Wikipedia Webcomic Witchhunt?

I received an email today with some rather odd news. Apparently someone who moderates or edits or whatever on wikipedia has been cleaning house, deleting several webcomic entries and voting for others to be removed as well. Here’s part of the message that was sent to us:

There’s been a bunch of webcomics removed from Wikipedia or currently on the chopping block… including “The Outer Circle”. Mainly this is being lead by a user called Hahnchen (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User_talk:Hahnchen). Here’s a list of comics that he has deleted or put in the process of deleting:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Articles_for_deletion/Able_and_Baker
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Articles_for_deletion/The_Outer_Circle
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Articles_for_deletion/Neltark_and_Willie
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Articles_for_deletion/Built_for_Comfort
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Articles_for_deletion/The_Jaded
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Articles_for_deletion/Shit_Happens_Webcomic

Steve Napierski of The Outer Circle webcomic has already chimed in on the subject with this comic. It’s not entirely clear what is going on here or why this is happening, but it’s upsetting several people in the webcomics community. If anyone has any thoughts feel free to post a comment.

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20 thoughts on “Wikipedia Webcomic Witchhunt?

  1. Wikipedia has always had a \’policy\’ of sorts that used some nebulous \’popularity threshold\’ to decide if a webcomic was \’worthy\’ of being listed in the Wikipedia. One would think that this procedure is used to prevent low readership, rarely updated, vanity-type webcomics (such as my own) from using the wiki as free advertising and taking up space that could be used by \’real\’ and consistantly updated strips, or strips that have made a viable impact on the internet.
    Considering the thousands of webcomics that are out there, their \’policy\’ doesn\’t seem totally unreasonable. At the same time their \’policy\’ on webcomics was never defined to my satisfaction.
    Of course, I personally use the Comixpedia Wiki to look up webcomics I read or have an interest.
    Also, many of these \’moderators\’ (or whatever they are) seem to have too much time on their hands and take some things WAY too seriously.

  2. While I totally understand Wiki not wanting to be turned into a place for anyone to hawk whatever they want, I do agree there needs to be more of definition than it currently has. Personally, I think the people over Wiki in generally should be spending more time on fact checking then on delete threads they don\’t think are important.

    That\’s just my 2 cents though.

  3. Wikipedia is like the hitch hiker\’s guide to the galaxy. What does it matter what the article is? It\’s a common knowledge bank. As long as it is correct and factual it shouldn\’t matter the content.

  4. Not that I agree with the whole mess, I can understand why Wiki\’s doing what it is. Hell, their recent financial issues might have something to do with it…I really don\’t know.

    I will say that I thought this was why the Webcomic Wiki was created in the first place….so that when this happened (as it has happened before)there wasn\’t any drama to worry about.
    On a side note, does anyone have any idea how many entries they try to delete on a regular basis? Is this really a \”witchhunt\” or just business as usual?
    -jared

  5. Yeah, that moderator removed the article for my webcomic Rooms (http://rooms.wurmz.net). What really bugged me about this was the fact that Rooms is part of a triumvirate of webcomics so it broke the circle of linking articles. Also, when my friend who runs Fried (http://www.fried-comic.com) which is part of the same webcomic circle as mine, tried to remove his comic\’s entry from wiki in protest, they put it back and said something along the lines of \”We may delete your comic entry at some point but only we may decide when\”. Anyway, my comic\’s got an article on comixpedia and I put a message on my site explaining that people looking for a wikipedia type article on my comic should go there. Still, it\’s a shame really. Me, Ben and Jamie (the creator of Built for Comfort) had a big discussion about it over MSN but we couldn\’t think of any solution. So yeah I think, unless your comic\’s pretty successful, comixpedia is the way to go. Just my two cents.

  6. I recently had my own comic pass through the VfD (vote for deletion) process, so I can sympathize with those going through the same thing.

    Since webcomic creators often work for free, rejection can feel like someone is saying that your work is worth less than nothing, quite a blow to the ego. But I can understand Wiki\’s point of view since there are so many comics out there. Ultimately, I believe that it is up to the people at Wiki to decide, I just hope that they try to work on a more solid grounds for acceptance or rejection.

  7. Yeah, it\’s become something of an epidemic. I can sympathize with webcomic creators currently going through this, since Our Home Planet\’s article was already deleted thanks to the zealousness of the Wikifiddlers (led by none other than Hahnchen). My suggestion: Drop Wikipedia as a source of webcomic information, and support the Comixpedia Wiki. You can\’t win against nerds who have nothing better to do than troll an online encyclopedia all day in search of things they don\’t like.

  8. Just wait, he\’ll go after a big comic such as Questionable Contnet or Penny Arcade and get blown out of the water.

  9. I\’d just like to say a few words. I\’m pleasantly surprised that this blog hasn\’t just been filled with wikipedia flames.

    Anyhow, I just felt that the Webcomic category at wikipedia was just filled with many many tiny readership/influence webcomics.

    My reasoning is this, just because the website exists, it doesn\’t mean it should have a wikipedia article. I don\’t understand why wikipedia had been so lenient on the inclusion criteria for webcomics over everything else in existance. Just with everything else on wikipedia, a webcomic should have some assertion of its notability.

    I mean, GD has chimed in above about how he doesn\’t like wikipedia because his comic got deleted. The only real reasoning anyone gave for why the comic should be kept was \”GD is a real hardworking guy\”, by a user named superhappy.

    Some webcomic artists/creators/fans seem to be upset and angered by the nominations. Does the lack of a wikipedia article hurt your comic? Does it mean that your comic is no way as good as Penny Arcade, or as influential as Triangle and Robert? just because they have an article and yours doesn\’t? Some of the fans, seem to feel like that their comic instantly deserves an article, just because they love it, and somehow their love must be justified in the creation of an article. I don\’t nominate things that I don\’t like, or I think are rubbish. I nominate things that I feel just aren\’t notable enough for wikipedia. For that reason, you\’ll never see me go for Penny Arcade, or in fact Geri Halliwell.

    Incidentally, Steve Napierski\’s vision of crying to sleep over wikipedia, is the exactly how I see many in the webcomic community.

    Sorry for the length and unfocussedness of the rant, but heh, rants are like that.

  10. Well apparently their (Hahnchen\’s) ability to means test the reasons of a web comic being on the Wiki is seriously flawed. All you need to do is look at the archives on the outer circle and you see it\’s been updated every day of this year since March 7th with a lot more skill put into the art than most webcomics out there.

    Obviously they have little knowledge on what\’s popular and what isn\’t.

    I wouldn\’t be so concerned over this if I wasn\’t a fan of webcomics, or if I wasn\’t trying to up my photoshop skills to a degree that I could update a comic on a more than weekly basis.

  11. I\’ve only been involved with the BfC deletion, Hanchen, but I found it interesting the way the people controlling VfD can happily discount all votes to the contrary just so the result of VfD matches their personal opinion.

  12. I think most people view Hahnchen\’s actions as an abuse of power. A single moderator taking a very specific subset of literature and publishing and passing his own judgement as to what is popular and what is not. There is too much power in one person\’s hands.

    The Outer Circle is a perfect example. It\’s a comic that\’s better than 90% of the vanity offerings that are out there. Well-writen and drawn.

    But because it\’s realatively new and hasn\’t had a chance to develop its fan base, it gets cut. Wiki\’s guidelines for what is an acceptable submission are too vauge to necessitate such a drastic action.

    Does removal from Wiki hurt the bottom line of the comic? The fact of the matter is \”Yes.\” When word of mouth is worth it\’s weight in gold, creators need to take advantage of every free resource available to them to provide information fans want to know about. How can one person decide what should stay and what should go?

    Hahnchen cited Triangle and Robert as \”influential.\” I had never heard of it until he mentioned it. So what does that say about it\’s level of influnce when I\’ve been producing my own web comic for 3 years? Must not be very profound. So how can Hahnchen claim he is just when he says he won\’t go after that comic, but will go after another?

  13. Know, I had also never heard of Triangle and Robert, but I nominated it, and a selection of none webcomic crones said it should be kept.

    Go look in your local gallery, look in a local art shop, and you\’ll see art there done by artists in the local area, which a heck of a lot more skill and expertise than in a heck of a lot of webcomics. I don\’t think they deserve a wikipedia article. Look in the tate modern and see a truckload of boxes strewn across the turbine hall by some random artist, or some crap on a plate by Tracey Emin. Yet, Tracey Emin should have an article. It\’s not about quality, it\’s not about word of mouth.

    Oh, and if whoever it is who runs fried wants to get his article deleted. He can, if he nominates it for deletion. He can\’t however, just vandalise the page and write something stupid like \”All for one, and One for All\”.

  14. Hahnchen:

    I never said I didn\’t like Wikipedia; it\’s still a good idea (if not shakily executed). I said that it should be dropped as a source of webcomic information, because for that purpose it is clearly of questionable usefulness. Don\’t put words in my mouth.

    I have already admitted elsewhere that my initial assessment of the site was incorrect. I\’d assumed that it\’s goal was akin to the Hitchhiker\’s Guide, collecting information about absolutely everything. I now understand that it is not. I\’m fine with that, I respect that, and I\’m not going to trying to push my comic article back into the site. That doesn\’t mean I can\’t think it\’s inappropriate for one editor to single-handedly cut a swath through a bunch of related articles. That\’s some chutzpah on your part.

    By the way, \”superhappy\” is Josh Lesnick. I didn\’t ask him to chime in, he did that of his own accord because he felt like it.

  15. Hoo boy.

    Hahnchen, I\’m afraid that psychoanalyzing your critics isn\’t going to win you any supporters. I\’ve tried that.

    Conjuring up an image of your critics crying like babies over your decisions isn\’t going to bring much goodwill either. I haven\’t tried that, but call it a hunch.

    Wikipedia is changing. At one time I think its model might have indeed been the \”Hitchhiker\’s Guide.\” It\’s moving more in line with your vision. In my view, that\’s the kind of thinking that led the Open Directory Project into decline, but I don\’t get to decide Wikipedia policy.

    If you\’re interested in winning people like me over, here are the two best things you can do. 1) Stick to the positive side of your vision– a clean and valuable resource– instead of dwelling on negatives that we may not see as negatives. And 2) Stress and continue to stress that you can nominate webcomics that seem fishy to you, but that you can and do back down when others contradict you. It\’ll help dispel this \”power-drunken\” image you\’re building up.

    (Try to keep from calling them \”crones,\” too. Some of them are under seventy.)

  16. I hope you don\’t take the comments about crones too seriously :)

    When I refer to the crying themselves to sleep because of a lack of an article, I refer to a small but very vocal minority of the webcomic community. I only use that analogy because it happened to be exactly what The Outer Circle comic thinks of me. I thought you may be familiar with it. I\’m sorry if any of the above offended you Mr Campbell.

    Anyway, GD. I have absolutely nothing against your comic, I have already stressed above, that quality is never the issue. I just think that wikipedia ought to have more stringent guidelines for webcomic inclusion (similar to that of Music, or Biography).

  17. Yeah, I know they started it, and I know it\’s tough to resist, but if you\’re in a sensitive position, you gotta forgo saying, \”No, YOUR mother.\”

    I worry about this Wikipedia movement a lot– but I know you\’re doing your best.

  18. Weirdly coincidental that this started happening shortly after comixpedia.org started to gain some traction.

  19. I\’d also like to add my support to the comixpedia wiki. I had actually suggested a wikipedia for comics on the talk pages of the webcomic inclusion guidelines at wikipedia. But not being the luminary visionary that Eric Burns is, I didn\’t know that it had already been suggested and created already.

    Even from my very early nominations, I have mentioned comixpedia and I\’m sure I have introduced many at wikipedia to its existance. And I guess that the many external links I made to it from wikipedia would give it\’s Google rank a bit of a kick.

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