Every once in a while I think of a word, or see it printed somewhere, and I wonder, “what does Wikipedia have on this word?” And “just how messed up is their entry on it?” Today’s word was “Gruff,” and sure enough, there was once a page on it, but it’s now a redirect to an article about characters in the Nintendo game “Animal Crossing.” Prior to its becoming a redirect, the Gruff article read sort of like this:
Gruff the goat is an anthropomorphic goat in Animal Crossing. He is quite grumpy and always talks in a deep grumbling voice. His catch phrase is “Bleh eh eh!” which is a possible reference to a goat. Gruff prefers to be arrogant and prefers to be left alone and sometimes distances himself from the other animals of the group. He will participate in the events in town… His favorite song playing on the radio in his house is “Only Me” a song sung by K.K. Slider which needs to be requested in order to hear.
It’s difficult to say whether this piece of fabulously useful content was written by someone under the age of, let’s say, 13, or someone merely pandering to people of that age. That’s not a bad thing in itself, of course, but often kids (not to mention panderers) have a distorted sense of what’s important, or as they say on Wikipedia, “notable.”
Apparently, the more mature WP types decided ol’ Gruff didn’t make the grade, character-importance-wise, and removed him from the Animal Crossing article completely! (Ouch!) But they didn’t delete the redirect, so now, if you type the word “Gruff” into Wikipedia’s search box, you’re taken to an article that doesn’t contain the word “Gruff” at all. (I’m sure they’ll have fixed that by the time you read this, of course.)
So… how many of these “orphaned redirects” are there? Hundreds? Thousands? Tens of thousands? Who knows. Presumably they’re not doing much harm, other than perhaps preventing more worthy things from “using” the words or phrases in question. For “Gruff,” there’s DJ Gruff, an Italian rapper who, apparently, successfully got the Italian Wikipedia to delete its article about him. (Who ever said the Italians weren’t reasonable, well-meaning people?)
In addition to that, there’s The Gruff, an all-female indie folk trio from Victoria, BC, Canada, who have released three albums but (like so many female indie folk trios these days) don’t have a Wikipedia article about them - not “notable” enough, apparently, at least compared to an obscure anthropomorphic goat in a Nintendo game. And of course, there’s Gruff Graphs for Ruby on Rails, a fairly simple open-source code library for making graphs via the popular web application framework which may or may not owe its name to the infamous Wikipedia vandal, Willy on Wheels. Finally, there’s Gruff Rhys, lead singer of the Super Furry Animals, a Welsh indie rock band (who currently have no female members, though it’s hard to tell with some of these Welsh first names).
It suppose it might be interesting to see what happens to the redirect after the posting of this blog entry, but I’m betting they’ll spare us all the fuss and “speedy-delete” it. (That way there’s no visible evidence.)
Recently, the bogus redirect (like the uncalled-for category and the WikiProject-grab tactics before it) has become a means of POV-pushing. Using this tactic, a word, phrase, or worst of all, a name, is redirected to an article that’s antithetical to the thing being redirected, or even offensive to it - articles such as “Bigotry,” “Psychosis,” “Racism,” or “Stupidity,” for example. It’s a new trend, and there are signs that it won’t last long, but it’s always amusing to see what they’ll come up with once their previous tactics are twigged to and brought mostly under control.
Meanwhile, I suppose it’s always nice to see a bogus redirect that came into existence the proper way - that is, merely as a result of simple human error, compounded by MediaWiki’s inadequate toolsets for Wikipedia-scale topic management.