Something wiki this way comes

John
John Gushue
Send to a friend

Send this article to a friend.

The word "wiki" comes to us from Hawaiian, and basically means fast. It was adapted into techspeak in the mid-1990s, but most of us know it mainly from Wikipedia, the online encyclopedia that makes anyone an author, but not necessarily an authority.

That's the double-edge source of not just Wikipedia, but also of the wikiculture that's sprung up in its wake. The upside: the contributions of untold persons can easily prove the saying that many hands make light work.

The word "wiki" comes to us from Hawaiian, and basically means fast. It was adapted into techspeak in the mid-1990s, but most of us know it mainly from Wikipedia, the online encyclopedia that makes anyone an author, but not necessarily an authority.

That's the double-edge source of not just Wikipedia, but also of the wikiculture that's sprung up in its wake. The upside: the contributions of untold persons can easily prove the saying that many hands make light work.

The downside: there can be too many chefs in the kitchen, and goodness knows (to stretch this particular metaphor) what might happen if even just one of them didn't wash their hands in the bathroom.

To its credit, Wikipedia has spent much of the last couple of years addressing its well-noted quality gap. You'll find, for instance, many Wikipedia articles laced with notes calling for an editorial brush-up to meet basic standards, as well as demands for citations.

This week, a look at just some of the wiki-inspired sites, in which public input - anonymous or not - is the key to content.

Internet Movie Database

www.imdb.com/

More than a decade before Wikipedia got rolling, the Internet Movie Database was proving just how much could be accomplished through group activity. Indeed, IMDB predates the Web itself; it got started as a long list of lists that were distributed by e-mail and bulletin boards. By the time the Web launched, IMDB was ready, and for years has been a pre-eminent online resource for movie fans. Although Amazon bought it out nine years ago (it is now, undeniably, a business), updates are still handled by volunteers who sign up for the privilege. (A small cadre of full-time editors verify and manage listings.)

Wookieepedia

http://starwars.wikia.com/wiki/Main_Page

What else would you call an open-source site about the Star Wars universe? Moreover, who beyond Star Wars fanatics would you most pick to take ownership of this kind of project, where no detail is so minute that it doesn't deserve its own entry? Wookieepedia is, indeed, obsessive, but it's fun, too - even for the lapsed Star Wars fan, such as myself.

Placeopedia

www.placeopedia.com/

Two ingredients - Wikipedia articles and Google maps - are mashed up to form Placeopedia, which is one way to explore the world from the comfort of your home. You can search place names directly, but it's more fun to grab the world, as it were, and zoom in to any locale that strikes your fancy. The red flags indicate articles to be read. Look around for help on how to broaden the offerings.

World 66

www.world66.com/

Didn't care much for the travel guides you read before you headed out on your last journey - or think you could have done better? Here's your chance. World 66 tries to cover the world, literally, although I have to say I wasn't entirely impressed with what I found over several dabbles over the last few weeks.

Maybe the quality gap here will also be addressed, although it strikes me that the more hands become involved in writing about a place, the more likely that the uniqueness of travel writing will evaporate.

eBay Wiki

www.ebaywiki.com/

I'm not an eBay user - well, not directly. (My wife has used the online swap-and-sell, and has picked up a couple of things on my behalf.)

Here's one way to get up to speed, if you're curious about diving into the eBay universe: a site written (and edited, and revised) by eBay users themselves.

Celebopedia

www.celebopedia.com/

Celebopedia gets a fair bit of buzz, although I'm not sure why; the site gives over a fair bit of its real estate to annoyingly presented word ads, and it's not the easiest thing to figure out. That said, if you get excited about Beyonce and Brangelina, you could spend many happy minutes here.

WikiIndex

www.wikiindex.org

A parting suggestion: a wiki all about wikis. WikiIndex offers a lengthy (and continually tweaked) list of user-edited lists. You'll marvel at the sheer range of topics on offer.

John Gushue is a news writer for CBC.ca in St. John's. E-mail: surf@thetelegram.com. Read past Surf's Up columns and daily updates at his blog: johngushue.typepad.com.

Organizations: EBay, Google

Geographic location: St. John's

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5

Thanks for voting!

Top of page

Comments

Comments