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A ghost town is a euphemism for an abandoned OnlineCommunity. Where once there may have been a thriving community of contributors, now there is nobody (or very few people) interested in maintaining and expanding the community. Any changes go unnoticed even by the owner and administrators. Information becomes out of date and BitRot?s.

Some websites never rise above being a GhostTown. Examples include:

Other communities have periods of lively interaction, yet somehow run out of steam and collapse.

Spam / Vandalism

This is rather sad of course, but to make matters worse, GhostTown wikis are a prime target for WikiSpam. With nobody around to clean up abusive page edits, spammers and vandals can freely wipe away all the interesting/useful/entertaining content which was there before, and leave their links behind. On a ghost town wiki spammers have a chance to leave links which will remain there for a long time.

This is a big problem for the wiki community as a whole. In fact it could be argued that the existence of ghost towns is the only reason wiki spamming is worthwhile, and that the wiki community would be better off if such sites were shut down. Of course technically there are better solutions, but they tend to require the owner/administrator to be proactive. One might conclude that people running ghost town wikis are a menace, but of course the true menace is WikiSpam. See also [GhostTown on Chongqed.org] Another conclusion is, the wikizens are blind for the economic value of their homestead and leave its monetization to random outer forces, instead of integrating it.

If this is a real problem for 'wikidom', is there a way that 'wikidom' could clean up a ghost town especially if it has been abandoned by its 'owner/administrator'?
Is there an acceptable way of using the spammers own approaches against them to over-write the spam on the ghost town? After all, if the site is abandoned ... it should be 'permissible', (although I fail to see why someone would pay operational expenses, once the usefulness of the original intention is gone).

Applying the wisdom of Wiki:ExtremeProgramming to ExtremeOpenBusiness we can <->Wiki:EmbraceChange (Quote: "If a problem has no solution, it may not be a problem, but a fact, not to be solved, but to be coped with over time." by Shimon Peres ) and get additional energies and qualities from the general trend of the Web to become a MoneyMakingMachine?.

An integrated income model as an antidote against Spam and Vandalism

Highly creative minds are often forced to do exhausting "serious" work (i.e. work with a financial pay-off: working as employers, employees, investors or politiceans), so that there is no room for Google:StayPoor community activities.

As soon as online communities integrate an income-model, that brings "fruit on the table", there is no need to drop out for a living outside the online culture. As soon as an income model is integrated, more and more vested contributors with inputting valuable content will be attracted and defend their stronghold against parasitic spammers and vandals. -- FridemarPache


Context note: this page was originally titled "DeadWiki"

I think wikis which were intended to be dead happen rather frequently. For example, the website where my girlfriend posts here pictures is a wiki; not because she wants to get discussion there, but only because it's the quickest way we know of for her to post them. I use a wiki for my temporary personal website*. And I periodically report on my progress on research projects in wikis. In the latter two cases, wikis are helpful because they are a quick way to format text and throw in pictures, and because if someone does ever want to make a correction or comment, they can (even if that probably won't happen often). -- BayleShanks

*: although when I first started that wiki, I was trying to use it to discuss some stuff with some old friends of mine. After that didn't work, though, I kept using it in place of a personal website.

A few days ago I talked to a German wiki activist who is less "community" and more "content" oriented. His name is Helmer Pardun and has invented the term OOPUB: Open Online PUBlishing (tools). It seems to work quite well to describe and sell this type of application. I think DeadWiki has "community" in mind. I think it's easy to see the difference. If a wiki is for publishing only, then it doesn't need to explain what wiki is. If it has pages like "why wiki works" or "text formatting" (except wiki engine default pages) then it was built with external contributors in mind. Perhaps GhostTown would be a better name for this page. -- HelmutLeitner
[Ed: once again, don't make a pattern specific to a wiki that generalizes to anything else. if you can replace the word "wiki" in the real meat of this pattern with anything, like "discussion board," it isn't a wiki pattern, even though wiki use may exhibit certain unique phenomenon; address that in a lower section.]

I think you've hit on the distinction; in some cases, wikis are about actively talking to a community of people, and in other cases, they are for other things. If they are for active discussion and there is none, that might be failure. In some of my other examples (i.e. my personal web site), they were primarily for publishing, although the capability for active discussion and community editing is a plus. -- BayleShanks

So, I wouldn't call the two wikis you described "dead". If you're uploading new images and/or adding personal information, there's change and growth happening.

I'd also have a hard time believing that "some wikis were intended to be dead". Except for maybe some test wiki installations, or maybe the famous DontEditThisPage? B-), there aren't a lot of wikis out there that weren't created specifically for change and growth. -- EvanProdromou

In a real ghost town structure is the last to decay, content is lost first. This may be similar in online communities. Would like to add there is a feeling of nostalgia over it because to many the town was the living but it needs to be recognised it was not the town or wiki or forum, it was the people that were living. One last point is that spam being an issue can possibly suggest a movement to harder form of security (automatically?) might be helpful for wikis on loss of activity. -- AaronPoeze



CategoryOnlineCommunity CategorySpam


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