Have you ever tried your luck at improvilating Wikipedia?
(This is part of an occasional series on The Pretend Encyclopedia, aka Wikipedia. Wikipedia claims to be an encyclopedia; I would be on equally firm footing, were I to claim to be the greatest player in the history of the NBA.)
The entry, “Monsters of the Midway,” which has not been touched since November 15, 2008, is supposedly about the Chicago Bears, whose historic nickname, going back to circa 1940, is “the Monsters of the Midway,” although that name has only been used when the team was dominant. In the third paragraph however, the entry gets kidnapped, and taken away to the Wikipedia Zone:
The team, which has now become the NFL's Arizona Cardinals, was originally the Racine Normals (named for the street on the South Side of Chicago where they played; the team eventually became the Chicago Cardinals), received their first uniforms as hand-me-downs from the University of Chicago. The faded maroon was fancied by the club's president to be a "cardinal" red color, so the team adopted "Cardinals" as its nickname. Through the years, the Cardinals were typically overshadowed by the Bears. Had the Chicago Cardinals enjoyed the success of their crosstown rivals, perhaps they would have inherited the nickname "Monsters" from the Maroons and not just their jerseys.
There is no rhyme or reason for the above paragraph, which does not fit at all into what precedes or follows it. But that’s The Pretend Encyclopedia for you: No rhyme or reason.
The “Monsters of the Midway” entry also honors another uniquely Wikipedian tradition, that of “editors” making entries worse over time. Until November 15, 2008, the opening paragraph read thusly:
The "Monsters of the Midway" is most widely known as the nickname for the National Football League's Chicago Bears — particularly the dominant teams of 1940 and 1941. The name underwent something of a revival when the 1985 edition of the Bears proved to be similarly dominant.
Similarly, the fourth paragraph began:
The popularity of "Monsters of the Midway" was revived by the dominant Chicago Bears defense of 1985.
Unlike hundreds of thousands of TPE/WP entries, these were perfectly serviceable paragraphs, written in clean, proper English. And that is exactly what made them unacceptable to editor “126.96.36.199,” who felt compelled, on November 15, to improvilate them:
The "Monsters of the Midway" is most widely known as the nickname for the National Football League's Chicago Bears — particularly the dominant teams of 1940 and 1941. The name underwent something of a renewal when the 1985 edition of the Bears proved to be similarly dominant….
The popularity of "Monsters of the Midway" was renewed by the dominant Chicago Bears defense of 1985.
“Renewal”? “Renewed”? Gimme a break!
As “188.8.131.52’s” talk page shows, he already had a history of improvilating entries.
By the way, “improvilate” is not a word in the English, or to my knowledge, any other language. I just thought that a properly improper term should be coined, in order to do justice to the pixilated practices of so many thousands of Pretend Encyclopedia/Wikipedia “editors.”
Award-winning, New York-based freelancer Nicholas Stix founded A Different Drummer magazine (1989-93). Stix has written for Die Suedwest Presse, New York Daily News, New York Post, Newsday, Middle American News, Toogood Reports, Insight, Chronicles, the American Enterprise, Campus Reports, VDARE, the Weekly Standard, Front Page Magazine, Ideas on Liberty, National Review Online and the Illinois Leader. His column also appears at Men's News Daily, MichNews, Intellectual Conservative, Enter Stage Right and OpinioNet. Stix has studied at colleges and universities on two continents, and earned a couple of sheepskins, but he asks that the reader not hold that against him. His day jobs have included washing pots, building Daimler-Benzes on the assembly-line, tackling shoplifters and teaching college, but his favorite job was changing his son's diapers.