Wikipedia in culture

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

References to Wikipedia in culture have increased as more people learn about and use the online encyclopedia project. Many parody Wikipedia's openness, with characters vandalising or modifying articles. Still others feature characters using the references as a source, or positively comparing a character's intelligence to Wikipedia. Also, the encyclopedia many times is not used as an encyclopedia at all, but instead serves more as a character trait or even as a game. Wikipedia has also become culturally significant with many individuals seeing the presence of a Wikipedia entry as a status symbol.


Date Nature Country (of origin) Title
November 10, 2004 article  United States "I Must Take Issue With The Wikipedia Entry For 'Weird Al' Yankovic",[1] The Onion.
2005 promotion  Australia Jericho ads
May 7, 2005 comic strip  United States FoxTrot
2006 commercial  England Cisco Systems: Human Network Anthem
March 1, 2006 TV show (satirical)  United States The Colbert Report, episode 58
April 14, 2006 novel  United Kingdom The Righteous Men, Sam Bourne
August 12, 2006[2] music video  United States "White & Nerdy" music video, by "Weird Al" Yankovic
January 18, 2007 sitcom  United States 30 Rock: "The Head and the Hair"
March 17, 2007 TV show (satirical)  United Kingdom Bremner, Bird and Fortune
April 22, 2007 TV show (sport)  United States SportsCenter
May 31, 2007 Non-fiction  United States It's Not News, It's FARK: How Mass Media Tries to Pass off Crap as News, Drew Curtis
June 11, 2007 commercial demo  United States Apple iPhone, Apple Inc.
August 3, 2007 play  United States The Wikipedia Plays
September 3, 2007 magazine  United Kingdom Official Nintendo Magazine, Issue 21
July 23, 2009 radio (satirical)  United Kingdom Bigipedia
August 11, 2010 sitcom  United States Hot in Cleveland: "Good Luck Faking The Goiter"
Title Description Relevance
I Must Take Issue With The Wikipedia Entry For 'Weird Al' Yankovic In an article from The Onion, the character Larry Groznic writes an article about how he was banned from Wikipedia for starting an edit war on the "Weird Al" Yankovic page, and goes on to criticize the content on the page. Having taken place well before the John Seigenthaler Sr. Wikipedia biography controversy, it was one of the first major parodies.
FoxTrot First appearance of Wikipedia in a syndicated comic strip.[3]
The Colbert Report, episode 58 Arianna Huffington challenges host Stephen Colbert on his claim that he had coined the word "truthiness". She cited Wikipedia, claiming that he had merely "popularized" the term. Regarding her source, Colbert, in character, responded: "Fuck them."[4] First nationally broadcast television program to mention Wikipedia.[citation needed]
The Colbert Report, episode 93 Colbert refers to Wikipedia as his source of information for research on Sigmund Freud. With his normal sarcastic and deadpan delivery, Colbert's segment "The Wørd" mocked Wikipedia's sometimes-questionable information with the screen posting "Even the accurate parts."[5] Colbert's first scripted reference to Wikipedia, a lead into his "Wikiality" piece.
Global Language Monitor Global Language Monitor, which tracks trends in languages, named wikiality and truthiness the top T.V. buzzwords for 2006.[6][7]

Shortly after the episode aired, a fan-created Wikipedia parody site opened at, inspired by the term. On October 19, 2006, the term was mentioned again on the show, this time with given as the URL for Wikipedia.

"White & Nerdy"

The character who is implied to be the nerd says that editing Wikipedia is one of his nerdy activities.[8] In the video, Al is shown editing the article Atlantic Records by typing in large letters "YOU SUCK!". Thus Al takes revenge on the record company for refusing to let him include "You're Pitiful," a parody of James Blunt's song "You're Beautiful", on his new album. This has prompted copycat vandalism of the Atlantic Records page, which resulted in the page's being semi-protected. Yankovic has said "I don't officially approve of [the vandalism], but on a certain level it does amuse me."[9]

The song was also Yankovic's first career Top 10 hit on the Billboard Hot 100. It reached No. 1 at the U.S. iTunes Store, and peaked at No. 1 on VH1's top 20 video countdown.
Tar Baby Australian songwriter, Carolyn Shine's 2009 track 'Tar Baby' refers to Wikipedia in the line: "If it's all about supply and demand, I don't know which one of us is needier. 'What's a Tar Baby?' I hear you ask. Look it up for yourself in Wikipedia."
Jericho ads Following Jericho episodes on Network 10 in Australia, a promotion would appear encouraging viewers to log onto Wikipedia and search for "Jericho (2006 TV series)" for proof of the hype and theories surrounding the show. This is the first station advertisement to encourage people to search Wikipedia for the advertised product.[citation needed]
Cisco Systems A TV advertisement for Cisco Systems shows a young child with a laptop, the Wikipedia logo clearly visible on the screen. Part of its "Human Network Anthem" ad campaign. First television advertisement showing Wikipedia as part of the plot line.[citation needed]
30 Rock While Tracy Jordan, James "Toofer" Spurlock and Frank Rossitano are working to complete Jordan's autobiography within a single day, Rossitano finds Jordan's Wikipedia article while using the Internet on his laptop. The article says Jordan was discovered after doing stand-up comedy at the Apollo Theater in 1984, and Jordan, though stating he has no recollection of this, tells the two to add it to the book. First sitcom series reference.[citation needed]
Bremner, Bird and Fortune A sketch about the 10 most popular, yet unread books,[10] featuring a voice over talking about the plots of the books, which seem to constantly refer to aliens. At the end of the sketch it says that the information came from Wikipedia. First mention in a British satirical comedy programme.[citation needed]
SportsCenter After citing a stat about Houston Astros pitcher Roy Oswalt, anchor Kenny Mayne jokingly gave credit to Wikipedia for providing the number. First recorded reference from a sports highlight show.[citation needed]
The Righteous Men In the 2006 Da Vinci Code-style novel The Righteous Men, Wikipedia features as an academic style encyclopedia. First known[by whom?] reference in fictional literature.
It's Not News, It's FARK: How Mass Media Tries to Pass off Crap as News In this book examining media bias, mainly about stories which do not count as news, Curtis writes:

"Incidentally, one of the more surprising things I discovered while researching the articles for this book is that a number of them exactly mirrored a Wikipedia entry on the same subject. I didn't find any exact copies of Wikipedia in the articles in this book, but the structure often was the same and used the same citations in the same places. If I had to guess, I'd say that half of all the "original" articles covered in this book are Wikipedia entry rewrites. If not more. It certainly makes me wonder about the rest of the articles I didn't research. Wikipedia accuracy concerns aside, that's just not cool. Or perhaps that's how the Wikipedia articles were generated in the first place. Due to the obscurity of certain details in some of the articles, and the fact that none of those details showed up in a Google search on the same subject, I am more inclined to believe reporters borrow heavily from Wikipedia, and not the other way around."[11]

First known appearance in a book criticising the mass media, referencing Wikipedia.[citation needed]
Apple Inc. iPhone In the demonstration for the iPhone's internet capabilities, the Wikipedia page for the iPod is shown, along with a link in the user's bookmarks. First known reference in a multinational product demonstration by a Media Conglomerate.[citation needed]
The Wikipedia Plays Seventeen short plays, inspired by Wikipedia entries.[12] First play known to highlight Wikipedia.
The Colbert Report, episode 302 On August 21, 2007, Colbert attacked WikiScanner, a website that tracks down people who make anonymous edits on Wikipedia, claiming that it is an invasion of privacy, particularly for corporations, and that it attacks "Self-invention". He highlighted a case where Pepsi edited its entry by removing "Long-term health effects" from the article. This resulted in his "Wørd" being "Self-Determination", claiming that everyone on the internet should be anonymous and should not be forced to give away their true identity. Colbert later described Wikipedia as "Second Life for corporations," saying if a corporation wants to pretend to be someone else online, then that is its business.[13] First nationally broadcast television program to mention WikiScanner.[citation needed]
Bigipedia Bigipedia is a BBC Radio 4 sketch show set on a website which is a parody of Wikipedia.[14] First nationally broadcast radio program devoted to parodying Wikipedia.[citation needed]
Hot in Cleveland In the episode "Good Luck Faking The Goiter", Victoria Chase (Wendie Malick) mentions that she has a Wikipedia page and has to keep changing it because the site's editors keep getting her age wrong. First time that a fictional character on a television series admitting to having created his or her own Wikipedia page and the first time a fictional character admitted to having to make corrections on his or her own page.[citation needed]


In a July 2006 episode of the satirical comedy The Colbert Report, Stephen Colbert announced the neologism "wikiality," a portmanteau of the words Wiki and reality, for his segment "The Wørd". Colbert defined wikiality as "truth by consensus" (rather than fact), modeled after the approval-by-consensus format of Wikipedia. He ironically praised Wikipedia for following his philosophy of truthiness, in which intuition and consensus is a better reflection of reality than fact:

You see, any user can change any entry, and if enough other users agree with them, it becomes true. ... If only the entire body of human knowledge worked this way. And it can, thanks to tonight's word: Wikiality. Now, folks, I'm no fan of reality, and I'm no fan of encyclopedias. I've said it before. Who is Britannica to tell me that George Washington had slaves? If I want to say he didn't, that's my right. And now, thanks to Wikipedia, it's also a fact. We should apply these principles to all information. All we need to do is convince a majority of people that some factoid is true. ... What we're doing is bringing democracy to knowledge.[15]

According to Stephen Colbert, together "we can all create a reality that we all can agree on; the reality that we just agreed on." During the segment, he joked: "I love Wikipedia... any site that's got a longer entry on truthiness than on Lutherans has its priorities straight." Colbert also used the segment to satirize the more general issue of whether the repetition of statements in the media leads people to believe they are true. The piece was introduced with the tagline "The Revolution Will Not Be Verified", referencing the lack of objective verification seen in some articles.

Colbert suggested that viewers change the elephant page to state that the number of African elephants has tripled in the last six months.[16] The suggestion resulted in numerous incorrect changes to Wikipedia articles related to elephants and Africa.[1] Wikipedia administrators subsequently restricted edits to the pages by anonymous and newly created user accounts.

Colbert went on to type on a laptop facing away from the camera, claiming to be making the edits to the pages himself. In addition, initial edits to Wikipedia corresponding to these claimed "facts" were made by a user named Stephencolbert. Thus, many believe Colbert himself vandalized several Wikipedia pages at the time he was encouraging other users to do the same. The account, whether it was Stephen Colbert himself or someone posing as him, has been blocked from Wikipedia indefinitely.[17] Wikipedia blocked the account not for the vandalism (as believed), but for violating Wikipedia's username policies, which state that using the names of celebrities as login names without permission is inappropriate.

Other instances[edit]

In comics[edit]

Date Title Notes
December 16, 2005 Penny Arcade

Skeletor is vandalizing the Wikipedia article of his arch-enemy He-Man under the title of "I have the power".[18]

August 16, 2006 52, Week 15 Fictional "Ballostro" article. Clark Kent is told by his assistant that they can "wiki out the word rumoured" upon seeing it attack Metropolis.
September 7, 2006 FoxTrot Thomas Edison article.
April 20, 2007 Get Fuzzy

Bucky Katt looks at a vanity article about himself and his fictitious album, and shows the "evidence" to Satchel Pooch.

April 29, 2007 Non Sequitur Danae introduces Lucy the horse to Wikipedia, by editing the site to note her fictitious win for "Most Brilliant and Beautious Girl". Lucy complains, but is satisfied when Danae adds a prize for "Most Beautious Horse".
July 2007 The Order #1
(Marvel Comics)
The lead character mentions the Wikipedia as describing him as a "one-time actor".
September 12, 2007 The Amazing Spider-Girl No. 12 The title character mentions that she gained knowledge of Carnage and his weaknesses through Wikipedia.
September 12, 2007 Thor No. 601 The well-known Marvel super-villain called Doctor Doom appears to have utilized Wikipedia, commenting to the assembled Asgardians during the feast in Latveria that even he had not even known what a "winkle" was until he looked it up in Wikipedia.
November 20, 2007 The Brilliant Mind of Edison Lee Edison Lee, the title character mentions that on Wikipedia US President Ronald Reagan was known as the Teflon President to his assistant Joules. (This term doesn't actually appear in the Ronald Reagan article, it appears in Teflon (nickname)).
July 23, 2008 Ambush Bug: Year None No. 1 Ambush Bug says he used "Wokipedia" to look up Hugey Huge/Abdul Smith of the Green Team.
October 14, 2009 Deadpool No. 900 While in the middle of an assassination mission, Deadpool has a fourth wall-breaking conversation with his inner voices in which he discusses his own fanbase, noting that as of that writing, his own Wikipedia entry was longer than that of Spider-Man.
November 23, 2009 Pearls Before Swine Rat questions Stephan Pastis (the creator of the strip) about past events in Stephan's life. When Stephan refutes these claims, Rat says he got them from Stephan's Wikipedia article. These changes were later mirrored in real life before being reverted.

In television episodes[edit]

Date Title Notes
January 29, 2007 The Colbert Report Colbert did a segment on an attempt by Microsoft[19][20][21] to hire writers to skew certain Wikipedia articles in its favor, ending with a call by Colbert to change the Wikipedia article on "Reality" to the phrase "Reality has become a commodity" and offering a $5 cash reward to the first viewer to do so.
October 14, 2007 The Simpsons: "I Don't Wanna Know Why the Caged Bird Sings" Snake tells his girlfriend to kill the man who changed his biography on Wikipedia.
November 25, 2007 The Simpsons: "Funeral for a Fiend" Sideshow Bob complains about loading time as he looks up a Shakespeare reference on Wikipedia.
April 27, 2008 The Simpsons: "Apocalypse Cow" Bart argues with Homer using Wikipedia; Homer plans to edit the page (...and many more pages).
February 10, 2008 Aqua Teen Hunger Force: "Reedickyoulus" Frylock curses Wikipedia after believing false information pertaining to killing zombies.
October 2, 2007 Cavemen: "Pilot" In the premiere episode of the commercial-turned-sitcom, Andy blames his inability to work on his dissertation on the fact that "Wikipedia is under construction".
August 4, 2007 Psych: "And Down The Stretch Comes Murder" In the episode "And Down The Stretch Comes Murder", when Shawn is explaining his theory of the crime, Gus weighs in with a factoid about an obscure indigenous tribe. Shawn applauds Gus' knowledge of the subject with the line, "Gus shoots and scores! ...with an assist from Wikipedia."
August 4, 2007 Grand Slam Michelle Kitt is asked the question, "The Hawaiian word for 'quick' is prominently featured in the name of which online encyclopedia?" She answers, "Wiki...Wikipedia" and is judged incorrect.
January 23, 2007 Veronica Mars: "Show Me the Monkey" The television show references Wikipedia in the episode when Veronica looks up the origins of the color manila.
February 1, 2007 The Office: "Ben Franklin" Jim, having heard Michael mention prima nocta, says that he used Wikipedia to confirm his suspicions over the term's meaning.
February 18, 2007 American Dad!: "Black Mystery Month" After uncovering a plot involving peanut butter and the Civil War, Stan Smith says "If only there was a place where you could make outrageous claims, without any proof, and millions of people would accept it as fact...", and the episode cuts to his son Steve editing The Truth about Peanut Butter.
April 5, 2007 The Office: "The Negotiation" For salary negotiations with Darryl, Michael gets negotiations help from Wikipedia. He then states in an interview that "Wikipedia is the best thing ever. Anyone in the world can write anything they want about any subject, so you know you are getting the best possible information." As a result of the episode, Wikipedia had to lock down editing of the Negotiation article.
May 24, 2007 The Colbert Report, episode 265 Wikipedia co-founder Jimmy Wales appears as a guest on the show hosted by Stephen Colbert on Comedy Central. They discuss Colbert's vandalism of Wikipedia and his telling of his viewers to vandalize various pages. Several articles, such as oxygen, librarian and Stephen Colbert, were locked to prevent vandalism shortly after the episode aired. On the show, Wales jokes that he may have to lock down the entire Spanish-language Wikipedia for a few days because of Colbert's comment that perhaps it should learn English.
May 25, 2007 Real Time with Bill Maher Maher jokingly claims to have used Wikipedia in researching the misdeeds of past U.S. presidents to find examples that support Jimmy Carter's assertion that the George W. Bush administration is the worst in history.
August 5, 2007 News Knight with Sir Trevor McDonald, episode 7 McDonald says that "Wikipedia is one of the most trusted websites in the world" and that, according to its entry on itself, Wikipedia was founded by Ken Dodd in 1673.
September 10, 2007 The Daily Show with Jon Stewart The host Jon Stewart and the night's guest, Jeff Garlin, joke about Wikipedia's volatility, and mentions that guest's article on Wikipedia are being hacked by his family and friends. Jeff Garlin finishes off by saying that Wikipedia should not be taken seriously.
September 26, 2007 Dancing with the Stars (US season 5) On an episode which aired on September 26, 2007, a satirical mini-documentary was featured in the show exploring the history of dance. The fake history of dance was concluded with the phrase, "You can look it up – I just made an entry in Wikipedia."
September 30, 2007 Frisky Dingo, episode 19 Xander Crews attempts to look up whether or not the Vice President of the United States is VP of both the United States and Canada, on Wikipedia.
October 2, 2007 Damages, episode 10 Patty Hewes tells Ray Fiske she has a lot of questions for Arthur Frobisher to which Fiske replies "That's what Wikipedia's for."
October 12, 2007 Have I Got News for You, episode 282 In the "Odd One Out" round, Ian Hislop mentions a case of vandalism involving the late Ronnie Hazelhurst. Hislop, who described Wikipedia sarcastically as, "That reliable tool for all of us," talked about how someone vandalised Hazelhurst's article so it claimed he wrote the S Club 7 song "Reach". When he died, journalists failed to check the fact, and it was reported as fact in The Times, The Guardian and by the BBC, which was made worse by the fact that the BBC had been in trouble for faking some TV programmes.
October 20, 2007 Have I Got a bit More News for You, episode 283 Ian Hislop again attacks Wikipedia, in the extended repeat of the episode shown the night before, but was cut out of the original broadcast. When host Alexander Armstrong is trying to pronounce a Serbian name, Hislop says, "It's like Wikipedia, ain't it? You just wait for it to come up." He then pretended to download an essay on Serbia from Wikipedia and hand it in, commenting on how some students plagiarise using Wikipedia.
November 2, 2007 Have I Got News for You, episode 285 When guest presenter Jo Brand is introducing comedy writer and performer Andy Hamilton, she says, "And with Paul Merton tonight is a full-time professional English darts player, whose nickname is "The Hammer" and who is currently ranked seventh in the world. I know, I was surprised as well, but I looked him up on Wikipedia."
November 3, 2007 QI In an interview with The Times, QI's creator John Lloyd says, "We don't deny using Wikipedia. It's a thing of complete genius and a tribute to the human spirit." However, the article goes on to say that, "they have a rule against cutting and pasting Wiki anything, and an old-fashioned minimum of at least two sources for anything that goes in a QI programme or book."[22]
December 6, 2007 Scrubs: "My Number One Doctor" One of Dr.Cox's patients is scheduled for chemotherapy to treat his cancer, but wants to back out because he used his laptop to look up the condition on Wikipedia and the article said a raw vegetable diet can lead to remission. Cox confronts him on this, questioning the reliability of the claim, given that it was written by the same person who wrote the Battlestar Galactica episode guide. He then takes away the patient's laptop and tells him he will proceed with the treatment.
February 23, 2008 iCarly: "iHatch Chicks" Freddie goes to a site that is a pun on Wikipedia, called Chickipedia, to find information on baby chicks.
May 21, 2008 Through the Keyhole When the guest panelists were attempting to guess the identity of Angelica Bell and suggested (incorrectly) that she might be best known for her acting, Sir David Frost said "in Wikipedia, it wouldn't say acting"
June 9, 2008 The Colbert Report Reacting to John McLaughlin's statement that "Warren G. Harding was a negro", Colbert suggested that the G. stood not for 'Gamaliel', but for 'Gangsta' (and showed a fake screen shot of Wikipedia appearing to say this).[23] The article was repeatedly vandalised to say 'Warren Gangsta Harding' before being locked.
September 29, 2008 Chuck In the second-season premiere, Vik Sahay's character Lester mentions a Wikipedia article about himself on his resume while being interviewed by Chuck for the assistant manager position at the Buy More.
October 23, 2008 The Office: "Crime Aid" Michael indicates that it is unknown how much crime takes place in the office because there is no Wikipedia entry on office robbery statistics. Since the episode aired, statistics were indeed added to the Wikipedia article "Office".
November 23, 2008 Dexter: "About Last Night" After a discussion of sexual topics with vice unit detective Barbara Gianna, Masuka comments to Batista that Gianna is "like the Wikipedia of perv".
January 21, 2009 Law & Order: A murder suspect is arrested based upon vandalistic edits made to a Wikipedia article on a (fictional) college sorority. The man had been killing family members of former sorority members and harassing the members themselves; the person arrested is tracked by his IP address.
January 22, 2009 30 Rock: "Retreat to Move Forward" Frank Rossitano, as a prank on Jenna Maroney, who is researching her upcoming role as Janis Joplin, makes numerous vandalistic edits to Joplin's page and recommends that Jenna use Wikipedia for her research.
March 15, 2009 The Simpsons: "Gone Maggie Gone" Comic Book Guy mentions Wikipedia as a source for his legends.
September 10, 2009 Mock The Week: Series 7, Episode 10 In the "Scenes we'd like to see" round, the panel members have to suggest "Bad things to hear from a tour guide". Ed Byrne suggests: "And according to Wikipedia, the east wing was built in the year Dougie is a homo."
September 15, 2009 Warehouse 13: Season 1, Episode 11 When mentioning Edgar Allan Poe, Artie pulls out what seems to be a Wikipedia article on the man.
September 21, 2009 Would I Lie To You?: Series 3, Episode 7 In the introduction to the show, host Rob Brydon said: "When asked if lying is justified, a staggering 73% of university students simply copied their answer from Wikipedia."
October 12, 2009 The Big Bang Theory: Season 3, Episode 4: "The Pirate Solution" When Sheldon asks Raj what he was doing at work after his research ran into dead-end, his reply included 'Messing up Wikipedia entries'.
November 12, 2009 FlashForward: Season 1, Episode 8 The introduction of Sperm donation—as it appeared from July 8 to October 11, 2009—was referenced by a character considering the process. While the screen was altered slightly to say that it was from "", the style and content were unaltered.
November 22, 2009 The Amazing Race: Season 15, Episode 9 One team in the race uses the English-language version of Wikipedia to learn what a vintage Praga car is before having to search for it in Prague.
November 29, 2009 The Simpsons: "Rednecks and Broomsticks" After discovering a coven of witches, Lisa attempts to learn more about them by using "Wiccapedia".
December 22, 2009 Mock the Week: Series 7 Christmas Special In a round of "If This is the Answer, What is the Question?", the answer "One Fifth" resulting in regular panellist Hugh Dennis giving the question, "How much of Wikipedia is true?" This results in host Dara Ó Briain and another regular, Russell Howard, talking about inaccuracies on their own articles, and third regular Frankie Boyle to suggest that all Wikipedia articles should start with the words "I reckon". Following broadcast, Boyle and Howard's articles were repeatedly vandalised to include further inaccuracies and inclusions of "I reckon", leading to the articles being locked.
January 5, 2010 Who Wants to Be a Millionaire: A contestant answered the $12,500 question "What Web site's logo depicts a spherical jigsaw puzzle featuring symbols from different languages?" correctly.
January 27, 2010 Tosh.0: Host Daniel Tosh told viewers, "So why don't you go to our Tosh.0 'boring' Wikipedia page and put whatever you want. I'm not gonna fix it." The result was numerous changes made to the Tosh.0 Wikipedia article, culminating in the page being locked from editing a few hours after the show aired. Other Wikipedia articles, such as Conan O'Brien, Demetri Martin, and Jay Leno, were also affected. Tosh read some of the humorous revisions made to the article the following week on his show, and proceeded to apologize to Wikipedia for the mayhem he started. The Tosh.0 page, however, remains locked to unregistered viewers.
February 12, 2010 QI: "Gravity" Host Stephen Fry says that if you fire a bullet from a gun and drop a bullet from your hand at the same time, they will both hit the ground at exactly the same time, prompting panellist Barry Humphries to ask "Does this information come from Wikipedia?"
February 21, 2010 Cold Case: "Metamorphosis" Detectives Vera and Miller catch a suspect in a lie, citing a Wikipedia entry for J.B. Ricketts.
April 8, 2009 Have I Got News for You: series 39, episode 2 Introducing guest panellist Richard Herring, guest host Alexander Armstrong describes him as "a man described by Wikipedia as one of the leading hidden masters of British comedy. Proving how easy it is to write your own entry on Wikipedia."
April 11, 2010 The Cleveland Show: "Gone With the Wind" At Loretta Brown's funeral, the minister reads from Wikipedia that Loretta Brown was either a singer or a member of the Australian Parliament, then ends by saying "Ci-ta-tion neeed-ed" in a ritualized tone.
May 30, 2010 The Boondocks: "Stinkmeaner 3: The Hateocracy" When Huey Freeman wants to know who is after his family, he said that "while desperate for answers, he would turn to the only place that may tell them what they need, Wikipedia". He then accessed a website which is a visual and content pun of Wikipedia.
June 6, 2010 Breaking Bad: "Half Measures" Skyler is researching money laundering, with closeups of the Wikipedia article shown on screen.
June 22, 2010 Mongrels: "Series 1, Episode 1" Earlier in the episode, Nelson the metrosexual fox kills a chicken that tried to kill him by cutting her head off. Kali the pigeon says that according to Wikipedia, a chicken can live for over a year without its head. Nelson claims Wikipedia cannot be trusted, then turns around to find the headless chicken still alive and trying to kill him.
July 18, 2010 The Boondocks: "Mr. Medicinal" When Robert Freeman is on trial for possession of weed and driving under its influences, he claims that Obama has made it legal, then the judge searches on Wikipedia to prove him wrong.
August 11, 2010 Hot in Cleveland: "Good Luck Faking The Goiter" After Elka Orstrosky (Betty White) helps Victoria Chase (Wendie Malick) learn about a disease she was trying to fake in a effort to receive votes for a Daytime Emmy Award by spreading a rumor, only to find out that the disease does exist, she asks her fellow roommates Melanie Moretti (Valerie Bertinelli) and Joy Scroggs (Jane Leeves) where Elka went because Elka looked it up in Wikipedia. Victoria also reveals that she has a Wikipedia page and she has to change it numerous times because they keep getting her age wrong.
September 13, 2010 Haven: "Fur" Jessica Minnion mentions learning Mi'kmaq hieroglyphs from a Wikipedia article.
November 11, 2010 The Big Bang Theory: "The 21-Second Excitation" Amy consults Wikipedia for information on Slumber parties, having never previously been to one.
November 23, 2010 How Not to Live Your Life: "Don Meets His Maker" Don uses Wikipedia to fool Samantha into believing he has a fatal disease, creating a badly written fake article on the disease.
January 5, 2011 The Daily Show with Jon Stewart Comedy Central During an interview with Wikipedia "volunteer" Jimmy Wales, Stewart claimed he was in fact, Batman; Wales responded with laughter and suggested that Wikipedia administrators would correct and lock Stewart's page. Quickly, the online community responded, editing Stewart's page to represent his claim to be Batman. Wikipedia administrators responded by correcting the changes and locking Stewart's page.
May 3, 2011 NCIS Los Angeles: "Plan B" CBS In the opening scene, Kensi Blye and Marty Deeks escort a key witness to the airport for his flight to Miami. When the conversation hits the subject of alligators in the Miami area, Kensi educates her companions about the differences between alligators and crocodiles. Rick, the witness then asks Marty, an old friend of his: "Did she just go Wikipedia on me?". In the rest of the episode Kensi is referred to as Wikipedia several times.
June 30, 2011 Futurama: "Ghost in the Machines" Bender's ghost tells the Robot Devil that Fry is dead, but the Robot Devil shows him Fry's Wikipedia page, which proves that Fry is alive. Coincidentally, Wikipedia does have an article in real life about Fry.
December 11, 2011 American Dad!: "Season's Beatings" Father Donovan mentions using Wikipedia.
January 30, 2012 Family Guy: "Livin' on a Prayer" Dr. Hartman tells Lois that Scotty Jennings – Stewie's new friend – is suffering from Hodgkin's lymphoma. Lois asks Dr. Hartman if he is saying Scotty has cancer. Dr. Hartman replies: "I dunno. I didn't read the whole Wikipedia entry."
March 12, 2012 The Daily Show with Jon Stewart After criticizing United States presidential candidate Mitt Romney for singing the 1954 song "The Ballad of Davy Crockett", Jon Stewart says that, "fortunately, Romney had a chance to use a slightly more recent Southern song reference at a rally last Friday with Randy Owen, lead singer of the legendary country band Alabama", and adds that "the only question is 'which greatest Alabama hit is Mitt gonna ask 'im to sing'" – providing as possibilities "Born Country", "Love in the First Degree", "Feels So Right" and "other songs I didn't know we had to look up on Wikipedia".
April 3, 2012 The Daily Show with Jon Stewart After the show plays a clip from American morning television show Fox & Friends in which co-host Steve Doocy says that something "was established by Marbury versus Madison back in the early 1800s and, ever since then, no serious legal scholar in 175 years has questioned whether or not the Supreme Court can throw out a law that is unconstitutional", Jon Stewart says "yeah", "we all have Wikipedia".
May 20, 2012 The Cleveland Show: "All You Can Eat" Cleveland edits the Wikipedia article Chipotle clam.
November 17, 2014 The Simpsons: "Blazed and Confused" With the arrival of a new teacher to Springfield Elementary, Milhouse looks up the "Wiccapedia" entry for Jack Lassen. Wiccapedia was first referenced in the 2009 episode, Rednecks and Broomsticks

In radio broadcasts[edit]

Date Title Notes Relevance
November 4, 2006 Wait Wait...Don't Tell Me! Jimmy Wales played the "Not My Job" game (renamed for the occasion "It must be true... I read it on Wikipedia"). He is asked three questions about Wikipedia trivia on the Banana Splits discography and Bob Marley, Constance of Sicily and Esera Tuaolo. Wales recalls the Banana Splits with fondness and then proceeds to get all three questions wrong.[24] The show, in general, will often pull details for the show from Wikipedia, stating humorously, "If it's on Wikipedia, it must be true." First reference to Wikipedia in a radio series.
June 15, 2007 The News Quiz – BBC Alan Coren referred to mistakes made on Wikipedia. He later said that he once saw a mistake on his article that stated he was a year younger than he was, but he liked the error as it made him look younger. As a result, he said that whenever someone corrects the article, he set the year wrong again to make him look younger again. As a result, the article was locked after the show was broadcast.
July 24, 2007 The Wikipedia Story – BBC Clive Anderson asks whether Wikipedia is a valuable source of human knowledge or a symptom of the spread of mediocrity. This was also made into a podcast between July 27 and August 3 by the BBC.
June 20, 2008 The News Quiz – BBC Carrie Quinlan gave out a lot of information which the other panellists did not understand. She later claimed that she got the information from Wikipedia. Jeremy Hardy and Andy Hamilton claimed that the word "Wikipedia" sounded rude, with Hamilton claiming that it was, "A sexual attraction to baskets."
October 7, 2008 The Party Line: Series 3, Episode 1 – BBC In the episode, Duncan Stonebridge MP's laptop computer is stolen, which contains data relating to fishing quotas. Before he talks to an Icelandic fishing minister, Duncan's assistant Roger gives him some information copied from Wikipedia, which turns out to be wrong. The fishing minister comments that it sounds like Duncan just took the information from Wikipedia. First known reference to Wikipedia in a radio sitcom.
December 5, 2008 The Now Show: Series 25, Episode 2 – BBC Jon Holmes talked about the lack of reliability of online surveys saying that not everything on the internet is true. He said that, "This is the same internet that hosts Wikipedia", and Holmes read some examples of vandalism that he discovered on the site. In the following two shows, fans emailed in other examples of Wikipedia vandalism.
December 5, 2008 Heresy: Series 5, Episode 6 – BBC Radio 4 The show guest panel, Euan Ferguson, Clive James and David Mitchell tried to argue against the statement: "You can't trust what you read online." Wikipedia is covered by the panel and the host Victoria Coren reads out information from the guests' Wikipedia pages to see if it is true.

In postal items[edit]

The presentation of the first Wikimedia-related postal items at Wikimania 2011

On January 14, 2011, Israel Postal Company chose to commemorate Wikipedia's 10th Anniversary by issuing a special postmark and a Souvenir Leaf. These were the world's first Wikipedia-related postal items. As is customary on Wikipedia, the Souvenir Leaf, postmark and the text on the back of the souvenir leaf were created by a collaboration of volunteers. The design of the postmark was based on the work of "MT0", a Wikipedia editor.

In feature films[edit]

Wikipedia is mentioned in the 2009 feature film Bandslam. One of the main characters, Charlotte Barnes (Aly Michalka), has her own Wikipedia page. This fact is told by Sa5m (Vanessa Hudgens) to Will Burton (Gaelan Connell) who then reads the article on Charlotte Barnes on Wikipedia. The post credit sequence song dedicated to Rajinikanth in Hindi movie Chennai Express mentions Wikipedia where the protagonist suggests people to read about him on Wikipedia.[25][26][27]

Fictional entries[edit]

In spring of 2013, Aqueduct Press issued Missing Links and Secret Histories: A Selection of Wikipedia Entries from Across the Known Multiverse ISBN 9781619760394, a collection of speculative fiction short stories in the form of fictitious Wikipedia entries, edited by L. Timmel Duchamp.


Wikipedia is not always referenced in the same way. The ways described below are some of the ways it has been mentioned.

Citations of Wikipedia in culture[edit]

Wikipedia, [...] to an academic, might represent peer review on steroids. Andrew George, JD candidate at University of Virginia School of Law

— from a sociopsychology academic paper[44]

Inaccuracies on Wikipedia as portrayed in culture[edit]

  • Wikipedia was satirized in The Onion with a front-page article ("Wikipedia Celebrates 750 Years of American Independence", July 2006), alluding to perceptions that the publicly editable site is an unreliable source of information.[49]
  • The CollegeHumor staff posted the video "Professor Wikipedia" as part of the CollegeHumor original videos on September 16, 2008; the video satirized many aspects of Wikipedia.[50][51]

In politics[edit]

Wikipedia as a character trait[edit]

Wikipedia as an award recipient[edit]

  • In the 2007 Lyttle Lytton Contest, in which the object is to come up with an opening sentence for a novel, a phrase from the article on Fukutsuru ("Fukutsuru died in 2005 but his frozen sperm lived on for people's benefit") won the prize in Found category.[60]

Wikipedia as comedic material[edit]

  • Wikipedia is parodied at several websites, including Uncyclopedia[61][62] and Encyclopedia Dramatica.[63]
  • In the July 2006 issue of Mad, in the Fundalini pages section there was a short joke with a mock picture of Wikipedia called "WonkyPedia". WonkyPedia featured its own logo, in which the letters on the puzzle globe were replaced with MAD characters and the letters "M", "A", and "D:". The article shown was on Lincoln's assassination. The URL followed the appropriate pattern: "". The same parody returned in the next issue as "Wakipedia". The phrase it advertised was "The Free Encyclopedia (you get what you pay for!)".
  • Likewise,, the online publication affiliated with former Mad rival Cracked, has satirized Wikipedia's maintenance templates.[64]
  • In May 2006, British chat show host Paul O'Grady received an inquiry from a viewer regarding information given on his Wikipedia page, to which he responded, "Wikipedia? Sounds like a skin disease."
  • On the show X-Play, Morgan Webb looked at the Wikipedia article of Point Blank DS, and then looked at the article on their show. After reading it, the logo in the top left corner of the page spoke to Morgan in typical X-Play fashion. It also pointed out that since the show's inception, they have made 337 fart jokes. When asked why it could talk, the logo stated that Wikipedia had become self aware in 2004 due to the massive amounts of information provided by the public.
  • On the E! network program The Soup, during the "Reality Show Clip Time!" segment a clip of Flavor of Love 2 was shown in which someone mentioned Google as a point of research on September 8, 2006, to make fun of this, host Joel McHale said "Well at least it's better than saying 'Wikipedia Wikipedia Wikipedia'" Another time he said he looked up something on Wikipedia and saw a dance.
  • Comedian Zach Galifianakis claimed to look himself up on Wikipedia in an interview with The Badger Herald,[65] stating about himself, "...I'm looking at Wikipedia right now. Half Greek, half redneck, around 6-foot-4. And that's about it... The 6-foot-4 thing may be a little bit off. Actually, it's 4-foot-6."
  • A front page parody news article in The Onion made fun of Wikipedia's tendency to quantify its page views and of its use as a reference source for long-past television series.[66]
  • The character Новицкий quotes the Russian language Wikipedia article on taxation in the Russian comedy film "Тот ещё Карлосон!".

Possibly mistaken[edit]

  • In the American version of the video game Shin Megami Tensei: Digital Devil Saga, Wikipedia is a selectable mantra, possible to equip by the game's characters to learn skills.[67][68] However, it appears it was only a mistranslation made by the translators since the name is not present in the Japanese version.

Entertainment information source[edit]

Food information source[edit]

  • In his "pickoff" in which he makes predictions on the winners of NFL games, Peter King said of the Thanksgiving night game between Indianapolis and Atlanta in 2007 "The sleep-inducing qualities of turkey are overrated, as I learned this week on Wikipedia. There is more tryptophan in cheddar cheese than turkey."[69]

General information source[edit]

  • In Tim Minchin's poem Storm, when he criticizes the eponymous character for being excessively gullible and close-minded, he accuses her of being scared of spending an afternoon at "Wiki-fucking-pedia". It has been turned into an animated movie.[70]
  • Slate magazine compared Wikipedia to the fictional device The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy from the series of the same name by Douglas Adams. "The parallels between The Hitchhiker's Guide (as found in Adams' original BBC radio series and novels) and Wikipedia are so striking, it's a wonder that the author's rabid fans don't think he invented time travel. Since its editor was perennially out to lunch, the Guide was amended 'by any passing stranger who happened to wander into the empty offices on an afternoon and saw something worth doing.' This anonymous group effort ends up outselling Encyclopedia Galactica even though 'it has many omissions and contains much that is apocryphal, or at least wildly inaccurate.'" [71] This comparison of fictional documents in the series, is not unlike the mainstream comparisons between Wikipedia and professional Encyclopedias.[72]

Student information source[edit]

  • Aoi Haru, the end theme of the anime Seitokai Yakuindomo performed by Angela, mentions using the Wikipedia as one of the daily activities of the high school girl portrayed in the song.

Game show category[edit]

  • The December 3, 2007 episode of Jeopardy! had a category entitled "'ick'-ipedia", where all correct responses contained the letters "ick".


  • The comedy website Something Awful once featured Wikipedia's article on Knuckles the Echidna as an ALOD (Awful Link of the Day), satirizing the amount of detail that sometimes goes into seemingly irrelevant topics. The link description adds that the article is longer than each of the articles about Echidnas, the Internet, the internal combustion engine, William Shakespeare and Western culture.[73] The topic was also satirized in the front page, which featured a fake Wikipedia style article about Albert "Al" Calavicci from the TV series Quantum Leap written by Something Awful contributor David Thorpe.[74] Thorpe elsewhere linked the existence of such articles to Asperger syndrome, stating "Don't make fun of Aspergers. If it weren't for Aspergers, we wouldn't have 20-page Wikipedia articles about Knuckles the Echidna."[75] Wikipedia was also mocked in a December 4, 2006 update on Something Awful. The update detailed the life of a talk page on Wikipedia, and mocked the neutrality, copyright, naming, quality, and personal disputes that the pages are beholden to. The update also linked Wikipedia usage to Asperger syndrome once more, with one fictional editor claiming to have a case of the syndrome twice as powerful as that of another fictional editor.[76] In a 2007 Awful Link of the Day, a Wikipedia article was featured again, this time on the villains of Codename: Kids Next Door. Once again, it calls out the detail put onto seemingly irrelevant topics, citing a discussion in said article's talk page about the subjectiveness of the speed of certain characters. Something Awful founder Richard Kyanka then mockingly offered to write up a speed comparison of the KND characters Big Badolescent and Cheese Shogun Roquefort, citing a fake episode called "episode 35, 'I Am a 38-Year Old Man With Several Obese Cats and an Empty Life I Futilely Try to Fill With Childrens' Cartoons'".[77]
  • An article in The Sun derided Wikipedia for including a "List of big-bust models and performers" (since deleted). Quoting an unnamed "company source", the article concluded: "It's every computer geek's dream come true – definitely one of Wikipedia's breast, I mean best, assets".[78]

Wikipedia in web comics[edit]

"Wikipedian Protester", on of the xkcd comics. A protester is holding up a placard during a political rally mimicking Wikipedia's "citation Needed" tag.
"Wikipedian Protester"
"Malamanteau", one of the xkcd comics, parodying Wikipedia's writing style.
"Malamanteau", parodying Wikipedia's writing style.
  • The xkcd comic "Wikipedian Protester" shows a protester at a political rally, holding up a placard mimicking Wikipedia's "citation needed" tag, used to request a citation for an unsupported statement. The tooltip of the comic (often part of the joke in an xkcd comic) adds the extra comment "SEMI-PROTECT THE CONSTITUTION", referencing Wikipedia's semi-protection policy. Numerous other references to Wikipedia have been made in xkcd.[79]
Roadkill Bill comic mocking Wikipedia.
  • On May 7, 2005, the comic strip FoxTrot showed one character appending his older sister to unflattering Wikipedia articles. In a similar joke, the web comic Penny Arcade also satirized Wikipedia with a comic strip depicting Skeletor vandalizing the He-Man article.[80][81] The web comic PvP featured a similar gag with the character Marcy adding embarrassing information about Francis, though she denies it is vandalism, claiming truth.[82][83]
  • On December 10, 2005, following the John Seigenthaler incident, UserFriendly showed Greg at first defending Wikipedia, but he then sees an entry about him as a "hairy dork" and declares "Wikipedia is so going down!"[84] Strips also commented on editor agendas,[85] and the relative lack of Wikipedia content in third-world languages.[86]
  • In the November 8, 2006 installment of Dinosaur Comics, T-Rex presents a solution to vandalism on Wikipedia; the chickens article would be designated for vandalism, leaving all other articles intact.[87]
  • A Bunny strip featuring Wikipedia includes a tombstone which reads: "RIP Jeph Jacques" with the bottom caption: "The Moral of the story is you cannot always trust what you read on Wikipedia."[88]
  • Questionable Content references Wikipedia several times. Hannelore, a character who suffers from obsessive-compulsive disorder, cut most of her hair off after reading Wikipedia's article on head lice.[89] Wikipedia was also referenced when Penelope, a character who is bitter against romance, stated that her edits to the De Beers entry kept getting reverted (she attempted to add a conspiracy theory to the article suggesting that the company had subverted humanity's mating drive in order to sell more diamonds).[90] Wikipedia was also parodied, taking the form of a mock product similar to SpaghettiOs.[91]
  • Applegeeks has jokingly referred to Wikipedia as a replacement for traditional education twice.[92][93]
  • The webcomic PartiallyClips criticised Wikipedia's supposed policy of deleting many articles on webcomics.[94]
  • Roadkill Bill has a comic mocking Wikipedia.
  • George of Bob and George once used Wikipedia to research The First Annual Robot Tournament (a plot element from Mega Man 6) after being told his brother, Bob, was killed during it, but found no information.[95] Later, however, Mega Man researches the subject and finds detailed information has been added.[96] This article is then used as a plot device in following comics as the characters read about the events being depicted.
  • Diesel Sweeties comic #1831 shows the Red Robot swearing "on the Wikipedia's entry for 'Honor'" to not kill anyone, and then later editing the page. In addition, comic #2036 is entitled "This article about my love life is a stub. You can help 'sexipedia' by expanding it." In this comic, Metal Steve asks Lil' Sis if she remembers losing her virginity. Her response is, "What am I, Wikipedia?"


Claims of negative impact of Wikipedia on culture[edit]

Wikipedia has been criticized for encouraging what Andrew Keen called the "Cult of the Amateur" in his book of the same name, resulting in toleration and enjoyment of lowbrow culture.[97]

See also[edit]

  • [[Archivo:
  1. REDIRECCIÓN Plantilla:Iconos|20px|Ver el portal sobre Culture]] Portal:Culture. Contenido relacionado con Culture.


  1. ^ "Loxodonta", "African Forest Elephant", "African Bush Elephant", "Pachydermata", "Babar the Elephant", "Elephant", "Oregon",
    "George Washington", "Latchkey kid", "Serial killer", "Hitler", "The Colbert Report" and "Stephen Colbert" are/were temporarily protected. "Mûmak" (formerly at "Oliphaunt") has also been vandalized.

References and footnotes[edit]

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  2. ^ Note that the song was leaked on the Internet almost a month prior, on August 27, 2006.
  3. ^ FoxTrot comic strip, May 7, 2005
  4. ^ The Colbert Report, "Faith", Comedy Central, March 1, 2006.
  5. ^ The Colbert Report, "Superegomaniac", Comedy Central, May 9, 2006.
  6. ^ ""Truthiness," "Wikiality" named TV words of year". Reuters. August 27, 2006. Retrieved August 28, 2006.
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  8. ^ White & Nerdy lyrics:
    My ergonomic keyboard never leaves me bored
    Shopping online for deals on some writable media
    I edit Wikipedia
    I memorized Holy Grail really well
    I can recite it right now and have you ROTFLOL
  9. ^ Adams, Cameron (October 5, 2006). "Weird Al Yankovic". Herald Sun. Archived from the original on December 1, 2008.
  10. ^ BBC News, Harry Potter book "often unread". Retrieved April 1, 2007.
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  12. ^ "The Wikipedia Plays Will Be Seen at the Ars Nova in August", Playbill. A review of the piece is here: Wikipedia:Wikipedia Signpost/2007-08-06/Wikipedia Plays Review
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