A website poking fun at all things Mayo including its people, politicians, towns, and landscapes is causing offence to locals.
The Uncyclopedia.wikia.com website — modelled on the online Wikipedia reference site and a play on the word ‘encyclopedia’, is an open web forum inviting contributions from members of the public on all or any subjects from A to Z.
This week a concerned Mayo Advertiser reader reported on the site’s content in relation to offensive references such as Mayo people being “savage and uncouth” including crude remarks about the Padraig Nally case, some derogatory comments about Travellers, and an obscene sexual depiction of a leading Mayo politician.
“This is an unacceptable insult to the people of Mayo and should be taken down,” said the Mayo Advertiser reader.
According to the site information, “Uncyclopedia is an encyclopedia full of misinformation and utter lies.”
Its advice to contributors, who can contribute to the site cutting and pasting copy on the same model as Wikipedia, includes:
“Try to be funny and not just stupid. The mission of Uncyclopedia is to provide the world’s misinformation in the least redeeming and most searingly sarcastic and humorous way possible. Offense is exceptionally likely, expected, and renowned while reading the Uncyclopedia.”
The website has been active for some time now and appears to have amassed a vast amount of information with searches on many topics yielding extensive results.
According to technology expert Michael Morrison of Western IT in Westport, once a website is created and registered it can be almost impossible to remove.
“Websites are hosted by domain bodies such as in Ireland, represented by .ie and in England .co.uk. These can be tracked and complaints made to the hosting bodies which can be lobbied for their removal. However, with a website such as this, that has a .com tag, it could have been registered in any country such as Russia where laws aren’t as stringent. If the creators know people will try and close it down, they know there are ways of registering it in one place but referring it on to other mirror domain hosts that will literally make it undetectable.”
Mr Morrison cited the example of Tripadvisor.com as another website that has caused offence despite being hailed as a bible for hotel information by many tourists.
“Tripadvisor at least allows some interactivity whereby hoteliers are sometimes given leeway to explain themselves or reply to negative reviews. But in terms of shutting down websites, the fact is you can open a blog and say whatever you like and there is no real law against it. These pages are usually there for good too because they are hosted by huge operators such as blogger.com or Facebook.”
Even offensive images such as that carried on Uncyclopaedia of our local politician are there for the long-term.
“He’s not going to get rid of it because once it’s there it’s going to be copied onto other web pages and sites and so can remain forever in cyberspace.”
A search on the Uncyclopedia website revealed that it is registered in Iowa, USA.