The Wikipedia Battle of Aviston, Illinois

For a village of 2,340 (or 19 million if you looked it up on the wrong day) Aviston has an unusually entertaining history of Wikipedia vandalism.

There’s a house for sale in Aviston, Illinois. Not the one above. It will come up later. This one is nothing remarkable, but it had a nice view out back over some water, and that was enough for my wife to scroll through and send it to me.

Aviston. I knew the name. Kind of. That’s when I like to check Wikipedia. In addition to a map and description of the area, the Wikipedia entry is usually good for some conversational tidbit. Sure honey, that’s where Well Known Serial Killer came from. Aviston didn’t actually have any of these.

What it did have was a king listed in its Notable people section. A king.

“Aviston isn’t even keeping up with its Wikipedia vandalism,” I joked. “Are you sure you want to live there?”

But that got me to browse the page’s edit history, and wow, let me take you on that journey.

A Short History of Aviston, Illinois’ Wikipedia Entry

  • The entry was created on October 18th, 2002
  • February 2010: an IP that currently traces to Springfield, IL (but who knows) adds a note about Aviston’s geography: Do not go here, Blake lives here.
  • Springfield adds of the school system: Aviston Mental Education Institute “Elemantary”
  • A moment later, one Pfranson restores order.
  • Minutes later, Springfield modifies Aviston’s schools again:
    • A guy named Shelton’s bedroom
    • “Matt’s mom is hot”
  • August 2010: one Jjmcnasty explains: Aviston now has a population of 19 million, up from just 1,231 in the 2000 census. The majority of residents “do not take kindly to strangers unless they are Catholic, then you’re cool.” He goes on to list other tidbits like that 23.2% of all households were made up of singles looking to mingle, and that 9.9% had someone living alone who should be in a nursing home. For every 100 females 18 and over there were 86.5 males “which means the odds are good, it’s just too bad they’re mostly ugly and have flat butts.” All of the land has been illegally seized from meth heads.
  • April 2012: Local legend Vern Holtgrave, pitcher for the Detroit Tigers, is added as the city’s first notable person.
  • October 2012: An anonymous user clarifies that Vern Holtgrave was the third man to walk on the sun.
  • October 2012: Barack Obama is added to the city’s notable people, for once having gone to the bathroom in Aviston. A known Chicago man, this is unlikely without being impossible.
  • October 2012: YouTuber “Seananners” is added to notable people. He does not appear to have any real link to the area.
  • October 2012: Chuck Norris is added to Notable People, with the claim that he may have created life itself in the center of Aviston. Again, this is unlikely.
  • October 2012: Only Vern Holtgrave survives the notable people restoration.
  • September 2013: The historic James C. Twiss house is added in photos to the entry. This isn’t just all chaos.
  • June 2014: A newer version of the James C. Twiss house is attacked as “unrealistic.”
  • August 2015: An editor changes the header “Notable people” to “Notable person,” it’s unclear whether the intention is to be both sad and very funny.
  • February 2016: Roman Catholic bishop Henry J. Althoff is added to Notable people, which now has to be called “Notable people” again. Aviston undoubtedly rejoices.
  • October 2017: Notable people is again modified to include Trevor Richards, pitcher for the Jumbo Shrimp. Much to my surprise, this is a completely accurate description of a real person.
  • October 2017: It’s clarified that Trevor pitches for the Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp
  • December 2017: The names of a couple of local kids are anonymously added to Notable people with no descriptions.
  • Immediately: The kids are removed. You’re not notable, kids.
  • This goes back and forth three times. In January, one returns as “Gabe The God.” It’s a big upgrade and Aviston undoubtedly rejoiced again.
  • Immediately: Gabe The God is removed.
  • April 2018: Trevor Richards is now listed as a pitcher for the Miami Marlins. It’s a big day for Aviston and nautical baseball themes.
  • August 2018: Randall Voss is declared King of Aviston in Notable people
  • Immediately: Randall is removed. This goes back and forth a couple of times
  • September 2018: Dustin Nelson joins Randall as the unofficial mayor
  • November 2018: King Randall and Unofficial Mayor Dustin are joined in Notable people by Grandpa Willy Cheese Dog, “Congressmen from 1987”
  • Immediately: Grandpa Willy Cheese Dog is identified as vandalism and removed. Inexplicably, King Randall and Unofficial Mayor Dustin remain.
  • Later that month: A man named Troy is added to Notable people under “idk how i got on here.”
  • Immediately: Troy is removed. Randall and Dustin remain.
  • December 2018: “TRYNTON IS KING” is added to Aviston’s entry header instead of notable people which is ridiculous both for being in the wrong section and also because, at this point, Randall is the well-established king.
  • December 2018: King Randall, Unofficial Mayor Dustin, and actual local hero Trevor Richards are all removed from Notable people.
  • February 2019: Trevor Richards, likely after city-wide demonstrations, is restored to Aviston’s Notable people list.
  • February 2019: “Try Hard Timmy” who “founded the bar in kesport and made fortnite” is listed as Aviston’s king. This is contributed by user “POOPBY”
  • Immediately: Timmy is dethroned.
  • May 2019: Randy Voss reclaims the throne as King of Aviston
  • May 2019: Unsatisfied to rule the present, Randy’s listing is modified to reflect that he has worn the crown since May 1967.
  • July 2019: Dustin Nelson re-emerges, this time as Coolest Guy in the Neighborhood
  • September 2019: Randy and Dustin are gone. Trevor Richards has moved to the Tampa Bay Rays, achieving three consecutive nautical-themed teams.
  • September 2019: TRYNTON has apparently been king in the header for nearly a full year undisturbed as more local kids start to show up at the top of the page.
  • September 2019: a local soccer player from the header adds himself to Notable people.
  • October 2019: Jason Rakers, drafted by the Padres, joins notable people.
  • January 2020: King Randall is back.
  • March 2020: Randall is gone.
  • October 2020: Padre Jason Rakers, apparently not Aviston material, is removed. He never returns.
  • June 2021: Trevor Richards moves to the Milwaukee Brewers. It’s not fish, but it’s still liquid adjacent.
  • October 2021: Trevor Richards moves to the Toronto Blue Jays, becoming the first notable Canadian Avistonian.
  • January 2022: Now a four-year running bit, Randall Voss is restored as the king of Aviston.
  • January 2022: No doubt in keeping with the modern dialogue about monarchy’s place in modern society, Randall starts going by the less formal “Randy.”
  • Immediately: King Randy is removed.
  • March 2022: After four years, TRYNTON IS KING is removed from the header.
  • April 2022: Trynton is restored and removed again.
  • July 2022: Trevor Richards is again removed from Notable people.
  • November 2022: Trevor is still missing. King Randall returns with his prior, more formal name.
  • November 2022: Racked with guilt, Randall relinquishes the crown but remains in Notable people as the peasant of Aviston.
  • Immediately: Randall restores his throne. He’s soon stricken from the page.
  • November 2022: Trevor Richards, still in Toronto, returns to the page.
  • November 2022: The same user who restores Trevor Richards strikes out Catholic bishop Henry J. Althoff for the first time since 2016.
  • December 2022: Randall returns to the page as the pretty princess of Aviston. The ability to track and block IP addresses on Wikipedia has been in public hands for most of a decade.
  • December 2022: Randall out, Catholic bishop in.
  • Immediately, the above is reversed.
  • May 2023: King Randall returns for a fifth year, where he remains today.

And that brings us to the present. My head is swimming with the thought that other towns across the United States might have these hidden tales to tell.

As for Aviston, I know of a place for sale on the water, and I can introduce you to the king.

Photo Credit: Photo of Historic James C. Twiss House by Butticus, yes, Butticus, is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0

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