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Wikipedia disappears for a day, nation’s students collapse into despair, entitlement issues

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NEW YORK, NY — Last Wednesday, thousands of students of all levels of education woke up to find their sole source of knowledge gone.

Visitors arriving at Wikipedia were greeted by a black screen, with a small number of words on it. The words, if read, explained that Wikipedia had temporarily shut its doors to protest a congressional bill that could shut it down permanently.

Having left their assignments until two days before their Friday morning due dates, the nation’s students had no time to read the forty or so explanatory words and instead made heartfelt appeals to Twitter, demanding it inform them of why they could not access Wikipedia.




Suddenly finding that they had no access to knowledge whatsoever, mass confusion descended on the student population, and the finger pointing began. Everyone from Julian Assange to the Soap industry was indicted.

After much investigative texting and all-caps ranting, Wikipedia emerged as the prime suspect in Wikipedia’s disappearance.

“I think Wikipedia planned this shit,” says class president hopeful Daniel Ornelas, having outdone his fellow students by skimming the three explanatory sentences on Wikipedia’s blackout page, or perhaps even clicking the “Learn more” link.

Once the perpetrator was identified, the outrage was emphatic and palpable as the students recognized the abject injustice in Wikipedia’s temporary refusal to continue to provide invaluable information for free:






By diligently studying volumes of text-message sized broadcasts, the more astute students learned that Wikipedia’s disappearance was due to a conflict between political forces and some manner of activism — but for the throngs of desperate classgoers, a day’s worth of Wikipedia access proved to be an unthinkable price to pay for any sort of protest, regardless of what it hoped to achieve. Assignments could be set back 24 hours or more, grades on the coming test could suffer dramatically.







Yet most students, too distressed by their impending assignments, gave up trying to decipher the complex motives behind Wikipedia’s inaccessible condition, and had no alternative but to continue shouting their grief into the surviving social networks.



Enraged at Wikipedia for not being there that day, students harbored no patience for the day’s other development — rumors about a possible connection between the catastrophic effect of Wikipedia’s temporary absence, and the reason it decided to make itself temporarily absent. Crucial schoolwork had to be done, and Wikipedia was not upholding its end of the unspoken agreement it has had with students since 2007.

Though it seemed like it might last forever, the horrific day eventually came to a satisfying close. Service was restored at midnight eastern time, and a nation of beleaguered youths were finally able to resume their educations.

As relieved students everywhere pushed aside their respective stacks of almost-used of library books and got to work, a Palo Alto senior addressed Wikipedia with a forgiving tweet, summarizing his generation’s sentiment almost perfectly: “As long as you never let this happen again, I don’t even wanna know why you’re being such a bitch today.”


If you liked this article, please share it on Facebook or Stumbleupon (or even Twitter), to help make the internet a bit smarter.

Photo by theexhibitionist

Nea | Self Improvement Saga January 23, 2012 at 10:26 am

David, All I have to say is…this shit is hilarious.

Carrie January 23, 2012 at 10:38 am

I’m torn between hilarious and depressing, myself. At 29, I’m back in school, and I think some of these kids are in classes with me.

Also, this reminds me of the RWW / facebook login fiasco. I’ll refrain from linking, but Googling “facebook login readwriteweb” will get you there…then sort comments oldest first and have a good laugh or cry.

richie January 23, 2012 at 10:55 am

To sum up what many are thinking after reading this;

1. Do they not realise that Wikipedia, or at least the fact that it is currently free, could drastically change (or be forced to) should these bills pass?
2. How are they ignorant of the bills in the first place?
3. Who didn’t realise how mindlessly easy it was to bypass the wikipedia filter (a clue: every page was still up, it was just a JS filter, so there are already 3 effortless ways to bypass)

Carrie is correct, hilarious and yet depressing

David January 24, 2012 at 3:25 pm

>Carrie is correct, hilarious and yet depressing

Good, that’s what I was going for

Bonnie January 23, 2012 at 10:55 am

This is terrifying. Really scary stuff.

This reminds me of something else that happened last week on Twitter. A first year university student I know posted: “I have a seriously hard time reading fiction. Why spend hours reading a fabrication when you could spend hours learning?” I had to take a while to calm down before I could reply with a respectful, and in my opinion, necessary rebuttal. I think I got through to him…

What is wrong with today’s youth!?! I’m only 30(ish) but I’m pretty sure I was never this ignorant or arrogant. I know that I don’t know everything so I research things before spouting off opinions.

Interesting post. Thanks for sharing.

Trish Scott January 23, 2012 at 12:05 pm

Well, perhaps there is an underside to this. Let’s turn that rock over. I’ve always said the only reason for most of us to get “an education” is to learn how to efficiently access information. Now that any 6 year old can access any and all information with a simple search, our “education” system is largely redundant. Why pay the big bucks for what is out there for everyone? So maybe the really stupid thing about these kids is that they are wasting their time and money in school.

EcoCatLady January 23, 2012 at 1:50 pm

Oh my… Sort of reminds me of a piece I saw on the news a while back about a high school teacher who challenged his students to go for an entire week without texting, FaceBook, Twitter, etc. Most didn’t make it an hour. The interviews with the kids showed them saying things like “This must have been what it was like in the olden days when people actually had to talk to each other.”

I shake my head in wonder.

Darren January 23, 2012 at 3:42 pm

Wikipedia should shut down for a week, lets see what the students will do next LOL!!!!

Michael January 23, 2012 at 7:34 pm

Best part was…Wikipedia also states the ways one can by pass the blackout on the front screen…just had to actually read.

Jessi January 23, 2012 at 10:22 pm

I find this article very upsetting. Mainly because these students are so dependent on wikipedia as a main source of information. This is only ONE source! True critical thinking is looking at multiple sources. And what kind of education institution accepts homework from students that has one or two sources backing up their statements? When i was in college, Wikipedia was NOT accepted. In High school, it was always multiple sources, so if wiki had been down, GO TO THE NEXT SITE.

Shanna Mann January 24, 2012 at 8:26 am

I know! That was my first thought, too. There’s a whole internet out there and you can’t get information ANYWHERE else?

Go back to kindergarten until you learn the basics.

Tony Draxler January 24, 2012 at 12:01 pm

god forbid Google actually go down, it might end the world

Hana January 27, 2012 at 8:41 am

As appalling as this is, as a current university student I have to agree with Ryan in saying that this was not the reaction I had or saw in anybody around me. The voices of the outspoken but ignorant few have a knack for standing out.

Also, I don’t know what universe these students are living in, I can’t even imagine the look on my professors’ faces if I tried to turn in a paper that cited wiki as a source. This is definitely not the norm in any university environment I’ve seen!

jeff January 24, 2012 at 12:00 am

Its very interesting some of the students disagreed with wikipedias protest. Those students were the selfish ones!!

Mazaibuzai January 24, 2012 at 3:39 am

so depressing!

Derza Fanistori January 24, 2012 at 3:40 am

Not to forget that in a year or few these will be the people holding a diploma, getting ready to teach our kids, represent us in court, take care of our finances. Terrifying stuff.

Mazaibuzai January 24, 2012 at 3:44 am

these kids are direct products of the educational system and a brainwashed society spoonfed by a manipulating media circus. god bless america.

Jeremy Ramsay January 24, 2012 at 5:50 am

Students are supposed to be smart, or at least not stupid. Yet, how easy it was to access Wikipedia that day by simply searching for the article using Google and including the word ‘wikipedia’ in the search string. All you had to do then was to click on the ‘cached’ version of the page which is kept on Google’s servers. I can’t believe these ‘students’ can’t have figured this out themselves or that they can have been so ill-informed about Politics. Are they what you call on your side of the Atlantic ‘jocks’?

Tony Draxler January 24, 2012 at 11:59 am

Jeremy, I found all I had to do was simply click the little red “x” as the page was loading since the actual wikipedia page loaded fully before it re-directed to the blackout page lol

Julie January 24, 2012 at 3:18 pm

This, exactly. I used Wikipedia several times that day and had no problems. For the record, I’m a university student. Who doesn’t know about cached pages?

Lindsay January 24, 2012 at 6:26 am

Very “Onion”-like humor, only the quotes were real. It’s mind boggling to me how someone who can’t even spell “shitty” is in college/university.

David January 24, 2012 at 3:29 pm

Yeah, you’d think she’d have her profanities memorized by now

Alexei Goudzenko January 24, 2012 at 7:51 am

I love this article. I would never have imagined this would happen, I thought the internet was well aware of the danger going on. Makes me wana slap those ignorant ones.

Ryan January 24, 2012 at 8:10 am

I’m Ryan, a Colorado State University student, age 23. I happened to find myself at Wikipedia’s site that day, and in no way was upset. I clicked the links, and went as far as signing the petition. I supported Wikipedia for what they were doing; and I am more than sure that I was not the only student out there who shared this feeling.

Posting snapshots of tweets & facebook status’ of a few random idiots proves nothing more than there will always be people who are foolishly outspoken. I love your writings, but this article doesn’t do much for me.

Tony Draxler January 24, 2012 at 11:57 am

I agree with Ryan. It’s important to note that there are many people and many student out there who fully agreed with and supported Wikipedia, yourself, and others for their actions in an effort to stand up to the ridiculous law. I feel this article seems almost vengeful and was written out of personal anger as opposed to being enlightening. I hope I’m wrong and that I’m missing a bigger picture here, but I don’t generally come to this site to be shown the worst of people as if it were the norm

VaeVictis January 24, 2012 at 12:25 pm

As with Wikipedia, so goes life. People automatically jump to conclusions because it’s “easier” to assume facts than to research them.

suzie michaels January 24, 2012 at 1:25 pm

We are so busy teaching to pass AYP (no child left behind), we never get a chance to teach rational discourse.

Alex January 24, 2012 at 2:38 pm

This is so funny and sadly very disappointing. People do not educate them selves and just keep on living with thinking I am not alone and I will moan about it to the world.

So stupid and undeserving of the education tax payers are giving them. Disgusting

David January 24, 2012 at 3:39 pm

Thanks for your comments everyone. Sorry I can’t respond to very many comments. I’m in full backpacking mode in New York City and wifi time is harder to come by than I thought.

nrhatch January 26, 2012 at 10:00 pm

Have a wonderful time in the Big Apple, David.

This was a real “tweet” to read. Thanks!

Lisa H. January 24, 2012 at 4:30 pm

I am not sure how to feel about this article. In some ways it is funny and in others it is sad. All I have to say to all those students using Wikipedia as research is that ANYONE can edit the information in it.

bea January 24, 2012 at 5:24 pm

as much as I enjoy this article, I’m in two minds about it…as a hard-working student, it does come across very demeaning, stereotyping us all into the kinds of people that aren’t intelligent enough to pick up a textbook – or even a google search? out of the millions of people that use wikipedia, a small minority of a few thousand took to twitter to air their idiotic views. So why should all teenagers be generalised and put into this bracket?

Rusty Southwick January 24, 2012 at 9:10 pm

It’s the entitlement aspect of the students’ comments that grabbed most of my attention. Notice how quick they were to turn on Wikipedia and become angry with the very entity that had been generously providing them the free service. Many of them seem to view the government in the same way. Where’s the gratitude for what Wikipedia is offering? The appreciation for what they’ve been able to use in the past? No, instead it’s gimme-gimme-gimme more.

If any of my children end up getting such an attitude toward life, the best thing that could happen to them is at some point for life to smack them square in the face and cause them to realize that they are not the center of the universe, and everyone isn’t here to serve them, and that they need to acknowledge the efforts of others and express their thanks. And quit acting like 3-year-olds with a tantrum. A little scary when you think about it. How well will an entitlement generation do in leading society someday? Ahh… it makes me wonder.

Alex January 25, 2012 at 12:44 am

As someone who petitioned sites (including Wikipedia) to blackout in order to raise awareness for SOPA/PIPA, I find this article unnerving. I sincerely hope that the feedback from select idiots does not reflect the majority’s reaction. At least most of the students I spoke to took the same approach as Ryan above. I pray I’m not being naive in believing that my generation is better than this.

Jardley January 25, 2012 at 1:50 am

David, it wasn’t just the students. There were also tweets from teachers talking about how now they can’t set up their class notes. And how are they supposed to teach class tomorrow. Who are these people who think wikipedia is the internet and can’t find other sites as resources.

Noch Noch | be me. be natural. January 25, 2012 at 2:50 am

hilarious – but also goes to show how self centered students these days can be. the bigger picture, the society and the community’s challenges were nothing compared to their homework…
oh dear
Noch Noch

Nailz January 25, 2012 at 10:54 am

Very funny article. I can definitely see the angry overtones in your post, but sometimes anger is necessary. You did a great job highlighting something that is very frightening about my generation (I’m 23 yro). We do not appreciate the amount of power and knowledge we have access too.

The internet I feel is the first legitimate weapon/tool that the PEOPLE have had in human history. What I mean is that, never before have we been able to share our thoughts feelings, and knowledge with each other so easily. Never before have the PEOPLE had something that could unite them in just hours or minutes. The ability of the internet and sites like wikipedia to bring people together and bring attention is almost scary. However that kind of action is what helps to legitimize the power of the regular people out there who don’t have the money or the position to do anything but cast a vote. For the first time in history the people have a way to voice their opinions without any violence, without even setting foot outside their doors for a peaceful protest. THAT IS AMAZING!!!!

This isn’t to say that there aren’t people out there who support the cause, and a lot of people probably didn’t even read the explanation so they don’t even know what they are really mad at. However, it really bothers me when there are those who take a completely self-centered and selfish perspective on what is a truly a blessing for our generation. I like to hope that many of those tweets are a lot like those things we say in the moment when we are filled with emotion, not truly reflecting how the person might actually feel. If the government starts to try and manage the internet, you can bet your ass that this blessing we have will be over. We have a duty to help protect the greatest innovation of our generation for the future generations to come.

Nathaniel January 25, 2012 at 10:58 am

I think it’s worth pointing out that while many students responded in the manner described, there were and are just as many students who realize the larger issues at hand here and didn’t react in such a childish manner. The over-generalizations made and the ease with which many previous commenters accepted and agreed to these over-generalizations is, for me, as troubling and childish as some students’ unfortunate reactions.
I love most of your writings, David, but I think this article is too simplistic in its diagnosis of student reactions.

Nailz January 25, 2012 at 11:32 am

Lol I find the whole over-generalizing thing kind of funny. Not once in the blog did David say that this IS the way ALL student reacted or acted concerning the Wikipedia shutdown. He didn’t make an over-arching statement or all-encompassing conclusion about ALL students. He just showed some statements from a few people.

He is merely shedding some light and some opinion on a particular set of people from a particular segment of society. I’m guessing David knows that every single student doesn’t share the opinions of the people whose tweets he has shown.

Vilx- January 25, 2012 at 3:52 pm

It’s also interesting to notice a common trait in humans – when a privilege is bestowed on them for some amount of time (and typically it doesn’t take much time at all), they start to believe that it’s their right to have it. I also admit that I have been on both sides (bestower and bestowee); and there are still many things of which I know that they are only privileges, yet I would feel horribly wronged if they were removed. I don’t know what the lesson here is or if there is one… but it feels like worth noting. Maybe David can make a future blog post on the topic, it would be an interesting read. :)

The Fuddler January 25, 2012 at 6:12 pm

“Gay ass cunts”?

Pardon my knee-jerk reaction, but when I was coming up, around the time the Beatles first appeared on the Ed Sullivan show, the one sure-fire way to start a fight was to call someone a faggot. Nasty jokes about gay men (never gay women for some reason) were as common as Pepsi Cola. Women were normally found in nurseries, kitchens, typing pools or magazine centerfolds, and seldom anyplace else. Does Hooligan and others like him mean to suggest by his tone we’ve not come any further than we were in the early Johnson administration? Does he realize we’ve had *three* female Secretaries of State in a row (Madeline Albright, Condoleeza Rice and Hilary Clinton)?

But seriously, most colleges have libraries, which have presumably not thrown away any of their primary reference materials. Granted, it does take longer to surf through encyclopedias, journals, etc. the old-fashioned way, but it would have been a lot more productive than ragging on Wikipedia (and ignoring its very serious political message – go to eff.org and ye shall probably know all).

I myself needed to look something up that day, but after seeing WHY they and other sites were blacking themselves out in protest of SOPA and PIPA (Google ’em), I was more than willing to put up with a little inconvenience.

There are lots of folks in government and business everywhere who’d love to make OUR Internet more like the way it is in China, North Korea and other dictatorships. The only thing that stopped that from occurring this time around was prompt, decisive action by regular people (whom I thank profusely!).

Pristina Y. January 26, 2012 at 2:50 pm

Students shouldn’t have reacted that way. Wikipedia has their sole purpose why they did that and I think everybody’s aware of it. After all, what’s one day for all the information given to you by Wikepedia for free. Why are children acting like that these days?

Thanks for this post. I’m kind of frustrated for today’s youth.


James Lyon January 26, 2012 at 11:43 pm

Interesting, I love the blog and find it both enlightening and insightful. Usually you have an uplifting and positive outlook on things – sort of a guide for the rest of us to ‘rise above the muck’. However, this is the first post I’ve read that was all negative with no positive or educational ending. Not that I don’t agree with the sentiment but what is going on in your life that your outlook has changed this much?

Cam January 28, 2012 at 12:18 pm

I hope you don’t make a habit of writing articles like this. Bitter, demeaning, not very thoughtful. There’s no positive purpose to this. It’s magnifying the comparatively few idiots. To what end? A cheap laugh?

David January 28, 2012 at 6:51 pm

If you don’t think satire has a serious purpose, I don’t know what to tell you. I’ll write whatever I want, thanks.

Cam February 3, 2012 at 4:30 pm

Not telling you what to write, just communicating my disappointment. It’s obvious I’m not the only one. Comments are usually unanimous in support. Not with this article.

You wouldn’t be so defensive if you didn’t doubt the article yourself. Just saying.

Connceted Isolation January 28, 2012 at 3:57 pm

I knew about the cause, but didn’t realize how much I depend on Wiki until that day. I must have gone there 5 separate times that day trying to look something up. Sure it was frustrating, but they made a statement and raised awareness on the issue. People have not right to get pissed off at them. They are a free website and they don’t even have ads unlike most other sites. They are supported only by donations. They can shut down for a day if they want. By the way, they did offer a way to unblock their website that day if you really wanted to, but most people didn’t make it that far.

David January 28, 2012 at 6:53 pm

I’ve noticed the same thing with internet in general now that I’m traveling and it’s more difficult to find time and decent web access. I am so dependent on the internet, and as long as I am getting what I’m accustomed to, I never realize it.

Shelby January 29, 2012 at 9:52 am

As a student, I am now thoroughly embarrassed. I was very proud of Wikipedia for their protest; I didn’t think about how ignorantly people would perceive it.

Bling January 29, 2012 at 11:34 pm

A lot of people are very disappointed and mad about what happened to Wikipedia…

Jennifer January 30, 2012 at 4:11 pm

This article is shockingly cynical. I am a teenager. I have followed the SOPA/PIPA bills for some time and am wholeheartedly against them; I was one of many who asked sites like Wikipedia to make a stand against these bills. There are thousands of students in Australia who are with me, and likely millions in the US. Is it worth noting that these reactions? Yes. But acting as though their behaviour speaks for all of us is just as simplistic. Maybe instead of attacking these students, we can engage in a discussion about what underlying causes might explain this behaviour. Almost all of the commenters here express some kind of sentiment that these students are ungrateful for the education they have received, and perhaps that’s true. But what good is that education when it hasn’t taught them to think critically at all?

Sarah February 1, 2012 at 4:01 pm

I’m not sure what’s worse — the fact that it would have taken a quick Google search (a page that also clearly explained what the protest was all about, incidentally) and about one click to locate a version of Wikipedia that was active, or the fact that these people are Congress’s future replacements. Resourcefulness was, I imagine, not the topic of any of these papers that couldn’t have been researched through other channels…

Andy February 4, 2012 at 7:13 am

How did these people get into university?

When I was at university you had to pass exams at school, and that required at least a slightly above average IQ.

DeeDee March 5, 2012 at 3:11 am

Are these people all thick? Have they not heard of books…you know studying..duhhh

Ricki March 22, 2012 at 3:36 pm

Ugh. Please write (or link me to) an article about how to deal with the stupid comments people make on the internet in a healthy way? ;_; I just… don’t even…

David March 22, 2012 at 3:39 pm

Honestly, the only thing to do is ignore them unless they have entertainment value. Don’t respond, it does nothing. Don’t scroll down on youtube :)

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