A Parable About the Edit Button: The Story of Julius Pringles

People point to Julius Pringles’ story as a parable of why an edit button on Twitter might not be the best idea.

Like anyone with a backlog of terrible tweets, Twitter’s new largest shareholder Elon Musk is very excited at the prospect of an edit button. The social media company announced on April 1 that it was indeed considering creating an edit button – before confirming a few days later that it wasn’t a prank.

Several other social sites have versions of the edit button — including Facebook, Reddit, and Wikipedia — that work with varying degrees of success. However, some are concerned about the possibility of the edit button on the site, with a classic and oft-cited example of “What if someone tweets ‘Retweet if you like puppies’ or any other tweet to get retweets before they edited it to read “Retweet if you liiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiideee Hitler” or a similarly offensive message.

There’s also the nightmare of news sites embedding tweets without knowing if the content of those tweets will be modified. It’s possible Twitter might come with a “View Edit History” button like those used on Facebook and Reddit, but not all are on board.

“Those who think that an edit history for tweets will solve this problem, please consider the fact that Wikipedia had an edit history from the beginning,” Twitter user Anildash wrote on Twitter“and tended to by obsessives who look at every edit, and yet: Mr. Pringles’ name is Julius.”

It turns out that Pringles had only referred to their mascot as “Mr. Pringles” from the start. Then one day, a Wikipedia user known for good and helpful edits decided it would be funny to give Mr. Pringles a first name.

“The secret is that when I asked my mate what he thought the name of the Pringles mascot was, after watching Julius Peppers play football on TV he suggested it and we thought that was a funny name.”

Nobody picked up the joke.

News outlets soon began referring to the mascot as Julius Pringles, and it became a widely accepted fact that the Pringles mascot was named Julius Pringles, even appearing as a question on a quiz show danger.

Eventually that just became the mascot’s name. Mr. Pringle was now Mr. Julius Pringle, and even Kellogg’s had to accept it and adopt it as the new nickname of the mustache man in their own press materials. To complete the loop, there is now a section on Wikipedia on how the Wikipedia hoax led to Julius Pringle’s new name.

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