Wikipedia:2005 Britannica takeover of Wikimedia

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The new logo of Wikipædia

On 1 April 2005, Encyclopædia Britannica announced its immediate takeover of the Wikimedia Foundation (to be known henceforth as Wikimædia) and all of its projects, including Wikipedia (now Wikipædia), Wikisource, Wikiquote, Wikibooks, and Wikinews. Founder Jimmy Wales, giving a brief statement to the New York Times from his Maui compound, was reported to be "extremely plæsed" with the £133.7 million severance package given to each of the five trustees of the Wikimedia Foundation.

Despite the board's confidence, some Britannica investors privately indicated financial concerns about the deal, noting that "the Wikipedia wasn't really a free encyclopedia after all." Economy measures expected to be implemented as part of the agreement include an immediate restriction on previous contributors to Britannica. It's expected that to create or edit a page will now cost users £99.97/page in Ænglish. Affordable fee localization will be provided for Wikipædias of economically troubled states. Wikipædia administrators, members of the Wikimædia Board of Trustees and Arbitration Committee members will receive free access. However, their adminship powers will be stripped permanently.

Prospective contributors are welcome to sign up at Encyclopædia Britannica's Web site and send proposals in outline format using Courier New exclusively. Contributions handed in on time and in simple English will make the contributor eligible for a grand prize drawing of a rare 1956 photo of Margaret Thatcher from her burlesque days. Contributors will in both word and deed release and indemnify in the sole possession of Encyclopædia Britannica and its heirs and trustees. Nothing in this agreement should be construed to release, exempt, hold harmless, or in any way free the contributor from the presumption that said party deserves what he gets. This agreement is made under the laws of the Principality of Liechtenstein.

International reaction[edit]

Representatives of Google indicate that the company is "disappointed" with the turnout of the agreement. Google had previously made indications of wishing to buy out the Foundation in a similar fashion. Instead, they are now focusing on a "reform" of the outmoded Library of Congress, which will henceforth be operated in full accordance with the modern scientific Dewey Decimal System, and with Google's PageRank system replaced by the Wiki model. Otherwise unoccupied volunteers will engage in high-minded scholarly disputation and manually cite the local Gutenberg Bible when called upon. The volunteers will also offer related products to match search results, but Google has promised they will probably forget these after a little more scholarly disputation. Which when it all boils down they will still be doing nothing. That goes to show what our money is used for.

Microsoft founder Bill Gates is reported to be "considering his options" but has not ruled out a licensed DVD set under the name WikiCarta in which owners will be able to edit their own registered version. He also denounced the takeover as monopolistic and predatory stating that "Microsoft plans an extensive case study of the incident to improve our business model," and quickly added, "...by removing all illegal elements."

European reaction[edit]

The European Council has declared that as a result of this takeover, every Wikipædia article will now constitute A piece of code not relating to "the use of controllable forces of nature to achieve predictable results" and thereby be immediately covered by a software patent owned by Encyclopædia Britannica.

The Catholic Church in Poland has declared the Britannica takeover unconstitutional because it does not refer to Europe's Christian heritage and furiously denies the existence of wikimædia servers in Gdańsk, as that would suggest that the church is fallible.

North American reaction[edit]

Immediately afterwards, United States President George W. Bush issued a press release declaring, "We must stay the course against those who despise free knowledge so much." He also condemned the rudeness standoff at the Wikipædia complex, and said "You know, the problem with the French is they just don't have a word for etiquette".

Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin informed the United States that Canada will not partake in any action against the French, much to the anger of Bush, who will also ask the UN to impose sanctions on Canada. The rest of the world, believing Canada to be the 51st state, think that the US is declaring another civil war.

More reaction[edit]

Osama bin Laden has issued a fatwa against Encyclopædia Britannia, Wikipædia, and Barack Obama, saying that all three are in the hands of the "enemies of Islam" and that Obama used his namesake.

When asked, U2's lead singer Bono said, "What Britannica did was wrong. They could have spent that money feeding all the starving people of the world. Instead, they allowed Jimmy Wales to buy another ivory backscratcher." He proposes a benefit concert to buy Wikipædia, and use it to help the world's poor. So far, the only group to agree is Led Zeppelin, who will reunite to save Wikipædia. Jim Morrison, frontman for The Doors, will apparently come out of retirement to make an appearance.

Revolutionary Left community members have declared their intentions to hack and take back Wikipædia "in the name of free software and workers' liberation everywhere". Bob Avakian has declared he is the one true way to reclaim the free encyclopedia, "for I am the vanguard of the masses, and only my line is correct".

Trent Reznor, when reached for comment, said that "Wikipedia is serious business. It is a sad day to be a Wikipedian," and then resumed to break a vintage TB-303 in anger.

Larry Sanger, whose reputation has been tarnished by the encyclopedia in the past, reportedly gave Wales the finger with a snarky, "I told you so". He was then sued for copyright infringement by the RIAA.

Madonna sighed over the phone to Wales and then prayed to Asherah and the Shekinah in a kind of kabbalah inspired daze.

Al Gore, who at one time claimed to have invented the Wikipedia, expressed his delight at the transaction, saying the inconvenient truth was that he had changed the climate when the negotiations over the deal grew heated.

Everything2 has called this a victory in the war on Wikipedia.

John Titor had predicted this event to occur on January 16, 2001. Sollog also claims that he had foreknowledge of the takeover.

God was not available for comment.

A stunned Cats, star of the smash-hit video game Zero Wing, simply shouted, "What you say?!" when he learned of the merger.

John Kerry commented that he was a rather frequent contributor to the Wikipedia, particularly on the articles "John Kerry," "Skull and Bones," and "George W. Bush," and that he will sorely miss being able to work on these, despite his wife's vast fortune allowing him to afford the fee to edit. Kerry also stated that he voted for the takeover before he voted against it.

Ghosts have appeared and are amassing in Edmonton. One ghost was quoted as saying, "This is such an outrage we had to do something." What they intend to do is not certain.

The Dalai Lama has taken a giant mecha and is quoted as saying: "Violence is the only answer to hostile takeovers of open-source encyclopedias" and then proceeded to jetpack his way to Britannica's headquarters.

Samuel Beckett yelled out in existential agony, "Wikipedia can't go on. It'll go on."

M.C. Hammer is making a comeback to protest the merger, saying, "When I said you can't touch this, I didn't mean Wikipedia. Everyone should touch that."

The Ghost squad from Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon has been ordered to attack and secure Britannica's headquarters until Chuck Norris gets air dropped to help them.

In the meanwhile, soldiers from the 8th Armored Infantry have been reported as burning into the battlefield, and the famed Merger Recon is distracting Britannican forces to give the Ghosts an easier time. Gabe Logan from Syphon Filter and Sam Fisher from Splinter Cell are also being dropped in to help the Ghosts with stealth actions.

Internal reaction[edit]

Many Wikipedians were upset upon first hearing the news of the acquisition. When Jimmy Wales was questioned as to why the organization was sold, he stated that he was "drunker than a skunk", and needed money to pay debt to an unnamed escort service. In protest, former Wikipedia users have flooded Wales's e-mail account with Nigerian 419 scam e-mails and NAMBLA newsletters.

Other editors have been delighted at the news. According to one unnamed user, "God, it's about time this thing dropped dead. Now I can finish my toilet paper holder collection!"

It has, however, left many with questions, chief among them "Where does this leave us?" "Where will we find free, sometimes accurate information?" and "Can I use your bathroom and then take your toilet paper holder to put in my collection?"

Reportedly, one user has gone so far as to file a lawsuit against Jimbo Wales and the Microsoft Corporation, claiming that Wikipedia's absence has caused him erectile dysfunction. The defendants have issued a strong denial, stating that the individual attempted sexual intercourse with a bucket of nails.

Collaboration by Britannica and Ministries of Education of the PRC and ROC were reported in the Chinese version of the takeover. Reaction connected it to the March 28 rally in Taiwan against the Anti-Secession Law of the People's Republic of China, the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989 and some notable members of the Chinese wikipedian community.

New corporate structure[edit]

Britannica has instituted a new corporate structure for the Wikipedia, with several high profile nominations:

Immediate aftermath[edit]

File:Goatmedia.png
The logo suggested by the readers
  • They will need approximately 14 million edits for the purchase to be profitable. For faster break-even other options were considered by the new Board of Directors. Among suggestions are pay-per-button fees for editors and the related extension of the set of edit features: along with the Edit this page feature it is suggested to have Adopt this page, as well as "What does not link here" and "Irrelevant changes". "Page history" will be augmented with "Page chemistry", "Page sociology" and "Page quantum chromodynamics". A promising innovation is fees for the "Donations" function.
  • In the immediate aftermath of the takeover, some internet experts have cynically questioned the prudence of the Wikipedia organization accepting the deal, suggesting it only compounds the greatest concern of many visitors to Wikipedia—that the information found there may be incorrect, due either to human error or some kind of malice, or perhaps a funny hoax. Proponents argue that any confusion on the part of users is outweighed by the good brought by the new partnership, even if the partnership turns out to be short-lived.
  • The Ghost squad has added Chuck Norris to their squad as special weapons expert and weapon of awesome destruction expert. They will attack and secure Britannica's headquarters until Chuck Norris gets dropped in by an airplane named Badger Badger Badger 3.14

Related information[edit]

"I survived the takeover" T-shirts are now available from cafepress.
  • In this oxymoronic era of mega-mergers and diminishing expectations, random-character vandal bot substubs will be eligible for featured article status.
  • Upon this story first being circulated in Germany, loud shouts of joy were heard at the headquarters of Der Spiegel, after which everyone drove to the De Wallen in Amsterdam.
  • The federal government has instituted a temporary and preemptive ban on pelvic thrusts in order to prevent civil unrest in light of the takeover. Martial law had previously been used on those performing the Macarena in broad daylight, and officials hope it doesn't come to that again.
  • Workers in cowbell production plants across the world, acting in disdain at Britannica's actions, have called a global strike. Christopher Walken was unavailable for comment, but internal sources suggest that he is acting in support of Wikipedia believing that, no matter how few cowbells are lost in the crisis, the planet needs more of them.
  • Sinclair Schuller stated that due to the nature of the takeover, he would have to refactor his diamond-milk equations to account for encyclopedic greed differentials. Unfortunately, the takeover forced the popcorn machine to fly over the hoover vacuum thrice.
  • US Congress convened in an emergency session to protect the unborn child of this merger and to prevent the feeding tube to be removed from Ms Britannica. The House majority leader issued a statement condemning Mr Wikipedia for his open lifestyle and accepting promiscuous contributions. The President of the US reiterated the need for the "culture of life" and his unwavering support for the death penalty.
  • Austin Surge, notable internet personality, has since been quoted as saying "While I see the takeover as a bold step forward for definitionphiles everywhere, I'm disappointed that Tony Danza has yet to be offered an executive position."

See also[edit]

External links[edit]