Zine Wiki and the Great Indie Cultural Reservoir

“Non-notable website.” This was the hurdle that ZineWiki’s creator Alan Lastufka had to leap in his democratic passage of acceptance to the pages of Wikipedia. Not that widespread acceptance has ever been a burden of the zine community, but the debate that followed was an ironic confirmation of the necessity of ZineWiki. Was it a “keep,” a “weak keep,” or a “delete”–this step out into the net’s global reference allowed others to answer the age-old question of, “What is a zine,” but more importantly to answer, “What is a zine community?”

ZineWiki defines itself before one even asks–but here it goes. Like its larger archetype, ZineWiki is “an open-source encyclopedia devoted to zines and independent media.” In other words, this is the long overdue answer to the genesis-question behind zine culture. ZineWiki is creating an indie-cultural archive in what is normally an ephemeral D.I.Y. environment.

Like most zine creations, ZineWiki was the product of a spontaneous creative impulse. As a Christmas present, Alex Wrekk (Broken Sharpie Revolution) joked how she wanted a Wikipedia entry. Lustufka followed up, and the new entry was soon edited by a few other zinesters (though that “nonnotable” thing popped up again and the post was recommended for deletion).

 

The idea, however, remained. With the help of Kate Sandler (copy editor and contributor to Lustufka’s other project Fall of Autumn), and some handy WikiMedia open-source software, the idea of an online zine reference quickly came to life. The D.I.Y. nature of the small press, as well as the net, made this an easy pairing. This indie-resource quickly grew to over 1000 articles by January.

 

The open-source format of ZineWiki has also surfaced some old-time zinesters back into the community to post or edit. Some “believed-tobe-MIA zinesters,” according to Wrekk, have registered to “edit not only their own pages, but also contribute to a few others.” Zinesters no one has heard from in years returned to describe or correct the history they experienced in the indie/zine community. According to Wrekk, Zine Guide publisher Brett Ritzel registered back in September to edit the existing Zine Guide entry, and even some old zine community quarrels have been revived through Wiki edits, such as by zinesters Sky Ryan and ANSWER me! co-publisher Jim Goad. The opportunity to shape indie history has obviously proven too tempting, even for those that have moved well out of the community.

 

The Wiki format hasn’t, however, encountered any “truth by democracy” (thruthiness) problems that Wikipedia has from time to time. Wrekk’s stance on the problem of accuracy in an open-source archive is, “If we cannot find a credible source for said claims, they should remain out of ZineWiki.” The open-source Wiki format works perfectly for the D.I.Y. community nonetheless. The zines are organized alphabetically, including a featured article or zine for that month, a great First Time Here section for zinester noobs and even a pairing with Punk Planet.

 

Surpassing the 1K article feat, ZineWiki’s future is appropriately optimistic. Expanding from the vast archive of zine pages, Wiki’s inclusion of indie films, books and ezines is making the site grow at an incredible pace. Wrekk notes that the future of ZineWiki “will remain as is for the foreseeable future” in order to maintain the “goal of creating a lasting document.” The sheer breadth of involvement from the zine community has already proven that.

 

So how does the zine community find acceptance and inclusion in the mainstream? How does it become notable? The D.I.Y. ethos of ZineWiki has collectively answered that question: We don’t care, we’ll do it anyways. But it’s nice to know that, after much debate, ZineWiki, in the eyes of its online elder, has been accepted as notable. Well done.

 

Some notable (and nostalgiac) entries worth searching for at zinewiki.com:
King-Cat Comics and Stories an autobiographical zine of comics and writing that began in 1989.
Cometbus long-running punk zine out of San Francisco
Lisa Carver a performance artist, also known as Lisa Suckdog, who created the zine Rollerderby.
Kill Your Pet Puppy a zine out of London, England chronicling the emerging punk and goth scenes of the early 1980s. Started in 1979.
2600 the zine about government hacking that “keeps governments and corporations on their toes.”
Joe Biel founder of Microcosm Publishing and co-founder of the Portland Zine Symposium. He has a funny wiki entry, as well.
Holy Titclamps a queer zine started in Minneapolis in 1989.
Factsheet Five the American guide of zine reviews that ran from 1982-1998.

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