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What Is This 'Wiki' Of Which You Speak? - Morgan Dawn Livejournal:The Here And Now
The Here And Now
What Is This 'Wiki' Of Which You Speak?

I realized that in my many postings about Fanlore, I have not really gone into detail how wikis in general work. I also realized that some of the collaboration methods used by wikis are not obvious. Until recently I had only used Wikipedia (the main one) as an occasional resource – it was not until I started editing that I started to 'grok' the Wiki collaboration methods. So hopefully, this post will be of use to some of you. 

Wikis are communal spaces and are open to anyone to read and edit. They are volunteer run and not directed (everyone works on the areas that interest them). That often trips up people because we expect there to be a central  organization directing volunteer efforts. It also means there will be gaps and inaccuracies because there may be many hands touching a page. Conversely, there may be too few hands touching a page.   More importantly, if  someone does not supply the correct information, it will not get added to the wiki.  All wikis face the same hurdles – getting accurate information and getting enough volunteers to add that information.   

Luckily there are ways to help make wikis more accurate. You can make edits in several ways:

1. Create a free account and make them yourself. This is often the fastest way to get the corrections made and the most accurate. If you do make the edits yourself, remember to familiarize yourself with the wiki’s editorial polices as they vary from wiki to wiki (Fanlore for example has a plural point of view policy which allows more perspectives than academic or research wikis).

2.       Leave a message on the “Talk” page (every page has its own discussion page). This also requires an account and can be overlooked because there are tens of thousands of pages.

3.       Send a message to the Gardeners mailing list. If you do this, please remember to include a link to the page that needs to be edited, along with what is wrong and what needs to be added to be corrected. General or vague corrections  are less likely to be implemented than specific  ones.  The gardeners list is also volunteer staffed and it is a general mailing list. This means no one is “assigned” to monitor it, your messages go the entire group of volunteers who may – or may not – be online. But depending on who is online and available, you may (a) have your edits made and get an confirming  email,  (b) have your edits made and receive  no confirming email, (c) have someone contact you for more info or (d)  your edits may not be made because no one  was reading the mailing list that day/week  or your message never reached the mailing list .  In which case you can always use any of the above methods or try again.   

As with all volunteer efforts, I find it helps to have patience and an understanding that people are doing the work for love and in their spare time.

Edited to add: on a personal note, I also have not talked about some of the events that pushed me into contributing to Fanlore.  In 2009, newer fans who had never seen a fanzine were upset about fanzines being sold on eBay and were reporting the eBay sellers for copyright infringement.  Then there were the fans who thought that we should be reporting all fanzine publishers for copyright infringement.  There was also a lack of knowledge about fandom history (and slash fandom in particular) .  And finally, the fact that the main Wikipedia feels that most fandom activities are not "notable". Case in point:

Sectus = 450 fans attend a Harry Potter convention, a 4 day series of fannish and scholarly events and Wikipedia deletes the convention page: The convention is not notable and not worth documenting because it  "...is just a school get together with Harry Potter fans."

Fanlore's Sectus convention page.

Which leads me to proposing this slogan:

"Fanlore: Where even typewriters get their own write-up."

 (cross-posted to various mailing lists as soon as I can log in again. Kicks Yahoo)

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