It’s the most famous penis in the world. Clean-shaven, uncut and decidedly smaller than Tommy Lee, Milton Berle and Rasputin — and yet, it has a girthier reach than any of them. Viewed by more than 200,000 people on a monthly basis, it’s become the subject of countless Reddit threads and Twitter posts. It’s also had remarkable staying power, remaining at the top of the schlong heap for a solid decade. But despite its penile infamy, we have no idea who it belongs to.
I’m talking, of course, about the guy whose penis is on the Wikipedia page for “penis” — or, more specifically, the pages for both “penis” and “human penis.” The image was uploaded by a user named “Coastone” on April 29, 2012, and the dick pic was put up as the lead image for “human penis” the very next day. In short order, Wikipedia moderators decided that this dick was the perfect specimen to represent every penis on Earth.
Over the next decade, many other penises would challenge that status, but they’d only dethrone Coastone’s for a few hours — or minutes — before his inevitable reinstatement. On its own, that’s pretty impressive, but if you take Wikipedia’s rather turbulent penis history into account, Coastone’s longevity is downright legendary.
In keeping with Wikipedia’s basic principles of allowing anyone to edit entries, the site maintains a meticulous archive of every single change made to every single one of its pages. To date, the penis page has had 8,440 different versions, and each can be found in the “view history” section of the page. The very first version of the penis page was created on November 8, 2001, some 10 months after Wikipedia launched. It had no pictures whatsoever, and provided just the most basic info on penises.
As noted by Slate, which reported on Wikipedia’s penis page back in 2014, on January, 30, 2003, the first visual representation of a penis was added to the page by user GrandVoivodOfErdely. It looked like this:
Just 14 minutes later though, the “vandalism” was taken down.
A similar thing happened on July, 13, 2003, when an anonymous user uploaded the first actual image to the page. The image, though, was of George Washington:
Wikipedia’s penis page looked like this for exactly one minute before being reverted back to its previous version. Strangely, it seems that Washington’s pioneer spirit somehow inhabited Wikipedia’s penis page that day, because just hours later, several actual dick pics — the first ever to appear on the page — would be uploaded by user BL~enwiki. They weren’t considered vandalism either. They were simple, medical-looking, black-and-white images, and they’d remain on the page for months before being replaced by clearer photos.
None of these images were the “lead image,” though — that top picture you see when you first click on a Wikipedia page. Instead, they were further down in the details section. Over the next 19 years, lots and lots of penises would compete for space in this section — usually, they were uploaded by guys surrendering their own dicks to the public domain. Most of them would be quickly removed — as one moderator once hilariously noted in the discussion page, “At this time Wikipedia does not need any more human genitalia images.” On occasion, however, some pictures would stay up for years at a time — these were the ones moderators believed to have encyclopedic value.
But while the ups and downs of the penile images on the page are important, the most important penis there is definitely the lead image. Again, it’s the first thing people see when they arrive on a Wikipedia page, and it’s no doubt the dick they think of when they think about “the” Wikipedia penis. To that end, the first lead image on the Wikipedia penis page appeared on May 9, 2004. It was an encyclopedic medical drawing uploaded by a user named Raul654.
Aside from the occasional prank, medical drawings would remain at the top of the page until May 3, 2008, when a user named Bobisbob decided that he’d had enough with the cheap imitators — he wanted the real thing (or the whole hog, if you will). He added an image of a caucasian man and labeled it “semi-erect circumcised penis.” But Bob was quickly met with opposition by other editors, who criticized the addition and reverted the image back to the diagram. Bob refused to give up, though. Next, he uploaded dick pic after dick pic, despite other users taking them down and calling the images the worst possible insult on Wikipedia: “un-encyclopedic.”
Other moderators would also accuse Bob of uploading his own images. While that’s certainly possible, it appears that Bob was uploading different penis pics each time — some of which were circumcised, some of which were not; so it’s unlikely all of them were his. As opposed to the cheap thrill many seem to get from adding their own dick pic to Wikipedia, Bob probably saw this as a noble cause. In one comment, he even wrote, “Why not have a picture of the real thing, [is] that so bad?”
For an entire month, Bob went back and forth with other moderators, arguing that a photo of a penis was better than a diagram, and finally, they relented (though they declined to use any of the pictures Bob had put forth). Instead, on June 6, 2008, user Nandesuka posted a slightly blurry black-and-white photograph that labeled different parts of the penis.
For two whole months, Bob let it go, but in August 2008, he began insisting that the lead image be in color and that it have no labels, explaining that labeled penis pics should go in the details section. He kept up the fight for more than a year, uploading different color pictures every so often, only to have them removed and replaced with the black-and-white photo.
Bob relented in September 2009, but the days were numbered for the black-and-white photo anyway. On February 24, 2010, a user named Yestadae posted a color image of a man with blond pubic hair. The image, which doesn’t appear to be a picture of Yestadae, was from a German user named Polarstern, which translates to “North Star” in English. After a weeklong discussion between moderators about which image was better, it was decided that Polarstern’s was superior.
But Polarstern’s reign as the penile North Star was limited, too. In December 2010, the penis page — which was always very human-centric — was split into two pages, one for general penises and the other for human penises, specifically. Following this, the lead image for the original penis page became a bunch of jars of whale penises, and then later on, an elephant penis.
Polarstern became the lead image for the new “human penis” page, but it wasn’t without controversy. In the discussion threads, Polarstern clearly being a white man — given his blond, unkempt pubic hair — was a big topic of conversation. Namely: Why not use a penis picture with more racial ambiguity to it?
The answer came in the form of Coastone’s dick — or what’s most likely Coastone’s dick, as it was labeled as “own work” on its details page, which means it’s his, or someone who he got permission from. Coastone’s penis was uncircumcised, had a somewhat darker skin tone and was posted by user Pontmarcheur on April 30, 2012. Pontmarcheur posted this image just one day after it was uploaded to Wikipedia, which, to me, heavily implies that they’re the same guy. Either way, no one seemed to mind.
Pontmarcheur argued that this new penis could belong to almost any race, and that it “reduces the controversy” around having a white man represent everyone. And unlike the long discussions that were had in the past over such changes, the moderators came to the consensus that Coastone’s member was the winner in a single day. The photo has remained as the lead image for the human penis page ever since.
On April 30, 2022, Coastone will celebrate 10 years on the throne, an accomplishment both he and Pontmarcheur — assuming they’re not the same guy — should be proud of. After all, the last decade has been a turbulent one for the entire world. There was COVID, there was an insurrection and there were more than a few wars. Yet, through it all, there’s been one steady thing we could count on, one reliable member we could always turn to: The penis on the Wikipedia human penis page.