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Wikipedia rattled by sophisticated cyberattack of schoolboy typing "balls" in infobox

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By JPxG
A guy typing stupid stuff into a Wikipedia edit window

EAST SCOWTUMPKA, WISCONSIN – A local high-school sophomore and superhacker, known only as 91.19.203.128, today announced that he'd successfully hacked Wikipedia, the world-famous free encyclopedia anybody can edit, making his school's infobox say that principal Hubert Glockenspiel's name was instead "Hubert Glockenballs".

"I just went in there and, uh, I totally hacked it dude," 91.19.203.128 told the Signpost in an interview yesterday morning. "They thought they were so cool making a website anybody could edit, but they never even realized that people might go on there and write stuff that wasn't true on purpose."

The extent of the damage

"Glockenballs" wasn't the only piece of misleading information inserted by this sophisticated cyberattack – information about the school's cafeteria was also manipulated. "Pizza on Wednesdays", for example, was changed to "Pizza on EVERY DAY". And those seeking to find out more about the school's "creamed corn" day were, instead, confronted with a Wikipedia article claiming that they served "creamed crap".

It's unclear what the implications of this shocking attack will be for the future of the collaborative encyclopedia project. "It's devastating," said longtime arbitrator and Wikipedia administrator Newyorkchad, "and this is making me seriously question whether Wikipedia is viable in the long term – it had never occurred to us that people could open up the edit box and type swear words into it."


Meanwhile, some are puzzled by what could have motivated such a malicious deed. 91.19.203.128 explained: "I might not look like it, but I'm actually a pretty dark and twisted guy. I'm honestly actually kind of like, uh, the Joker meets South Park. So this is just a little way of me showing everyone what happens when you mess with the nice guy... hehe."

A task force springing into action, and very real harms

The volunteer staff of Wikipedia are currently working round-the-clock to figure out how to address this problem, with hundreds of ideas being worked out on the Village Pump regarding what can be done to prevent this menace to the project. Currently, the proposal with the most popular support is for the Wikimedia Foundation to establish an Anti-Misediting Exploratory Committee, which will come up with proposals on how to deal with this new phenomenon: first by setting up an Anti-Misediting Steering Board, which would draft a charter for a Anti-Misediting Policy Evaluation Panel, which could then publish a report on best practices for a provisional Anti-Misediting Implementation Group.

This news comes as a shock for those who previously held great faith in Wikipedia's reliability, and experts warn that it could threaten the very foundations of our democracy. "It's like nothing we've ever seen before," says Amelia Hegginbottom, professor of Malnarrative Resilience Studies at the University of Bridgetonshire-upon-Prestigiousham. "Study after study has shown, and experts have warned for years, that there are very real harms in the unchecked spread of malnarratives – like that this man's age was '999', or that his favorite food was 'rocks'."

"If people start thinking it's good to eat rocks," she explains, "they might eat a bunch of rocks, and then they'll have to go to the hospital, so that's one real harm already. And if my research group got a few million dollars in grants, we could figure out the rest, and then save democracy forever."

Wikipedia cofounder Larry Sanger was less optimistic, saying: "Whatever this thing is, I'm pretty sure it goes to show that nowadays Wikipedia is a pile of crap".

At the mercy of a master hacker

Meanwhile, 91.19.203.128 has shown no remorse, and has threatened to carry out further cyberattacks.

"We live in a society where the independent people who think for themselves are called 'crazy' and the ignorant sheep are called 'normal'. Just a glimpse into my twisted reality, a full stare would make most people simply just go insane haha. I'm just getting started... and this time it's personal."

However, back in East Scowtumpka, things are a little more relaxed: "Wow," said Principal Glockenspiel. "You'd think I would have heard them all by now, but that's actually a new one. Frankly, it is kind of funny. 'Glockenballs'. You know, like... uh... never mind."

When asked how he was coping with the recent developments, Glockenspiel said that it "doesn't really seem like that big of a deal, especially if it was only there for a minute or two," adding that "that article probably gets like ten views a week or something."

At press time, he had excused himself to the school's computer lab to check up on the Wikipedia page and "fix a couple things". We at The Signpost wish him the best of luck, although he may not need it in a place like that: according to the school's own article, the computer lab is a "cutting-edge, state-of-the-art facility made possible by award-winning principal Hubert Glockenspiel's commitment to investing in excellence, teaching valuable research skills and bringing a global perspective to the students at Powpica County's highest-ranked secondary institution with his time-tested Glockenspiel Method of innovative education leadership".

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