Stephen Colbert and Wikiality

Posted on August 5, 2006

Stephen Colbert's Wikiality segment on the Colbert ReportEarlier this week Stephen Colbert took on Wikipedia, the user-edited online encyclopedia, during The Word segment of his show, The Colbert Report. On the show Colbert explained how it is easy to change reality into Wikiality using Wikipedia. He also urged listeners to make changes to Wikipedia's elephant entries to indicate that elephant populations had tripled.

Colbert said on his show, "I'm no fan of reality, and I'm no fan of encyclopedias. I've said it before: Who is [Encyclopaedia] Britannica to tell me George Washington had slaves? If I want to say George Washington didn't have slaves, that's my right. And now, thanks to Wikipedia, it's also a fact."

Colbert could be seen typing on a laptop as he was talking. MTV reports that he was "apparently editing the Wikipedia entry on George Washington to read, 'In conclusion, George Washington did not own slaves.'"

BlogPulse says Wikipedia was slammed with traffic from people following Colbert's advice to edit Wikipedia's elephant entries. In the end, Wikipedia locked the elephant entries and Stephen Colbert was banned from Wikipedia. Tawkerblog took credit for blocking Stephen Colbert from Wikipedia. Chris Pirillo calls what Colbert did on his show "social hacking."

The buzz in the blogosphere over Colbert's wikiality episode was very big but it was not nearly as popular as his speech at the White House Correspondents Dinner earlier this year.