Website Review: Shopping on Wikipedia

My favorite uncle, who lives in Arizona, has a birthday coming up this month, so I thought I’d purchase and ship his present from an online merchant. My exposure to digital shopping is extremely limited; as a fifty-something guy, about the closest I’ve come is typing up a gift list on my old Remington before heading out to Sears.

But my younger friends insist that the convenience of buying stuff online far surpasses the experience I’d have with a bricks-and-mortar establishment, especially considering so many of those have been reduced to nothing but bricks and mortar, and the salesfloor-walking employee who didn’t get the bankruptcy memo who continues to fold dust-covered sweater sets amid the rubble. Uncle Bob wouldn’t look good in an Orvis silk-blend pullover anyway.

What little I do know about where to enter your credit card number on the Internet is that you want to stay away from the African princes – despite their 60%-off leopard-skin pants and gold-plated hankies – and steer toward the well-established firms whose Web presence dates back at least six months. I’ve heard that Amazon.com is quite reputable, but my uncle isn’t much into products of the South American rain forest. EBay is another name I know, though that knowledge is limited to my insistence on spelling it with a capital “E” when it begins a sentence. Some people speak highly of Priceline and Overstack, but I hate both William Shatner and Pamela Anderson, and everything they stand for.

As I noodle around on Google, I keep coming across a particular site that seems promising. It’s near the top of every search I try, it’s a brand I vaguely recognize from somewhere, and I like the overtones of its obviously classical Greek origins. I’m going to do my uncle’s birthday shopping on Wikipedia.

At first, it’s a little overwhelming to consider the huge variety of items they offer for sale. There’s a somewhat helpful breakdown in the upper corner that can narrow my focus to arts, biographies, technology and “all portals,” though it seems the purchase of a door for someone who already lives in an apartment would be a poor choice.

I also like the fun “Did You Know…” section, designed to get your neurons firing toward creative gift-giving ideas. Did I know that the yellow wart is often confused with the fly agaric? Did I know that a mummy was found in a cave in Wyoming? Did I know that Jadwiga of Pomerania might have been a daughter of a Polish king, but scholars are uncertain as to her lineage? I did not. But I do know that I’m now ready to select a truly unique gift, and that the mummy-in-Wyoming thing does make sense once you realize that Dick Cheney has disappeared from TV recently.

I first check the “In The News” panel, which I guess features the hottest and latest products to hit the market. This morning it offers an inter-island ferry from Tonga, though it apparently sinks, leaving 26 people missing. There are some indigenous people from Bolivia who have been given the right to govern themselves. Shipping costs might be prohibitive on that one. And there’s apparently religious unrest in the Pakistani Punjab, which seems hard to convert into the $35 range of tchotchkes I’m looking for.

Maybe “Today’s Featured Article” is worth considering. I assume this is a best-seller being offered for a limited time at a hard-to-believe price. The item is called a “phagocyte,” described as a white blood cell that protects the body from ingesting harmful foreign particles, bacteria and dead or dying cells. Essential for fighting infections, the phagocyte was first discovered in 1882 in starfish larvae and is highly developed in vertebrates. Though one liter of human blood already contains about 6 billion of these, Uncle Bob has been having some health problems lately and could probably use a few more. At that $18.82 price point, I could get him two.

Let me look around just a little more before I make my final decision. The “Random Article” button looks promising – maybe it’s one of those shopping bots I’ve read about, where you list a person’s general interests and the computer program finds a suitable gift. Uncle Bob likes playing the piano, rooting for the football Cardinals, volunteering and, I think, guys. I’m looking for the place to enter these details but can’t seem to find it. I’ll just click on the button anyway and see what I get.

There’s the flagtail fish, also called the aholehole. Funny name, but probably not suitable for a man with cats. There’s the Polish town of Zagrodniki. Gotta be way too expensive. An ensign, or flag. Meh. OpenTV Hardware Porting Kit. I have no idea what that is. The Ethnographic Museum of Kaletzi, Greece. Maybe I could afford something from the gift shop? The Ready 2 Rumble Revolution videogame. No. “Psi-Man Heal My Child!”, a short story by Philip K. Dick. No. A Trinity Alps giant salamander. No. The “10416 Kottler,” a Mars-crossing asteroid. Again, I’d have concerns about the shipping charges.

I guess I’ll go with a couple of phagocytes. I’ve heard it said you can never go wrong with white blood cells during the summer season. Now I’ve got to find where to enter my ordering information. I see Wikiquote, Wikisource, Meta-Wiki and a way to order in Esperanto. Ah, there’s a log-in area, at the top. I retype the swirly nonsense word that differentiates me from a spammer, pick out a user name and password, and am finally logged on. I find the “Donate to Wikipedia” spot, and apparently get to choose my price (I’ve heard about this on Priceline) from among options of $100, $75, $30 or other. I choose “other” ($18.82 times two is $37.64) and enter my greeting message in the “public comment” field – HAPPY BIRTHDAY UNCLE BOB, HOPE YOU ENJOY THE LEUKOCYTES, LOVE DAVIS AND FAMILY. I press the “donate” button, and it appears I’m done.

Hey, that was easy and cool. I think I’ll do all my shopping on-line from now on. In fact, I could go ahead and order that wedding shower gift for my cousin Craig and his fiancée. They’re very conservative and old-fashioned, and would probably get a kick out of receiving something so modern. Maybe a gift certificate from Craigslist.

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4 Responses to “Website Review: Shopping on Wikipedia”

  1. karenlgj Says:

    I would like to Purchase Brad Pitt. Is this possible on such a site?

  2. wrjones Says:

    Ok – Karenlgj you buy Brad Pitt. I would just like to rent his latest girlfriend for a few days. Davis can start a blogbay where we can do these negotiations for a nominal fee.

  3. Anonymously Secret Says:

    LOL Davis. Did you really do that!?!?! Ermmm… I know your uncle will enjoy his present haha.

  4. Eros Mariani Says:

    Thank you for the good post. I really love this tv seasons. Can’t wait for the next episode ! Keep up the good work with this 🙂

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