Surviving a day without Wikipedia

Posted on: 18 January 2012 by Alexander Hay

As lazy university students and people who cheat in pub quizzes panic, let us provide some top tips for surviving a whole day without vandalising pages for a laugh

PIPA pigs and soft SOPAs - wrecking an internet near you soon?In all seriousness, Jimmy Wales has a point. By taking offline his open access, all-encompassing encyclopedia YOU (and any number of trolls and pedants) can edit, he's made it clear that access to information is all important.

Which is why the Stop Online Piracy Act, or SOPA, and its rather shadowy sibling, the Protection of Intellectual Property Act (PIPA), are such bad ideas that various sites alongside Wikipedia are blacking out for the day. Despite its name, SOPA seems to be either an attempt to exert state and corporate control over the Web, a means of letting everyone sue everyone even more or - as to be expected - the clumsy, butterfly-on-a-wheel approach to legislation that we've come to expect from the US government in all its blundering, hypocritical and self-defeating glory. Probably all three.

'Still', I hear you cry, 'what are we going to do now we can't look up obscure Japanese toy ranges or Dinosaurs with hilariously shaped heads?' This is indeed a problem. For while Wikipedia certainly does its job well (as in, giving you access to a wide source of mostly useful and surprisingly accurate information), the unofficial uses of the site have also been cancelled out. So what to do? Here follows some suggestions...

WHAT ABOUT... Looking up something on the Web on a site that isn't Wikipedia? Did you know there are other sites with information that's not likely to have been vandalised by a 34-year-old virgin who hasn't moved out of his parents' house yet? Apparently, there are even search engines that aren't called Google! Just fancy that.

STUDENTS! Why not go to that funny building on campus? The one with all the books? Yes, those papery things that boring people use! Oh, and why are you still citing Wikipedia articles in the first place? Oh, you're PPE undergraduates. Say no more.

EMPLOYEES! Not able to look up weird paraphilias involving alpacas and lettuce? Find solace by actually working for a change. Or just sending each other obscene e-mails. You can still do that.

WHY NOT... Stop ringing your younger relatives up and demanding they look up who won an Oscar for best picture in 1974? Yes, the trauma of turning on a computer and waggling a mouse about is probably traumatic for you, but remember that you win your argument with Big Dave in other ways - like punching him!

TRY... Doing something else on the Web, like bidding on a second hand sofa on eBay or typing in swear words to see if they are also the names of foreign towns and villages.

And finally:

DON'T... Panic. Look, it's written on the front and is available in most galactic book retailers. That's why it's popular.

Or you could just wait until tomorrow and normal service will be resumed. At least, as long as SOPA and PIPA don't get passed into law...

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Alexander Hay

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