Wikiseeding and wikiplanting

Internet | Familiarity
In honor of the Wikipedia community gathering across the river in Cambridge at the Berkman Center for the Wikimania 2006 conference— or rather, exploiting the occasion that the wiki watchdogs will have their attention elsewhere until Sunday– I edited an entry in Wikipedia.

The entry I edited: the one for the word wiki.

The history shows that there have been 25 edits of it in the last day; of the 9 edits by apparent vandals, all were reverted within minutes. My edit has been untouched for the last hour.

I added a section about wikis as compared to Content Management Systems. I am a member of Content Management Professionals, so I think that gives me a little bit of license (for what it’s worth). I actually wrote it here on Civilities first, so that it wouldn’t be an "original." Well, it’s not entirely original, I did cite an article in CMS Watch which covered this ground.

Certainly, I did stick a new thought in there: I leave an opening at the end as to whether wikis may prove to be superior than other CMS’s in getting more people to contribute and/or making the community more knowledgeable.

I’m thinking bigger. In my gatekeeper research last year, I explored the dynamics of trying to be heard on the Internet. What if someone first publishes information in an obscure publication (one with, say, a handful of regular readers), and uses Wikipedia to amplify it?

Wikiseeding, I’ll call it.

I’d actually like to wikiseed wikiseeding, but I’ll follow the Wikipedia instructions and skip the temptation to add a word of my own invention. (the first thing Wikipedia tells you to avoid is Vanity pages. "Vanity pages include: articles about yourself, your friends, your website, a band you’re in, a teacher, a word you made up, or a story you wrote.") You can’t pick yourself, you can’t pick your friends, you can’t pick your words, but you can pick your friends’ words.

While wikiseeding could be frowned upon in Wikipedia, I submit it’s a natural step in constructive media processes. If you have an idea you’d like to share, seed it by giving it a definition and explanation.

Wikiplanting is the oppposite. Wikiplanting is when you put something in Wikipedia and then cite that as an "external" reference. It had never dawned on me that someone would so such a thing, until a chance conversation I had at the last Berkman Center conference I crashed, the Identity Mashup in June.

I met Doc Searls, the editor of Linux Journal and alpha blogger. I’d tuned into Doc at times last year joining Mike Sanders and others in sharply criticizing the leadership of Technorati (of which Doc is an advisor) for its use of “authoritative” to describe top blogs instead of the neutral “influential,” but no matter, that’s a discussion for another time. I said hello and he was happy to talk to me. I asked him about his favorite blogs listing on Technorati, and he mentioned to me what I’ve heard from many other veteran bloggers, that they no longer follow individuals but subjects (see his blog post from March to that end). I told him the story about my earlier Wikipedia edit getting cited by a California court. He told me that sounded familiar, and offered this anecdote: "Hey, I needed a definition for ‘CPM’ when I was writing an article. I looked it up in Wikipedia, and not finding it to my liking, I edited it and linked to it."


I absolutely wanted to find the documentary evidence of this. I looked up CP/M (an early computer operating system for microcomputers, which I thought he was talking about) and the other meanings of CPM in Wikipedia, and didn’t see his name anywhere in the history. I searched LinuxJournal and The Doc Searls Weblog and Doc Searls’ IT Garage. None had any mention of CP/M and Wikipedia in combination. So I can’t explain his story; I doubt he ever wrote something as naked as "according to the Wikipedia definition of CP/M…" but the temptation is there for any lesser writer.

So, if someone would wikiseed wikiplanting, that could help collect other examples of this. I’m surprised there’s actually no word for this so far; it’s not vandalism or abuse, but it is a way of stretching the norms of Wikipedia.

Of course, what follows wikiplanting is wikiweeding.

An article like this, where I’m trying to nurture a wikiseeding, is wikipeating (as in peat moss).

How do I show proof that I’m the coiner of a phrase? Wikideeding.

And how do you know a Wikipedia entry is clear of these shenanigans?