Recursive Citations, Mysterious Motives

On the Wikipedia page on ‘pataphysics, an example is given of a ‘pataphor. The example is cited as coming from a page on ‘pataphysical programming written by someone named Darko Svitek. On Darko’s page we find that he cites Wikipedia as the source of the example.

Incorrect citations on the Internet aren’t news. But what I find amusing is that, in order for this to have happened, a back-and-forth must have taken place. One of the sources had to go back after-the-fact to change the citation. We have three likely possibilities, each requiring their own mysterious motivations.

  1. A writer on Wikipedia invents the example and includes it in the article. Next, Darko uses it on his page, citing Wikipedia. Finally, an editor on Wikipedia goes looking for the origin of the example, finds it on Darko’s page, doesn’t notice him referencing Wikipedia, and cites him. (Update: this has been coined “citogenesis” by xkcd.)
  2. Darko comes up with the example. Next, a writer on Wikipedia uses it and cites it. Then, Darko edits his page to say that it came from Wikipedia, either because he has a bad memory, or because he is playing games with us.
  3. The example originates from a third source. Both Wikipedia and Darko take it, inexplicably citing each other.

There are two potential avenues through which we could solve this mystery. Firstly, one could look up the editor that made the change on Wikipedia, or the author of the programming page, and email them. Secondly, one could use the Wayback Machine and the history of that Wikipedia page, to follow the evolution of this example. I leave this as an exercise for the reader.

In appreciation of your time, I give you this wonderful example of a multi-media ‘pataphor.