Forking Wikipedia

As I mentioned in another article, I’m doing an inclusionist fork of Wikipedia.

I’m not the only one who’s recently had this idea. Glyn Moody recently wrote:

I wonder whether it might be time to start thinking about forking Wikipedia. The original claim of being “an encyclopedia anyone can edit” has become less all-inclusive – not so much in terms of who may write, but rather as far as what they can write about. This involves the issue of “notability”:

Within Wikipedia, notability is an inclusion criterion based on encyclopedic suitability of a topic. The topic of an article should be notable, or “worthy of notice”. This concept is distinct from “fame”, “importance”, or “popularity”, although these may positively correlate with notability. A subject is presumed to be sufficiently notable if it meets the general notability guideline below, or if it meets an accepted subject specific standard listed in the table to the right.

That is, Wikipedia is no longer interested in accepting entries about any old thing, but requires them to be “notable” in the above sense. Now, that’s all very well if you aspire to be a dead serious kind of encyclopedia along the lines of the Encyclopaedia Britannica, but given that Wikipedia offered the hope of something more than just an online version of that dead tree monument to dead knowledge, I’m not so sure this attempt at increasing the respectability of Wikipedia is right.

I don’t think it’s right either. I am fed up with deletionists destroying articles I’ve created or worked on. I worry that Wikipedians are being put off from writing or editing articles by the prospect that their work will be consigned to the dustbin by deletionists (I know this has happened to me and I bet I’m not the only one).

Why shouldn’t every film, every TV programme episode, every small-circulation magazine, every pokemon character, etc have an article about it, if people want to write those articles? People who aren’t interested in these subjects won’t read them, and people who are interested will find them useful.

In an ideal world the deletionists would delete themselves, or at least go found their own encyclopedia. But they don’t want to do that, instead they want to actively disrupt the project of delivering all the world’s knowledge to all the world’s people.

So I’m creating an inclusionist fork of Wikipedia.

This entry was posted in censorship, computers, digital rights, technology, Wikipedia and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to Forking Wikipedia

  1. David Gerard says:

    Complying with GFDL on the Web isn’t that hard. Just be sure to list it on http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Mirrors_and_forks .

    The main problem is that our English Wikipedia database dumps fail more often than not. This is regarded as a serious problem and attention is being paid to it, but our incredibly small number of tech staff (the joys of being a charity run on a shoestring) are run off their feet so it’s not proceeding as fast as we’d like.

  2. David Gerard says:

    Oh, and: a common response to a subject area getting subjected to harsh notability “guidelines” is to create a specialist wiki on the subject. There’s lots on wikia.com and elsewhere (e.g. comixpedia.org) started for just this reason. If it’s under a suitable licence (dual-licensing under GFDL and CC-by-sa, for instance), then stuff of general interest can easily be copied across to Wikipedia as it’

  3. Jennie says:

    I am totally with you on this. What harm does it do Wikipedia to be as inclusionist as possible?

  4. cabalamat says:

    The main problem is that our English Wikipedia database dumps fail more often than not. This is regarded as a serious problem and attention is being paid to it, but our incredibly small number of tech staff (the joys of being a charity run on a shoestring) are run off their feet so it’s not proceeding as fast as we’d like.

    My website will be for-profit and funded by Google ads. Once it starts generating significant income, I will be in a position to throw some money Wikipedia’s way in order to fix the problem with dumps.

    Until then I can use partial dumps and spider the site (using Special:Export and not hitting the site more often than 1 /second which IIRC is the limit. That way I’ll probably never be more than about 1 month out of date with Wikipedia’s content.

  5. cabalamat says:

    Oh, and: a common response to a subject area getting subjected to harsh notability “guidelines” is to create a specialist wiki on the subject. There’s lots on wikia.com and elsewhere

    Yes, I’m familiar with wikia.

    I think it would be useful to have a resource where all the information could be held together, both for ease of hyperlinking to external data (i.e. having a big wiki with lots of diverse info rather than lots of unconnected small wikis) and to allow for a single login. (I hate having to create new user names & passwords for every site I use).

    BTW I thought this was very funny.

  6. Jon says:

    Your blog post is timely… Right now, there’s a deletion controversy over…well, the controversy itself:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deletionist_versus_Inclusionist_Controversy

  7. Shlomi Fish says:

    I share similar sentiments with what you say here. I’ve written about some wikipedia anti-patterns like this in my “How Many Wikipedia Editors does it take to change a lightbulb?” bit. And you are right that it seems to have become discouraging.

    Recently, I’ve added a page about Freecell Solver (now moved to the Card games wikia) and it was deleted because it was a “non-notable” open-source project. I’d like to add a page about PySol (at the moment on cards.wikia, too), which is an open-source collection of Solitaire games, but I am afraid it will be deleted too, despite the fact Wikipedia has a page about Pretty Good Solitaire, which is a different popular Solitaire suite.

    So all this deletionism is discouraging.

    Naturally if a country with one-milliard people is notable, and a single speck of dust on my ADSL router is non-notable, where do you draw the line? I’m not saying it’s easy to decide that, but I think the current behaviour of some Wikipedia deletionists errs too much on the non-inclusive side.

    Perhaps one can move more and more pages that were considered non-notable to specialised wikis (such as those of wikia).

    And I should note that if you find a fault with an article, then please be adding a comment about it on the talk page, kthx.

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