By the people, for the people
The web has gone through many transformations since the public began to use it in earnest. The biggest revolution may well have been the creation of open tools that make it easy for anyone to contribute.
Wikipedia is probably the best example of this. It’s an encyclopedia written by the people, for the people, which has produced a surprisingly authoritative online text. Wikis like Wikipedia democratize knowledge and, through the wisdom of crowds, self-corrects its content as people scrutinize and resolve conflicts.
Now imagine that amazing community power applied to something a little less serious? That’s where the fan Wiki finds its niche. Driven by massive communities of passionate fans, these fan wikis are dedicated to some of the most popular (or obscure) cultural properties in the world.
The contributors are deadly serious about documenting just about everything anyone would want to know about a fandom, and there are plenty of things we can’t imagine anyone wanting to know as well.
Star Wars is one of the largest fandoms in the world. It’s hard to imagine anyone on the planet not at least knowing the name “Star Wars”. However, the depths of Star Wars fandom goes far beyond just the mainline movies that make billions for Disney.
There’s an extensive universe of books, games, comics and more. Wookieepedia is the most complete documentation of all things Star Wars and goes into immense detail. Star Wars is infamous for the fact that just about every on-screen object, robot, alien and human have detailed back stories.
That guy who loses his arm in the Mos Eisley cantina? It turns out he’s a famous criminal surgeon, who just happens to have deep connections to the main storyline of Star Wars. Yes, it’s a retcon, but you’ll find both canon and non-canon factoids like these lovingly detailed on the fan wiki Wookieepedia.
Star Wars might be making the big bucks these days, but Star Trek has just as much deep lore and additional content that isn’t either a TV show or movie. It may not have nearly as large a collectible market, but Star Trek geeks love nothing more than poring over starship schematics and the fictional history of Gene Roddenberry’s utopian Federation.
Memory Alpha is the largest and most comprehensive collection of canonical Star Trek lore and information on the web. Note the word “canonical”, there’s actually a separate site known as Memory Beta, which is the custodian of non-canonical Star Trek information.
For anyone who wants to deepen their Trekkie credentials, Memory Alpha is a must-visit fan wiki site.
A “trope” is a common story element or concept that can be found within particular genres or an entire medium. In many ways, tropes are the basic building blocks of stories but sometimes the term has a negative connotation that means something is derivative.
Understanding tropes is incredibly important for both people who love to consume stories and those who create them, which is why any fan of fiction needs to bookmark TV Tropes. This is a wiki-style site where tropes are documented, defined and attached to concrete examples from every imaginable medium.
Just be warned that once you click through to TV Tropes, you may find yourself losing more hours than alien abductees from the X-Files.
Whatever music you’re a fan of, you’ll likely find its lyrics among the two million titles documented on LyricWiki. Every genre and even some incredibly obscure titles. It’s also pretty useful if you’re a fan of heavy metal bands like Amon Amarth, but really can’t tell what they are singing.
It’s got interesting user blogs, value-added features such as a “Song of the Day” and a list of which songs are trending on iTunes. Artist pages only include their discography and complete lists of songs. This is a fan wiki site with lyrics and nothing else, which is a good thing.
You will however find direct links on artist pages to their official site, Wikipedia article and any other social media. So it’s still a great place to start discovering a given band or solo artist’s music.
Unless you’ve been living on the moon, you’ve probably heard of World of Warcraft. The game is still massively popular today and it seems as if it will never die. While developer Blizzard has tried to make it as easy for new players to enter the fray, the truth is that WoW is insanely dense with lore and the learning curve is still pretty steep.
Which is why the community-driven fan wiki named WoWWiki is such an invaluable resource. Whether you simply want to understand more about the game without playing it or are trying to find your feet as a new player. Heck, even veterans of WoW are going to find plenty of things they didn’t know.
WoWWiki is absolutely massive. With over 300,000 pages and 100,000 articles on offer, there’s no reason to be worried that you’ll have to ask other players for answers. If you do want to chat to the community, WoWWiki has a section with forums and discussions that make an already comprehensive resource even more so.
There are plenty of pretender MMOs out today, but they still haven’t matched the breadth or depth that WoW offers.
By The People, For The People
Wikis are the perfect example of how millions of people who don’t know each other can come together to create something amazing. The only thing tying these fans together is their passion, donating millions of person-hours just so that the rest of us can have the most obscure fandom-related information at our fingertips. We salute them and hope that these marvellous fan wikis never die.