It doesn’t take much to write about what you know. Calling on your knowledge of a subject you’re very familiar with is an easy thing. The amount of pages a paper has to be has never concerned me in the past because I always know what I’m talking about during the paper. But, as I found out, filling in the blanks on a wiki is something quite different.
The plan was fairly straightforward: take the Age of Fire series, a series I’m very familiar with and fond of, and use my knowledge of it to complete the wiki started by AMCAlmaron. I figured that the most important and time-consuming part of the project would be filling in the red linked pages, as there were very many of those at the time I started. This certainly ended up being true, but there was work to be done on the existing pages as well.
AMCAlmaron’s knowledge of the series was sound, but the pages he wrote were far from enjoyable to read. Besides being somewhat unorganized-especially on the character pages, which had no common structure between them besides the pages for the main characters-they ranged from being incomplete to simply being poorly written. Verb tense was a common issue and required a ton of cleanup, and he also had an unfortunate habit of linking everything possible at every possible opportunity. Linking to another character’s page is central to this kind of wiki, but it was unnecessary to do it five times in one paragraph or even twice in one sentence. This also ended up being a little demoralizing as a side effect. Despite knowing in my head that I was only looking at a handful of incomplete pages, the average page on the wiki made it look like there were hundreds of red links that needed attention.This became doubly problematic when I realized he was linking to things that were only mentioned-mentioned, not featured-in the story once or twice.
Eventually, I realized that cleaning up after AMCAlmaron was taking too much time, and so switched my focus to adding pages. Reflecting now, I think I should have dedicated time to categories rather than individual books. One week would have been character week, another would have been lore week, another for locations, and so on. What I ended up doing was taking each book as it came. This worked fine while I worked on pages for people or places that only related to that book, but eventually characters and events started crossing over, and I was creating more red links than I was filling them in.
As far as the content itself went, that wasn’t too much of a problem. As I said, I’m familiar with the series and had it handy to review anyway. Referring to the books themselves ended up being more necessary than I thought, especially in relation to minor characters and events from individual books. The major parts of the story were easier to remember and easier to write about, beyond the occasional “OK, this happened before this happened, and then this happened, right?”-style of book-checking.
I didn’t really see any need for a partner or anything like that until I started covering some of the earlier books. The first three in the series of six happen congruently, with each of them being a separate adventure told from the perspective of one of the three main characters. I remembered too late that I had actually read them somewhat out of order, and had gotten to like certain characters more than others before I had even read their books. This lead to me only reading the first two books once back in high school, and reading the following three-featuring my favorite character more prominently-much more often. This left the sixth book, which I also only read once last year. This was the conclusion of the series, and the passion was clearly gone. It was very poorly edited and difficult to read, not to mention having an unsatisfying ending. With my split familiarity of events in the story, I could have used a partner to handle the other half of things, though I would feel bad about forcing them to re-read the last one.
I soldiered on anyway, though. I made the most edits to the books I knew about, and those were simple to make since I was so familiar with them. My familiarity was eventually challenged however, by AMCAlmaron himself, who popped up on the talk page for one of the characters I’d added. He suggested that I had perhaps gotten her fate wrong, even though I hadn’t, and that I should change it. I was surprised by how much I had to hold my tongue. Even though I hadn’t started it, I felt like it was my wiki at that point. He hadn’t updated it in years and I had added more pages than he had at that point, so it felt a little like he was encroaching on my turf.
Looking back now, that territorial attitude seems ridiculous since wikis are a community project. Had I been working on the site in my free time as opposed to as part of a project, I think I would have been a lot more open than I was. In the context, though, it felt like someone was just walking by and critiquing me when I hadn’t asked for it in the first place.
Beyond the absurd anger I felt at a simple suggestion and my own personal blind spots on the series, the project went well. I think I might actually continue it over the summer, assuming I don’t bite AMCAlmaron’s head off.