I recently looked at the Wikipedia article for collaborative fiction while I was helping to write a Knol about using wiki software as a platform for collaborative fiction. I was amused to see that the introductory paragraph of the Wikipedia article is written from the point of view of professional publishing and says that collaborating authors agree on what “percentages of remuneration are earned by each party”. I wonder what percentage of collaborative fiction writing is actually done by professionals in this “age of the internet”.
The Wikipedia article has a page section on “Wikinovels” which mentions A Million Penguins. That project can be counted as one of the “failed experiments” by which conventional publishers tried to explore wiki technology. A Million Penguins was a case of “too many cooks spoil the brew”. I’ve had the same experience at Fiction Wikia (to a much smaller degree!) with stories such as VirileMail for which I just had to wait for non-constructive editors to go away before the story could be completed. Even with very small collaborations such as Wiki fiction stew, all it takes is one difficult participant to derail a collaborative project. I’m interested in the idea that “forking” of projects might be the solution to this problem. We really need tools that allow collaborators to choose exactly who can participate in a particular story writing effort. If someone is causing trouble, they must be excluded from the collaboration. I developed a wiki approach to such collaborations at the Academic Publishing Wikia.
The Wikipedia article on collaborative fiction mentions Wikinovel, which appears to be a failed project where “there are 27 pages that are probably legitimate content pages“. The problem for websites such as Wikinovel is that even the best of ideas on the internet will die off if there is no way for people to find them. A Million Penguins was ruined by too much traffic, Wikinovel appears to have gotten too little. Similarly, at “Wikistory“, “there are 15 pages that are probably legitimate content pages“.
Fiction Wikia might be the right size, with just enough participants, to slowly develop a viable wiki community that supports collaborative fiction writing.