By pastfarpoint 10 Comments
What’s wrong with the ComicVine wiki (CVW); an open letter to Red L.A.M.P. et al.
The headline was just to get you to click over. This will be a discussion of what I think of the ComicVine wiki – good and bad and where I think the latter could be changed.
Wikipedia, Wiki’s, and the possibility of alternatives
CW is essentially a modified wiki (even if not technically). It’s a collaborative work that takes inspiration from its subject matter to introduce various subject specific tools. There are fundamental properties in the subject matter of CW – namely comics – that have been integrated into the very basis of CW. I’m talking here about the use of things like specialized page types (character, place, arc, etc) and the way they relate to each other. I’m also talking about how those things are semanticized information – a computer can read CW and work out what places Superman has been to quite easily.
Additionally CW has introduced a community specific aspect to the wiki process by scoring edits. This differs fundamentally from Wikipedia and its avowed anonymity. Again, this is a good thing. Unlike every other wiki and pseudo-wiki I’ve seen, CW takes the wiki-format and customizes it to its own subject matter and goal – namely a community supported comic reference database.
This is something other subject-based communities should be taking a lesson from: Wikipedia epitomizes the wiki, but it is not its rule; communities should modify the wiki format to their own subject matter and goals.
CW is an authoritarian wiki
I'm not talking about the editor who rejected your edit. What I am talking about is the enormous community that exists behind Wikipedia. Every page on Wikipedia has a discussion page; Wikipedia has community discussed and developed policies; it has meta-pages that allow developing resources for Wikipedia.
CW has none of these things.
If I have a question about an edit I can either (A) publish it and see if it get rejected, or (B) ask in the forum. I cannot (A) look up a reference (beyond what Redlamp’s written in his blog), nor (B) leave a note attached to the page telling others about my concern. CW needs meta pages. It needs places where people, together, can design and suggest policies and formats for CW; it needs places where people can develop resources for the purpose of editing pages; and it needs places for annotating articles so that pages in CW are truly collaborative and not merely the sum product of sole individuals.
I can say much more about this limitation of CW, and have a few practical (but tentative) ideas, but in any case this is CW's biggest limitation IMO.
Minor problems with CW
Where is it? It’s at the top of the page in a little box. CW is an impressive accomplishment; it should have its own front page, eg. at comicvine.com/wiki.
I can’t search CW! I mean, I can search inside the search box, but because of the way it works I can’t do a search of pages. This means, for example, that I can’t search for issue 405 of Superman, nor can I see if there are any articles that use the phrase “this could be really useful”. As a corollary (I think) it means that I can’t create use any browser addon (eg. firefox, chrome) to search CW. Edit: As I was told in a comment below, it is possible to search for issues; simply tick the "issue" box in the search options!