I don't want them having any page hits so I'll just copypasta: A guy interviewed me A while ago Sherrod sent a dude my way for an interview about OHi and the old ED: MD: As a first question I would like to ask you how you became an editor at Oh Internet. Can you tell me a little bit about your experience with editing Wikis? KH: I was involved with Oh Internet from the beginning of the planning stages and helped migrate and clean up relevant content. I can't take credit with the idea for the site, but I was certainly one of its biggest proponents, as I'd found the ED wiki to have become cluttered with irrelevant content, grudge matches, and unfunny shock-for-shock's-sake garbage. As a result I ended up rewriting many articles and moving their relevant images. Since I'd been an admin on ED, it was only natural that I continue this on OHi. As for editing wikis I hadn't really dealt with any others aside from ED when we started it up. I have an account at Wikipedia that I don't use and I've never bothered with any other wikis, aside from looking things up. I also admin an internal corporate wiki at my job, though I do much more on the back end there since the articles don't need to change very much. MD: In my understanding you were participated in LJDrama and in the Wikipedia controversy that led to the foundation of ED in 2004. Can you explain how and why ED was born from such an accident? KH: I joined up with LJDrama in 2003 or 2004; I can't quite recall. Mostly it was contained on LJ and its clones and didn't show up elsewhere for the most part. That changed in the summer of 2004 when the mediacrat drama came to a head. It spread through so many communities in and out of LJ that we decided there had to be a Wikipedia article outlining the events. The admins there, however, disagreed with us, citing Wikipedia's obtuse notability requirements. After numerous deletions, bans, and an eventual salting of the page title (I believe), it was decided that we should just start our own Wikipedia, but for internet drama and happenings. Most of my memories from this time are somewhat hazy for various reasons, but it was well-received as an alternative to the selective censorship and needless bureaucracy found at Wikipedia. Their admins hated ED but they only had themselves to blame for ED's existence. MD: So ED was born out of the needs of a community that felt Wikipedia was unable to recognize this emerging online culture. Why do you think this was the case? Is it only a matter of a generational gap? Or are there other reasons in your opinion that made Wikipedia's oblivious to the LJ culture? KH: Wikipedia is a really weird community. Some people are there because they think it will actually benefit humanity through the collection of knowledge, some people are there to grab at any little bit of power that they can by becoming moderators or admins or whatnot, and some people are just horrible weirdos who feel the need to outline how best to battle someone with a lightsaber or show off photos of their disgusting genitals by releasing them under the GNU GPL and adding them to an article. Whichever one you are, you end up erecting these procedural barricades of bureaucracy or policy to make sure nobody wrecks your playground. One of the policies we've had the most conflict with is the guideline for notability. Theoretically Wikipedia requires reliably sourced third-party coverage of something in order to be deemed "notable". When the events we wanted to add weren't considered notable, it wasn't because they weren't, it was just because the only people reporting on the situation were us, and for Wikipedia, "original research" is considered a cardinal sin. Things like "Examples of 'magical girlfriend' characters" however are totally relevant and necessary. Wikipedians are pretty much insular and don't want some of us playing in their walled garden. MD: What were the editorial principles along which the first ED Wiki was organized? Can you explain why ED is primarily interested in lulz and drama? KH: When we started, it was pretty basic. Articles consisted of a couple of lines and a picture if you were lucky, and slowly began to flesh out later on. We didn't want to censor articles though, since that was essentially what drove us away from Wikipedia. All in all it was a mostly laissez-faire project, where admins would only step in to ban vandals or persistent unfunny trolls. We were primarily interested in lulz (I hate this word now, by the way) and drama because that's where the entire project started. All of the founders and original editors had been involved with trolling one another and numerous unsuspecting normal people on LiveJournal for ages and LJDrama was down more often than it was up, so we wanted a place where we could outline all the hilarious fights people had had publicly on the internet (and occasionally in real life). MD: Is it possible to give a fair representation of lulzy and dramatic facts? ED has never been interested in NPOV. But to what extents are lulzy stories dramatized in their turn and to what extent was ED trying to give a fairly accurate representation of these stories? KH: I'm sure it's possible to be fair in reporting about internet slapfights, but it's hard to make that entertaining. Whenever I wrote an article myself, I'd treat it as a tabloid piece, with inflammatory language and claims, and present the facts with a bit of spin; total yellow journalism. I can't speak for everyone though, as each contributor had their own writing voice, some better and most much worse. More often than not an article would be written by one participant in an ongoing fight so they'd just slur the other person as much as possible in a manner as juvenile as possible. There's a good chance that these were heavily biased and at times the other party would show up and do the exact same thing, only in their favor. The only way these pages could ever reach something resembling "accurate" was if one of the better editors or admins stepped in and tried to rewrite the whole mess. MD: If I understand you correctly, you are saying that in the beginning there were no real editorial principles on ED. Experience and writing skills were all that mattered in order to make an article interesting and compelling to read. Over time, however, a set of editorial guidelines emerged (link to fake ED's rules page). Do you think that this set of how-tos were implemented at a certain point? In other words, when editors discuss an article do they refer to these rules? KH: I'd like to preface this with the fact that the .ch fork is not authorized and is not what any of us would consider to be the "true" ED. There is a reason we decided to shut down ED and that site pretty much embodies everything about that reason. That said, the rules and guidelines posted there aren't what we had listed in our policy pages and don't reflect the guidelines we tried to set up. I myself edited several extensive guides on how to create pages that weren't abhorrent and subject to immediate deletion, and most people simply ignored these and spewed meme-laden crap all over the wiki instead. Numerous attempts to "clean up" the site and raise the quality of various articles were instituted from time to time, some focusing on the entire site, and others focusing on specific sections, such as YouTube or DeviantArt. Over time, these became less and less effective and the quality of the entire site suffered as a result. This is one of the reasons that ED ultimately failed and was closed. MD: Can you tell me why did you decide to follow Sherrod DeGrippo in her new adventure? What is in your opinion the main difference between the old ED and Oh Internet/ED? KH: I was one of the loudest and most outspoken proponents of cleaning up or flat out destroying ED. I'd been with the site since its very beginning, with a bit of a hiatus from 2006-2008. When I got back into things in 2008, I was pretty dismayed at what the site had become. We'd always been a bit edgy, but, mostly thanks to 4chan, far too many of our articles contained shock for shock's sake, racial slurs and epithets were included for no reason other than to try to offend the reader and push people's buttons. I'm all for trolling, but to troll well one shouldn't be so stupid and blatant about it. From 2008 on I tried my hardest to improve the site by rewriting articles, providing guidelines on how to write articles that were both funny and informative without devolving into the typical /b/tard crap that had taken over, and running yet another failed improvement drive. I made it quite clear, at least to my fellow admins and the better users, that I hated what ED had become and wished to do something about it. When Sherrod let me in on plans to create a new site I was instantly 100% behind it. I saw this as an opportunity to get back to our original plan, which was to outline and report notable internet drama, events, people, and memes, while giving us a chance to shed all the detritus that had accumulated over the years. Nobody in their right mind cares about a catfight between two nobodies on DeviantArt, or random camwhores that posted once on some stupid imageboard and then disappeared forever, so why did we have so many articles about this garbage? OHi is what we set out to make so long ago, only we're paying closer attention to it to keep up the site's quality. Along with that, we have the blog, where we can still write inflammatory or humorous opinion pieces. The other big draw of OHi is that it's a site you can actually show people. I have it on my résumé. You can show it to your pals in the office if they don't understand something you mentioned. You can access it in libraries and other public places, since it's not flagged as a racist/shock/hate site. ED was shameful. Reply With Quote 11-20-2011 09:12 PM#2 &killhamster livejournal superstar 2004 Join DateMay 2011 Posts535 MD: From what you are saying, it seems to me that the ED Wiki could guarantee a permanence LJDrama could not guarantee. Why do you think users where interested in retelling and hearing the trolling stunts on a different platform? Is it because many aspects of trolling get lost in the immediacy of online communication? Is it because users want to learn for themselves new tricks and ideas? Or is it because a skilled troll acquires a status in the community that there is no other way to confirm than through a form of shared storytelling? KH: LJDrama was always an up and down affair; they'd make changes to the format or take the site down as a joke or just have random issues preventing things from working. Some of the stories there though were utterly hilarious and involved, and (I hate to use this word, since it's so overused, but here goes) even nearing epic. Cases such as the Mediacrat drama or Nickolaus the goth were pretty high-profile too, and, for those of us involved, we wanted to kind of show off what we'd done. I suppose others could learn from our trolling or the drama-generating techniques that others used too, but I never thought of it that way, ED was to document rather than instruct. You're right in that a lot of things get lost quickly in the currently oversaturated internet, and having a place to lay out just what had happened without the details getting lost. One of the good examples of this was the p-p-p-powerbook scam. I watched the thread at SA as it was happening and it was hilarious, but there was lots of white noise posting and other inconsequential crap that made it easy to lose track of the good parts. Old ED (and whenever I find the time for it, OHi) had the most comprehensive and ordered account of the scam and counter-scam that you can find anywhere. If not for us, some of the details of this would probably have been lost in the vast amounts of other information on the web. I don't believe any sort of shared storytelling is required to signify status, anyone who's notable or skillful enough as a troll tends to earn a reputation, passed more by word of mouth than anything. Just the other day, I joined the Bitcoin IRC channel and was greeted with the following: <elnato> hey killhamster, fuck you I've been having fun at the expense of the Bitcoin true believers for a while now, but nowhere on my current wiki page or the Bitcoin article is this mentioned. I've just earned some infamy. MD: Why do you think contributors and editors were so recalcitrant to follow guidelines? Is it due to the inability of understanding the difference between a Wiki and and image board? KH: I suppose it first came about as a reaction to Wikipedia and its overwhelming amount of rules. ED was in the very beginning a sort of anti-Wikipedia, thumbing our nose at their editorial guidelines and including the things they refused to cover. As things moved along it seemed more like the anarchic attitude of /b/ and its various related offshoots had a lot to do with it. They did whatever they wanted without regard to the consequences, and that carried over to editing the wiki. Regarding the differences between writing wiki articles and posting on an imageboard, a great many of them were terrible writers and didn't quite understand the concepts involved with writing an article or what we at ED could consider notable. They just posted the same as they ever did and occasionally picked up on how to add images or basic formatting. MD: The difference between OHi and the old ED is self-evident. How is the new editorial line enforced? Can you tell me a little bit about the editorial structure of OHi? KH: It's surprisingly easy to deal with OHi. We have far fewer vandals and trolls than ED did, and the editors we have are actually interested in contributing, rather than having edit wars and other petty conflicts. Most of the negative elements of the original site have simply left or gravitated to other wikis, quite a few of which have already failed and disappeared. For the small amount of problems we do encounter, we have SysOps in most time zones who watch the recent changes feeds for suspicious activity, and a number of MediaWiki extensions to prevent vandalism. There's not really anything to the editorial structure. There are the SysOps, who police the site first and edit when time allows, and below that are writers, who can access an article's source instead of using the semantic forms. Typically writer status is earned when one of the admins notices a user making a number of good contributions for an extended length of time. A step below that are the regular users. MD: From the description you are providing here, OHi's editorial structure--with its internal hierarchies and the value place on experience and voluntary work--is not that different from that of Wikipedia, which is ironic considering that ED was born in opposition to Wikipedia. Do you think that OHi expresses a coming of age of a generation that has now a more mature understanding of the cultural significance of image boards, trolls, and Internet dramas? Or is there something else to it? KH: I'm not so sure that "mature" is the right word to use here, since we're all still greatly amused by stupid people fighting over stupid things on the internet. I can see how it's a bit ironic but we learned from our mistakes in the past and found that a hands-off approach to editorial oversight eventually led to the problems that essentially destroyed the site. We're definitely interested in internet culture and its impact on culture at large, including Anonymous (I love seeing "experts'" opinions regarding the group, they're largely clueless), forums, how memes come to be and spread, and more. When you take a minute to stop trolling, everything else really is fascinating and not often recognized by more mainstream media outlets.