January 10, 2009

Disgruntled NFL Fans Take Out Frustrations On Wikipedia

Like any good sports fan, tonight, I've been watching the NFC divisional playoff game between the Arizona Cardinals and the Carolina Panthers. The Panthers, despite a regular season record of 8-0 at home on their way to the playoffs, saw their season end, as the Cardinals put on a drubbing, winning 33-13. Making the problem worse was the Panthers' quarterback, Jake Delhomme, who turned the ball over an amazing six times, including a fumble and five interceptions. And while Arizona led by doing the damage on the field, angry Panthers fans have done even more damage, defacing Delhomme's Wikipedia page.

Delhomme's Wikipedia page has lain relatively dormant going into the playoffs, seeing only the occasional update for career statistics, and additions for the recently completed season. But as the game started to slip away, with the Cardinals going into halftime with a 20 point lead, his page started to be vandalized, with changes taking place practically every ten minutes over the last two hours. The changes, which you can see in the page's history, range from false definitions of his last name, including "pussy juice" and "asshat", to pure complaints about tonight's game.

One comment, since deleted, says, "Jake Delhomme sucks so much that he made is team lose to the Arizona Cardinals in 08. He sucks horribly!" (sic). Another adds, "Jake the fake sucks and I hope he gets fired!!!!", while a third refers to him as "the worst Q.B. in the league!" This of course, is not true, given his 15 TDs and 3,288 yards in the regular season, according to the still-intact NFL.com.

Wikipedia's live editing feature can no doubt be tantalizing to people who want to muck with a famous person's reputation. Stephen Colbert has had lots of fun encouraging watchers of the Colbert Report set up new pages on Wikipedia, or alter existing ones.

As noble as Wikipedia's initial goals were, to replace the encyclopedia online with a group-edited repository, its open rules have left it open for any nutjob to write that Delhomme "can't seem to do anything against the cardinals today. he's a female dog.", or change the pronunciation of his name to "Del-HOMO". It's no secret why many teachers, including my wife, tell their students to stay far away from using the site as a reputable source.

And if you're a professional athlete, be sure you never have a bad game, just to save face online.