit the page for accuracy. The problem is that when someone plays an April Fools Joke about someone else that it can actually go beyond a joke unfortunately and impact that person’s life. While I understand the ‘joke’ in this case it unfortunately was taken seriously by some. On the day itself I actually had 6 emails from people (some of which were business partners) asking about it. The impact could have been much larger and actually hurt my reputation if I didn’t manage it.

    I guess it’s a warning to those who play jokes to consider the ramifications. I personally would rather play April Fools Jokes with my own name than another persons.

    • When I read this April Fool’s jokes, I was appalled. As a lawyer, I believe it was slanderous. Once I realized what day it was and googled to see whether this “news” appeared anywhere else, I realized it was a “joke.” I didn’t find it amusing at all. The worst part is that it succeded in doing exactly what the jokester wanted. That is, it got everyone talking about and writing about him. But it did so at the expense of Darren Rowse’s reputation. Not funny.

  3. @Darren: Imagine my face Darren when I read this. I was on Wikipedia checking which probloggers had a page and found yours. When I read this, I had no clue about the April Fool's joke. So I must admit, I was kind of freakin' out. Then I googled the story and found it was a joke. But I fully agree with you, doing jokes like that with other people's name is kind of border line…

    Thanks for stopping by and commenting Darren.

    Patrick

  4. @Darren: Imagine my face Darren when I read this. I was on Wikipedia checking which probloggers had a page and found yours. When I read this, I had no clue about the April Fool’s joke. So I must admit, I was kind of freakin’ out. Then I googled the story and found it was a joke. But I fully agree with you, doing jokes like that with other people’s name is kind of border line…

    Thanks for stopping by and commenting Darren.

    Patrick

  5. Wow, that's crazy! I don't know if I would have believed it anyway knowing all the success Darren is having with his site(s) and book!

  6. The risk to the person doing the joke is that you could be sued for libel. Imagine if Darren had a deal going and the other party backed out because of it, the loss of income could've been significant and the person writing the joke could've been sued for that!

    It's not a joke when you make something up about someone else, it's just irresponsible and mean. Plus, bankruptcy isn't a funny matter in the first place.

  7. The risk to the person doing the joke is that you could be sued for libel. Imagine if Darren had a deal going and the other party backed out because of it, the loss of income could’ve been significant and the person writing the joke could’ve been sued for that!

    It’s not a joke when you make something up about someone else, it’s just irresponsible and mean. Plus, bankruptcy isn’t a funny matter in the first place.

  8. Wow, that’s crazy! I don’t know if I would have believed it anyway knowing all the success Darren is having with his site(s) and book!

  9. A friend of mine wrote about April Fools Day that his touchstone for when a prank was funny or not funny was whether or not it had the potential to actually hurt or damage someone irreparably.

    I've seen a few too many 'jokes' this year that went past harmless fun and into 'could materially damage someone's brand or business.'

    That's just plain not funny.

  10. A friend of mine wrote about April Fools Day that his touchstone for when a prank was funny or not funny was whether or not it had the potential to actually hurt or damage someone irreparably.

    I’ve seen a few too many ‘jokes’ this year that went past harmless fun and into ‘could materially damage someone’s brand or business.’
    That’s just plain not funny.

  11. Someone in the blogosphere called this year's 4/1 "unfunny lie day." A good AFD prank has a nice sense of irony, some wit, something that brings some delight when you get the joke. This doesn't really qualify on any level.

  12. Someone in the blogosphere called this year’s 4/1 “unfunny lie day.” A good AFD prank has a nice sense of irony, some wit, something that brings some delight when you get the joke. This doesn’t really qualify on any level.

  13. That is a crazy thing to do on April Fools, so not even close to being funny anyhow. If only people would think before they type…

  14. That is a crazy thing to do on April Fools, so not even close to being funny anyhow. If only people would think before they type…

  15. This is a "joke" that after telling it, the joker would have a hard time going to Darren and saying, "hey man, just kidding!"

    I agree that it's really not funny, esp. the way news travels so quickly online, whether or not it's even true.

  16. This is a “joke” that after telling it, the joker would have a hard time going to Darren and saying, “hey man, just kidding!”

    I agree that it’s really not funny, esp. the way news travels so quickly online, whether or not it’s even true.

  17. In the Google powered world we live in, snippets of text have a lifespan far greater than that of their original context. This is the kind of April Fools Joke that might work well between a few friends at a party — and although the blogsphere can feel like a big party at times by those that are active within it, the conversations remain glued to search result pages long after the party's over.

    There is probably a fine line there somewhere between being funny and being libelous, but who wants to get near the edge of the line anyway in the name of good fun?

    The Golden Rule of public April Fool's Jokes should be to get prior consent from anybody that plays a role in it — regardless of what that role is.

  18. In the Google powered world we live in, snippets of text have a lifespan far greater than that of their original context. This is the kind of April Fools Joke that might work well between a few friends at a party — and although the blogsphere can feel like a big party at times by those that are active within it, the conversations remain glued to search result pages long after the party’s over.

    There is probably a fine line there somewhere between being funny and being libelous, but who wants to get near the edge of the line anyway in the name of good fun?

    The Golden Rule of public April Fool’s Jokes should be to get prior consent from anybody that plays a role in it — regardless of what that role is.

  19. Let me set the record straight on this, for my part – as part of my link-bait experiment I was set to target John Chow, Shoemoney, Darren Rowse, and Microsoft, however I did actually forget to post the John Chow post.

    I did not however post anything on Wikipedia,I kept the posts to my self, other than the few diggs /sphinns and stumbles they received.

    Further, I checked universal timezones and when I posted the blog post it was indeed April 1st, I believe in Australia or China, just not here in the USA.

    My thoughts on this is, if you're going to do April Fool's jokes – then you best do it – when the whole world will be fooled (i.e. be the early worm, if you wait till April 2nd for half the world, you lose out on a lot of eyes).

    I do apologize if this joke was taken out of stride, but I've seen a lot worse jokes, the 'fun' part of it was, that if Darren really were bankrupt – then my bet is that nobody on the internet is making any money.

    In other words the following applies: "If Darren Can't Do It, Nobody Can."

    Part of being in the public eye is being 'punked', or criticized, even more so on April 1st, for somebody as popular as Darren is an April fool's prank should be nothing to get in a muss over.

    If bloggers get so stiff and boring, and take offense at every little word spoken – people will stop following and reading the blog to begin with…. (IMHO)

  20. Let me set the record straight on this, for my part – as part of my link-bait experiment I was set to target John Chow, Shoemoney, Darren Rowse, and Microsoft, however I did actually forget to post the John Chow post.

    I did not however post anything on Wikipedia,I kept the posts to my self, other than the few diggs /sphinns and stumbles they received.

    Further, I checked universal timezones and when I posted the blog post it was indeed April 1st, I believe in Australia or China, just not here in the USA.

    My thoughts on this is, if you’re going to do April Fool’s jokes – then you best do it – when the whole world will be fooled (i.e. be the early worm, if you wait till April 2nd for half the world, you lose out on a lot of eyes).

    I do apologize if this joke was taken out of stride, but I’ve seen a lot worse jokes, the ‘fun’ part of it was, that if Darren really were bankrupt – then my bet is that nobody on the internet is making any money.

    In other words the following applies: “If Darren Can’t Do It, Nobody Can.”

    Part of being in the public eye is being ‘punked’, or criticized, even more so on April 1st, for somebody as popular as Darren is an April fool’s prank should be nothing to get in a muss over.

    If bloggers get so stiff and boring, and take offense at every little word spoken – people will stop following and reading the blog to begin with…. (IMHO)

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  22. I think the problem with the time is that in NZ or AU it's April 1st almost 20 hours before than in California, so I guess that one should be aware of this when reading things.

    The original joke was posted on April 1st in AU, but read by people in USA when it was still March 31st.

    Maybe blog engines should start taking into account the timezone of the reader when showing up posts :)

  23. I think the problem with the time is that in NZ or AU it’s April 1st almost 20 hours before than in California, so I guess that one should be aware of this when reading things.
    The original joke was posted on April 1st in AU, but read by people in USA when it was still March 31st.
    Maybe blog engines should start taking into account the timezone of the reader when showing up posts :)

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  25. "Guys, it should be illegal to post April Fool’s jokes on March 31st."

    3/31, according to what? The server of the host? The local time where the writer posted it? What your machine tracks where you are?

    Time is a sort of relative thing. What I post in Germany early on morning of the 1st here likely shows up at late on the 31st there.

    It's a side, minor point, I know….

  26. “Guys, it should be illegal to post April Fool’s jokes on March 31st.”

    3/31, according to what? The server of the host? The local time where the writer posted it? What your machine tracks where you are?

    Time is a sort of relative thing. What I post in Germany early on morning of the 1st here likely shows up at late on the 31st there.

    It’s a side, minor point, I know….

    • You see David, life's a link in the Blogosphere. So I decided to kill three birds with one stone. Since I knew this would be a very popular post, I proceeded as follow:

      1- Write a post about it

      2- Darren gets notified and changes the entry

      3- Darren talks about it and links back

      That's called a win-win ;-)

      Patrick

    • You see David, life’s a link in the Blogosphere. So I decided to kill three birds with one stone. Since I knew this would be a very popular post, I proceeded as follow:

      1- Write a post about it
      2- Darren gets notified and changes the entry
      3- Darren talks about it and links back

      That’s called a win-win ;-)
      Patrick

  27. April Fools jokes taken serious by some people are normally the most funny ones. Maybe not funny for Darren (in this case) but definitely for the rest of us (or at least for me).

  28. April Fools jokes taken serious by some people are normally the most funny ones. Maybe not funny for Darren (in this case) but definitely for the rest of us (or at least for me).

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