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The 300th issue of Drink Tank is up on eFanzines.com, and it's a doozy. My article on Wiki Gardening is on p. 160; while I'm pleased to have it in there, I was sad to see the links in the original document did not translate to the .pdf, especially since there's a line in there about clicking through to their targets, so I though I would reprint the article, with links, here (with a couple other minor changes).

SF Wiki Gardening: Got a Digital Thumb?

Most people have read articles on Wikipedia, but much fewer have actually tried editing pages. It’s easier than it sounds, and I encourage people to try it. Also, since the WikiMedia wiki technology is freely available, it is used for other wikis, making it easy to get involved in those as well if you know a little bit about editing Wikipedia. Related to SF in particular, I wanted to mention the Carl Brandon Society Wiki (http://www.carlbrandon.org/wiki/), the Feminist SF Wiki (http://wiki.feministsf.net/), and the SF Editors Wiki (http://sfeditorwatch.com/).– There’s also an SF Artists Wiki (http://sfartistwatch.com/), but it’s suffering technical difficulties at this time.

What all of these wikis are suffering from is attacks by spammers and vandals. On Wikipedia, there are vasty hordes of editors (and bots) watching over Recent Changes (a link in the side bar on any WikiMedia page) and newly created pages in order to roll back or otherwise undo vandalism. The smaller wikis do not currently enjoy such communities of watchdogs and advanced bots. If you are interested in trying a hand at helping out, it would be greatly appreciated. Because all of these wikis use the same technology, you can learn how to edit them using the many tutorials, help pages, cheat sheets, and introductory primers on Wikipedia. But unlike Wikipedia, the other SF wikis tend to have more inclusive policies about content and notability.

If you are interested in an sf writer of color or an sf book that has protagonists of color, you are welcome, nay, encouraged to post about it in the Carl Brandon Society Wiki. And nobody’s going to jump down your back about putting lengthy biographical details about publishers, editors or fan editors on the SF Editors wiki, or for describing conventions or events based on first-hand knowledge on the Feminist SF wiki. So if you want to dip your fingers into wiki gardening without facing the critical community of editors on Wikipedia, give one of those other wikis a try.

On the other hand, there are a number of us still hoping that Wikipedia will improve, and working on it when we can. It’s such a universally used reference, it’s important that the sections of it related to SF be as good as possible – And there are a *lot* of sections of Wikipedia related to SF.  This morning I went looking around in the Directory of WikiProjects – topics about which a group of people have joined together to coordinate Wikipedia coverage and improve articles. The top level Science Fiction WikiProject is somewhat inactive right now, though I’m hoping to revive it. But I think part of the reason why is that so many people are working on more specific projects. Here’s a sample of WikiProjects that sf fans might find it fun to get involved with (click through to check them out; some of them are very active. Some are currently inactive and needing help.):

Horror * Furry Fandom * Anime and Manga * WikiProject Animation/Animated films work group
Comics * Television * Video Games * Board and Table Games * RPGs * ARGs * Alternate History

WikiProject Novels:  Science Fiction task force, Fantasy task force

WikiProject Film: Comic Books that have been made into films task force

Media Franchises
Star Trek * Babylon 5 * Star Wars * Battlestar Galactica * Doctor Who * Stargate * Buffy * Firefly * Futurama * Harry Potter * A Song of Ice and Fire * Discworld * Middle-Earth * Dungeons & Dragons

Other topics fans like that have projects include: Astronomy, Spaceflight, Mythology, the Paranormal.

If you want to help these projects somehow, but can’t make a big time commitment, consider helping to identify articles that are within the scope of a project.  If you see a science fiction-related article, for instance, click on the discussion tab and see if it has a banner notice that it is included in the project. It looks like this:



If not, add one! It’s done with a little tag called a template.  Edit the discussion page, and
at the top paste in this:

{{WikiProject Science Fiction|class= |importance= }}

If you want to get fancy, take a look at the importance and class scales for the project and give your assessment of the article’s class and importance after the equals signs, e.g.:

{{WikiProject Science Fiction|class=Start |importance=Mid}}

To do this for a different project, just substitute that project’s name in place of Science Fiction. It’s a small way you can help a lot.

And if you notice that some of a page’s content on any wiki has been replaced with advertising or nonsense, please step in and undo that vandalism. If it’s only one change, you can click on the article’s History tab and hit “undo” next to the bad change.  If there’s more than one destructive change in the article’s history, however, you can click on the date of the last full content version of the article in that same history listing, then click “Edit”, and save to replace the current article with that old version.

Joining a WikiProject has a number of advantages, including that you can easily meet a group of other users who are interested in the same subjects you are (just look for the members list on the main project page), and are more than likely willing to help you out if you have a problem. The projects also provide suggestions as to articles that need improvement, or articles that don’t exist but that have been requested by someone.

I am also happy to help field questions – just drop me a line at akg.netmouse@gmail.com or post something to my talk/discussion page on the relevant wiki. My Username is always Netmouse. In the meantime, happy gardening!

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