Wikipedia:I think you got lost on the way to MySpace

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Oh, hello there. I happened to notice that an article you created just got speedy-deleted, and when you saw it was missing, you complained that "your web page" had been erased. I think I can explain your confusion. If you check the URL bar in your web browser, if you look really carefully, you will see in tiny lower-case letters that it says en.wikipedia.org. Please delete that, and replace it with myspace.com. I think that should resolve your problem.

I know it's easy to get lost in teh interwubz. It's a big place, and sometimes you hear about some very popular websites (like Wikipedia and MySpace), and you may get a little overexcited, and possibly confused about which one you are visiting at any given time. That's okay; we all get lost sometimes. MySpace is just over there to your left, and Facebook is down the street and to your right. I'm sure that's where you were headed anyway, but you probably just mistyped the URL. After all, "Wikipedia" and "MySpace" have at least three letters in common!

It's supposed to be an encyclopedia article, not a web page[edit]

One of the beautiful things about MySpace and other social networking sites is that they give everyone a little chunk of the Internet that is all about them, or their band, or their club, or whatever they want. You can talk about your favorite hobbies, dish about your friends... you can even hawk CDs for your band. It's a wonderful, empowering tool for the masses, a means of democratizing the production and dissemination of information.

But, that's not what Wikipedia is.

Wikipedia is an encyclopedia. True, it is still an empowering tool for the masses, as it allows verifiable and well-referenced human knowledge to be compiled in a free and accessible manner. But it is not intended to be a means of democratizing the production of information. The information in Wikipedia (ideally) still comes from academic journals, mainstream news, etc. It is about creating an authoritative source, not about proliferating information regardless of its veracity.

So before you re-create that article about yourself/your band/your club/your website/your silly idea/your dog/your cat/etc., ask yourself: "Would I be in an encyclopedia?" If not, try that other website down the hall and to your left. Can't miss it.

It's not "your" page[edit]

Remember when you complained that it was "your" page that got deleted? Well, it's not. While you may have missed it, every time you edit a page there is a message at the bottom that says, "If you don't want your writing to be edited mercilessly or redistributed for profit by others, do not submit it." As soon as you submit this info, it's not yours anymore. You are giving it up to the masses. It's not your page, and you have no say in what happens to it.

If you want to own a little corner of the Internet, you might want to try something like MySpace. You know, that website you were actually looking for when you got lost and wandered into Wikipedia. It even says it in the name: MySpace. It is your little space on the Internet. On the other hand, look at the name of this website. It is not "MyPedia". It is Wikipedia. Check the definition of Wiki and you will see that there is no such thing as "my" page on a Wiki.

So again: MySpace is down the hall and to your left.

Not even in User: space[edit]

Okay, so you got the fact that articles on Wikipedia are encyclopedia articles, and they belong to everybody. But, you say, I still have a User page. I can put what I want there, right? And then, look, I have a whole User: space! It even has the word "space" in it, just like MySpace! I bet I can put whatever I want there, right?

Wrong. Wikipedia is not "The free web host that anyone can edit".[1] While editors have a lot of leeway about what they put in their own User space, the focus should still be on improving the encyclopedia and/or its processes. Your user page itself can contain a brief description about you, your interests, etc., but please nothing extensive. (If you want to do an extensive user page all about you, there's a very popular website that is dedicated to allowing people to do just that... The name escapes me though, but I know they give you "your" very own "space" to edit...)

Similarly, don't try to construct a whole website in User space. Yes, you could technically make a whole website for your band in User space. You could use up all that free server space that is supposed to go to building an encyclopedia. And look, you don't even have to see banner ads! It's totally free server space! That is, until somebody notices what you are doing and all your hard work gets deleted because you accidentally put it on the wrong website.

If you want free server space to host your website, you will have to pay for it indirectly by tolerating banner ads. There is a very popular website that works on that principle. It is down the hall and to your left. Best of luck!

"But Wikipedia should change!"[edit]

No, it shouldn't. Again, I think you were looking for MySpace. Try typing the URL again, very slowly, and make sure it says myspace.com when you are done.

Maybe Wikipedia would be more fun for you if it were MySpace. But then again, maybe cnn.com would be more fun if it were MySpace, right? Do you write letters to Ted Turner asking him to abandon the whole 24-hour news gig, and change CNN.com to a social networking site?

"plz Mr. Turnre, cnn is so BORING, ken u plz make it more lik MySpace? thx, u r awesum ps i have a c00l song just 4 u that plays rilly loud on my MySpace page. check it out! laterz"

Wikipedia is what it is. A lot of people hate what Wikipedia is. Some people like it. Some people realize it has problems, but want to make it better anyway. But it is not MySpace, nor was it ever intended to be. If you want a website like MySpace, try MySpace.

Just in case you missed it..[edit]

DOWN THE HALL AND TO YOUR LEFT! Thanks, and best of luck with your MySpace page.

Footnotes[edit]

  1. ^ I stole this phrase from somebody, and I can't remember who. Much apologies for the plagiarism. If anybody remembers who said this, let me know and I'll give credit.