Wikipedia's Wales gets pranked Down Under
April 30, 2007 5:54 AM PDT
Posted by Caroline McCarthy
Looks like Wikipedia and its founder, Jimmy Wales, have turned into legitimately global icons--they're getting pranked overseas in addition to domestically. Wales was the keynote speaker at the Australian "Education.au" conference last week, as reported by the Brisbane Times (linked via TechCrunch), and in the question-and-answer session that followed his address, he was subject to the antics of a well-known Aussie prankster.
One of the inquisitive attendees happened to be Andrew Hansen, a cast member from the Australian Broadcasting Corporation's sketch comedy show The Chaser's War On Everything, which features a recurring segment called "Mr. Ten Questions." In the style of the show, Hansen stood up and asked Wales ten questions in a row without giving the Wikipedia founder the opportunity to answer. They started off mildly, with "First, how are you enjoying Australia?" but grew rapidly more absurd, including "Why does everyone in IT look so nerdy, yet you look like a daytime soap star?" and "There are 1.7 million articles on Wikipedia; how long did it take you to write them all?" Hansen's final question for Wales was,"How do you feel about the fact that when I looked you up on Wikipedia this morning I changed your page to say that you were a teenage drug lord from Malaysia?
Apparently, Wales took it pretty well, and even managed to answer four of them. The full list of questions (warning: some profane language) can be found in the Brisbane Times' article. The Chaser segment featuring Wales has yet to air, but TechCrunch commenters hinted that it will likely wind up (legally) online.
You may recall The Chaser as the TV show that was temporarily pulled from YouTube when the video-sharing site (somewhat gullibly) obeyed the terms of a fake cease-and-desist letter from an Australian teenager pretending to be from the ABC. It also gained some viral video momentum in the States when it planted fake "terrorists" near Sydney landmarks in an attempt to see how long it took for security officers to respond to their "suspicious activities."
I don't think we'll see Jimmy Wales as a target on Jackass or on Ashton Kutcher's Punk'd any time soon, but the influential Web figure does have a history of getting pranked here in the U.S. (albeit indirectly). Perhaps the most famous instance of this was when when late-night comedian Stephen Colbert exhorted his viewers to log onto Wikipedia and alter certain entries, a gag that crashed the encyclopedia's servers and resulted in Mr. Colbert's account being banned.