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8:30am on Monday, 5th January, 2009:
For reasons best known to itself, Wikipedia has a habit of deleting game-related entries (BYOND's went last year; Dragon Kill Points went a couple of years ago and was only reinstated after a long fight). At the moment, there's a proposal to delete Threshold MUD's entry.
Threshold is a 13-year-old role-playing MUD with an individuality that you simply don't see in today's EverQuest clones (eg. in its in-world legal system). It was The MUD Journal's highest-rated role-playing MUD for 3 consecutive years. Whether this is something that Wikipedia regards as useful information or mere clutter is up to them; the reason I'm mentioning it is because there doesn't seem to be any way for Threshold to persuade the powers that be of its relative importance. This is because standard MUD reference sites (in particular The MUD Connector) aren't regarded as valid sources by Wikipedia.
I find this a little disconcerting. If TMC isn't a valid source, that leaves the way open to remove the entries of every other long-term MUD from Wikipedia. Wikipedia's coverage of MUDs is often misleading and contradictory, with emphasis on systems of insignificant influence at the cost of ones that shaped the paradigm (despite the "undue weight" provision); removal of entries for specific MUDs would make matters worse. The problem is that historically important MUDs are unable to demonstrate their historical importance because the sites which would show this are not accepted as valid sources.
The reason that The MUD Connector isn't valid, by the way, is because its content is solicited, unreliable and its practices non-transparent. The same can be said of Wikipedia itself, of course; the point here, though, is that this is all there was back then. It may not meet the standards of evidence that Wikipedia demands, but it's the only evidence available. Like Wikipedia, when puff-pieces were written to inflate reputations, they were removed; like Wikipedia, it was a collaborative effort. Unlike Wikipedia, though, there are few other sources for the same information — why would there be? They were an online phenomenon, and the information everyone wanted was kept online.
The solution to this would, I believe, be to create a Wikipedia entry for The MUD Connector itself (or, strictly speaking, recreate it — I believe it did used to have an entry, but it's not there now). This would make clear the various limitations of the system, so that anyone following a citation to it could draw their own conclusions. Disregarding it (along with the other MUD portals of the time) as somehow "junk" information is not a good solution...
At least this would allow the likes of Threshold to mount a defence.
Referenced by 5 Today.
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Copyright © 2009 Richard Bartle (firstname.lastname@example.org).