545: Neutrality Schmeutrality

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Neutrality Schmeutrality
'Hey, everyone, you can totally trust that I didn't do a word count on MY edit!'
Title text: 'Hey, everyone, you can totally trust that I didn't do a word count on MY edit!'


Wikipedia is an online encyclopedia with content developed and submitted by volunteers around the world. In fact, its slogan is "Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia that anyone can edit." Most articles on the site can be altered by anyone with access to Wikipedia.

Wikipedia has set some standards for its operation, which it refers to as the "Five pillars of Wikipedia". One of these pillars is titled "Wikipedia is written from a neutral point of view."

Pro-life and pro-choice refer to two opposing viewpoints in the debate of the moral and legal rights concerning abortion. For many on both sides, it is a very emotional topic.

Black Hat, like the class-hole he is, has decided to prove that you can create an article which fundamentally cannot remain neutral. Since his charitable donation is determined by the word count of the article, any submission to Wikipedia must result in Black Hat's money supporting either pro-life or pro-choice activists. With a reward of one million dollars, it is unlikely that either side would allow an article that would result in the other side winning to remain unedited. The edits need not even overtly change the neutrality of the tone of the article – by simply rewriting 'unbiased' phrases with a differing number of words, the effect of the page is drastically flipped.

The title of the comic uses an old (read, "pre-Internet") meme, possibly of Yiddish origin, known as shm-reduplication. The speaker replaces the initial consonant cluster (have it 0, 1 or even 2+ consonants) with the cluster "schm", read /ʃm/, and says the new word after the unadulterated word, as in the title where it is "N" that has been replaced. This denotes an active apathy or an intentional disregard of the authority (for it is usually an authority or someone in a similar position) being mocked. In this case, Black Hat is disregarding Wikipedia's neutrality doctrine with his word count dependent donation rule.

The title text is an imagined statement from a Wikipedia contributor attempting to assert the neutrality of their submission, claiming no word count was performed before posting. However, it is nearly impossible to trust that anyone editing such an article would not make an attempt to shift the result in their side's favor, since it is impossible to know whether someone performed a word count.


[Caption above the panel:]
Trivia: It's possible to create events which Wikipedia cannot cover neutrally
[Black Hat is at a press conference in which he is making an announcement in front of a large crowd mainly of Cueballs but also some Megans.]
Black Hat: In a week, I will be donating $1,000,000 to a recipient determined by the word count of the Wikipedia article about this event. If it's even, the money goes to pro-choice activists. If it's odd, pro-life.

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What if instead of word count, it was determined by letter count. so insert a word with multiple spellings like “colour/color” and people will repeatedly edit and re-edit the word over and over until the servers crashed ? --ParadoX (talk) 09:01, 26 June 2013 (UTC)ParadoX

Yea, it doesn’t matter either way; let the sheeple have fun herding cats while I camp in the banquet for the last snipe.Pacerier (talk) 12:54, 4 March 2016 (UTC)

I think that the idea is that the edit and re-editing would overload the servers without it being a change to a single word. Theo (talk) 21:06, 13 August 2013 (UTC)

If Wikipedia’s aim is to take a neutral stance, and Wikipedia is being exploited to determine which of two opposing sides receives a donation, Wikipedia’s correct action would be to prevent the article from being written, thus enforcing Wikipedia’s stance on neutrality. Thokling (talk) 20:17, 26 September 2013 (UTC)
If there is no article, the word count is 0, which is an even number, so it goes to pro-choice activists. :) 13:03, 6 November 2013 (UTC)
No: if there is no article, the word count is undefined. You cannot determine anything about something that doesn’t exist. rvighne (talk) 04:50, 23 April 2014 (UTC)
if the article existed, it would be deleted as not notable. Chess (talk) 00:42, 30 December 2014 (UTC)

Lock the article mid-edit leaving a single word unfinished. That becomes a fraction of a word which is neit- 16:02, 2 December 2013 (UTC)BK

  • Good co-operation.

What the hell is Schmeutrality? Schmeu… looks very German to me, but I still have no idea about its meaning on this portmanteau. --Dgbrt (talk) 21:39, 2 December 2013 (UTC)

An old (read “pre-internet”) meme, probably Yiddish, is to say a word, then replace the initial consonant cluster of the word with “schm” (read “shm”) and say the altered word. This denotes an active apathy toward the subject, that is, the speaker is deliberately disregarding the authority (for that is usually what is “regarded”) and doing their own thing, as Black Hat is doing here, disregarding the authority of Wikipedia’s stance on neutrality. If you were skipping school, and wanted to justify, you would say “School, Schmool”. If you were disobeying you’re Aunt Josephine, you would justify, to a confidant, “Aunt Josephine, Schmaunt Josephine”. Other examples include “God, Schmod”, “Copyrights, Schmopyrights” and “Feds, Schmeds”.
While I was familiar with this before him, Lemony Snicket’s third book of a Series of Unfortunate Events, The Wide Window’', explains it better than I do.
Anonymous 04:56, 4 December 2013 (UTC)

Easily fixed. Lock the article just before the deadline, flip a coin in a meeting of lots of Wikipedians, broadcast live. 14:36, 21 May 2014 (UTC)

Another idea. Include a fragment of a word at the end of the article and full-protect it indefinitley. Jake (talk) 13:46, 2 June 2014 (UTC)

Also, what about hyphenated compound words where it can be debated whether or not they’re a single word? Just some random derp 23:49, 23 June 2015 (UTC) Oh, co-operation vs Cupertino, erm, c.o.o.p.e.r.a.t.i.o.n, stupid spell-check! 08:51, 8 December 2022 (UTC)

Maybe Black Hat is avoiding donating the money because he knows there will be a constant edit war. I am not quite sure enough to put it in the explanation. Jacky720 (talk) 10:39, 19 September 2016 (UTC)

What if another speaker at the event (or afterwards) were to donate $1,000,000 at the same time as Black Hat, but the other way round based on the word count? 12:04, 8 October 2016 (UTC)

…and 0’s an even number 😆SilverMagpie (talk) 04:02, 2 August 2017 (UTC)

Even if the article wasn’t created or was deleted, it would remain true that Wikipedia couldn’t cover it neutrally, because it wouldn’t be covered. 19:22, 8 August 2017 (UTC)

There is a way to circumvent notability: If the article’s wordcount is neither odd nor even (i.e. zero, i.e. the article does not exist) then the money will be given to a terrorist group or neo-nazis or some other concievably evil group. 09:22, 22 August 2017 (UTC)

0 is even 19:53, 29 November 2017 (UTC)

This is actually unclear, since word counts may count or not the title of the article, subsection titles, infoboxes. I’d go with paragraph count. 20:49, 6 September 2018 (UTC) In theory you should use the prose count since that is the "Wikipedia Standard"

I think Wikipedia could just create two articles for the event, one for each side. That’d be neutral. 20:51, 6 September 2018 (UTC)

    Technically that would be content forking, which is banned. See WP:POVSPLIT. 02:52, 29 April 2020 (UTC)

not trivia: its impossible to create an event that wikipedia can cover neutrally -- Asha the gay knight (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

There are actually topics already in existence for which Wikipedia cannot cover neutrally. There is a city in Northern Ireland that is called Derry if you're a nationalist and Londonderry if you're a unionist. So just calling it Derry (or Londonderry) is not neutral. As a compromise, Wikipedia calls the city Derry and the county County Londonderry. CheesePoliceLAG9763 (talk) 00:35, 8 May 2021 (UTC)

I am aghast at the fact that the anti-abortion group call themselves "pro-life" when they so clearly are pro-death! Restricting legal access to abortion kills women. This is a cold, hard fact. There is no disputing the fact that taking away women's access to reproductive health services is a death sentence. These hypocrites have a blooming great cheek calling themselves "pro-life" when in reality it is the complete opposite! -- The Cat Lady (talk) 14:26, 16 August 2021 (UTC)

This isn't the place to argue about that. I'll just tell you (in case you didn't know) that generally speaking, people who call themselves pro-life take the idea that fetuses count as lives as an axiom of their worldview. So from their point of view they are illegalizing a certain type of death, and that's why they call themselves pro-life 03:00, 23 October 2021 (UTC)

Word count in the comic[edit]

The title text & black hat's speech word counts are both even, which could reflect Randall's opinion on the topic (pro-choice), considering self-reference is a common theme. Of course, this could be just a coincidence. --Iyhuvgug61 (talk) 08:25, 1 August 2019 (UTC)

Black Hat said word count so if wikipedia just writes their article and then half of a word that would make the word count a decimal, which is neither even or odd. checkmate (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

How do you define half a word? If it's something that's just not a full word (which of course would be edited into full existence, or out of it, when people spot it) then it would either count as a whitespace-delimited bunch of characters (another word, albeit nonsense) or not anything countable as a word (because it is sufficiently nonsense), depending upon the algorithm. No realistic algorithm would return a float value instead of some interpretation of an int one.
Though I suspect you're trolling (disregard of commentary conventions, an IP linked to a known pest, etc), and know this. 18:34, 9 June 2022 (UTC)

IIRC, this is exactly what Wikipedia distances from with its WP:NOTNEWS guidelines. 08:46, 8 December 2022 (UTC)