Brenna Jones already knows that her dorm suffers from an ant problem and has a reputation of being party central. And she hasn’t even moved in yet.
How did she gain such useful information? From every UC Davis freshman’s new best friend: the wiki.
The Davis Wiki, or daviswiki.org, is an online source for everything Davis; from restaurants, to urban myths, to where the “perpetual puddles” are located around town. Established in 2004, it contains information and commentary collected from students, alumni, professors and town citizens.
“We can learn about an area [of Davis] easily, when it would take a long time to figure out otherwise,” said Jones, a freshman design major who began using the wiki when she found out she was living in Segundo, Ryerson. “You just can’t find that kind of stuff on the [UC Davis] website.“
Aside from the informational aspect of the wiki, many argue that its best feature is the comment section. Anyone with a username has the ability to comment on a page, often turning the pages into an online debate or forum.
“The debates on Daviswiki reflect the common and emotional debates that people have in real life,” said frequent commenter Evan “JabberWokky” Edwards. “There are few Internet sites that produce something of actual value to the Davis community that will be around for [as many years as the wiki.].“
UC Davis graduates Philip Neustrom and Mike Ivanov created the Davis wiki. They wanted a more personal, collaborative guide to Davis that could be accessed by anyone, said Ivanov, who has since earned a degree in mathematics and now works as a computer programmer.
Though the website took approximately a year to get running, within three weeks of its launch, it had already gained 100 registered users and 600 pages, according to the website history. Currently, the site has grown to host 77,000 registered users and 12,300 pages.
“There’s so much knowledge in people’s heads about Davis but those people move out every year, or after they graduate,” Ivanov said. “We wanted a place for them to share that knowledge and that’s what [the wiki] has been.“
The wiki is set up much like Wikipedia; only with fewer rules, Edwards said. Though site visitors can view pages as they please without creating a login, they must have one to comment on a particular page. After that, users can contribute in any way they feel fitting; however, if someone feels that contribution is inappropriate, it can be edited out.
Users can also create any page they wish. If there is something a person is passionate about, Ivanov said, they should let the wiki community know by either creating a page or commenting on an existing one.
“Everyone has their own little corner they can work on,” Edwards said. “Everyone has hobbies and small things they work on
and even if they come in and edit two things, the wiki will reflect what the community is really thinking and doing.“
LAUREN STEUSSY can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.