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503 Service unavailable, also known as RationalWiki (RW), is a random aggregation of nerds, drunks, worthless scumbags, and people not welcome anywhere else except maybe *shudder* Encyclopædia Dramatica. They all work (sometimes together) to explore and provide information about a range of topics centered around goats, punk music and what they just had for dinner. A worrying new trend is the growing interest in tropical fish. And opiates.
RationalWiki is not even an encyclopedia
While RationalWiki uses software originally developed for a well-known on-line encyclopedia beginning with W, it is important to realize that we are not trying to be an encyclopedia, which is just as well, considering. Wikis were originally developed as a tool for collaborative content creation, so why we used that format is anyone's guess.
The site has successfully combined the worst failings of Web 2.0 with the most dysfunctional aspects of traditional organizations:
- The community has embraced the concept of wikis by creating a mass of confusing rules pages out of the collaborative editing of nearly three people
- By encouraging original research and essays, the site has also incorporated many unfortunate aspects of the blogging community: bad writing, feeble arguments and a free platform for any old Tom, Dick or Harry who made up a new religion after a late-night cheese toastie session
- Discussion between members is facilitated on many levels such as debate articles, specific discussions on talk pages (which usually wander off-topic), talking utter crap at the saloon bar, and three month blocks with "fuck" somewhere in the reason. This focus on discussion captures the essence of Internet forums. There is also a collaborative problem-solving process which consists of throwing more and more rules at a problem until the community gets distracted by new problems, which can be very entertaining if you're not part of it and even more delightful if you are.
While many of our pages may look like articles, we go much further — we encourage original research, in-jokes and risible opinions on the topics we write about.
- A significant proportion of the community has also embraced the concept of whiskey, but that'sh another shubject.