March 7, 2014

Ironic Wiki Word Counts

I'm not the first person to do this, but... I spend a lot of time on Wikipedia, because I want to know every thing (which is just a little different from knowing "everything"). I love reading Wikipedia, but I have slowly come to accept the two major non-silly criticisms directed at the site:

1. Wikipedia is not written by experts. (I wrote the article on Cavour, the first Italian prime minister, when I was about 14. The article hasn't really changed since then. My early teenage attempts to craft my own writing tone should not still be part of an online encyclopedia.)
2. Wikipedia is much more comprehensive and thoroughly edited on pop culture topics than anything else.

The dumbest, shallowest, funniest way of demonstrating #2 is with ~Ironic Wiki Word Counts~ in which several Wikipedia articles sharing some common element are compared by length. If the more pop culture-y, low brow, or intellectually unimportant article is longer, then congrats! You can snark! Let's see an example.

Up the Down Staircase [the classic '60s novel] - 326 words
Up the Down Staircase [the not particularly classic 1967 film] - 423 words
Up the Down Steroid [a South Park episode whose title is a reference to the above novel] - 590 words

See? Animated TV jokes > meh movies > literature. Here's a less clear-cut, but still hilarious example, after the break:

Stockholm syndrome [the psychological phenomenon] - 772 words
Stockholm Syndrome [the song by Muse] - 509 words
Stockholm Syndrome [the Swedish pop-dance duo] - 599 words (almost there!)
Stockholm Syndrome [the Derek Webb album] - 976 words (yes!)

I'm sure the Encylopedia Britannica snubbed Webb's landmark experimental electronic album for an entry, choosing instead to cover the famous psychological phenomenon in which prisoners come to love their captors. Let's try to find another example here.

Niccolò Machiavelli - 6,863 words
Makaveli [AKA Tupac] - 8,273 words

Yeah, but there's only so much we can know about Machiavelli, a man who lived so long ago. We don't even know if The Prince was satire or not! Maybe the next example will be a little fairer.

Freezing [the phase transition by which a liquid becomes a solid] - 1,281 words
Phase transition [the larger article on all changes of states of matter] - 3,869 words
Mr. Freeze [the DC Comics supervillain] - 7,493 words
"Frozen" [the song by Madonna] - 8,054 words
Frozen [the 2013 film] - 11,856 words

Now a stolen classic example:

Gray's Anatomy [the famous and influential 19th century textbook] - 2,641 words
Grey's Anatomy [the TV show punning off of the textbook] - 17,035 words

I could sit here all day finding these, and I will, but I have to stop the article somewhere. I'm fond of these examples where something is named after something, yet its article is longer, but there are other kinds. The Something Awful article linked at the top works mostly in nerd jokes, comparing "modern combat" and "lightsaber combat" for instance, or "Latin" versus "Klingon." Check it out and, if you're a normal person or academic, please edit Wikipedia. Now that I'm not 14, I don't have the time any more.