Seeing as I’m a co-founder of ValueWiki, it’s probably no shocker that I’m a Wikipedian. And say what you will, but I think Wikipedia is one of the greatest accomplishments of the internet. But is Wikipedia becoming totalitarian?
In addition to recent battles with Microsoft, Wikipedia is in the final rounds of stamping out Esperanza. Esperanza is a Wikipedia subculture that evolved to inspire a sense of community among Wikipedians. The group created “coffee lounge” chat pages, mentored new members, compiled birthday calendars, and awarded “Barnstars” to recognize user accomplishments. In a wiki world of vandals and link spammers, Esperanza supported projects like the Kindness Campaign, WikiLove, and the Barnstar awards. They created “Trading Spaces,” where html-savvy users would pimp each other’s bio pages. Through colorful userpages and sig’s, Wikipedia was finally shedding it’s drab communist grey for a more fun and user-friendly feel. And the sense of community and support Esperanza created certainly helped to fuel Wikipedia’s explosive growth.
Unfortunately, Wikipedia admins have decided that Esperanza is non-encyclopedic, and set about snuffing it out the best way they know how – Byzantine beaurocracy! You really have to read this page to believe it. I’m not sure people outside of Wikipedia are aware this is going on. It reminds me of the Chinese government stamping out Falun Gong. What’s the harm in a bunch of people who want to do calisthenics? Or setup birthday calendars on a wiki talkpage?
Alright, I’m a wiki-geek. But it’s a little sad to see neat Wikipedia projects like Wikifun and WikiGames fizzle out. I know of many upset and exhausted Wikipedians who have left. Now users post in the community portal, Is Wikipedia Beginning to Decelerate?
Zach and I are watching and listening. For any Wikipedians who migrate to ValueWiki, we encourage you to start groups, pimp your bio pages, and build a community. Ultimately, we believe a healthy sense of community will build a better wiki.