The spring of 2009 was a time for dreamers. Susan Boyle strutted across the stage of Britain’s Got Talent in a hotel-wallpaper dress, stared bravely into the souls of dubious teenage emos, and belted out a beautiful performance of “I Dreamed a Dream” that instantly gave her international fame. Elsewhere, a Wikipedia user going by the name “Jiffman” dreamed a dream too. Only he wanted the world to see him stick his penis in his mouth.
Out of the over 3.8 million articles Wikipedia says it has now, the page for “autofellatio” is the 3110th most visited. It describes autofellatio as “the act of oral stimulation of one’s own penis as a form of masturbation.” Like many Wikipedia entries, this one features a photograph of what it’s describing. Jiffman wanted to be the guy in that photo. When people looked up autofellatio, he wanted them to see him doing it. But he wasn’t the only one.
There are 16 photographs categorized under autofellatio on Wikimedia Commons, Wikipedia’s sister site and a resource of over 12 million freely licensed images that are used or could be used in Wikipedia articles. But if fellating oneself wasn’t such a rare uh, skill — let’s say skill — there would probably be many more. The Wikimedia Foundation’s stated purpose is to educate, but Commons has become a dumping ground for exhibitionists like Jiffman.
To put it another way, the place is littered with dicks.
There are videos of men masturbating, animated GIFs of men ejaculating, and photos of people fellating one other. One guy has posted GIFs of himself performing over 20 different jerk-off methods, from the “swinging cock” to “forefinger banging” to something called the “campfire method.” He also stuck a camera in his Fleshlight so you can see what a Fleshlight sees as it gazes at a penis squirting semen into it. It’s like you’re trapped at the dead end of a tunnel as a giant red orb monster floods it with white rapids of sticky ooze.
“Categories such as Category:Male reproductive system and Category:Penis show that Commons has a large quantity of images relating to human genitalia,” reads the site’s official guidelines on nudity, created in response to the near-constant torrent of boners. “Commons does not need you to drop your pants and grab a camera.” The exhibitionists, however, seem to think otherwise.
BIRTH OF AN AUTOFELLATOR
Through a lot of digging, I managed to find Jiffman’s real name, and from that, his Facebook profile. Other than his lack of privacy settings, there’s little sign of his other life as an exhibitionist. Jiffman seems like a normal guy. He’s a college student in Nebraska who likes hiking and traveling and playing flag football with his friends. There’s a photo of him standing next to another famed autofellator, Ron Jeremy, but it doesn’t look like they were talking shop.
Elsewhere on the internet, though, Jiffman hasn’t been so shy. He joined a self-proclaimed “forum for exhibitionists,” the appropriately named DickFlash.com, in 2006 and started posting. According to his posts, which may be accurate self-documentation or mere fantasies, he has a long history. “Its funny to think now, but i first started exposing my penis in second grade,” he wrote. “I started off simple, but things just got better from there.” Eventually he got to high school. “I often drive with my dick out, and my car is kinda low, so girls can see it easier,” another post says. In a third thread, he details his “best flash yet” — setting his camera on a timer, stripping his clothes, and running naked along a busy road. “The whole experience was so arrousing, that when I got back I stripped naked again while in my front yard, and jacked off and unloaded all over the grass.”
As online video came to the fore, Jiffman began to post movies of himself on amateur porn sites, and he finally found his niche: the ability to suck himself off. The videos were well praised, and Jiffman put a great deal of effort into capturing himself from different angles. But giving a demonstration of nature’s Fleshlight for people who wanted to see it was one thing; showing it off to everyday people searching for things on the internet is quite another.
Like all great American pioneers, Jiffman dared to have big ambitions. He didn’t want to be just another guy on the internet with his dick in his mouth. He wanted to be the definition of having your dick in your mouth.
THE EDUCATIONAL VALUE OF A WET PENIS
Sexuality articles on Wikipedia are the subject of constant bickering among editors over what is and isn’t suitable. Some people believe explicit sexual photos have no place on an encyclopedia that wants to be taken seriously and is used by children and people at work; others think explicit images provide the most accurate information to the reader, and failing to use them is a form of censorship, which is anathema to Wikipedia editors.
They’re having this debate on the cock ring page, the bukkake page, and on the pages for hypospadias and cock and ball torture — pages I have trouble looking at without feeling sick in sympathy. And they are, of course, having this debate on the autofellatio page. What’s striking is not only that they’re having the same debate everywhere, it’s that they’re having the same debate over and over again within these pages.
There is no set policy on using explicit images in sexuality articles, because Wikipedia refuses to put such standards in place. It lets its users decide, and the result is that editors who happen to go to one of these pages decide what is and isn’t appropriate. But just as it seems a decision has been made, other people come in and decide it hasn’t, restarting the debate as if it never happened in the first place. Wikipedia’s users are a bureaucracy that tries to run itself as a democracy. The result is anarchy. Anarchy with pictures of dudes ejaculating in 270 frames-per-second super-slo-mo.
Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales, who goes by the user name Jimbo Wales on the site, saw the autofellatio page as important enough to begin its debate on image use in February of 2005. “I invite people to think carefully about this photo in the context of an overall view of our charitable, humanitarian, educational mission,” he wrote, “and not be distracted by arguments about censorship and prudishness, which are very much beside the point here.” Yes, there was a penis being thrust into a man’s mouth on this page. But that penis needed to be “charitable, humanitarian, and educational” in addition to being covered in saliva.
Jimbo put the decision on the image up to a vote, but before there was a vote, it was decided there needed to be a vote on whether there should be a deadline on the vote. Then it was decided there needed to be a vote on how to interpret the outcome of the vote. However, according to the rules of this vote to decide the rules of the vote, no consensus was reached. So apparently the image-decision vote would not be valid. But they finally went ahead with it anyway. No consensus was reached on that vote either. So despite all this effort, and all the thousands of words written on the subject, no decision was actually made. This is apparently how things work on Wikipedia.
THE BATTLE OF /WIKI/AUTOFELLATIO
The first photo on the autofellatio page, now called “Fellatio_auto.jpg,” depicts a mustachioed, hairy man putting an arm under one of his legs and doing the deed. The lighting and image quality aren’t very good, and the man looks like he could be a 70’s porn star. (Or maybe your dad. Oh my God, that looks so much like your dad. Is that your dad?) But it showed a photograph could be put on the article and not taken down, which, for exhibitionists like our friend Jiffman, apparently sounds like a challenge.
It’s not like Jiffman hadn’t tried to become the first man to autofellate himself on Wikipedia. He first uploaded a photo of himself, Autofellatio1.jpg, to Commons in April of 2008. Nobody put it up on the Wikipedia page. But he didn’t give up. He gave editors another option, Autofellatio2.jpg. He came back three days later and put up Autofellatio_example.jpg. Jiffman returned two months later to find his self-sucking had still gone unnoticed. So he renamed the file Good_Autofellatio_Example.jpg just to make it perfectly clear. That may have been a bit desperate.
Jiffman received a banning. It wasn’t because he was repeatedly putting photos of himself with his dick in his mouth on an encyclopedia’s website. It was because he allegedly kept deleting his old ones and re-uploading them under new names. “The joke is over,” Wknight94 wrote in a later banning. “Go play somewhere else.”
Jiffman persevered. He came back again and again, uploading five more photos of him fellating himself. And when he was banned again, he fought back and explained himself:
It has not been the same picture over and over. The first one, that I thought was a better one, apparently nobody agreed so it was switched back. I asked to have it deleted because it wasn’t being used. I just figured why have it on here if it’s not being of any use? So I made a new one that I thought was a good replacement, thus I gave it a try; only to find that I was banned almost immediately just for trying to make a legitimate attempt to improve an article with my knowledge on the topic. I don’t get the system of banning for such little things like that. If someone would maybe offer constructive criticism on what would make a better image, rather than just going straight for the ban button, I could produce a quality example that the community will accept as the best possible example available. […] I’m not trying to make anybody laugh. I’m not here to play. Don’t abuse your status to feel important. The bannings against me have been malevolent.
Nearly all the Wikimedia uploaders I contacted, Jiffman included, didn’t respond to requests for comment on this story. But I did talk to a man named Marke Weeks, who goes by MarkeMan1951 on Commons. Weeks has contributed over a dozen photos and animated GIFs of his middle-aged penis and testicles in the past eleven months. He’s even been so helpful as to upload an audio file of the noises he makes when he orgasms. Despite this, his uploads have barely been used on Wikipedia. Sure, that’s him ejaculating on the Catalan Wikipedia page for masturbation, “Masturbació,” but that’s hardly any exposure at all. So to speak.
Weeks did give me some insight into why people do this. “I have posted many images, movies and gifs on usenet and the web,” he wrote in an e-mail. “Wikipedia was an afterthought. I saw some of the images in the human penis pages and thought I can do better than that.” Other Wikipedia users apparently haven’t agreed with him, though.
“I was a nude model in college and I’ve done amateur night stripping, so yes I am an exhibitionist,” he continued in another e-mail. “I am gratified that perhaps thousands or even millions of people may see my images given Wikipedia’s huge traffic.”
On the other end of the spectrum, a user who goes by “Nzfauna” has uploaded only one photo of his penis, and has been similarly unsuccessful. He said he has a degree in biology and finds biological differences interesting. “Also, I like penises.” Nzfauna said he was aiming to get on the Wikipedia page for “human penis,” which seems like it may be the Holy Grail of Wikipedia exhibitionism.
Jiffman eventually found success. On June 2, 2009, a user name Duvora suggested that the first autofellatio photo had data attached to it that suggested it was scanned, probably from a magazine or otherwise professional work, and therefore was a copyright violation. Duvora suggested replacing it with a file on Commons called “Taric_Alani_Self_sucker.jpg” (image description: “I, Taric Alani, autofellate.”), a photo that had all the necessary copyright releases.
Taric Alani describes himself as a “porn actor and adult model” on his user page. This is what Jiffman was up against: a professional. He quickly inserted himself into the discussion. “I am one who is capable of this talent, so I could provide an image for the page,” he wrote. Jiffman seemed unsure of exactly how to navigate Wikipedia’s bureaucracy and how to officially offer his services, but he was willing to do anything to get his fellow users to let him post his photo.
“I don’t have professional equipment or anything, but I have taken photography classes.”
“I’d be willing to make a photo based on guidelines or criteria that you can all agree on for how you would like the image to look; i.e. position, camera angle, depth, and things like that.”
“Let me know if you’d like my help.”
Jiffman made another photo, and this time it went through. And he didn’t rest on his laurels once he reached the summit; he later made another photo, Autofellatio6.jpg, that now graces the page and actually looks good enough to be included in a high school science textbook, if, you know, high school science textbooks featured images of men with their penises in their mouths. Other exhibitionist autofellators have challenged Jiffman’s place on the page, including one guy who tried to argue that there also needs to be a photo of a circumcised man on the page, in case people thought autofellation is impossible to do without a foreskin. (Never mind that, by definition, you can’t tell if someone who’s autofellating has a foreskin.) Ever vigilant, Jiffman stepped in to defend his crown: “Additionally, I am circumcised. So even if that was a useful comparison, which it isn’t, you’ll have to find somebody else who isn’t or reverse your circumcision, Jazzz47.”
This level of dedication sets Jiffman apart from the majority of exhibitionists on Wikipedia; most of them don’t have such a clearly defined goal, and as a result, they’re not very successful. But like Susan Boyle just weeks before him, he kept at it until the world finally recognized his unique talents. He focused on one goal and willed it to happen. He put in the hours, and eventually, he reaped the rewards.
Look for part II of Jack Stuef’s journey into the dark heart of Wikipedia later this week.