Wednesday, December 24, 2008

The Rooster

My daughters came up with the following joke.
Two roosters sat on on a barn. The first rooster asked the second what time he was supposed to crow. The second rooster replied "in the morning".

At 12:01 AM, the first rooster screamed "Cockle-Doodle-Do" waking up the farmer and his family. The second rooster said "Why are you doing that now?"

The first rooster said, "I looked up 'morning' in Wikipedia and it said morning starts at midnight."

The moral of the story: Don't trust Wikipedia.

After coming up with the joke, my daughters wanted to change the Wikipedia entry for morning to make the joke funnier but I talked them out of it. I always have a hard time convincing them that Wikipedia is usually quite trustworthy when their teachers at school keep pounding on how unreliable Wikipedia can be.

Enjoy the holidays. We'll be back next week with the Complexity Year in Review.


  1. It might be the case that wikipedia seems reliable to you while unreliable to your daughters because you check different entries.

    I don't know who edits the entry "morning" but it won't surprise me to find out it's a kid or a teenager.

    I don't know who edits PPAD-completeness but it would surprise if its a kid or a teenager.

    Anyone knows if there was studies of this question?

  2. I once had a bet with a right winger at work that Gore actually won the 2000 election in Florida. I showed him the Wikipedia entry on "2000 US Election" which supported my claim.

    The right-winger immediately changed the Wikipedia entry to read that Bush won the 2000 election in Florida.

  3. "That depends on what you mean by 'is'." -BC

  4. The lesson that both the schoolteachers and you should be teaching your daughters is that one shouldn't trust or distrust Wikipedia blindly but always check whether it provides references and then check the references if in doubt... although in the case of the "morning" article it provides no references, so I'd say don't trust that article :-)

    Maybe it would have been a good idea to let them edit it, to learn how to edit Wikipedia, to see how long the faulty edit stays before being reverted, etc. We all need more people who actually know how to edit Wikipedia, instead of just thinking about it. :-)

  5. You should have allowed her to make the wikipedia edit. It would show it how hard it actually is to put obvious wrong facts there.

  6. So their teachers are training them to think about the worst case while you train them to think about the average case?

  7. The Wikipedia entry has had the "12:01am" definition since August of this year in one form or another.

  8. It seems to me the error is not (necessarily) in Wikipedia's definition but ambiguity in the second rooster's instruction - "morning" is broad and so the first rooster was without more specific instructions.

  9. I should add that the moral of the story should be: give more clear instructions.

  10. I read this joke first time but I analyse that your daughters have challenging abilities to do some thing, I would like to see them at least.