Students suffer from Wikipedia’s planned blackout

Wikipedia is shutting down to protest SOPA, an antipiracy bill, and students are tweeting their alarm.


Fernando Alfonso III


Posted on Jan 17, 2012   Updated on Jun 2, 2021, 10:35 pm CDT

Students around the world are beside themselves.

With Wikipedia planning to black out its site tomorrow in protest against the Stop Online Piracy Act, hundreds of students have flooded Twitter with messages asking how they will complete their homework and papers.

Writer Katie Notopoulos doesn’t have any answers for these pissed-off students, but she has been retweeting many of their messages over the last four hours in solidarity.

“It’s definitely funny to me how much kids these days must completely rely on Wikipedia, even if their teachers discourage it.  I can see how this must drive educators nuts, but on the other hand I sympathize with kids using [it],” Notopoulos told the Daily Dot. “That was just too hilarious for me not to retweet.”

Here are some of the more memorable tweets Notopoulos found searching terms and phrases like “wikipedia,” “due on thursday,” “paper,” “wikipedia homework due,” and “wikipedia FML.”

“Well, with wikipedia going offline in 15 hours, all research for my paper is going to have wait… I think my professor will understand” (@mattbockenfield)


“awkwardly relying on Wikipedia to help me pass my degree.. I’m fucked.” (@ellyperry)

While Notopoulos understands how frustrated students are, she remembers back when she was in school during a Wikipedia-less era:

“I’m jealous of how easily kids today can have access to so much information from it.  I remember there’d be like one book in the school or town library on a subject, and if it was already checked out you were screwed. It’s an issue of quality versus quantity with the information, and I’m not so sure that quality is really that much better. I’m sure a high school kid today probably knows way more about a wider variety of subjects than I did.”

Perhaps the one-day blackout will be a useful tutorial on proper research techniques. After all, Wikipedia itself recommends against citing the online encyclopedia as a point of reference, and strongly encourages users to conduct their own primary research.

We’re not sure if that information is reliable, however, since we read it in Wikipedia.

Chances are, high-school students do have access to more varieties of topics thanks to Wikipedia. But on Wednesday, they’re going to have to learn about them by cracking open a good old-fashioned book.
Or at least Googling past the first Wikipedia page they find.

Photo by sidewalk flying

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*First Published: Jan 17, 2012, 6:09 pm CST