My last post was about The Whiteboard, an online webcomic which has had an 11-year run and continues unabated. In that essay, I wanted to reference the Wikipedia article for it, but found to my chagrin that the article which had once existed had been deleted. There was only a reference to the deletion-discussion page, so I hopped over to see what the debate looked like.
Naturally, a comic strip as famous as Peanuts has no problem being represented there, but there is a decided lack of consistency about lesser-known strips; while Schlock Mercenary by Howard Tayler is well-represented, the long-running Freefall by Mark Stanley, a slow-moving but thought-provoking space drama/comedy, has had its article deleted repeatedly despite being an online presence since 1996.
The debate page I referred to is a nauseating morass of cerebral onanism, navel-gazing and self-aggrandizement. There’s only one comment there I saw which approaches my feelings about what Wikipedia has become:
In answer to the question “Why should webcomics get their own special treatment?”, user Bushranger replied,
“Because the WP:GNG fails here. While “Everybody Knows About It” is (or should be) at WP:ATA, the fact that webcomics such as this and Dominic Deegan apparently fail it despite being some of the best-known webcomics on the Internet points out that there is something not working here. They are things that the average Internet user is very likely to come across and come to Wikipedia seeking the answer to “what is this thing I heard about?”, and if they don’t find information on them here, even if the removal of that information was in complete compliance with the rules, then Wikipedia is not serving its readers. I won’t !vote Keep for the simple reason that I can’t articulate a policy-based reason to keep, but I cannot in good consience !vote Delete because of how the situation is as mentioned above.” (Emphasis mine)
Wikipedia was designed as the encyclopedia that anyone can edit. While over time, it became obvious that certain controls needed to be established in order to maintain reliability of content (edit wars are a common occurrence),
the question about what deserves representation on Wikipedia has been overshadowed by the egos of dominant editors, a large percentage of whom – it seemeth me – are using Wikipedia as a vehicle for consolidating power and inflating their own status rather than serving the original philosophy of a Wiki.
In my own opinion, webcomics which have existed faithfully and consistently for periods of 11 and 17 years are certainly deserving of an article. They exist; they have followers; they are popular among certain subsets of the population, and if someone comes to Wikipedia looking for information about something, they should be able to find it.
The executive summary: As long as information presented is accurate, it’s not up to any editor (or even a community of them) to decide for others what is relevant and what is not.
The Old Wolf has spoken.