The World of Wikis

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So, you sit down to watch the new season of The Walking Dead, you wish you’d had time to do that rewatch of last season like you meant to do, but oh well, you’ll be fine, after-all, you love this show! Then suddenly, you’re confused because there’s a guy saying stuff about a thing and you know you should know who he is, but you just can’t place him. Is he from The Kingdom? Or was he a Saviour? Was he even in last season? You’re sure you’ve seen him before but…WHO IS THAT GUY?!

Never fear, the wiki is here!

Wiki’s have become a stable in the lives of fans. A central encyclopaedic housing of information about television shows, movies, gaming, book series, anime and even entertainment brands. A wiki is a free, collaborative space that brings together detailed knowledge, and passion under one umbrella of awesome.

A wiki can feature anything from episode breakdowns and transcripts, to cast and character biographies. They explore the canon and lore of the Universe they’re dedicated to, and catalogue weapons, vehicles, animals, music, and some even document fan life and fan projects.

But with so much information to cover, what makes a good wiki, and what does it take to manage a wiki and ensure it remains relevant.

A good example is Supernaturalwiki, which went live in August 2006, just shy of a year after the TV show premiered. It is an independent wiki, that is not-for-profit and ad-free. With over 3700 entries, and around 40,000 visitors a month, the Supernaturalwiki, AKA SuperWiki, is not just a source for fans worldwide, it is also used by the media, and the people who produce Supernatural including the writers, production crew and cast.

With over 2000 users having contributed to the site, Managing Editor, Jules Wilkinson knows that a good wiki must not just be accurate, it must also be detailed, well-organised, and importantly, up to date.

“Keeping the site current is a challenge,” Jules says. “As people can choose to contribute what they contribute and when, so a particular entry or category may languish as editors change. We do have an organised roster for completing episode recaps and transcripts, in order to ensure they are updated soon after an episode is broadcast.”

Part of Jules’ role is to support new contributors, helping them to learn how to code, and understand the Wiki conventions and helping them get the most out of their involvement. In any given week there are usually around 20 people actively working on the SuperWiki, all adding their own perspective and talent to it, whether that’s copy editing, or contributing their expertise on Egyptian mythology or Simpsons references.

For Jules, “Being an editor should be creative and enjoyable and people should feel they can make their mark on the site. I review edits for accuracy and appropriateness and identify areas of the SuperWiki which need updating. We have always been a very harmonious site,” she adds. “It’s only very rarely there will be conflict over some interpretation of canon.”

What makes the SuperWiki unique though, is that it documents the Supernatural fandom alongside the show. It not only covers what happens on the show, it covers behind the scenes, conventions, charity projects, fan fiction, shipping and other creative fan endeavours whether it’s a cookbook or a podcast.

“These aspects are not kept separate,” Jules says. “For example, you can read an entry about the character Jack Kline on the show and follow links to the JackLovesNougat roleplaying account on Twitter.”

Another thriving wiki site is Fandom, an international entertainment company and the home of wiki pages formerly housed by Wikia. It is a free of charge and for-profit site, which currently hosts several thousand wikis in all different languages.

Like Jules from the Supernaturalwiki, Fandom’s Managing Editor of Australia, Jeremy Ray believes in the importance of keeping a wiki current and ensuring its accuracy.

“I love it when a wiki is very up-to-date,” says Jeremy. “And of course, accuracy is very important. It’s very helpful to know when you can reliably check a wiki for the contents of the latest weapon crate in CS:GO, or to find out all about the new Overwatch character.”

At Fandom the larger wiki admin teams function somewhat like mini-governments. They meet regularly and vote on policy decisions, manage and assist newer members, and moderate contributions from the public, liaising with the content team as necessary.

Primarily the wiki admins own their space at Fandom, if they feel rumours, guides, tips, etc have a place within that space, then that’s their prerogative. Though some prefer to keep their spaces for lore only.

“Like our Wookiepiedia,” Jeremy says. “Which refers to the events of Star Wars as if it’s actual history.”

One of the complex issues a wiki editor may face is where there are multiple entries for the same character, or brand. For example, on the SuperWiki, if there are alternate reality characters do you house their information on the original version of that character’s page, or do they have their own page, because in essence they are their own character, even though they share a character name and actor. Or at Fandom when you have a character/brand overlap, which means there’s a Mario page on the Nintendo wiki, the Mario wiki, and the Smash Bros wiki. This is why structure and organisation are so important. A fan is not going to use a wiki that is difficult to navigate, so part of the editing and management of a wiki is discussing and dealing with these types of issues, to ensure the fan experience is protected.

“We try to assist in those situations,” Jeremy says. “To make sure the content can easily be found by both the user and Google.”

Jules adds, “There is on-going discussion with editors about whether it is better to have one large entry on a topic or several smaller pages and how to catalogue something within the site so people can find the information. Accessibility also includes ensuring images are properly captioned for those with visual impairments.”

 Both Jules and Jeremy agree this teamwork is vital in running a wiki as it’s simply too much work for one person to handle, but more importantly that wikis would not function without the support of the fans who have helped to grow and develop them.

“We fund our web hosting and tech support costs through donations,” says Jules

A wiki is there to empower fans to dig deeper into the thing they love and follow their passion by contributing their own knowledge and unique set of skills to the larger community. The people who build and shape the wiki pages dedicate thousands of hours to ensure that the latest information is available when someone needs to check an item of lore in Final Fantasy or find out how many times the Winchester brothers hugged in season 14. Fans can build their own wikis, create their own spaces, contribute entries that reflect their own particular interests, or simply explore the thousands and thousands of pages of information about that thing they love by people who love it too.

“It might be cheesy,” Jeremy concludes. “But we had an old motto that was to “help fans be better fans,” and I think that sums it up.”

So, next time you can’t remember who that character is, or you need to know how you kill a Leviathan or get a detailed family tree of the Great Houses of Game of Thrones, check out a wiki! They’re the ultimate in fans giving back to fans.

Thanks to the SuperWiki and Fandom for their help with this article
and to the fans for all the work they do.
Follow on Twitter - SuperWiki @SuperWiki and Fandom @getFANDOM

© Amy Hutton 2019

 

 

Scammed: A Supernatural Fan Fiction

Dean Winchester drummed his fingers impatiently on the steering wheel of his beloved Impala, his right hand pressing his phone to his ear. The heat radiating across his cheek.

“Come on,” he said, moving the phone in front of his face to glare at it.

The Impala door opened with a groan, and his brother, Sam, folded himself in, sliding onto his seat and tucking his long legs under the dash. He was nursing a tray with two large coffees and one sticky looking pastry.

“Still on hold?” Sam said, handing Dean a cardboard cup.

“With the worst freakin’ music ever!” Dean grumbled.

He turned his phone towards his brother and hit the speaker button. A crackling, muzak version of Afternoon Delight filled the car.

“Geesh,” Sam said, with a grimace.

Dean hit the speaker button again, silencing the cacophony of electronic notes. He put his phone back to his ear and grabbed the pastry from the tray on Sam’s lap, shoving a large bite of it into his mouth.

“Mm sthick ov wating,” Dean said, through a mouthful of food. “Ib beem ober thirby munmits”

Sam stared at him. “Dude, I didn’t understand a word you just said.”

Dean took a loud slurp of coffee and wiped his face along his sleeve.

“I said, I’m sick of waiting, it’s been over thirty minutes!”

“So, hang up,” Sam said with a shrug.

“And lose my place in the queue? No way.”

Dean angrily packed his mouth with the rest of the sugary treat at the exact moment a customer service member picked up his call. Quickly taking a gulp of coffee, he attempted to choke down the remnants of pastry while motioning wildly for Sam to hold his cup.

“Yes. Hello,” Dean spluttered into the phone, as he struggled to swallow his breakfast. “I want to check my credit card ……… Because I just went to use it, and it got rejected!”

He turned to Sam and rolled his eyes with exaggerated exasperation.

“What. Oh yeah. Hang on.” Dean scrambled for his wallet, lifting his butt to extract it from his back pocket. Placing the wallet on his knee, he held it steady with an elbow while he pulled out his MasterCard. “Okay. It’s 5555 6466 8132 0000 ……… Vincent Cooper. 12 September 1979,” he said, then waited silently.

Sam watched his brother, eyebrows raised, an amused swirl of lines clustering in the middle of his forehead.

“My last transaction?” Dean carried on. “Um.” He glanced sideways at Sam. “It was an online purchase ……… You need me to confirm the purchase? But why? Can’t you see the purchase? ……… Oh. Right.”

He brought the phone closer to his face, cupping his hand over the mouthpiece and twisting inwards towards the window beside him.

“Anime Heaven,” he whispered into the device.

After a beat of silence, Dean closed his eyes and repeated himself, this time in his normal voice.

“ANIME HEAVEN.”

Sam let out a snicker followed closely by an “ow!” as his brother expertly reached across and thumped him without even looking.

“Yeah, that’s been the only purchase,” Dean mumbled. “The card was brand new ……… No. I definitely didn’t order forty pair of Nikes.” He turned to Sam, “Son of a bitch,” he said. “I knew it. Someone scammed my card!”

Before Sam could respond, Dean held up a silencing finger.

“A-ha. Okay,” he continued down phone. “Yup, absolutely, cancel it. That’ll screw up the fitness freaks.” Dean gave Sam a triumphant thumbs up. “And just to clarify, I’m not responsible for that money, right? …… Awesome. Yeah, okay, no that’s it. Thanks.”

He ended the call and turned to face Sam.

“Can you believe it. Freakin’ credit card fraud! Scammers. What ass-wipes. At least we don’t have to pay for it.”

Sam gapped at his brother.

“Dean, we never have to pay for it.”

“What? Yeah, well. That’s not the point.”

“That card was a scam. Vincent. Cooper. We live on credit card fraud!”

“Not the same.”

“Technically it is.”

“But we’re not stealing from anyone.”

“Technically we are.”

“Banks don’t count.”

“Technically they do.”

Dean glowered at Sam, before turning away and starting the car. She roared to life with a satisfying thrum.

“Anime Heaven, Dean?” Sam said with a smirk.

“Shut-up.”

“Really?”

“It’s an art form!”

The noise of screeching tyres mixed with Sam’s raucous laughter, as Dean floored the gas.

-FIN-

    © Amy Hutton 2019
    Story by Amy Hutton based on characters created by Eric Kripke.
    Dedicated to all the Supernatural fans who had their credit cards
    scammed this past week in the Great SPN Credit Card Apocalypse. 
    More Supernatural Fan fiction by Amy can be found here

The Question

Jessie sat in the lounge-room, a glow from the streetlight sneaking through the curtains. She watched the door, anxiously chewing her nails, waiting for James to come home. She wanted to ask him something, something she knew he wouldn’t like. She’d rehearsed the words in her mind, and though they sounded perfectly logical to her, she knew he’d still say no. There was no way James would let her date a cop.

James was Jessie’s older brother, by a whole four minutes, and he never let her forget it. He was always there, watching over her, and though she never doubted his love, she wished, just once, he’d let her make her own decisions. She knew dating a cop could be dangerous for them, but their parent’s death was ancient history. Why would they be discovered now?

 

Jessie heard the key in the lock and watched silently as James stepped into the hall, kicking off his greasy boots. She sat up a little straighter in her chair, swallowing hard as he flicked on the light. He jumped out of his skin when he saw her.

“What the hell Jessie! Why are you in the dark?”

He was obviously tired. Jessie wished she’d picked her moment more carefully.

“I’m waiting for you. I, um, want to ask you something,” she said, wringing her hands in her lap.

“Yeah, well, it can wait. I wanna take a shower.”

“Can you shower in a minute?” she asked. “I won’t take long.”

“I said it can wait!”

Jessie winced. “Okay, sure,” she said, forcing a smile. “You go shower.”

She closed her eyes and listened as James stomped up the stairs.

 

“There’s no way I’m allowing you to go out with that guy, Jess, he’s a cop, are you stupid?”

James was standing in Jessie’s bedroom, towering over her, making her feel even smaller than she was.

“I’m not stupid, James, please don’t say that,” she tried to sound assertive. “How will he find out about mum and dad, no-one else has, besides the case was closed years ago!”

She looked at her twin brother, her fists balled tightly by her sides. She wanted to scream at him, tell him she was 24, that he couldn’t control her anymore. She wanted to hit him, punch him until she forced him to say yes, but she knew it wasn’t worth it, his anger was too much for her to bear.

 

Jessie followed James onto the landing, trying to reason with him.

“He’s known me for nearly a year, James, don’t you think if he was secretly investigating us, we’d know by now? He just wants to take me to dinner. I’m 24, I should be able to go on a date!” She realised her voice was raised, but she didn’t care, she was done with this bullshit.

“You’re not seeing him and that’s it!” James literally stamped his foot.

They stood on the landing, a long, unspoken resentment rolling between them.

“So, is it just him? Or is it anyone?”Jessie asked calmly.

“What?” James said.

“Is it that you don’t want me to date a cop or is it that you don’t want me to date anyone?” She glared at him, challenging. “You can’t risk it can you, because I might leave, and who would you be then? Who are you if you’re not controlling me? You’re terrified that if I meet someone, I’ll finally see how pathetic you are! You need me!”

James flew forward, his face so close to hers she could feel the heat of his breath.

“I don’t need you,” he growled. “You’ve done nothing but hold me back my entire life. Protecting you, watching you, trapped in this shitty existence, all because of you! My psychopath sister! Maybe I should leave you, see how far you get.”

“But who other than me, would love a loser like you?” Jessie practically hissed.

James punched the wall by her head, he was fuming, but she no longer cared, it was time to own her life.

“Maybe I should tell your Officer Becket the truth about you,” James continued, through gritted teeth. “Or better still, take a leaf out of your book and just get rid of him completely.” He sneered down at her.

That was it. Jessie felt something explode inside. “You can’t control me anymore,” she screamed as her hands shot forward, hitting James with all her strength.

He stumbled backwards, realisation frozen on his face.

 

Jessie sat on the footpath, a sense of calm filling the space where rage just lived. She could hear the sirens. She knew what she was going to say, and she knew they’d believe her. She found James at the bottom of the stairs when she got home. A tragedy. She was pretty sure she could fake some tears, she’d faked them before. As she sat waiting for the ambulance, for the first time in her life she felt truly alone. But it wasn’t a sad feeling, it was exhilarating. After 24 years of sharing every emotion, every experience, now she could finally have something for herself. She thought about James’ body, broken on the floor and a rush of pleasure coursed through her. She’d forgotten what it felt like to kill, how liberating it was. James had tried to control her, but now she was free, now she could do whatever she wanted.

© Amy Hutton 2019

Ten Second Hero

Crystal still couldn’t believe she was there, she still couldn’t believe she was doing it. Any minute now she was going to meet her favourite actor, she was going to say hello to him, maybe even touch him.

Her stomach felt like it had a flock of butterflies flapping around inside it and she was acutely aware that she was trembling. Her palms may even be sweating. She wiped them down the front of her dress just in case. She had wanted to come to one of these fan conventions forever, but she never seemed to be able to work up the nerve, her anxiety always getting in the way. And yet somehow here she was, waiting in line to take a photo with a guy she’d been in love with for years! What was she even thinking?

The energy in the room was electric, happiness bouncing off the walls. Music was playing, people were laughing, everyone was excited to be there. As Crystal made her way forward in the queue, she suddenly realised she could see him. There he was, standing in front of a back drop, looking more beautiful than she ever thought possible. It was surreal. Like her wildest dream.

A wave of panic gripped her, she was not emotionally prepared for this! Not even a little! What if she couldn’t do it? What if she couldn’t talk? Or worse, what if she fainted? She felt light headed just thinking about it. As she started to sway, a girl behind her grabbed her shoulder.

“Are you okay?” the girl asked. “Do you need to sit down?”

Crystal looked around, concerned faces staring in her direction. Please don’t let this be how it ends, she thought, with her in a pile on the floor, not when she’d come this far. She took in a steadying breath, determined not to humiliate herself. Determined not to miss this chance.

“Just a bit nervous,” she said with a shaky smile.

The girl smiled back understandingly, and then nodded towards the beginning of the line.

Crystal was next.

He turned as she stepped into the photo area, smiling warmly down at her. He was taller than she thought.

“Hi,” he said. “What are we doing today?”

She willed herself to speak, “Ah ah…”

He leant in closer so he could hear her.

“A hhhhhhhuuuu…,” she stumbled, trying her best to get out the word, just one word. She could feel her face starting to burn. “Aaaa..aaaaaa…A HUG?” she blurted so loud he actually started.

“You got it,” he said, gently guiding her into his arms. She bravely rested her head against the warmth of his broad chest.

As Crystal floated from the room, the noise of the fans and the music behind her, all she could hear was her heart singing. She did it. SHE DID IT! And it was the greatest ten seconds of her life.

© Amy Hutton 2019

A Lucky Break

The bell rang. Straight away Tom’s tummy started to hurt. He subconsciously rubbed it, making tiny circles with the palm of his hand. As the other kids excitedly filed from the classroom, chatting about their lunchtime plans, Tom stayed seated, gazing out the window, wishing he could be anywhere but there. He hated lunchtime, it made him feel sick, for real.

Biting on a trembling lip he pushed out his chair with a large scrape. Waiting wouldn’t make any difference, it was going to happen no matter what he did. Might as well get it over with. He tried hard not to cry. No wonder everyone picked on him, he thought. Stupid cry-baby. He hugged his bag to his chest as he left the room.

He scuffed down the hall towards the door to the playground. He’d do anything not to go out there, but no one was allowed in the building at lunch, it was school rules, and he didn’t think the nurse would fall for another fake sickness. She got real mad at him last time.

Through the glass door at the end of the hall, Tom saw Garry, smirking. He was twice the size of Tom, probably because he always ate Tom’s lunch. It’s not that Garry beat Tom up, well not usually, he pushed Tom to the ground that one time when Tom tried to stand up to him like his dad told him to. It was worse than being beaten up though, they made fun of him. Garry and his friends called him Tom Thumb, because he was smaller than everyone else. They made chicken noises when Garry took his lunch, which was every single day. Tom hated them.

He looked at the floor and shuffled towards his destiny, sniffing back tears. He didn’t notice the garbage bin carelessly left in the middle of hall until he crashed right into it. He heard laughter as he flew through the air, before everything went black.
Tom lay on the couch his broken ankle propped on a pile of pillows, a PS4 controller in his hand.

“Well, I’ve called the school and told them you’ll be off for at least three weeks. They’ll send round some homework so you don’t fall behind.”

“Thanks mum,” Tom said, as he shot another zombie.

“Now, sweetheart, do you feel like you could eat a little lunch?” His mum pushed the hair gently out of Tom’s eyes.

“Yes please,” Tom said.

It felt like a year since he’d had lunch.

© Amy Hutton 2019