545: Neutrality Schmeutrality

Explain xkcd: It's 'cause you're dumb.
Jump to: navigation, search
Neutrality Schmeutrality
'Hey, everyone, you can totally trust that I didn't do a word count on MY edit!'
Title text: 'Hey, everyone, you can totally trust that I didn't do a word count on MY edit!'

[edit] Explanation

Wikipedia is an online encyclopedia with content developed and submitted by volunteers around the world. In fact, its slogan is "Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia that anyone can edit." Most articles on the site can be altered by anyone with access to Wikipedia.

Wikipedia has set some standards for its operation, which it refers to as the "Five pillars of Wikipedia". One of these pillars is titled "Wikipedia is written from a neutral point of view."

Pro-life and pro-choice refer to two opposing viewpoints in the debate of the moral and legal rights concerning abortion. For many on both sides, it is a very emotional topic.

Black Hat has decided to prove that you can create an article which fundamentally cannot remain neutral. Since his charitable donation is determined by the word count of the article, any submission to Wikipedia must result in supporting either pro-life or pro-choice. And with a reward of one million dollars, it is unlikely that either side would allow an article to remain unedited which supported its opponent.

The title text is a statement from the Wikipedia author in an attempt to assert the neutrality of the submission, claiming no word count was performed before posting (an unlikely scenario).

The title references an old (read, "pre-Internet") meme, possibly of Yiddish origin, known as shm-reduplication. The speaker replaces the initial consonant cluster (have it 0, 1, 2, or 1000+ consonants) with the cluster "schm", read /shm/, and says the new word after the unadulterated word, as in the title. This denotes an active apathy or an intentional disregard of the authority (for it is usually an authority or someone in a similar position) being mocked. In this case, Black Hat is disregarding Wikipedia's neutrality doctrine with his word-count dependent donation rule.

[edit] Transcript

TRIVIA: It's possible to create events which Wikipedia cannot cover neutrally
[Black Hat is at a press conference in which he is making an announcement.]
Black Hat: In a week, I will be donating $1,000,000 to a recipient determined by the word count of the Wikipedia article about this event. If it's even, the money goes to pro-choice activists. If it's odd, pro-life.
Comment.png add a comment!


What if instead of word count, it was determined by letter count. so insert a word with multiple spellings like "colour/color" and people will repeatedly edit and re-edit the word over and over until the servers crashed ? --ParadoX (talk) 09:01, 26 June 2013 (UTC)ParadoX

I think that the idea is that the edit and re-editing would overload the servers without it being a change to a single word. Theo (talk) 21:06, 13 August 2013 (UTC)

If Wikipedia's aim is to take a neutral stance, and Wikipedia is being exploited to determine which of two opposing sides receives a donation, Wikipedia's correct action would be to prevent the article from being written, thus enforcing Wikipedia's stance on neutrality. Thokling (talk) 20:17, 26 September 2013 (UTC)
If there is no article, the word count is 0, which is an even number, so it goes to pro-choice activists. :) 13:03, 6 November 2013 (UTC)
No: if there is no article, the word count is undefined. You cannot determine anything about something that doesn't exist. rvighne (talk) 04:50, 23 April 2014 (UTC)

Lock the article mid-edit leaving a single word unfinished. That becomes a fraction of a word which is neit- 16:02, 2 December 2013 (UTC)BK

What the hell is Schmeutrality? Schmeu... looks very German to me, but I still have no idea about its meaning on this portmanteau. --Dgbrt (talk) 21:39, 2 December 2013 (UTC)

An old (read "pre-internet") meme, probably Yiddish, is to say a word, then replace the initial consonant cluster of the word with "schm" (read "shm") and say the altered word. This denotes an active apathy toward the subject, that is, the speaker is deliberately disregarding the authority (for that is usually what is "regarded") and doing their own thing, as Black Hat is doing here, disregarding the authority of Wikipedia's stance on neutrality. If you were skipping school, and wanted to justify, you would say "School, Schmool". If you were disobeying you're Aunt Josephine, you would justify, to a confidant, "Aunt Josephine, Schmaunt Josephine". Other examples include "God, Schmod", "Copyrights, Schmopyrights" and "Feds, Schmeds".
While I was familiar with this before him, Lemony Snicket's third book of a Series of Unfortunate Events, The Wide Window, explains it better than I do.
Anonymous 04:56, 4 December 2013 (UTC)
Personal tools


It seems you are using noscript, which is stopping our project wonderful ads from working. Explain xkcd uses ads to pay for bandwidth, and we manually approve all our advertisers, and our ads are restricted to unobtrusive images and slow animated GIFs. If you found this site helpful, please consider whitelisting us.

Want to advertise with us, or donate to us with Paypal or Bitcoin?