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As Wikipedia sits silent and dark for legions of despondent would-be users (who, apparently, never thought of Googling for some help around the blackout), a trio of old-school publications have stepped into the void to try and replace the collective knowledge of the Internet. The Washington Post, the Guardian, and NPR have been taking tweets from information-deprived Webizens and trying to provide answers to all life’s questions, large and small. Just smack an #altwiki tag at the end of a question and the combined brainpower will try to supply you with an honest-to-goodness answer.
Even though chuckleheads have been flooding the tag with ridiculous questions – such as “Shoot, who played that guy in that thing? You know the one.” – the trio of publications have still been dropping knowledge about everything from speedy mammals to the speed of light in a vacuum, along with a host of other topics. Don’t mistake the help for a Stop SOPA endorsement, however, as Washington Post blogger Elizabeth Flock explains:
#AltWiki, of course, doesn’t seek to replace Wikipedia, or indicate that The Post is taking a stand against the House’s Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) or the Senate’s Protect Intellectual Property Act (PIPA). It does, however, tell us quite a bit about how much 477 million people a month rely on Wikipedia.
Other crowdsource-style hashtags have popped up, too, including #FactsWithoutWikipedia and #WorldWithoutWikipedia. In fact, #FactsWithoutWikipedia seems almost as hoppin’ as the #altwiki tag. You have to admire what The Post and others are trying to do here -- unless you're on The Post's research team, of course, in which case today probably really, really sucks.
Twitter user Herpderpedia takes a totally different tact, but one that brings a smile to our faces nonetheless.