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Rogue Editors Started a Competing Wikipedia That’s Only About Roads

Gizmodo: “For 20 years, a loosely organized group of Wikipedia editors toiled away curating a collection of 15,000 articles on a single subject: the roads and highways of the United States. Despite minor disagreements, the US Roads Project mostly worked in harmony, but recently, a long-simmering debate over the website’s rules drove this community to the brink. Efforts at compromise fell apart. There was a schism, and in the fall of 2023, the editors packed up their articles and moved over to a website dedicated to roads and roads alone. It’s called AARoads, a promised land where the editors hope, at last, that they can find peace. “Roads are a background piece. People drive on them every day, but they don’t give them much attention,” said editor Michael Gronseth, who goes by Imzadi1979 on Wikipedia, where he dedicated his work to Michigan highways, specifically. But a road has so much to offer if you look beyond the asphalt. It’s the nexus of history, geography, travel, and government, a seemingly perfect subject for the hyper-fixations of Wikipedia. “But there was a shift about a year ago,” Gronseth said. “More editors started telling us that what we’re doing isn’t important enough, and we should go work on more significant topics.” The dispute came down to some of Wikipedia’s most sacred tenets. Anyone can edit Wikipedia, but that doesn’t mean you can write whatever you want. For one, a subject has to be notable. Your grandma’s “famous” cookie recipe can’t have an article unless it’s actually famous. The site isn’t a place for personal opinions, either. Original research is forbidden. In general, articles are expected to have multiple sources, and there are rules about what qualifies as a citation. Primary sources, where a person or an organization talks about themselves, are viewed with skepticism. Secondary sources, written by someone unrelated to the topic, are the gold standard. For some roads, these rules get complicated. “The New York Times isn’t going to write an article about maintenance on highways in the middle-of-nowhere Texas or Colorado,” said Ben M., a roads editor known as BMACS001 on Wikipedia, who asked to withhold their full name. “Sometimes a primary source is all you have.”..,

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