Groupon: a sprouting little Wiki entry

On: October 7, 2010
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About Anouka Slemmer
In 2009 I finished my BA in Cultural Science at the Vrije Universiteit of Amsterdam, where my thesis was on forms of representation in three contemporary post-epidemic sciencefiction films. Apart from working as a consultant/project manager at an internet agency, I run a filmfestival with a bunch of friends.


Again I fell into the trap of thinking that it would be easy to write on a topic after my own choice. There’s lots of stuff that I find interesting, so there must be plenty to write about. This time it wasn’t to be just the blog post, but a Wikipedia entry on any topic that deserved a place in the Wiki Encyclopedia. So, I set about finding myself a topic. I used, a quality Dutch blog on e-trends, for inspiration, and found my topic: Groupon. Not something I would think of myself, since it always struck me as yet another commercial site offering daily discounts of restaurants, workshops, activities, and so on. But I value Frankwatching quite highly and I could not ignore the fact that Groupon had two entries in the English Wikipedia. So time for a Dutch version on Groupon.

The reason for this assignment was to first-handedly experience the Wikipedia machine and the mechanisms that regulate this body of over 16.7 million articles (and still counting). We can theorize about Wikipedia, as community knowledge is a very theorizable subject, but this was something we had to experience ourselves. Later, when we sat in class to share among fellow-wikipedians the stories of our attempts, I must admit that I was overtaken by a sense of Garden Cressexcitement: what would the next story be like. Some were agonized to the border of cruel torture, others happily delighted by the compassionate nature of the editors who contributed to the new article. It reminded me of this schoolproject where you had to nurture garden cress seeds, until they sprouted. No big ordeal, but you’d get attached to the thing nonetheless. And so it was with the Wikipedia entry.

My story must have been the most boring of all. Along with a few others I belonged to the group of people who’s articles found little to no critique from the community. Some of us were disappointed. When I picked Groupon as my topic of the week, I actually expected to run into some issues regarding debatable commercial interest. When I wrote an entry on my film festival some years ago, I remember I was corrected for speaking too promotionally about the festival. With that experience in the back of my head, I was interested in how that would turn out for Groupon. I used some ‘promotional’ words, but not in an obvious way. When I submitted the text, I was once asked by the system whether I was sure this wasn’t a commercial text. Upon entering that I was very sure, my article was admitted. Little happened after that. Someone changed ‘company’ to ‘marketingcompany’, a bot added a category, another one added a link to the German entry… And that was it.

Now my little garden cress sprout is out there in the big world. I hope it will grow a bit more.

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