Following tangents I ended up at Jeff Duntemann’s blog and onto a post about ‘Infogalactic’, Vox Day’s vanity version of Wikipedia. Duntemann’s post was about a wider idea about interconnected mutually searchable wiki’s which was interesting but a side issue caught my attention:
“Infogalactic has a lot of its own articles. However, when a user searches for something that is not already in the Infogalactic database, Infogalactic passes the search along to Wikipedia, and then displays the returned results.”https://www.contrapositivediary.com/?p=4400
I thought this must be a new development, which would be interesting in itself. Either that or I had misunderstood some of the claims Day had made about Voxopedia’s software.
However, no, Voxopedia does not do this. Take this relatively new page on Wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/3rd_Lithuanian_National_Cavalry_Brigade. If you search for the topic on Voxopedia it currently just returns the standard page not found response.
That raises the question though about what it was Day was boasting about previously in terms of Voxopedia staying up to date with Wikipedia. Rather than Duntemann’s neat sounding idea, Day had been claiming that his encylcopedia would have “dynamic forking” via software that he had christened “fork bot”:
“Rifleman and the Techstars are very pleased to report that the much-awaited dynamic forking tool is not only complete, not only tested, but is now operational. You can see the results here.https://web.archive.org/web/20200914191921/http://voxday.blogspot.com/2017/05/infogalactic-forkbot-is-go.html May 04, 2017
What this means is that Infogalactic will always be entirely up-to-date with Wikipedia across all five million+ pages, including the newest ones, except for those where the Infogalactic editors have improved upon specific pages.”
Day’s post contained a link to the import log and while I don’t know what it showed back in 2017 but what it shows now is editors import several Wikipedia pages into Voxopedia in a few chunks at a time. Maybe they made that manual process easier but three years on, Voxopedia still lags behind Wikipedia in terms of articles and the numbers they are importing are less than the numbers Wikipedia create. It’s a forking joke.
Back in January 2017, Day had described that they had reached the stage of “manual dynamic forking” (the jokes write themselves) which I discussed back then here https://camestrosfelapton.wordpress.com/2018/03/15/revisiting-voxopedia/ As far as I can see the whole operation has made zero technical progress since then. Notably, the article I used as an example (Australian politician Barnaby Joyce) is still unchanged since 2016 and has him still serving as the Deputy Leader of the National Party and a minister in the long-gone Malcolm Turnbull government.
The other big claim made by Day regarding Voxopedia’s capabilities was that it was going to replace the underlying MediaWiki software. Day had made a big deal about how they had used MediaWiki initially when cloning Wikipedia in the first place but that the underlying software that Wikipedia uses is bad and out of date and that his guys could do better. Remember that these weren’t just boasts but claims which he was using to raise money from supporters with.
This new wiki software christened the DONTPANIC engine was going to be so good that Day would be able to monetise it as a service for others:
“I should also mention that due to corporate demand, we are going to be putting together an Infogalactic Consult branch to help organizations make the change from the wikimedia engine to DONTPANIC for their internal wikis, or even just to make their existing wikis more functional and efficient. If you have a need for this, feel free to get in touch.”https://web.archive.org/web/20200914194300/http://voxday.blogspot.com/2017/05/mailvox-knowledge-core-vs-convergipedia.html May 08, 2017
A check of the source code of newly created articles at Voxopedia shows that it still uses MediaWiki 1.27.1. The current version that Wikipedia uses is 1.34.2. Not only does Voxopedia still use the software that Day was claiming was inadequate but it uses an out of date version of that software.
The vaunted development roadmap for Voxopedia was last updated on May 6 2017 and that point in early May appears to be around the time the whole project ground to a halt in terms of its technology. https://infogalactic.com/info/Infogalactic:Roadmap At that point the progress looked like this:
- Phase Two
- IN PROGRESS
- • DONTPANIC engine
- • Sub-sites wikimedia – COMPLETE
- • Sub-sites DONTPANIC
- • Ad server DONTPANIC
- • Dynamic page updates – COMPLETE
- • Improved Database categories
- • Relativity, Reliability, and Notability 1.0 algorithms
- Phase Three
- • Tri-level page content: Fact, Context, Opinion
- • Verified autobiography sub-pages
- • Preference filtering
- • Initial gamification and status bling operational
- • Safe Mode
- • Gab integration
- • User Interface 2.0 Beta
- • Gamification and status bling complete
Needless to say none of this was implemented but more relevantly a purported encyclopedia doesn’t even keep an entry about itself up to date. Again, Day raised money for this project on the basis of claims about what Voxopedia would be able to do.
Meanwhile, one of my favourite pages is still there https://infogalactic.com/info/Bibhorr_formula
 Google’s info boxes do something similar e.g. if you search for an author thy might give you a little bio from Wikipedia or Goodreads or Google Books.