Mocking Blackout Reactions Is Too Easy: Let's Learn From Them Instead

from the stupidity-online?-well-I-never! dept

Unsurprisingly, yesterday’s Wikipedia blackout caused a lot of reaction on Twitter. The whole point of a move like this is to shock people, get their attention, and make them start asking questions—and the primary target is those who don’t already know about the issue at hand. So it’s also unsurprising that some of the reactions were pretty damn stupid. And since there’s nothing the internet likes more than making fun of stupid people, it’s once again unsurprising that a few different sources decided to catalogue and mock them.

@herpderpedia sprung up to retweet the various freak-outs and desperate pleas of stymied users—mostly students. There’s a lot of misdirected anger, with people blaming Obama or denouncing Wikipedia, and a lot of general ignorance: many thought the site had already been shuttered forever, or that the blackout itself was mandated by congress. And since memes are always in their fifth stage of irony for some people while others have yet discover them, there are also quite a few tweets that look like parodies.

But what I see most of all are questions. People are asking why? in huge numbers, and that’s fantastic. Granted, a lot of them are directing their questions to the wrong people, and it’s not as if all of them are going to use this as a starting point to genuinely learn more about these issues. But some will. And you can bet they’ll all be paying more attention to SOPA/PIPA now—not to mention any future legislation that sparks chatter about Wikipedia’s Black Wednesday.

Some will say they shouldn’t be asking when the blackout page provides plenty of information, but when you look closer you see that several tweets complain about complicated language and unclear explanations, and most are just shouts of extreme frustration (remember, these are all people with a looming deadline on some other project). More importantly, this speaks of broader themes online: people have two primary means of finding information now—search and social—and when one fails, they go to the other. When you want fast facts you Google something then click through to Wikipedia, but when you have a more immediate human need borne of panic—OMG OMG OMG OMG WHAT THE FUCK HAPPENED TO WIKIPEDIA? CAN SOMEONE PLEASE TELL ME? Omg [actual tweet]—you turn to your social circles.

But it’s the internet, and there will be mockery, and that’s fine. I just hope the mockers realize that this isn’t like when Kim Jong Il died and some Twitter users thought it was Lil Kim (that was both less excusable and more hilarious). Beneath the surface idiocy, most of these people have been nudged in the right direction by Wikipedia’s blackout, even if only slightly—and their reactions provide a lot of insight if you can resist taking the potshots, most of which are too easy anyway.

Now that’s out of the way, here are some easy potshots at tweets:

fuck jimmy wales. fuck him and fuck wikipedia. dickhead my works taking ages to do now cos i goota go on so many wesbits.wt a prick.’protest [What sort of company employs a quasi-illiterate to surf Wikipedia all day? I’m genuinely curious]

WHAT THE FUCK IS WRONG WITH PEOPLE? WHY AM I THE LAST TO KNOW WIKIPEDIA IS BLOCKED! I BE ON THERE DAILY!!! [I like that she is less annoyed about losing Wikipedia than she is about the fact nobody told her. I’ve often thought SOPA/PIPA supporters are just mad because they were the last to find out about free movies.]

I will cry if they shut down Wikipedia forever.. :'( [Why, because you won’t be able to look up “sissy”?]

WHY THE FUCK IS MY WIKIPEDIA BEING A BLACK ONE I DIDNT WANT THAT OH GOD IM SO MAD [Swap “Wikipedia” with “President” and this would be the perfect redneck tweet]

I think Wikipedia planned this shit. [Really? I figured it was a typo.]

Gay no Wikipedia!? I was about to search something fucking bitch.. [“The page ‘Something fucking bitch’ does not exist. You can ask for it to be created, but consider checking the search results below to see whether the topic is already covered.” Incidentally, the first result is “Flavor of Love (season 1)”]

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Companies: twitter, wikipedia

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Comments on “Mocking Blackout Reactions Is Too Easy: Let's Learn From Them Instead”

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Cheap Shot

The blackout was nothing but the biggest con ever pulled on the internet.

The bill had absolutely zero to do with sites like Facebook and Wikipedia, yet there were all these dumb lemmings talking about how the bills would end the internet.

The propaganda was all based on lies, and you know it. People are indeed stupid.

But I don’t think the “Lie, Lie, then Lie Some More” angle is going to work again when the legislation is redrafted.

You only get to play that card once, and you’ve used it.

Floppy Copy says:

Re: Re: Re: Cheap Shot

If you truly want an example of stupid, read the article that was linked:

“The Protect IP Act does nothing more than make it possible for the U.S. government to handle illegal foreign websites in the same manner it can already do — and has been doing — with illegal sites.”

That gem is from the page you linked to, Anonymous Coward. So here is the obvious question in reply to that statement; if all PIPA will do is give the U.S. government the ability to do something they already have the ability to do, why the hell is PIPA needed?

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Cheap Shot

“I don’t think the “Lie, Lie, then Lie Some More” angle is going to work again”

Me neither. Hopefully this will lead to congress and your masters to stop lying about people who oppose the bill and start real debatel. Maybe you will actually accept input from people who understand the technology, people who have ideas on how to reduce piracy without destroying free speech, and maybe even input on how to reduce it without needing any new laws whatsoever.

Perhaps this is what was needed to get you people to stop attacking and lying about the opposition, and actually get workable solutions in place. We shall see…

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Cheap Shot

I very much doubt that those people see it that way, those idiots from the industry don’t know what “no” means, it never happened to them in their life times, they are not used to see people say no.

They will try everything they can to continue this futile enterprise and will be hammered down like a nail sticking out into compliance, but not without a fight and that is good, that means popcorn and soda time.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Cheap Shot

Obviously you’re one of the dumb fools that bought Google and Masnick’s lies.


Copyright isn’t going to be repealed. Infringement isn’t going to be legalized. And there *will* be piracy legislation enacted; enacted because of greedy, selfish, lawbreaking douchebags like yourself.

E. Zachary Knight (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Cheap Shot

And there *will* be piracy legislation enacted; enacted because of greedy, selfish, lawbreaking douchebags like yourself

I think you are pointing the finger at the wrong person. The only greed, selfishness and lawbreaking (more like law bending) that is happening is coming from the side of SOPA supporters.

You claim that the people protesting SOPA were doing so based on lies, but the only lies I have ever seen are those coming from the mouths of SOPA supporters.

Loki says:

Re: Re: Cheap Shot

Considering pretty much the entirety of the entertainment industry’s arguments are based on disinformation, exaggeration, double standards and outright lies anything their supporters have to say is totally irrelevant.

The only con I see is an industry who’s entire business was originally founded on infringement and “theft” trying to buy laws that prevent competition.

And while there are indeed a lot of stupid (or at least ill-informed) people out there, it’s exactly those people the entertainment industry relies on to continue perpetrating their fallacies.

The rest of us see you for the shill you are.

Bill Price (profile) says:

Re: Re: Cheap Shot

The bill had absolutely zero to do with sites like Facebook and Wikipedia, yet there were all these dumb lemmings talking about how the bills would end the internet.

Of course, if you actually read bills instead of the talking (shilling?) points your employers give youi, you would know what the bills would really do, and why they’re such a danger.

First, it allows for private cause of action: with these as law, anyone has the power of government to shut down whatever sites they don’t like. It will stay shut down until the courts can work through their backlog and get around to giving the victim his day in court. That is, if the victim hasn’t gone bankrupt by then.

Second, the definition of ‘foreign’ obviously includes actual non-domestic sites, but it also includes any domestic site, like, which has a non-domestic counterpart, like Facebook and Wwikipedia, and most everything else, is terminally vulnerable to any bad actor (like the MAFIAA) that comes along.

Anonymous Coward says:


AFAIK, 4+ hours before the blackout, the banner of Wikipedia has changed from the usual donation AD to a countdown message. (Not sure exactly how long, but I saw that in that morning when I started working)

I think this user didn’t stay with Wikipedia long enough.

Anonymous Coward says:

When I read stuff like that my reaction isn’t to mock them over the message itself, which is bad enough, its to mock them for freaking out like that on the internet in the first place.

The internet is a big dark scary place, sometimes it’ll send you into rage, other times it’ll just make you want to curl up in a little ball and make mewing sounds. But, you don’t go crazy over it, you suck it up in silence until you’ve collected yourself enough to post rationally. Employers check this stuff now, have a little forethought. And even without that, losing it just feeds the trolls, which is its own brand of internet sin.

Anonymous Coward says:

I disagree with you Mr. Carab, mockery and petty pot shots are how some people wake up to the world, nobody likes to be mocked and when your reaction provokes mockery, people generally go silent or try to learn why are others making fun of them so they try to do something about it, is part of society like air is part of our lifes, for good and bad we all do it, we all done it and we all probably will do it more.

Marcus Carab (profile) says:

Re: Re:

I had hoped my comic reversal at the end of the post would make it clear that I do acknowledge and appreciate the value of mockery, comedy and even vulgarity to make a point – indeed I have argued in their favour many times in the past. The true intention of this post was simply a reminder: that there is something to be learned alongside the mockery, even if the mockery is admittedly kinda fun… (though, really, most of the herpderpedia retweets are not even that funny)

Violated (profile) says:


The most funny comment I read went like… “OMG Wikipedia is down. Can someone contact that soap guy and tell him to knock it off” LOL

Not to overlook that so many were left puzzled why Wikipedia and Google now had a problem with soap.

Yes it was about awareness and for only one day of action it proved very successful. Not many days to go now and more action is needed.

Cloksin (profile) says:

Too Funny!

“Gay no Wikipedia!? I was about to search something fucking bitch.. [“The page ‘Something fucking bitch’ does not exist. You can ask for it to be created, but consider checking the search results below to see whether the topic is already covered.” Incidentally, the first result is “Flavor of Love (season 1)”]”

I don’t think I’ve ever laughed this hard while reading Techdirt. Nice job Mr. Carab.

The Luke Witnesser says:

Here lies the truth about SOPA/PIPA that even TechDirt has yet to report: what MPAA, RIAA, and Hollywood execs do not want you to see.

The truth behind why these big companies responsible for SOPA and PIPA are also responsible for piracy itself is far more insidious than even their outmoded business model.

Hint: can you say, do as I say so I can crush you under heel?

April (profile) says:

You’d think with all these kids being in high school and with how much homework they’re doing they might actually manage to spell correctly or use proper grammar. Apparently not. What with the teachers relying so much on wikipedia I can’t say I’m that surprised. Please to the teachers AND students..go away and get a better education.

AzureSky (profile) says:

Re: Re:

proper grammar on the internetz?

come on now…

as to twitter, I dont use it because despite my love of trying to pack as much into as little space as possible, i cant stand how bad my grammar/spelling have to become to make anything worth posting on there…

My favorite was the guy who called me (works for charter cable) pissed off wikipedia was blocked as where like other sites he uses daily, and he had no idea why…linked him here and to a few choice articles via email….should have seen his reaction.

later that day a huge 2 page email went out from him to all his work and non-work contacts with a bunch of links(mostly techdirt) telling people about sopa.

he should have listened when i linked the info weeks before i guess…:P

note: I dont strive to perfect grammar or spelling online, but I try not to make things to hard to understand, Its not like I am being graded (collage i always did very good in English!)

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