See that Dead Horse? I'm Gonna Beat It

This isn't going to be a dirty as the headline may lead you to believe.

T Campbell posted an in depth interview with Dragonfiend, apparently some kind of big shot at Wikipedia, a few days ago over at Broken Frontier. There was also an interview with Wikipedia creator Jimmy Wales but it wasn't as long and didn't bring up as many points though. The Dragonfiend interview, however, brought up several issues that I wanted to touch on regarding the whole Wiki vs. Web comics controversy. Thanks for the interview T. It saved me from having to think of something to write about today.

First off, I want to say that I love Wikipedia. I think it's a much better source of information than a lot of people give it credit for. As I've stated more times I care to count, I'm a big fan of anything on the Net that increases audience participation. This isn't an anti-Wiki rant. I'm also love the American Government. That doesn't mean that I don't think it's a bureaucratic hell-hole that can be used by the few to screw over the deserving.

I don't however understand why the Wiki and the Web comics world can't get along. I know there's the whole notability argument that keeps being thrown in the mix, but that just muddies the water for me.

Dragonfiend said '‘Notability' concerns whether a topic has been noted by independent reputable sources. It is what we rely on to make sure that the topics we cover have enough written about them to help ensure that we can write an article with information that has been evaluated and fact-checked, information that comes from multiple points of view so that we can be neutral, and information that explains why a topic is of any importance.'

Leaving aside the fact that I had to read that second sentence three times to get it, this makes sense. Personally I don't think anything that exists should be put on Wiki. There are a lot of things (comics included) that are truly not notable. I concur with Dragonfiend that they do need to take precautions to prevent everything from ending up with it's own Wikipage, further hindering Wikipedia in it's quest to become a reputable source in it's own right.

The problem is that notability is very subjective. Campbell and Dragonfiend discussed several different systems that were used in the past to define it a little more and why they failed. Currently there is no one particular feat that you can accomplish to achieve undeniable notoriety. Since this is the case, we are forced to rely on other factors.

One that I've seen many times in Wiki deletion threads is the nature of the sources sited. According to how I read what Dragonfiend said, so long as the sources are independent and reputable you should be cool. Once again, it becomes a subjective call as to what is reputable. In the deletion thread for Jawbone Radio (another fine podcast that I listen to form time to time) the BBC was used as a source and it was still denied. The BB-freakin'-C! That blows my mind.

The other problem is the question of scope. Really, when you look at the big picture, very few articles on Wikipedia are that important. Take Pogs for instance. Nobody plays Pogs anymore. They're not that important to the average person, even if that person used to play Pogs. It's definitely not that important to people starving overseas. But to classic toy aficionados, they're still a big deal. For that reason, I'm all for there being a Pogs article, because it's important to the people who care.

That's the thing that the Wiki-editors are missing in my mind. Ugly Hill may not be important to them, but it is important to us. I don't even read Ugly Hill that often but in my position as a Web comic geek, I know that it's important enough to deserve a page.

Wikipedia needs an editor who really gets Web comics. Not some one who occasionally corrects a spelling mistake or adds a line or two, I'm talking about a hard core editor who will fight for the little guy. I'd do it myself but I just don't have the time. Having three jobs, school, a wife and level 54 dwarf warrior in WoW will do that to a person.

Or better yet, the current editors should just find a committee of people they can just ask whether or no a particular comic is notable. A group of people who are in the know. People who have dedicated a lot of time to more than just reading Web comic, but to understanding them on a deeper level. People who are competent writers. There should be six or seven on them and they should have a snappy title so that everyone knows who they are. They should be good looking, smart and funny. One should wear a mask.

I really think that would solve a lot of the problems. Wiki would have their independent, reputable source and Web comics creators would have a voice that understands them

Holy crap that's a lot of words. I've just tapped the surface of how I feel about this. I'll probably write more later. For right now, if you still want more, check out what Xereses over at Comixpedia said about the interview, he made some good points that I didn't even touch.

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3 thoughts on “See that Dead Horse? I'm Gonna Beat It

  1. TL;DR

    Do you want to know why I didn’t? Because nobody cares about Wikipedia Vs. webcomics except like 10 whole dudes in the world. It’s not worth writing about.

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