When I first heard of Wikipilipinas as a Philippines-specific Wikipedia, my stock reaction was: Why the need? Why the fork? And I don’t know whether that approximates that of my techie friend: “He he he.” Perhaps he found the name either cute or corny.
I was further disappointed when I tried to compare Wikipilipinas’ entry from that of Wikipedia on the subjects of the “Philippines”, “Philippine Presidents”, and “Hello Garci Scandal”. They’re almost the same. Plain copy-and-paste tech, I would describe it. Isn’t it a waste of time copying exactly from other sources, no matter how noble the intention is? And isn’t it a waste of time for researchers/visitors as well trying to make out the differences or nuances between the apparently similar texts? Wikipedian and blogger Eugene Villar simply dismissed it as counter-productive.
I gave Wikipilipinas a benefit of the doubt by visiting its site, particularly its policies and overall “table of contents.” The policy side is not yet well-polished. For example, when I clicked on the link “Wikipilipinas differs from Wikipedia in some very important ways”, I was pointed to a text entitled “Editorial and Content Policies” which seemed to claim that two of its policies are unique to it, suggesting that Wikipedia does not have those policies at all.
So what differs Wikipilipinas from Wikipedia, despite their common software platform and content licensing scheme?
- Wikipilipinas claims that there is no “neutral” point of view. It “encourages balanced presentation, but not a neutral point of view.” Wikipedia believes that neutrality is achieved when writers and editors “explain disputes” not engage in them. (Does this mean that Wikipilipinas will entertain disputes so long as they are “properly” handled?)
- Wikipilipinas welcomes content based on original research, so long as it is supported by facts.
- Wikipilipinas is not an academic encyclopedia. It also incorporates other types of references like “Who’s Who” and Philippine almanac.
Content-wise, Wikipilipinas’s main page for Philippine topics appears to be tidier than that of Wikipedia’s category page. Likewise, there may be topics either not yet discussed or underdeveloped in Wikipedia that Wikipilipinas more comprehensively or contextually tackles. Compare Wikipedia’s List of Filipino Traditional Games to Wikipilipinas’ “Filipino Traditional Games.”
One unstated principle of Wikipilipinas would be the view that Filipinos and Filipinas (or the Filipinized ones?) know better. And since the primary intended audience are Filipinos and ethno-cultural groups in the Philippines, Filipinos and Filipinas would have the appropriate tact in gathering information and delivering them to the readers using localized language.
Wikipilipinas is a welcome idea. But I can’t say whether its time has come. I can’t even guess if at least some Pinoy wikipedians problematize whether they would stop writing or ‘developing content’ for Wikipedia and devote their energies on Wikipilipinas instead. And I learned from news that the site would soon monetize the hits by placing ads on the site’s pages.
And there you go. When that “monetization” of Wikipilipinas happens, that will be the fourth “important way” to distinguish it from the online encyclopedia that knowledge workers have loved since six years ago. And the question remains: Will Wikipilipinas catch up or achieve the long tail that it aims?