ObConfess: I have sent many /msgs, deleted numerous old and mouldy writeups, filled several title change requests, read Webster 1913's inbox to him, handled some of Klaproth's correspondence, and otherwise swept the corners of the database. I also killed a few dormant user accounts in violation of long standing admin policy, just because dormant accounts (with names someone new might wish to use) tick me off. The Boss either tolerates this or hasn't noticed. But that's not why I'm writing a Log1.

I've been dealing recently with some new users who have messaged Klaproth. Each says that he or she is an experienced user of Wikipedia. One expressed particular surprise that E2 was 'so much like' Wikipedia, contrary to his or her expectations.

I've been thinking about the difference between the two sites lately. I am not a contributor to Wikipedia, though I am an admirer. I am also a sometime user, as I consult Wikipedia when verifying factual content of E2 writeups as I wander our database. Wikipedia gives me an excellent fact base, usually comprehensive and as reliable as anything on the internet can be.

E2's entries are sometimes (though not always) less comprehensive, often (though not always) less accurate, and certainly much more varied than Wikipedia's are. The content validation and editing process on E2 is very different than the collaborative model of Wikipedia. As admins we hear about the supposed deficiencies of this model rather more than the benefits, but I think I've discovered the key difference that this creates for me.

We have long been admonished to avoid highly subjective writeups2. Yet the essence of many good E2 writeups is that they are subjective, in a balanced way. The personal perspective that each E2 writer can bring to a topic, as an individual, is quite different from the collective approach of Wikipedia. E2's format allows authors to use their individual voice and style to personify a topic. It allows us to find favourite noders and follow their work much as we might a favourite magazine columnist. It allows each noder to express their thoughts and feelings, and share their direct experience. E2 makes a confounding and untrustworthy reference guide, but it's a damn good read, and a source of many unexpected gems.

That does mean that quality of content is as important on E2 as on Wikipedia. If users come here hoping to get more "freedom" than Wikipedia gives, they may or may not find it. There is freedom to have a distinctive voice, and perhaps to be more creative. There is not, however, freedom to suck. The admin team and the E2 community see to that. New users need to achieve a delicate balance, to learn when a subjective voice adds perspective but not noise. New users (in fact, all users) need to add compelling content and not falling into the "getting to know you" trap.

E2, its writeups, and its users compel me to discover tangents to my original thought in a way that Wikipedia does not. I don't browse Wikipedia -- I mine the topic at hand and then move on. Yet I can browse E2 for hours. E2 is part dictionary, part blog, part chatroom, and part magazine. It is part fact, part fiction, and part Weekly World News. It is all good. Well, most of it.

E2 is not Wikipedia. It's neither better nor worse, but it is very different. New users who find them alike could be shown this by example. If you agree, I'd be interested in knowing what writeups you'd put on a short list of writeups that really capture the essence of E2. If I get enough compelling submissions, I will post them in next month's editor log. Arguments about why this is a really dumb-ass idea may be posted too, if they're well argued3. Keep it short, please -- my Message Inbox is busy enough as it is.

OK, back to the M----- writeup.

  1. Really I'm avoiding completion of a personal writeup that I really need to post. If the next writeup title you see from me doesn't start with the letter M, please kick my ass.
  2. Or at least to confine them to the Everything Daylogs.
  3. Arguments that boil down to "you suck" will incur my unbridled wrath receive due consideration.