What can be learned about Davis from a highly-concentrated hub of quasi-factual information?
One could say that occasionally reading a page on DavisWiki is a good way to become more connected to the community. In fact, the test that new applicants for The California Aggie takes even includes a section in which the applicant must list pages they have read on Davis LocalWiki. Wikipedia states that the LocalWiki project was actually founded by the people who started the DavisWiki.
However, since the public is free to edit anything on these pages, it is essential to remember that wikis are not consistently reliable, up-to-date sources of hard facts and cannot be taken entirely at face value.
Nonetheless, a more meta analysis of the types of information and details that can be found here can reveal a lot about the community’s people, values, quirks and idiosyncrasies. So, to get a nice slice of culture, here are some of the most peculiar and entertaining topics that can be explored on DavisWiki:
DavisWiki includes many pages that list and catalogue many entries on a specific topic, like the page on benches. This page allows the user to quickly glance through the entries that profile over two dozen benches across town.
One of these entries is on The Dog Bench, located in the courtyard of Shields Library. This entry is complete with a comment from a user that reads, “This sculpture is kind of disturbing if you think about it, as the bench juts out of the sides of the dogs…makes me think of a fistulated cow.” The writer of the comment did indeed take the time to include the link to the DavisWiki page on fistulated cows, proving how Wiki can somehow cause dogs and cows to lead people down the rabbit hole.
Another entry describes a bench near the train station called The Singing Bench, so named because of how “the metal squeaks and sounds like a bird singing.” The writer of the entry was thoughtful enough to advise Davisites to enjoy the bench before the screws are tightened.
In addition to list of benches, there is also a page that lists several of the bathrooms around town. This page also directs readers to a different page that provides more detailed descriptions of over 30 bathrooms on the UC Davis campus, each of which is classified as either “cleanest,” “decent” or “tourist-trodden and scary.”
Under the “cleanest” category, the bathrooms at the Genome and Biomedical Sciences Facility are called “a home away from home […] complete with decorations and air fresheners,” while the bathrooms of the Chemistry Annex are described as having “delicious solitude.”
On the scary side, it is written that the Olson Hall bathrooms seem “to have standing water on the floors at least three out of five days during the academic week.” Regarding these restrooms, “personal floatation devices” are described as “prudent.” It is also said that the CoHo “has pretty bad bathrooms, but EXCELLENT vandalism.”
There is an entry devoted to the coverage of problems that have arisen because of the Noise Ordinance. In 1994, a Davis woman was cited for snoring too loudly, an incident that even received coverage in The New York Times. The Noise Ordinance was enacted in 1981 to prevent any “willful sound that disturbs the peace,” which apparently applied when college student Chris Doherty called the cops on his neighbor, who he claimed was making too much noise by snoring and said he’d talked to her about it in the past.
This page also includes sections on noise complaints from the Davis High School Stadium PA system and, of course, the horrible sounds of children at daycare centers.
The aim of this page is to identify things in Davis that are either overly abundant or sorely lacking. Some items appearing in the “plethora” list include Thai Restaurants, massage services, trivia nights, jaywalkers, stop sign runners and bike shops. Meanwhile, Davis is apparently lacking in donut shops, live music venues and Ethiopian food. Interestingly enough, cafes are listed in the “plethora” category but good coffee is in the “dearth” category.
Intended to complement each other, the “I Love Davis” and “I Hate Davis” pages allow people to share their love or hate for certain things about the town.
Loved for its “fearless quirkiness” is the Toad Tunnel. The Toad Tunnel was constructed to allow toads and frogs to cross underneath Pole Line Road to reach a pond without getting hit by cars. However, the effectiveness and rationality of this project has been widely questioned, including on this 1999 segment from The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. In the segment, then-correspondent Stephen Colbert investigates the Toad Tunnel, even setting up a camera inside it to see if toads were using it. Unsurprisingly, no toads were caught on camera. Despite the controversy, the Toad Tunnel is still loved by many and was featured in the children’s book ‘The Toads of Davis’ by local author Ted Puntillo.
Also loved in Davis are the town characters, over two dozen of which are listed here. While they are not listed in the I Love Davis page, there are entries about cats in Davis, like the widely-loved Veihmeyer and Physics cats. Meanwhile, other things in Davis are listed as being hated, like TAPS, housing costs and “All of the crazy liberal people who need to grow up and live in the real world!!”
There is one item that appears on both lists: The Aggie.
Written by: Benjamin Porter— firstname.lastname@example.org