When Indian Twitter Tried to Explain How Wikipedia Works to Its Founder Jimmy Wales

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When Indian Twitter Tried to Explain How Wikipedia Works to Its Founder Jimmy Wales

Illustration: Robin Chakraborty

Almost every professor in the country must have at least once in their lives told a class full of students to not cite Wikipedia in their assignments. The few who defied those orders were castigated for not bothering to do the bare minimum and check out a more reliable website to copy from.

The mistrust and trauma that probably has roots in that harsh assessment became apparent on Thursday night, in one of the most hilarious exchanges Indian social media has seen in the last week.

The drama unfolded on Twitter, where pretending to be an expert on every topic is a prerequisite. A few more observant Indian tweeters were quick to notice that a recently added page “Tablighi Jamaat 2020 Coronavirus Hotspot” was removed from Wikipedia.

Rather than assume there may be good reason for this omission, though, our everyday Byomkesh Bakshis immediately arrived at the conclusion that there must be a conspiracy behind it all, and didn’t hesitate to make their concerns public.

These assertions caught the attention of none other than the founder of Wikipedia himself, Jimmy Wales, who swooped down on the thread to address concerns that he was paid to delete the article.

Unconvinced, the first accuser hit back, this time with a tone most wouldn’t dare to take with the founders of their own companies, let alone the founder of a massively successful international company that they don’t work for.

Again, Wales attempted to explain that this wasn’t how the website worked…

Followed immediately by a slightly more detailed explanation for why the article was removed — mainly due to lack of cited sources.

Understandably it didn’t take too long before the students who were chastised for using Wikipedia in school, showed up.

Again, the website’s founder took time out of his busy lockdown schedule to respond. This time, his frustration was slightly more apparent.

Other tweeters headed down to the kitchen to prepare a bowl of popcorn, as the thread heated up.

One user, meanwhile, accused Jimmy Wales of being “racist” for assuming all Indians aren’t fluent in English.

Before going on to correct another Indian tweeter’s grammar…

Eventually the argument seemed to have ended once the founder conceded that articles were reviewed and deleted on his site every day.

He shut his computer down, but not before coming to one final conclusion — which again most Indians on social media already know really well — that Twitter is unhealthy…

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