How do participants at fiction wikia collaborate to create new literary works? Below is an account of how the science fiction novel VirileMail has been created by the joint efforts of a group of wiki editors. Be aware that this page contains spoilers; if you ever plan to read the story you know what you must...
There is a related audio version about this same topic at Wikiversity. It is 6 questions asked to John Schmidt and 1 question asked to Davichito.
We need a new title: how it began[edit | edit source]
The story began with an edit made by someone at 22.214.171.124 on April 12, 2005. The initial idea of the story was a bored computer network administrator with nothing to do. The second editor (from 126.96.36.199) came along on May second and tried to create some excitement with an ethernet cable problem.
The first registered user to participate was JWSchmidt who added a third page section about the mysterious cable problem. The main character became "Joe". On May 22, Eric119 added The Attack of the Eggplant and "Joe" became "Joe Daonet". During the next few days the story was expanded by JWSchmidt and Eric119 to include Brian's coded message and strange behavior: memory problems and sweating.
On June 6 a proposal was made for the plot, suggesting that an extraterrestrial life form is responsible for the mysterious events of the story. Users Braiba, JWSchmidt and Eric119 participated in discussions about the plot. By June 15 the second chapter held a description of the VirileMail project. The "meta level" discussions for how to develop the story were moved to a special "meta page" on June 19. Also, a cover page was made with an illustration of the "eggplant".
Commentary by Davichito, from his narrow point of view (he joined the effort near the end)[edit | edit source]
First of all, I would like to create a story for this very page. Bad luck stroke on me and I lost my XWindows... After that, I used links for browsing here, a text-only browser. Then, the "network was unreachable" and I lost the whole story. I put this here because it reminds me of Joe when his network was lost... Maybe there are nanobots here too. OK, I will try to brainstorm and put what the history of VirileMail was, as I lived it...
Everything began with a government driver. He was bored of doing the same job all day until he found an interesting wikia. He read a few stories there and thought: "oh, man, if they can write those stories there, I could do better than them". And so, VirileMail was born. It did not have that title but it was in gestation. After some time, the driver quit for unknown reasons, maybe a fight against a sysop or he just lost his inspiration. Maybe he was seen while doing fiction during job time and was fired. Nobody knows. If you are that driver, please write your story... what I wrote was only my imagination, except for the Transportation aspect.
After this paragraph, in order to sound "professional" I will use the third person type of narration.
After some time many users started editing the story. The user that wrote most of VirileMail is called JWSchmidt. You can see the full list at history. JWSchmidt gave the story life again, after the original writer quit. JWSchmidt created the whole plot, nobody knows if robotic life was the original intention of the first author.
But things were going wrong for the story... JWSchmidt quit Fiction Wikia for 2 years. Then, Davichito appeared; his destiny was to save the story back from the dead. Davichito is one of the newest users here; at least the regular ones. He discovered wikias on 31 March 2008 and comes here frequently. He started to read his first story here: WNANT. He liked the story very much and even showed it to his mother. She started reading it and got to the end... at chapter 6, because the story was unfinished. Davichito put himself on the quest of finding the author. By asking some people, he finally realized that the author was JWSchmidt. Davichito contacted JWSchmidt and the longest work, written in collaboration, started on this site.
First, they started posting long messages on talk pages: 5 paragraphs or more, as average. But they were bored of doing that; JWSchmidt said to Davichito that he wanted to continue the story, but in collaboration. Davichito thought he was no match for an author as good as JWSchmidt, but he would try to do his best. Davichito's biggest concerns at the beginning was that his only full-English story was the first part of The search for Kalid... He is a Spanish native speaker, he learned English by himself. But as he loves languages (he speaks an intermediate level of French) he tried to improve his writing skills and finally decided he would help write the story.
But, there was a problem. Soon, they found out that writing a story in collaboration needs more interactive conversation than posting information on talk pages. So, JWSchmidt asked if there were any IRC channel for Fiction Wikia. Davichito suggested the use of the Shout box, but it was not a good idea. In his words: "Shout box sucks!". So, they had to find an alternative. JWSchmidt suggested using IRC through freenode and channel irc://irc.freenode.net/#fiction-wikia was born. Davichito registered the channel and they started talking. Although the first channel they talked was #wnant.
Nevertheless, some users were confused with Davichito's additions. Some even claimed there was a tangent on the story after he came. But, all changes were approved by JWSchmidt, so, who cares about users' opinions? Hehehe. And yes, Davichito recalled using a thesaurus and try the story not to be "incredibly cliched", not the same "nanorobotic life from Mars brain snatching people" story...
Soon, the story started to grow fast. Thousand of words seem to flow from their brains. Nonimportant wanted to help, but he did not agree with a character in the story: The Eggplant... So, they both had to finish the story. Nobody ever came to the channel, although it was advertised on the wikia. Davichito had the idea that the nanobots should attack Joe and that he was go be in the hospital for some time. He wrote that part and JWSchmidt improved it for plausibility and style. Then JWSchmidt had the idea of a chat session with janek and a trip to Mars. He invented the great idea that there was an underground base on Mars! Then, Davichito wrote a parallel ending, much time before the story was finished! Davichito quit as soon as he wrote the parts he wanted to write and JWSchmidt finished the story.
You will not believe this, but the hardest part when creating the story was not writing it. It was the creation of the title. You could think: "Weird... They created a 150 page (230kb) story and the hardest part was to create the title!". But it is true. If you don't believe it, check Template:VirileMail/Titles to see all our attempts. At last, the winner was VirileMail: it did not spoil the story and had a primal relationship with it. Most of our title attempts were jokes, you can be sure you will laugh at least once after reading them. Of course, you will have to read the story first, in order to laugh at Chloe's related titles.
So, with the story finished and the title, the next part was to create a template for navigation at the bottom and three nice icons at the top. The most boring part was a few hours renaming all the files and changing all references to WNANT. There are still some of them, the redirections, but Davichito is not a sysop to delete them.
And it was over. The next step is to get it to be a Featured Article.
- And it was featured in August 2008!
One final thing. If you get this far and you are not JWSchmidt neither Davichito... Congratulations! Davichito never thought anyone would ever read this file to the end. But if you just pressed the End key, you are cheating...