'... and I wrote on it: "In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit".'
I own a few books written by J.R.R. Tolkien and some books written about J.R.R. Tolkien. To be a little more precise, I own almost every book J.R.R. Tolkien has written (including those Christopher Tolkien has edited and published after his father's death). And I have read most of them already, which - according to some people - would make me a "Tolkien-expert". But actually - alas - I am far from being a Tolkien-expert. Unfortunately the level of my knowledge and insight about J.R.R. Tolkien and his works is far from matching the level of my "Tolkien-addiction". And - trying to improve in this area - I started looking for other ressources where more information, kowledge and insight about J.R.R. Tolkien and his works could be found.
I wanted to find an Online-Community? where not only answers for questions about Tolkien's works could be found, but also where some sort of comprehensive information about frequently asked topics were provided. Not an encyclopedia like Foster's The Complete Guide to Middle-earth, let alone the Encyclopedia of Arda. I mean Foster's Complete Guide... is a great book to look something up, you have forgotten, or a starting point for a more complex research, but I wanted something more sophisticated! Answers - or at least some background information - even for topics, that require a more complex interpretation, or questions that have no definitive answers. And, I wanted a community where such topics could be brought up and eventually discussed.
But it should not be like a Forum or a Newsgroup, where the same questions are asked over and over again, the same issues are discussed a 100 times within a year, some questions are answered others not, and after a month everything starts over again. And where a lot of people are less interested in gaining knowledge or insight about Tolkien's works, but rather to show off their debating-skills. Arguing just for the sake of it, well it can be fun at times, but on the long term it's not my kind of music, anyways...
What I was looking for, was an Online-community that would provide something like a "Tolkien-Knowledgebase?", but where information could be added at any time or new issues could be brought up as well as existing information could be found easily. Needless to say that I didn't find it and after a few more months the idea was born to try putting up one: That's how TheTolkienWiki came into existence... -- ChW
|Chapter 1 (July 2002)|
Helmut and I had taken our first steps with a Tolkien related Wiki a few months ago when - during the time of our first reading of LotR - Helmut had set up a LotR Wiki (in German) with his ProWikiSoftware and created about 400 pages with names, locations, etc. and short descriptions of them. My contributions were relatively few. After an attempt to create a genealogy page, which was rather poor btw., I realized my knowledge about Tolkien's works was not yet up for an attempt like this one and I decided to read The Silmarillion before going any further with the Wiki.
To cut the long story short, the LotR Wiki never got beyond an experimental stage, for my own part mainly due to the fact that it was in German whereas the books were in English. And for a majority of the readership who would possibly be interested in such a thing, the Wiki had to be in English as well. This was a Stalemate! At the beginning of summer I was ready for a new attempt and was destined to give it another try with a Wiki software in English, when we discussed the issue again during one of our coffee-breaks.
Due to some requests for English Wikis Helmut was already pondering to translate the user-interface of the software to English and we agreed that he would translate the user-interface, I would translate the pages explaining how a WikiWeb works and the first weeks of the TolkienWiki would be the beta-test for the ProWikiSoftware in English. Helmut was doing his translations at a rather quick pace, meanwhile I was translating my part and kept experimenting with the site-layout, and Chris - my son - was busy creating the logo. Early in August I started building actual contents. -- ChW
|Chapter 2 (September 2002)|
My main task for the past 2 weeks was an attempt to create a few example pages, to show how the individual pages can be linked up to provide an information-network that could serve as sort of a "Tolkien-knowledgebase", continuously growing and providing more and better information over the years. These example pages circle around the TolkienBooks page and the Gondor page.
The TolkienWiki has been officially "opened" on Aug 15, 2002, during the second half of August it has been introduced to a few friends and fellow Tolkien-experts and the feedback was very good.
Last weekend we had our One-Month-Anniversary? and the site develops great, at this time it consisted of 817 pages, 563 of which were Compendium pages, and we have had about 30000 page accesses since Aug, 15. This is in any way far more than what I have hoped for and I would like to thank all who contributed or visited, but my special thanks go to DougCreller, ShilohShannon, JayFoster and RonaldDeGoeij (in alphabethical order), who with their frequent contributions have done a big part of the work so far and hence own most of the credits for the site. -- ChW