Alternate Reality

Wikipedia Colors the Truth

The world’s most abused online encyclopedia is getting a color-coded system that separates the barely credible from the totally ridiculous. eSarcasm comes up with a coloring system of its own.

By (@tynanwrites)

August 31, 2009

The story you're about to read is not (entirely) true. It is, however, more accurate than most things on network television.

Wikipedia-francophoneAfter years of presenting just the facts* in black and white, Wikipedia is taking a bold new step this fall by color coding entries that may not entirely adhere to what is known on the rest of the planet as “reality.”

Wiki fans may soon be able to distinguish an entry’s relative truthiness thanks to WikiTrust, a technology developed at UC Santa Cruz’s Wiki Lab. Per Wired:

WikiTrust …assigns a color code to newly edited text using an algorithm that calculates author reputation from the lifespan of their past contributions. It’s based on a simple concept: The longer information persists on the page, the more accurate it’s likely to be… Text from questionable sources starts out with a bright orange background, while text from trusted authors gets a lighter shade. As more people view and edit the new text, it gradually gains more “trust” and turns from orange to white.

UCSC researcher Luca de Alfaro says WikiTrust should prove more reliable than other reputation systems because it relies on “clever algorithms,” not humans. Dr. de Alfaro also insists he was not tripping on ‘shrooms while developing the technology (though we’d like to see the tox screen results before we believe that).

Critics worry Wikipedia will soon look like a crazy quilt woven by a clan of schizophrenic Amish women, or that deleting and reinserting text to affect its orange hue will give hopelessly cranky Wikipedians yet another useless thing to do instead of, say, bathing or engaging in actual human interaction.

Not us, though. We at eSarcasm think it’s a terrific idea. So good, in fact, that we’ve developed our own color-coded truth algorithm, known as eSarchromatics (patent pending). Here’s the color key:

Yellow = Proceed with caution

Aqua = As if

Red  = Pants on fire

Brown = Total bullshit

Pink = Who would believe such a skanky old ho?

Black = Too disgusting even for us

We tested several well-known phrases with our algorithm. Here’s what they look like after a trip through the eSarchromatron:

“Microsoft Vista: The Wow starts Now.”

“I did not have sexual relations with that woman.

“Winston tastes good like a cigarette should.”

“Fox News Channel is committed to being fair and balanced.

“Let’s actually do this right now because the last thing I want to do is take a break from fucking your brains out all night to work on your Wikipedia entry :)” (Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales to former gal pal/psycho stalker Rachel Marsden.)

Of course, you can always trust the assiduously researched, carefully written stories on eSarcasm, The World’s Most Trusted Web Site ™.

* Actual facts not necessarily included

Get fresh geek humor delivered daily: RSS | E-Mail | Twitter