I am coming to a growing realisation that active editing of the Wikipedia is a different form of multi-user computer game. Ok it has a purpose, to create a meaningful and useful artifact but participation is enjoyable, increases interaction with other people (who you get to know in different ways, some good, some bad) and generally is fun. Clans emerge with particular ideologies: I am having problems with a group I call the geography-facists at the moment, a clan characterised by their desire for uniformity at all costs. Alliances form to hunt down Trolls (an exact parallel) and sock puppets (I am sure there are deceivers in on line games). Mentors exist to help out new people and you can build credit and status. All the characteristics of a game.

To complete the picture there are rules (the need for citations) and ethics (assume good faith) and if you fall foul of those you serve a time out. You can choose the level; in the last two months a group of us have argued at length over two words on the philosophy page, while a pitched fight broke out over the British Isles as a geographical term given the politics of the relationship between Britain and Ireland. Don’t make the mistake of thinking to call it a game is any denigration of its seriousness by the way.

I will have to stop telling my 16 year off for spending too much time on his computer playing games if I am to avoid a legitimate charge of hypocrisy.

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