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Nintendo Independent Wiki Alliance/Manifesto

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This is a proposed draft. If you would like to give feed back on it, please post here.
In no way should it be treated as official.
If you would like to see the official equivalent, please go here.

Preamble & Purpose

Over the past years, we have noticed a disturbing trend in online fandoms. Where once stood friendly communities, operated by well known and well loved faces, now stand sterile places run by faceless operators, whose only care for their visitors is how much advertising revenue they generate. Nowhere is this more true than with fan wikis. For the past several years, there has been a systematic attempt made by certain groups to acquire wikis of sufficient size and prominence in their respective fandoms. Any independent wiki finding itself with an ounce of modest success promptly finds themselves flooded with offers from organisations that apparently cannot stand the idea of competition. While some webmasters have resisted, many others have instead given themselves over. Some have sadly been led astray by greed, with promises of shared advertising revenues or even flat out lump sums of cash. Many however have simply been misled by duplicitous offers of free hosting, only to later find that these offers had many more strings attached than they were ever aware. Such wikis are often overrun by advertising, with profitability as the key motive. When fans subsequently try to reclaim the content which is rightfully theirs, they often find yet more strings, discovering that they don't have ownership of their own work anymore.

We here at NIWA, the Nintendo Independent Wiki Alliance, seek to fight these trends.

Founding

On February 14th 2010, NIWA was founded by a coalition of Bulbapedia, ZeldaWiki and Super Mario Wiki, three strong communities making their stand for the future of online Nintendo fandom. Since then, NIWA has expanded to a network of more than a dozen wikis covering a multitude of Nintendo franchises, both large and small.

Concept

The word "niwa" in Japanese (にわ) translates as "garden", and it is that concept which best embodies us. We are not a wiki farm, run by farmers who care only for how they can best harvest their cash crops. We are a wiki garden, where wikis are tended to and nurtured to grow as individuals in complement to each other. Sometimes grown from seeds, sometimes from cuttings, sometimes from transplants, but always growing their own sake, to be the best that they can be.

Execution

All of the wikis in NIWA are separately owned, operated and hosted. While being a part of the garden, each maintains their own unique designs, values and traditions. We are bound together not by contracts, but by our common desire to better ourselves (and each other) while retaining our own identities and autonomy. NIWA is here to help wikis where they need it, not by taking control of them and enforcing policies. Each Wiki serves to enhance the others in the garden by the way they enhance the garden itself, and the only thing NIWA requires of its members is that they work always in the best interests of their communities and their fandoms.

Our Principles

What NIWA stands against is the meddling in the operation and management of our communities by the "faceless farmers", which we feel is a detriment to our fandoms as a whole. Our feelings on this can be summarised thus:

  • Fan communities should be run by the fans, by people whose involvement in the well-being of the community is of the emotional nature of the fan. They may be funded or hosted by them, but the actual operation of these communities should not be in the hands of those having only a purely financial investment, with no interest in the wiki's content itself.
  • Fan communities should be run for the fans, by people who will take a positive interest in the fans' desires, always thinking about how they can continue to enhance the enjoyment of everyone in the community.
  • Fan communities should be run together with the fans, embracing a spirit of co-operation and camaraderie in our fandoms, with friendly rivalries rather than bitter divides.

Our Goals

Our goals and these positions should not be misunderstood as being part of an anti-corporate agenda. We believe that there is most certainly a place in online fandoms for corporate sponsorship, and even for wiki farms, provided they are properly managed in accordance with a spirit of cooperation with fandoms. Many fansites, a number of us included, would not be able to cover their hosting bills without advertising of some sort.

Likewise, we cannot begrudge those who have found themselves even on a poorly managed wiki farm. Indeed, it is for the sake of these wikis that NIWA exists. Operating a wiki is time consuming, and it can be very difficult even just getting off the ground. The financial and technical burdens for those of us who become large are often quite significant, and there are most certainly difficulties for webmasters in forming the networks and connections they need to make enough return off their advertisements to pay for their communities. In such circumstances, it is more than understandable how some communities may have seen wiki farms as their only option. For wikis in such situations, NIWA offers another alternative. For those already on wiki farms, we offer them the opportunities they need to break away and reach their full potential. For those for whom wiki farms would once have been the only option, NIWA offers an avenue for them to get the assistance they need to allow them to retain their independence and their identity.

Our Declaration

We hope that our example will send a message to fandoms everywhere: we will not take this trespass into our domain lying down, and neither should they. NIWA is as much about building relationships and trust as it is about nurturing those who need it. We will show the world that such a stand is possible and worthwhile, and in doing so hope that we shall serve the as the inspiration for the flowering of many more gardens.

It's time we made our stand together, as fans, for the sake of the futures of our fandoms.

To those of you who seek to dominate and hold power over us, we say fear us, and know that your actions will be tolerated by the fans no more. To those of you who seek freedom in your pursuit of knowledge, and to those of you oppressed under the shackles of faceless shadows, we say seek out and join us. We are NIWA, and this is our declaration of our independence.