So you're pissed off
by the way Everything2
works, or just want to try out something else? There's no need to whine: In this node, I will try to discuss alternatives to Everything2 and highlight what makes them different from this project. If you got your own tales to tell, please add them below or drop me a message. I may take a while to react, since I have already left the building
Wikipedia (http://www.wikipedia.org): Perhaps the largest collaborative project ever, this is an attempt to produce an entirely free encyclopaedia (licensed under the terms of the GNU General Public License). It follows the basic principle of wikis: You can edit any page at any time, with the idea being that the overall content quality will slowly improve. Quantity is certainly not an issue with Wikipedia, as it already stores more than 50,000 articles.
Some of them are rather bland, but nevertheless they are much more rigidly filtered than articles on E2 (i.e. personal stuff, prose etc. are not allowed), while at the same time, decisions are less arbitrary and more consistent than those by the E2 cabal. With few exceptions (the Wikipedia admins occasionally ban script kiddies and other vandals), everyone has the same amount of power, and often articles shift back and forth between different revisions until the participants agree on a solution. Much edited articles tend to cover all viewpoints on an issue using Wikipedia's very own "Neutral Point of View" policy where the article itself doesn't take any stance but just reports on the different opinions that are out there.
Like most wikis, Wikipedia is very pleasant to edit as it doesn't require the use of HTML (instead, it uses very simple formatting rules). Unlike the original C2 wiki by Ward Cunningham and Bo Leuf, Wikipedia doesn't use CamelCase -- in order to create a link you put it in double square brackets, similar to E2's single square brackets, whereas in traditional wikis, you SmashWordsTogether. This has been one major usability criticism as wikis using CamelCase often alienate first time readers.
You can tell I've been using Wikipedia for some time -- I'm already trying to write fairly NPOV even though I'm on Everything2. To tell you the truth, CamelCase sucks big time, and Wikipedia has made a very wise decision not to use it. This has been, in my opinion, one of the major factors driving its rapid growth.
Wikipedia has many, many neat features such as watch lists on articles, tracking features for links, full revision control, image uploading, different themes, links indicating whether the linked to article exists, great full text search .. It's simply a pleasure to use (it has been a bit slow after a software switch from Perl to PHP, but the soft has now be rewritten and it's lightning fast again). There's not much from E2 I miss on Wikipedia, but Wikipedia is not for everyone. If you like creating links on everything that moves, writing about your experiences with your girl- or boyfriend, blogging your dreams, or just talking about "like, life and stuff", better stay on E2 :-). If you do write in an honest and serious manner about important topics, please take a look at Wikipedia and consider porting your nodes.
Other wikis. There are lots of wiki wiki webs out there, using different software and focusing on different subjects. Some do use CamelCase, some like Wikipedia do not. (Some wiki engines such as MoinMoin allow you to render CamelCase with spaces between the words.) MeatballWiki, a wiki specifically about online communities, is probably a good place to explore. They have a directory of the biggest wikis here: http://www.usemod.com/cgi-bin/mb.pl?BiggestWiki - but there are many, many more. Wikis are fun, and great technology. Give them a try. They do in fact work, for many, many good reasons.
"The Guide" as it is also called (a name which comes from, in case you haven't noticed, "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" by Douglas Adams) puts a lot of emphasis on write-up quality. But it doesn't rely on the arbitrary actions of editors to remove content, it relies on the arbitrary actions of editors to optimize and mark quality-content (only if you agree, of course). Noise-nodes are still available but can easily be filtered. Of course they reserve the right to remove objectionable content, but we all know what that covers (lawsuits, porn, copyright complaints).
Unlike E2, H2G2 allows you to use pictures in your entries. It doesn't require HTML knowledge, but supports it (and a special markup language called GuideML as well). H2G2 allows web-links, a feature which I have always missed on E2 -- it makes many of the entries much more valuable than comparable E2 entries.
H2G2 also has a powerful forum system attached to entries which makes discussion much easier while not mixing discussion and content. However, you will also miss a number of features from E2: soft links, ratings (except for the Editor's Picks), XP, the brilliant chatterbox. Soft links are one of the concepts I have always admired about E2: It shows connections where you often wouldn't have assumed them (of course sometimes nonsensical, but these are easy to ignore), like a neural network. Perhaps they'll make it into H2G2 some day.
H2G2 is obviously more commercial than E2 (currently sponsored by the BBC), but the content is usually of high quality (or at least the editors, some of them full-time, do a good job of selecting and improving interesting content). It's a good alternative to E2 if you want to try something new.
Kuro5hin (http://www.kuro5hin.org) is not an open knowledge database or encyclopedia, but it is an interesting place to post news, essays and personal opinions. It is essentially a community-moderated weblog; similar to Slashdot but with readers voting on submitted articles in an open moderation queue. Discussions are also moderated by everyone, and the signal to noise ratio is usually quite high. Discussions reflect the makeup of the community, though -- predominantly white, American middle/upper-class tech-centric males. Politically it is usually left-leaning/libertarian, but any reasonably well written article can get posted. There have been some fairly lengthy and well-written essays; you may find some of the classics by visiting the Ko4ting community wiki.
The Halfbakery (http://www.halfbakery.com): It doesn't cover everything, it only covers ideas, but works similar to E2. It has a very clean layout and a good rating system. Contrary to E2, it allows you to see the rating of an entry before you have rated it, which makes it much easier to spot quality content. It separates idea, discussion and web-links. It doesn't have XP or similar motivators. The source is, unfortunately, closed.
Everything3 (http://www.everydevel.com): Remember that E2 is an open source project. If you don't like the way it works, have a computer running Linux and know enough Perl, you're ready to go (at least you can try). You can decide which parts of E2 you like and which not, and add your own features. Of course it will be hard for you to compete with existing systems without either a lot of dedication or a lot of money. But it's up to you, and most E2 users will probably appreciate the competition.
DIRK (http://interconnected.org/dirk/): Like Everything2, but without write-ups. A collection of interconnected terms. Not really all that interesting, but fun to explore a bit. (Suggested by GeneralWesc.)
Distributed Everything: There has been some discussion here on E2 about it, and I have written my own explanation of how I think it could work. The basic idea is to have E2 without a central server, and many machines communicating with each other instead, synchronizing or querying data. It's a neat concept, and may not be that hard to implement, but not much code has been written. One project that has goals that might be compatible is Redfoot (http://redfoot.sourceforge.net), a "framework for distributed RDF-based applications" written in Python. Advantages of a distributed Everything: censorship is hardly possible, and any violations of laws are solely the responsibility of the individuals committing them.