The Chaos Insurgency Public Domain Contest - An Interview With CI Admin "Zesc"
Updated: Jan 7
by Harmony B
The Chaos Insurgency, a confic wiki which is coming to be around ten years old, still has an extant productive community. The subject of this interview, Zesc, is a leading organizer in this community. The following preface was written by him:
1) The following is only mine, if anyone's, opinion and shall not be construed to be official Chaos Insurgency policy or stance. Do not attribute the personal takes of individuals to wholesale communities. I as an admin encourage dissent over "coordination" (i.e. Gleichschaltung).
2) All errors, whether factual, stylistic or otherwise you may encounter are part of a conspiracy by the Confic Magazine to discredit and undermine me. Due to the interviewers choice of format and procedure I maintain plausible deniability of everything given below.
(Editorial note: All italicization added by author for stylistic purposes.)
Harmony: Thanks so much for giving me your time today. For bit of background, can you tell me a little about yourself and your role in the Chaos Insurgency?
Zesc: I tend to go by the nickname Zesc in the confic spaces and I currently am be one of three Administrators of the Chaos Insurgency Wiki, where I happen to be the general dogsbody. I have a rather acquired taste of humour which people either get used to or start to hate me.
Harmony: You say you're the "general dogsbody" how would you define that term and your role in the CI confic community?
Zesc: It means I'm managing the majority of the non-social operations. This includes managing tags, double-checking media attribution, etc. On the side, I also start plenty of technical projects I deem interesting and/or useful and, when the stars align, might even finish them.
Harmony: Can you give examples for some of the projects you've done?
Zesc: Well, the first project I started, before I even was admin, was overhauling our tags, which used to be an arbitrary mess of synonyms and random properties. So I went through, tidied them up and initiated a tag guide for future reference.
Then I scotch-taped botched together an own version of rating modules with expandable attribution area, because the previously existing ones from other wikis were all either difficult to use, broke in hardened browser or both. The whole thing is based on some terrifyingly hacky CSS shenanigans, but I wrote documentation to preemptively deflect blame.
Lastly, one of our current biggest objectives is leaving WikiDot for MediaWiki. It's no simple task, in fact, it is daunting, but eh, rats must leave the sinking ship somehow.
Harmony: Getting to the topic at hand, the upcoming contest on the Chaos Insurgency Wiki is about media entering the public domain. Where did the idea for that come from, and why did you choose it as the first Chaos Insurgency Wiki contest for 2023?
Zesc: I had (and still have) an article idea based on early Disney Animation; I mistakenly believed Steamboat Willie would enter the Public Domain in 2023, and noticed the whole Public Domain thingamajig whilst doing my research.
The date was chosen for two reasons. First, Public Domain Day is the 1st of January, and you can't have the contest start any sooner due to the legal constraints at hand. Second, it "was about time" for another contest. There hasn't been one in quite a while so the timing seemed opportune.
Harmony: What was the last contest the CI held, the theme and the idea, and how did that go?
Zesc: Well, if you're willing to consider the failed attempt of introducing themed seasons a contest, then it was "Season 1: The Drought", which was unsurprisingly drought-themed.
It went terrible enough to have us scrap the idea as a whole, as we had a grand total of two submissions, one by each admin who organized the whole shebang. We learned from that pathetic fiasco that contest deadlines are one of the great pushing forces, and that extending them to an entire season (3 months) is counterproductive.
Harmony: What are you expecting to see from this contest, are you planning on submitting anything?
Zesc: I'm expecting the same as from all other contests: some occasion when people finally break their posting fatigued and get to break the sandbox-main wiki barrier that so many drafts fail at.
I do plan to submit something, though extrapolating from my track record, I will do so mere hours (if not minutes) before closing time.
Harmony: How do you view the role of writing contests at the Chaos Insurgency, and in confic writing in general, what purpose does it serve?
Zesc: I believe the purpose they serve for the CI is different from what they're supposed to be like in the other wikis.
For us, they mostly serve as the beats that drive the dead horse. I won't sugarcoat it, our Wiki has low activity, although the community in itself is alive and healthy. A quick glance in the sandbox reveals that we have no issue generating drafts, but in actually posting them. There are countless articles sitting around which are almost finished, often only needing one final SPaG edit, but which never made it to the main site. The deadline and competitive nature somehow help our authors to jump the gap.
In the bigger communities, I believe that contests exists for prestige, competition and prizes. The SCP wikis tend to give out special slots (thousands and hundreds, but I recall SCP-FR also using 404 and and the repdigits) which on themselves guarantee becoming "popular", or at least well known, with all the fame they entail.
But even without aiming for the first place, contest submissions tend to be held more prestigious. And lastly, some people just happen to be good sportsmen who enjoy measuring their skills with others, no matter how skewed the chances might be. You have to respect that.
Harmony: Alright, to wrap things up, do you have any plans for future contests at the CI that you can let the reading public in on?
Zesc: I can't think of a (credible) situation in which a contest would need to be kept secret in advance; we tend to discuss these in an open forum thread.
Harmony: That sounds terrific. Thank you so much for your time! Is there anything else you'd like to say before we wrap up?
Zesc: One thing: If you're writing supposed "clinical" documents for an advanced international clandestine organization, it's RFC 3339 or GTFO. That's all.
Harmony: I appreciate your time, thank you so much for sitting down with me tonight!
CI logo artwork by Zesc
Confic Magazine logo by Worm That Walks
The Chaos Insurgency's Public Domain Contest is accepting submissions until the end of January, be sure to enter if you are interested!