It has been nearly ten years since the dawn of the now-defunct Ezboard. It was this forum provider that truly spurred the migration of the micronational community from a mailing list and website centric locale to ne that has become heavily reliant on the use of discussion forums for daily interaction and operations. In many cases, both new and veteran micronations have abandoned the use of websites and now fully rely on their discussion forums as “proof of existence”. The discussion forum is the means by which we as a community communicate, with various intermicronational hubs uniting the various ideological sects of our hobby. These forums are micronationalism’s mainstream locale on the Internet, and they provide with little doubt the highest quality means of organised interaction freely available to micronations today. Yet, the use of forums is losing traction with some new micronationalists, and a new locale is rising.
That new locale is Wikia’s MicroWiki (http://www.micronations.wikia.com), where on a near-daily basis there are new micronations created and a substantial volume of intermicronational interaction occurring. These micronations – let’s call them wikinations for simplicity – are largely the creation of new, young micronationalists who are embracing wiki technology as a substitute to more traditional technologies. They are embracing this service as it is easy to publish information – it takes only a couple of clicks and a few words to create your micronation in what is one of the central information resources of our community. As a comprehensive information resource, these new micronationalists are finding contemporaries by searching the wiki’s article database. They then use the (albeit limited) discussion capabilities of the technology as a substitute for forums. As a result, in less than a year, an entire micronational community has sprung up on MicroWiki and it remains largely isolated from the forum-based mainstream. There are nongovernmental organisations, intermicronational sporting events, and full diplomatic negotiations occurring on the discussion pages of wiki articles – activities that have traditionally been accomplished on forums.
There are some clear benefits to being a wikination: it’s easy to add content to your wikination’s article page and create additional article pages for specifics; it’s a third-party service, so there’s minimal technical knowledge required to maintain your micronation’s web presence; and, since your fellow wikinations are all on the same wiki, all you need to do is check the recent changes to view the entire community’s activity at any given time. Not to mention that if and when your wikination dies, the historical record of it will remain online as long as Wikia does. It is also, arguably, a great service for masking the fact that you have a one-man micronation, which is difficult to do when you are the only registered user on a forum! Maybe these young micronationalists are onto something?
On the other hand, at this point in time, wiki technology cannot come close in comparison to forums when one considers discussion and presentation capabilities. Wikis were, after all, developed to convey encyclopaedic content, not to serve as attractive social centres (and this author for one does not agree that one of the community’s encyclopaedias should be hijacked and used as a discussion forum and blog, and filled with non-encyclopaedic content as these wikinations are doing to MicroWiki). The discussion capability of a wiki cannot properly serve the interaction requirements demanded by micronations – it was designed simply as a way for wiki users to make comments regarding previous article edits and for holding technical discussion. The poor presentation capability of wikis (in general) lends little to the popular notion that the most successful micronations tend to be the ones that invest heavily in professional presentation of websites and forums.
Whatever the benefits and shortcomings of wiki technology at this time, one thing remains clear: this developing wikination community is here to stay. All that remains to be seen is if wiki technology (specifically its discussion capability) will develop further to meet the needs of such a community, and if the wikinations will move beyond their current locale of MicroWiki and reach out to the mainstream micronational community (or vice versa).