What, Me Mass Edit?
Updated: Jan 7, 2022
Culture & Community
“Mass Edit” is a phrase with a unique definition in the context of containment fiction. It is the practice of going through all contents produced using a specific format and deleting articles that don’t meet a set quality criteria. In brief, a Mass Edit describes the process of listing the sum total of a community’s creative output and finding it wanting. A community screeching to a halt, while their works are scrutinized by a subjective gaze. Mass Edits are an important pivoting point in the history of multiple containment fiction communities.
The concept of a Mass Edit emerged on the English SCP Wiki in the early WikiDot years from that site’s managers, the Senior Staff. Anxious about perceptions of quality and going through a death similar to how they percieved the Holders’ (an earlier confic community) collapsing, SCP Senior Staff felt the time had come for drastic action.They determined to start determining the quality of SCPs and determining one-by-one which ones would remain and which ones would be permanently deleted. There are multiple projects archiving these lost entries to the Main List, such as the SCP Archive, hosting contents in order to prevent their being lost to time.
When looking at the SCP Wiki’s activity levels in 2009, the mass edit months look like someone went and dropped a VCR on it. There’s just an absolute flatline in terms of new content being created, which means no page creation, no page edits, and nothing new for people to comment on as the Senior Staff went through and culled a not-insignificant portion of the SCP Wiki’s contents.
The SCP Foundation has a more robust Mass Editing history, and is the only community which arguably ended up benefiting from the process. Activity picked up more or less where it had left off, and the rest of its history is, well, history. In every subsequent attempting of a ‘Mass Edit’ the organizers have cited this exercise by the SCP Staff as being the panacea to improving the quality par on their respective containment fiction communities.
RPC wasn’t even a month old when it started having talk of a Mass Edit to call its own. Discord user “OptimisticLucio” suggested it on June 23rd, 2018 in the RPC Discord. In the coming weeks and months, they repeatedly invoked the idea that a mass edit would be good for the RPC Wiki as it has been for the SCP Wiki. As far as following up on the talk, some preparing being done by noting possible articles to edit, but these discussions never coalesced into any sort of execution.
The Rewrite Team was organized on RPC with intent of changing this. However, the Rewrite Team quickly became moribund due to factors outside of its control. As far as can be seen in November 2021, without a plan for moving to a new website, there is little chance of any Mass Edit project taking place in RPC’s immediate future. Although it did rewrite some old bad articles during its brief window of existence, it never sniffed at anything like a serious locking down of the RPC Authority Wiki for an all-encompassing content purge. They were content with updating things on a smaller scale.
When searching through the RPC staff discussions, the talk just never seemed to condense into an actual project. Which would actually speak to how much talent came over to RPC from SCP, especially people like Von Pincier, inspired a culture of writing just that much better than settlers from 4chan did when populating the SCP Wiki. Simply put, there was less of a pressing need to scythe out old crud because there was not so much to be found as was on the SCP Wiki in 2009.
The RPC Authority’s attempt at making a next-generation containment fiction wiki is not unlike Apple’s attempts at updating Mac OS in the 90’s. Like RPC, Project Copeland was a growing bundle of ideas with no central pole holding them all together. It could never come together to make anything, but the world might be better off because it failed. Speaking of comparing confic communities to Apple in the 90’s, the Chaos Insurgency’s mass editing project was a drifting and self-defeating effort to please a demographic they had absolutely no chance of winning over. That audience in this case being the staff of the (English) SCP Wiki.
There had been some talk of eventually doing a mass edit at the Chaos Insurgency almost from the beginning, with the staff member Heartful specifically being intent on it. The mass edit as proposed was essentially taking the exact process used by SCP and applying it to the Chaos Insurgency. Why fix what ain’t broke?
While this was an ongoing discussion in the Chaos Insurgency Wiki’s community, their administrator Ed took a meeting with a leader in the SCP Foundation. The estimable thedeadlymoose, once and future administrator over at SCP, gave Ed some bad news. Everyone at SCP thought found their website appealing as a steaming pile of rotting fish guts. But! The good news was that a Mass Edit would be just the thing to get the Chaos Insurgency on the path of righteousness and justice. It was earnest, sincere advice (thedeadlymoose was fond of Chaos Insurgency as a GoI, and even went as far as to write a lore essay around this time to help further incorporate it with the Foundationverse, or bolster it as an independent project) which Ed promptly forgot about immediately after having this conversation.
Nobody but the participants would’ve ever known about this summit if not for Heartful finding out by happenstance. Personally affronted that Ed had forgotten to share it, this lapse in memory was enough to convince the other members of Chaos Insurgency leadership to depose Ed for not telling anyone else about this meeting with a leader of the SCP Wiki, about a possible avenue for acquiring the recognition they’re all craving no less. It was a faux pas of the highest order and cost Ed his Master Admin status.
They proceed with the mass edit, which proved to be massively damaging, to an SCP Wiki that was almost certainly never going to accept a Wiki run by people who were under its own age limit and who were also seen as vagabonds with Disciplinary records on the SCP Wiki. Having a record precludes all other considerations in most cases.
The Chaos Insurgency Wiki ’s executing of their Mass Editing project proved to be a short-term catastrophe whose long-term benefits are still to be determined. During the course of their editing spree, the core of their writers grew restless and began departing en masse. The resulting period of moribund inactivity continued until a Discord server was made in November 2019, which brought some life and connectivity back to the community.
Ultimately, the results of a mass edit are unclear. In the three examples history has been kind enough to provide, the idea of a mass edit had theoretically equally fertile ground to take root in. In each case the community had a completely different reaction. The first one didn’t suffer for it, the second absolutely did, the last has no appetite for a third bite at the apple.
The SCP Foundation had a combination of factors making its mass edit more successful. Most of the authors were also the active mass editors, meaning it was more the current writers judging content than a staff judging works while the community sits around watching their work get deleted. Also, a few years had passed so most of the anonymous authors from 4chan who had been writing what had been ported, all those guys were gone. So they weren’t there to be mad and hurt when the deleting went down.
Even then, there’s a reason there was no second mass edit. It was a lot of work that those who had done it weren’t keen on repeating. It was also probably due to the fact that the community kept growing and it would have been harder justifying the changing or arbitrary deleting of works without unclear providence. In this case, it seems mass editing was a reaction to factors unique to this time and place and its good qualities may not be replicable elsewhere.
Nowhere is this more apparent than the Chaos Insurgency, where the Mass Edit brought their community to a grinding halt. In the long term they may end up thanking those who did the mass edit because a lot of old material was cleared away, but the methods which brought success on SCP ended up choking the life out of the Chaos Insurgency. A lot of writers ended up kicking dust on the sidelines unable to write while the staff were judging the works of the site, so they left. Any policy that results in writers quitting is a bad policy for a writing site to be adopting.
As for the RPC Authority, the answer is simple. Since most of their early writing and content habits were latching over from the contemporary culture of the 2018 SCP Foundation Wiki, there wasn’t ever really a prolonged primordial phase for them to have been generating these types of articles that later members end up being embarrassed by and wanting to delete. The reason the idea never gained traction was that the idea of culling a body of work that is basically okay isn’t as animating to people seeking a change versus a cesspool of crap with golden nuggets ripe for the filtering. The Backrooms/TS community had a similarly stalling mass edit effort, with interest waning after extreme far-right content was culled from their body of work.
With all of this taken as a whole, it’s clear the mass edit was a singular thing that happened on the SCP Wiki, and all subsequent attempts at replicating its success have had middling results. Perhaps RPC and the Insurgency are outliers, maybe most containment fiction communities thrive after a mass edit. Only time and further study can give us the final answer.
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