Use Your Wikipedia Donation to Support Indie Authors


writers indigo ribbonOnline encyclopedia Wikipedia has begun its annual pitch for donations to continue operating as an independent, non-profit information resource. Founder Jimmy Wales will once again ask those who visit the website to donate “to protect and sustain Wikipedia.” This year, I encourage you to put this donation to a better use. Please use the money to buy books published by independent (indie) authors.

Wikipedia is biased against indie authors it considers “non-notable” unless their works are cited by “credible” sources. In general, it prefers traditional media and does not recognize citations from social media sites, blogs, writers’ networks, self-publishing websites, or indie awards. Unless you are noted by select information resources, you’re out of luck receiving recognition from Wikipedia.

Wikipedia also strongly discourages autobiographies. It prefers second- and third-hand sources, which it considers more accurate and objective than first-hand accounts, even though such sources may be biased. Whether the biographer has an ulterior motive or a conflict of interest is irrelevant. Wikipedia assumes that its system to evaluate biases in its articles is sufficient, although its view on autobiographies suggests that it is not robust enough to root out misstatements, factual errors, or embellishments regardless of source.

If you are an author with a publicist who writes an article about you linked to a source Wikipedia that considers credible, then welcome to the club. If you’re a successful self-published indie author with an independent network, you’re out of luck. You and your books are not eligible to be included in Wikipedia. Don’t ask your friend to post your biography for you. Anonymous monitors who evaluate articles according to the site’s self-determined criteria will delete you.

Most self-published authors do not qualify for Wikipedia profiles. This does a disservice to the many hard-working, established writers who have chosen to self-publish. The rapidly expanding self-publishing industry operates differently than traditional publishing, and indie authors are more apt to promote each other through social media, writers’ circles, and independent networks than to wait for recognition from traditional media. Wikipedia’s rules are better suited to the pre-Internet and pre-social media eras. Rather than adapting to changes in the publishing industry, it simply chooses to exclude most indie authors.

This year, please support independent authors. The money saved from not donating to Wikipedia will buy some great books and recognize outstanding authors.

Here are three independent author communities with thousands of books to choose from:

Independent Author Network

Independent Author Index

World Literary Café

Thank you for your support.

books

The opinions expressed in this article represents solely the views of the author. Encyclopedia image courtesy of Microsoft; the indigo ribbon is public domain.

M.G. Edwards is a writer of books and stories in the mystery, thriller and science fiction-fantasy genres. He also writes travel adventures. He is author of Kilimanjaro: One Man’s Quest to Go Over the Hill, a non-fiction account of his attempt to summit Mount Kilimanjaro, Africa’s highest mountain, a collection of short stories called Real Dreams: Thirty Years of Short Stories and Alexander the Salamander, a children’s story set in the Amazon. His books are available to purchase as an e-book and in print from Amazon.com and other booksellers. He lives in Bangkok, Thailand with his wife Jing and son Alex.

For more books or stories by M.G. Edwards, visit his web site at www.mgedwards.com or his blog, World Adventurers. Contact him at me@mgedwards.com, on Facebook, on Google+, or @m_g_edwards on Twitter.

The More Things Change…


…the more they stay the same.  So Windows Spaces Live became WordPress, and Windows Live updated its Writer blog writing program to look more like Microsoft Word (which begs the question, why not incorporate it into Word?).  The format is completely different, though.  Draft blog entries and entries that have already been posted no longer appear, making me wonder where they went.  Why is it that all tech companies have this annoying habit of completely reinventing everything with new iterations of the software program or web site?  They assume that users will be happy with the changes or will soon learn how to use the newer version.  Yet history is littered with product experiments that failed miserably.  New Coke, anyone?

Good Thing I Archive


Spaces Live is shutting down and asked bloggers if they want to migrate to WordPress.com.  Like any obedient customer, I said yes and migrated the World Adventurers site to WordPress.com before Spaces Live terminates my account.  Microsoft said it would fully migrate the blog, but only the past year moved over to WordPress!  The rest seems to have disappeared into the Great Internet Recycling Bin.  Yikes.

Good thing that I archived all of my old blog postings offline, or I would have lost them.  I may repost some of the oldies but goodies.  If I hadn’t done due diligence archiving posts over the past half decade, I would have been quite distraught over losing about five years’ worth of postings.

Thanks a lot, Microsoft, for warning us bloggers ahead of time.  Hopefully WordPress.com will treat us better.

Microsoft, should I switch to Chrome?


OK, it’s Microsoft’s turn to be the target of a rant. I’ve been trying to post a blog entry for several days using Microsoft’s Internet Explorer (IE) Web browser, but it wouldn’t let me sign into Spaces. Every time I did, I got an error message. I finally tried to log into my MSN Spaces account using Google’s new Chrome browser, which I downloaded as a backup browser (just for moments such as these). Guess what? It worked. I successfully logged into my MSN Spaces account using Chrome. Of course, the problem surely must have been caused by user error. (Me, the tech novice. It’s my problem.) I must have done something wrong, right? It’s not Microsoft’s fault, no, never. Microsoft would never own up to having browser or server issues. Would it? I doubt it.

The attitude of most Microsoftees I know is that users need to conform to the Microsoft way, not the other way around. Face it, Microsoft — your Internet architecture is so complicated that it may be too complicated, resulting in annoying bugs and crashes that turn off users. I’m not writing anything ground breaking — Microsoft’s bugs and complicated interfaces are well documented — but I had to blog about this since IE is preventing me from posting blog entries to MSN, a division of Microsoft. Anyway, here is my first blog entry in days using Google’s Chrome browser. I can’t format the font or do all the fancy stuff IE lets me do, but at least I can log in and post an entry. Score one for Google.

So long, Sonics


What a fiasco.  There’s plenty of blame to go around for the Seattle SuperSonics’ move to Oklahoma City.  How does a team that went to the NBA Finals in 1996 leave town just a decade later?  Should the blame go to Sonics owner Clay Bennett, an Oklahoma millionaire who bought the Sonics, pledged to keep the team in Seattle, and then made a half-hearted attempt to work with the City of Seattle to keep them there?  Should blame go to the City of Seattle, which renovated the Seattle Center years ago into the smallest arena in the NBA, then balked on expanding it or building a new arena, and let the Sonics walk away for $90 million in cash?  (Where is Slade Gordon when you need him?)  Or should it go to NBA Commissioner David Stern and the NBA owners who voted with their pocket books and moved yet another franchise to another small U.S. city a la the Memphis Grizzlies?  All of them should share in the blame.  Special mention goes to Mayor Greg Nickles, yet another of a long line of subpar Seattle mayors who can’t figure out how to turn Seattle into a world class city because they’re too busy spending money on studying problems.  The 2012 Olympics, ghost freeway ramps, the Monorail, the Seattle Commons, the Seattle Viaduct, airport expansion, Boeing’s empty, former headquarters building, the NASCAR speedway, the 520 bridge, the overpriced light rail line that terminates one mile short of the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport.  Heaven forbid if anyone from Seattle is ever elect to a national office.  The entire country would be like, well, Seattle.  Dysfunctional and bumping along because Microsoft hasn’t left town.
 
Seattle can spend another decade and millions of dollars trying to woo another NBA franchise, and the NBA can lose out on television revenues from the nation’s 12th largest viewing market.  The only winner in this deal is Oklahoma City basketball fans.  Enjoy the Sonics.  Hold on to them; fill Ford Center even when the Sonics remain sub-.500 year after year.  Or you too will suffer the same fate a la the Charlotte/New Orleans Hornets (which almost moved to OKC).
 
Well, at least there’s the Mariners.  No wait, they’re in the cellar.  Seahawks?  Huskies?  Who knows.  It’s a tough time to be a Seattle fan.  I predicted several years ago that the Seattle would not win another championship in any sport for decades.  Looks more prescient by the day.

A rant against DVD regions


We found out last weekend that region 4 DVDs, South America’s format, don’t play in any of our region 1 DVD players.  We went today to a local electronics store to look for a multi-region DVD player.  All of their players were region 4 DVD players.  They claimed that the DVD players played region 1 DVDs (North America), but we didn’t have a region 1 DVD we could use to test the players and verify their claims.  We only have a couple of options if we want to play local DVDs–buy a local, region 4 DVD player to complement our region 1 DVD player or order a multi-region DVD player from the United States.  We could search the entire continent for a multi-region player, but we might as well buy one from the states with U.S.-style plugs and 110v power.  It’s easier to convert across countries than to buy electronics from smaller countries such as Paraguay.  Unfortunately, it is very difficult to get electronics overseas due to export restrictions and shipping addresses.  The best option would be to go back to the U.S. to buy one, but we probably won’t go back to the U.S. for awhile.
 
The DVD regions were developed to limit piracy, but the reality is that it does little to stop piracy.  The DVD pirates simply burn millions of copies of region-specific DVDs to flood the market illegally.  It puts more burden on expats to buy multi-region DVD players.  Computer DVD drives are multi-region–why do DVD player manufacturers insist on continuing to sell region-specific players?  I think it’s time to ditch the region system and standardize formats across regions.  It makes sense, and I highly doubt that it would exacerbate already rampant piracy.  I understand manufacturers’ concerns about not wanting to contribute to an already difficult problem, but they also need to understand that expats spend a lot of money needlessly finding ways to play their media across a myriad of different countries, regions, continents, and formats.  There’s nothing wrong with the DVD player I have–I bought it when regions weren’t an issue–and it’s silly to have to buy another one because the format is different in South America.

A rave for Netflix


My wife and I sat down to watch a video for the first time since I can remember.  We watched "The Devil Wears Prada," a cute movie about the cutthroat fashion industry.  While the movie was fun, I was more impressed by Netflix.com.  I signed us up for Netflix, the online video rental site, because we don’t have a motor vehicle here in Virginia and don’t have easy pedestrian access to a video store.  Plus, I suspect that we won’t have access in Paraguay to a good, convenient video store stocked with English-language Hollywood videos, so I thought that Netflix would fit the bill.  If you already use Netflix, you know the drill.  You make a list of videos you want to see, rank them, and Netflix will ship them to you based on the subscription plan you choose.  After you watch one, you mail it back in the free mailer Netflix provides, and Netflix will send you your next video.  While the price comes to about $3.00 per DVD, not exactly a bargain, it’s worthwhile to subscribe to Netflix when you are living overseas or don’t have easy access to a video store.  Plus, with 75,000 titles, it’s fairly easy to find movies you want to watch.  Most video stores carry far fewer titles.  Of course, a search for the movie "The Honorary Consul" turned up empty, but I was able to find "Moon over Parador" on Netflix (both movies prominently feature Paraguay).
 
I remember times when I would walk around the New Release section of a video store and scratch my head looking for something to watch.  Friday nights were especially trying.  I could always find copies of "Vampire Girls from Mars" and its ilk, but who wants to waste money on leftover videos?  I would much rather go online, make a list of videos I want to watch, pick them up in the mail, send them back by mail when they’re done, and pay by credit card.  So, I’m sold.  Netflix should work out just fine.