Culture & Community
October 14 2021 ·10 min read
The political history of the SCP Wiki staff is a long and torrid affair riddled with strong personalities and tremendous turmoil. The first and longest running containment fiction community, the SCP community grew from seeds planted on the /x/ creepypasta board of 4chan.org, during 2007 when 4chan reached peak of influence on popular internet culture. Moto42 got the ball rolling, and users SCP still sees lurking today such as Kain Pathos Crow and Dr. Gears were among the earliest contributors.
This period of relative anarchy persisted when the writers began saving their creations on the EditThis wiki farm. There were no real leaders, at least not with any kind of authority, since anybody could edit any other articles. But this did not last long as the community quickly came to realize EditThis would not be a suitable home for them. The Administrator, also known as FritzWillie, was the first figure to hold any legitimate political authority in the SCP community. He undertook a herculean effort, along with a few other users, to transfer articles from EditThis to the new WikiDot site. This is also when we fell under the CC-by-SA 3.0 licensing. At this point, most aspects of the collective SCP canon hadn’t been established. It wasn’t even called the Foundation yet. That would come soon after the roots on WikiDot began to grow.
Initially, there was a transition between the anarchy of old and the new levels of organization. Kain and Gears were made into Administrators, while Kraito and Lt. Masipag were made Moderators. The site was open for anybody to edit, purposely, a decision they would soon regret when an infamous channer troll known as HAGGAR, or at least a copycat acting in his name, attempted to wipe out most of our articles. As many people unfamiliar with the wiki have done since then, they did not do the job correctly and most of his destruction was able to be restored. This did convince the staff to begin reining in membership and editing privileges.
Around this time was when the first real core of the staff began to form. The Administrator fell out of the picture early on, although still holding the Master Administrator position. Dr. Gears became the de facto senior Administrator and active users such as Bright(*Now known as TheDuckman) Clef, Light, Rights, and others were positions of authority. This was when they began being called the Senior Staff. Right around the time of the Senior Staff, the public 05command wiki was created as a vehicle for staff to communicate with each other on political matters with the full supervision of the community. This would go on to be both a boon and a curse as the transparency bred trust and legitimacy while also becoming a stage for venting, theatrics, and drama.
There was no real code of conduct in this period. Many of the early staff members were openly and deliberately rude and dismissive to users not already part of the burgeoning clique of writers. A few staff members such as Dr. Kondraki and The Fishmonger became domineering and powerful due to the weight of their contributions to the collective canon. They were among the worst offenders, but there was plenty of bad behavior all around in this period.
Fishmonger was noted for his repeated over the top denunciations of critics and those he disagreed with. Kondraki personally persecuted furries openly and with great vehemence with this behavior only being grounds for removal after he took the bullying off-site. Other staff members dropped off in activity or left for other corners of the internet. Much of this behavior was contiguous with the channer culture which had proved a potent pot to brew a community with a tradition of argumentative vehemence.
The first serious test of the Senior Staff’s ability to govern the Wiki came when Fishmonger, after being banned, demanded that all of his works and contributions be purged from the SCP Wiki. This assertion was backed up with a threat of legal action. In response, the Senior Staff decided to comply with the request. Before this much of the narrative work followed the same overarching thread, and there was a sort of canon. After the removal of this seemingly integral body of work, the cry of “there is no canon, all authors autonomously control their own works’ ‘ became one of the SCP Wiki’s banner slogans.
From this point, authority among the Senior Staff began to devolve. Major staffers like pooryoric were demoted for poor conduct, although much of the staff and elite writer clique continued to behave very obnoxiously to outsiders. Although Gears was able to claim the Master Administratorship from WikiDot after The Administrator proved impossible to contact, this control was soon lost again as Gears, Kain, and many of the other old guard began to fall away. Authority was concentrated into fewer and fewer hands, until there was really only one person running the show.
This was not strictly true, as there were many important and influential moderators and users in this period such as Quikngruvn, Sorts, thedeadlymoose, TroyL, RhettSarlin, TheRaven, Aelanna(*Then known as Raven Mackenzie although for the sake of simplicity she will be referred to as Aelanna throughout the essay), Kens and many others. As more or less the only active Administrator, though, if Bright had a mind to do something he would be difficult to stop if he felt it was justified. It also meant only one person was available to process applications, which would become a problem as the Wiki became more popular.
As the Senior Staff system slowly faded away, more and more authority was invested in Dr. Bright. Peaking in 2011, this one-man dictatorship saw relative stability masking the old system’s death. Before Containment Breach, the activity the wiki saw was much less active. It took five years to reach 1,000 SCPs.
Around the time of the first games coming out in 2012, thedeadlymoose and TroyL organized many of the old Admins from retirement to confront Bright and make him share political authority of the Wiki so that necessary reforms and changes could be made. To their surprise he was relieved to hand over this power, having been exhausted by the work of keeping the community together. Much criticism can be made of the way users were treated in this period and earlier, but acting as that final authority kept the SCP Wiki’s organization together. One of the major projects of this period which continues to be a key part of the Wiki’s success was the tagging system. Although opposed by Bright, it eventually would take root as one of our integral institutions.
Much of the organization kept to this point was preserved, although more specific duties and responsibilities began to take form. Things like official Deletion Votes, with policy largely designed by Light, and the tagging system created by Aelanna gave staff new tools of power over which to exercise editorial authority over the wiki. Things like the CSS overhaul and powers like calling to review were implemented. New Senior Staff could not have come sooner as the wave of activity brought on by Containment Breach almost overwhelmed the community when it hit. Although not swept away, the SCP Wiki had to adapt quickly to a constituency of users far larger than any it had previously known.
The growing instability caused by this influx of activity, along with TroyL’s ascent to Administration quickly meant that the confidence once invested in Bright would now shift to him. While not carrying the same heavy-handed power which Bright had wielded, Troy’s first task was to oust fellow Administrator TheRaven with a vote of no confidence. But the thing which cemented his role as the chief Admin was designing our Site Charter. This constitutional document was the first of its kind on the Wiki and gave staff a constitutional guideline under which political affairs could be conducted. Approximately one year after the implementation of the Charter system on the Wiki, the last remnants of the Senior Staff system were swept away by the Staff Teams.
Departmental organization of teams has been important for its continued growth and the ability to recruit junior staff has been a key solution to the turnover problem all SCP staff members have faced since the beginning.
Undoubtedly the greatest crisis of this era was Aelanna’s schism, initially forming as a division between progressive and conservative worldviews and morphed into a clash of personalities between Aelanna and a growing contingent of staff. While her contributions such as the tagging system, the appearance of the Wiki, running a sophisticated chatbot and designing tools for staff such as the original deletion timers, she also frequently lashed out at other staff members and behaved with impunity on the Wiki. Vandalizing coldposts with sarcastic images and exploding on newbies with drafts were among the behaviors which caused a growing contingent of staff to favor her dismissal.
At the same time, Aelanna was designing the next-generation SCP Wiki under the codename Project Foundation.
It is unclear exactly how much progress was made on the project, being a one-person show and requiring a tremendous amount of development. A few members of staff, most prominently thedeadlymoose, were willing to tolerate the incidents of agitation in the hopes that moving off WikiDot would be the end result.
This was not a completely unreasonable position to take, as one of the primary motivations behind the initiation of Project Foundation was the belief that WikiDot would soon be gone and a new home was needed imminently. The traffic surge caused by Containment Breach produced frequent outages of the Wiki and WikiDot as a whole. There were also glitches such as double-posting and users seeing themselves logged in as other users.
Eventually, after repeated clashing, Aelanna departed for good after being called out by Clef on the forums. Many members of staff experienced extreme burnout as a result of the repeated heated schisms. Some of the incidents of note include Aelanna and EchoFourDelta attempting to start a vote of no confidence in Bright, a record number of disciplinary threads being created and mutual staff-level denunciations and counter denunciations taking place on 05command.
Without the justification of the imminent move, the new bureaucracy had to find more tasks to do than before. Since 2012 there has been an exponential increase in the scope of staff activity and the reach they feel is fit for them. The prerogative has become a preoccupation with management for its own sake.
The teams became more baked-in, creating the departmental structure for the staff’s operations which continues on into the present day. The international confederations have more or less followed in their lead, with the only major point of contention that had any lasting impact being the attempt by the English Wiki to persecute the Russians over a licensing dispute, which has more or less been completely put to bed by the Duksin lawsuit.
In the near-decade since the charter was put into place, the staff have evolved into their current and possibly final staff system. The charter has been tweaked and added to ever since but the shape of the institution has remained in place. It has survived severe shocks, such as the June Days of 2018 and the Death of the Author in 2021. While these incidents were embarrassing, stressful and debilitating, they did not bring the structure down.
It is important to describe the shape and functions of the charterist SCP Staff as an institution as the actions taken by the aggregate may be praised or disagreed with by some or many of those working to perpetuate it from the inside. The staff are not of one mind but are of one organization and share some burden of responsibility for the state of their community.
The primary mechanical functions carried out by the charter system are punishing people, which is further subdivided into enactable punishments for rule infractions and public shaming notices. The SCP Wiki bans or notes people as potentially bannable every day. Punishable offenses can be anything staff find distasteful, whether or not it is a written regulation. Not speaking English well enough or respecting Anglo-American values also are bannable offenses if one happens to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Appeals are almost always unsuccessful and are seen inside the system as being largely done for the sake of being able to say that appealing a ban is possible.
The licensing team also essentially follows in this lead by seeking out those off-site who are using the common intellectual property of SCP and demanding that they enforce the licensing as the law demands. This course of action at least has some rationale beyond exercising control, in theory spreading knowledge of the license means SCP will continue to belong to containment fiction writers everywhere, but it is used in practice for intimidation and to prevent anyone whom staff does not approve of from engaging with the intellectual materials.
They also do not trust their community to be able to self-police critique and so have a soft editorial staff in their forum crit team who issue boilerplate responses to articles there. The forums are oftentimes where site users are drummed out of the site, once they’re given their first “non” disciplinary notice they become marked for future scrutiny. When you are looking for behavior to purge in order to keep a community pure, you will find it.
The most puritanical institution is the Anti-Harassment Team, also previously known as the Harassment Team. Despite its functions being a black box, what little history can be gleaned from inside reveals that the members of the team have been manipulating the results of their work in order to advance their own agendas. The one time it had real oversight was the same occasion where two of its leading members were exiled in disgrace for their misconduct. One of the most alleged and infamous abusers in SCP history was a member of the team from its inception until 2021.
Beyond its capacity for punishment, the charterist system has accomplished little of note when it comes to addressing the big problems of the community it governs. It has been busy, doing lots of work, but only allowing itself to become more unnecessarily complicated and incoherent as a result. Hundreds of 05command policy threads have been made and debated ad nauseum, often for policies which had negligible or negative impacts on the community as a whole. The biggest problem, moving off the ossified platform of WikiDot, remains unfulfilled with not even the appearance of a real solution on the horizon.
It is likely that the charter system will continue mutating into the future, moving further and further away from its underground beginnings as the creepypasta which begat containment fiction. Having experienced a gamut of divergent systems between the poles of total anarchy and absolute dictatorship, the presently centralized bureaucratic confederation of syndicates is only a bunch of words and chattering so cacophonous that nothing reasonable can be heard above the noise.
© Confic Magazine