"I have seen that the vast majority of people are good, and the number of troublemakers is very tiny," Wales told TDG in a phone interview. He added, "In the past, I would have thought doing a green wiki would be impossible, because all you'd get would be huge global warming flame wars. But now I think people realize, that even those people who are really into that debate, they can understand this isn't the right place for it. You can ask people not to disrupt the wiki. If they continue to do so, the tools can be used to block them, and all this works out much better than I ever would have imagined."
That's good to hear, because today Wales and others at Wikia, Inc. announced the launch of a new eco-focused project, which they're calling Wikia Green. The goal is to create a flexible, dynamic community wiki that covers anything and everything in the environmental and sustainable universe.
Given the ease of start-up and open source nature of wikis, it's true that Wikia Green isn't the first such attempt (a quick Googling brings up Play Green, green thing wiki and Green Living Pedia) -- but this is the first on the block to have the know-how and muscle of Wikia, Inc. The company has no relation to Wikipedia, although they share the same founder. Wikia is best known as a major host of wiki communities, particularly in the geek space (see the Star Wars-themed Wookieepedia and Fantendo, a community of Nintendo fan fiction).
As a way of explaining what Wikia Green can offer that something like a more general Wikipedia can't, Wales says consider Leonardo DiCaprio. "Look at his regular entry on Wikipedia, and it will be about his movie career, with a few sentences about his activism. Well a green wiki would cover mostly that," said Wales, who hopes the site will become a repository of info that will educate, engage and energize a diverse audience, from bloggers to typical consumers. In fact, it is particularly consumers that Wales hopes most to target with the site.
As another example, Wales suggested that a Wikia Green article on biodiesel would be packed with the stuff that consumers want to know, and not necessarily detailed analysis of the underlying chemistry.
Of course all that depends on the quality of the community, and Wales hopes to attract the best minds to come together to participate. He says he's going to promote the new site heavily through Wikia's resources (as of this writing it is listed as a featured section on the company hub), and the company has already seeded the community by reaching out to potential contributors and diving in to the process.
"A wiki is a place for people with shared interests, and although we're not going to agree on everything, you can address different points of view," said Wales. "I think it's really important, because we see a lot of conflicting info through channels that are compromised, especially regarding motivations, and communities are really good at seeing through that." The process is quite simple: anyone can edit a page, though those who take the time to create profiles and login have their changes viewed less skeptically. Trusted users can be granted more powers, such as the ability to lock an article if it is being targeted by vandals.
Jimmy Wales says he believes sustainable living will soon be seen as something that is integrated into everything in mainstream society, as opposed to merely a separate category. If it takes off, perhaps Wikia Green will play a role in that goal.
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