Louis Braille

Google homage sparks work on Braille biography

One of Google's whimsical logos helped create a surge of attention on Wikipedia this past week, as the birthday of Louis Braille generated nearly 600 edits to that article in 24 hours.

Braille's birthday came on Wednesday, 4 January, and this year marked the 197th anniversary of his birth. As it has done on many other occasions, Google celebrated this event with a custom logo on its home page. The special logo (the word Google written in Braille) linked to the search result for louis braille birthdate, which yielded the Wikipedia article as the first hit (Wikipedia is also one of Google's top ten search results for "Louis Braille").

Before the influx of traffic, the article consisted of only five paragraphs, most of them rather short and only one of which actually dealt with the Braille system. Shortly after midnight in the Pacific Standard Time Zone, where Google's headquarters are located, the effect of the logo change manifested itself. Unfortunately, the first edit was vandalism, changing the year of Braille's birth so that it came after his death. This was reverted one minute later.

The Louis Braille article received a total of 585 edits on 4 January (according to Pacific Standard Time), after having 75 edits in its previous 3-1/2 years of existence. By way of comparison, the most actively edited featured articles of the day typically get a couple hundred edits while they are on the Main Page. Vandalism remained a problem, with those monitoring the page going back and forth on whether to protect it from editing. Ultimately, the new semi-protection feature was applied to the article for most of the day. The separate Braille article about the system, which was already more developed, also saw an increase in editing and vandalism.

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