Return to Voxopedia

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[1] 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.”

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 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.
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.” May 04, 2017

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 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.” 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. At that point the progress looked like this:

  • Phase Two
    • • 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

[1] 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.

16 thoughts on “Return to Voxopedia

  1. Am I going to regret it if I convert the Bibhorr Formula into standard notation?

    (By “regret it”, I mean “spend the rest of my life in the secure ward of Arkham Asylum”.)


  2. I still think that the best thing about Voxopedia is the extensive Engelbert Humperdinck coverage, but the Bibhorr formula certainly comes close.

    There’s also a definite possibility that the author of the Bibhorr formula article is already inside the secure ward of Arkham Asylum.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. *Fry “shocked face” GIF*

    Teddy Boy took in money for something he couldn’t deliver? It’s almost like he’s a RWNJ grifter. He probably took in all the cash off the easy marks by May 2017, so he moved on to the next con job.

    The Bibhorr formula is just stupid. The Engelbert article might actually have some useful (for values of) info in it, though I daresay his web site would have more.

    I’m sure there are many more people who enjoy Mr. Humperdinck’s musical stylings than need an unnecessarily-complicated unnecessary trig approximation. I might even have a record or two around here inherited from Mom, and I’d certainly rather listen to that than puzzle over some mad “replacement” for something far more accurate.

    *light bulb* There’s the description.

    Infogalactic: A mad “replacement” for something far more accurate.


  4. I’m fairly sure Infogalaxative was for a while automatically scabbing Wikipedia pages in the way you describe. I kept an eye on them for some months to see if they noticed Leonard Cohen had died, and I think eventually they did to the extent that they transferred a newer version of the page. I’m pretty sure none of their editors were in any way involved.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. This is probably the closest Beale’s yet come to out and out fraud–as I’ve noted in the past, he usually actually produces something even if it’s also invariably a rancid bit of garbage. Which causes me to suspect this is rather like the supposed ‘Alt-Hero’ movie–Beale thought that he would have a product made, because he had no idea of the expenses involved. My suspicion is that someone further down the chain took the Dark Lord Gossage-Vardebedian Spode for a ride and that paying for Voxopedia’s servers ate up the rest of the funds, with the massive infusion of new users that was going to finance everything not really happening.

    Not that Beale will ever admit that.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Of course — he figured his sooper genyus would make short work of the many difficult problems of actually doing this. Databases are hard! His ego told him that lusers would flock to his project instead of using Wikipedia for bare facts (it’s not like they actually look up issues regarding the equality of all humans anyway, or that Wiki is all that woke to begin with) and Conservipedia for RSHD articles. The niche was already fully populated.

      And server fees are pretty pricey when you don’t have a regular incoming cash flow. Even Wiki itself has to ask for money on the regular; why not support the up-to-date original instead of an out of date semi-copy?

      I’d guess he’s footing the bill for the minimal server usage it’s still taking to host a bunch of static pages that aren’t being clicked on much.

      It would be poetic justice if he’d been scammed by someone else.

      I hope the big Engelbert fan feels s/he got their time and money’s worth.

      Teddy can use my slogan for free:

      Infogalactic: A mad “replacement” for something far more accurate.


      1. Infogalactic is the wiki version of the cake Marge made for Homer to ruin–an internet encyclopedia that a handful of lunatics can vandalize and no one will care.

        Liked by 2 people

  6. Every time Beale’s name comes up like a bad penny, it just seems to me like he’s trying to build status and a platform in the rightosphere with a lot of attempts with limited success. He started the Wiki alternative around when other far right databases and social media experiments were popping up. He just jumps from thing to thing. But then I guess outrage endeavors with easily bored white guys requires a lot of new campaigns.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. This seems to be a combination of Beale’s “business model” requiring a lot of churn to keep going, and Beale himself being prone to abandon projects and enthusiasms as he gets bored and/or runs into difficulties. He’s a man well-suited for his mediocre calling.

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