Wikipedia is the place where we turn for information on topics large and small. And speaking of small, there’s currently a heated debate going on about whether to include the American president’s penis on the Wikipedia page for the Nintendo character known as Toad. What a time to be alive.
In case you somehow missed the news yesterday, porn actress Stormy Daniels has a new book coming out in October that describes her sexual encounter with President Donald Trump in 2006. And the book isn’t very generous to the president’s manhood. Daniels describes the president’s dick as “smaller than average” though “not freakishly small” and looking like Toad from the Nintendo universe:
“He knows he has an unusual penis,” Daniels writes. “It has a huge mushroom head. Like a toadstool …
“I lay there, annoyed that I was getting fucked by a guy with Yeti pubes and a dick like the mushroom character in Mario Kart...
“It may have been the least impressive sex I’d ever had, but clearly, he didn’t share that opinion.”
The president paid Daniels $130,000 (£99,000) through his lawyer Michael Cohen so that she’d keep quiet about the affair shortly before the 2016 election. Cohen told a court after pleading guilty that the payment was at the direct order of the president, which appears to make Trump an unindicted co-conspirator. But even though Trump’s penis is now news, editors at Wikipedia don’t seem to think it should be included in the page for Toad.
As one Wikipedian explains in the Talk page of the Toad article:
Wikipedia is not a newspaper and we do not include every salacious detail that rolls off the presses. If this is established in time to be of some lasting historical significant to the subject of this article, then it may be included. Currently it is little more than celebrity gossip. What should or should not go on the article for Donald Trump should be discussed on Talk:Donald Trump and not here.
Guardian writer Naaman Zhou was the first to spot the ruckus on Twitter, and the discussion notes that plenty of other “gossip” has made its way to seemingly unrelated pages, like the article for the 1993 song “Whoomp! There It Is”:
Excluding this item from the Toad page as unfounded gossip is unwarranted. Consider the article for Whoomp! (There It Is), which includes a rather extensive section discussing the (false) rumour that Barack Obama appeared in the music video for that song. Plainly that is gossip as it relates to Obama and has no place on his article, but it is relevant to the song in that is brought the music video to wide public attention. Similar phenomenon at issue here.
But others still disagreed, writing that adding a reference to the president’s penis would not add to the “core educational value [of Toad]”:
Wikipedia is not an indiscriminate collection of pop culture trivia. It’s certainly not a collection of lurid pop culture trivia inserted in articles because it happens to be in the news. Wikipedia is an encyclopedia. It covers subjects in a breadth and depth that is proportionate to their lasting educational significance. There is no indication whatsoever that Donald Trump’s dick has any lasting significance to the core educational value of this video game character. You may lament that as you like, but it doesn’t change the facts.
As we’ve seen time and again, Wikipedia helps shape the way that we see the world. When something is on Wikipedia, it’s treated as worthy of noticing. When it’s not on Wikipedia, people can claim it’s not real or worth discussing. Yes, it’s a community-edited encyclopedia that anyone can add to (or vandalise) for any reason, but it’s more trusted than virtually anything on the web these days, including, perhaps, many major news organisations.
Case in point: the top Google result for “can you trust Wikipedia?” is an article from Wikipedia.
The top search result for “can you trust wikipedia” is an article from Wikipedia itself (Screenshot: Google)
Another political debate was sparked recently when America’s immigrant detention centres were added to the page for concentration camps. Experts on concentration camps (literally the woman who wrote the book on them) said that President Trump’s camps meet the definition. But Wikipedia’s editors overruled them all.
The Stormy Daniels book, Full Disclosure, is due out on 2 October 2018 and can be pre-ordered on Amazon. The Wikipedia page for Toad currently has precisely zero mentions of Donald Trump’s penis, though that could change at any given moment thanks to the miracles of online editing. [Twitter]