Internet Movie Database/Talk

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What happened in the early days of IMDB? My understanding is that it was a collaborative effort on a Usenet newsgroup, but soon after the invention of http/www, it became a proprietary website.

It's a great website, don't get me wrong, but I've always wondered how they made that transition and whether it was controversial at the time. I think the story might make a great cautionary tale about why a free license is so important.

As I understand it, the people (i think they are british) that had physically the website, and managed and organized the entries, where contacted by, who was looking for a way to sell more movies. So they bought the site, and hired the former owners to mantain it.

I also wonder whether or not the existence of IMDB (which is a great website, as I say) would undercut any possibility of my starting a similar but free effort, using similar software. Wiki software is unstructured for a good reason, but for some kinds of information (movie listings), a priori structure can be handled very easily. But the essential wiki nature (anyone can edit anything) might provide fertile soil for the growth of such an effort.

Alternatively, you might consider making custom changes to the Wiki software to support the encyclopedia effort, or make additional software to support Wiki. One obvious thing might be to write software to scan and Wikify free information like the CIA factbook so KQ doesn't have to type it all. Another might be to have "create page from template" pages at which a user could interact with forms and/or applets to create standard-format pages for things like movies, species, poker games :-) (with plenty of room for free-form text, of course). This latter can be done indepently of Wiki itself (for example, I could create a template on my own site that generated Wiki pages), but some extra software support might be handy (for example, being able to put non-visible comments into a Wiki page, or marking pages as editable only by such template scripts (this latter is already a feature of UseMod that Wikipedia doesn't use). I'll see if I can come up with a sample of what that might look like. --LDC

Actually I don't type the CIA info, but save the .html and cut and paste from notepad. But templates would certainly be handy for things with a fixed structure that people do have to type.

Wasn't the IMDB originally called the "Cardiff Movie Database"? --Robert Merkel

The servers that it ran on were at Cardiff University in Wales... here is the link to thier own telling of the history of IMDb if anyone wants to see it --mincus

I've seen several movie-related entries such as Mel Brooks. It contains biographical information, which is good. It also contains an incomplete list of movies he wrote/produced/acted in. I don't think this is so good. I somehow doubt that Wikipedia will ever be able to compete with IMDB in this regard. IMDB will always have more up-to-date information (at least for anyone still alive) because it has a lot of users itself, and is considered the resource for looking up movie facts. I think perhaps instead of trying to list out movies or other statistics here, we just put in a link to IMDB.

Now I'm not advocating we don't put in any movie info into Wikipedia. I'm certainly all for documenting significant works by anyone. Some movies and movie people have had a significant impact, either politically, or culturally or whatever, and Wikipedia is a good place to document such.

What do y'all think? -- ansible

I almost think it is beside the point. We don't HAVE to replicate the IMDB because it is there. But we have no reason to not replicate in each and every case that is useful to us, and also whenever anyone has a yen to just add stuff for the fun of it. Once our user level is up, I think that it is inevitable that we will compete with the IMDB. My feeling about the Wikipedia so far is that if there isn't explcitly a reason to not do it on the Wikipedia, then someone will eventaully do it. The only worry I have is in maintaining the few strictures we have (NPOV for one). Provided we remain strong on the core don'ts it's my feeling that everything else will get filled in sooner or later.-trimalchio