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Wanderers Library History Essay

The Wanderers' Library is the only officially recognized spin-off of the SCP Wiki. It is a writing community dedicated to writing weird fiction. This is how it was created and survived, occasionally thrived, and continues on into the present day.

Formation and Founding

I wanted somewhere for weird and surreal stories that didn't necessarily have to lean into horror or the 'tacti-cool' aesthetic of SCP. So I thought, hey, if SCP has their records, why not another organization too? So I came up with the original idea of the Wanderer's Library as a place outside of time and space used by the Serpent's Hand to record knowledge and meet.
- Pair Of Ducks

The Wanderers' Library was established on February 11, 2010, by its first administrators 'Pair Of Ducks' and 'DrEverettMann'. They were both writers and staff members of the SCP Wiki who were feeling constrained by the strict format and an expectation for gritty realism.

There had been a few other attempts at the time to make spin-off communities based groups within the Foundation universe but none of them were terribly successful. An unofficial Marshall, Carter & Dark site was hardly able to get off the ground. Even the GOC wiki, which had plenty of content and was run by DrClef and Aelanna, two of the most prolific SCP authors ever, was eventually folded back into the main site.

What about the Wanderers' Library has allowed it to survive for so long? There have been plenty of lean periods throughout its existence, with content and community activity slowing to a trickle, but it has never dried out completely. It is because, unlike most spin-off sites, it provides an opportunity to write something different than what could be written on the SCP Wiki.

Historically, when folks decide the SCP Wiki isn't for them and make their own version, they go about it in the laziest way possible: Leave the format and fictional framework in place, usually to the point of being identical, and then change the names so that it's not as blatant of a rip-off. While you might be able to draw a crowd of people who enjoy the ideas of the SCP Wiki but have some personal beef with the community, it will never result in a truly independent creative space because it's all based in reaction.

The Wanderers' Library, on the other hand, does not need to defend itself against any accusations of being derivative as it is so obviously and compellingly original that nobody with an ounce of credibility would think of making such an accusation.

Early Period(2010-2012)

After its formation, the Library quickly assembled a cadre of some of the SCP Wiki's most talented writers. This contributed to a high-quality foundation of original works. Dr. Burns wrote "There Were Six Of Us Once" and Mann kicked off the long-running 'Walk of Afromos Longjourney' series to name just a small number of the stories written during this initial creative explosion.

But it would unfortunately be short-lived. The Wanderers' Library proved to be a flavor-of-the-month sort of deal. While there was a lot of initial interest and excitement, ultimately most of the writers drifted back to the more active and populous SCP Wiki community, leaving only the truly dedicated to contribute to the Library.

This established a pattern that still continues to this day. The Library makes a splash in some form or another, whether it be through a contest, a site redesign, or a particularly well-written work of fiction. This inspires a flurry of activity but ultimately doesn't lead to any long-term community expansion.

Despite its distinct feel, fiction, and structure, the Library still has to compete for attention with the SCP Wiki among most of its members. This in turn leads to the majority of community members and writers paying more attention to the SCP Wiki when there's not something exciting happening.

It is a cyclical pattern that has haunted the Library since its inception, and one which it may yet one day be able to break out of. For now, let it sit in the back of your mind as defining why, after reaching repeated pinnacles of success, the Library waxes and wanes in almost equivalent fashions.

The First Age

By early 2012, whatever momentum the Library had going for it was gone. There were few users, and even fewer of them were actively engaged in the Library alone.

This was when a pair of reform-minded staff members from the SCP Wiki were placed in charge of the site.

TroyL and thedeadlymoose both had profound impacts on the SCP Wiki and their influence on both that platform and the Wanderers' Library is still being felt to this day.

The Long Dark

we all just had life shit happen at around the same time

It was just as soon as the Library had reached its greatest success, with an apparent sustained interest by a coalition of Foundation-based and home-grown writers, that everything fell apart. The imminent collapse wasn't obvious at the time, and even in hindsight seems, on the surface, to be baffling.

The Fictionalized Life Stories contest was the first alarm bell, with the contest garnering not even half as many entries as the previous Group of Interest contest.

Never felt dead though. More like it was asleep.

The Rediscovery and Second Age

Black Highlighter is the reason that the Wanderers' Library was able to escape half a decade of steep decline. The format, originally known as nuSCP, was controversial among the SCP Wiki's elite, even as it was embraced by many writers.

In an effort to show how much more effective a replacement for Sigma-9 could be, Dust Jacket was developed as a showcase for what it could bring to the table. This led directly to the rebranding of the theme as "Black Highlighter" which has continued to be a popular albeit controversial choice for authors looking to spice up their SCP aesthetics.

This was only the first prong of trying to make the Library relevant again. An entirely new cadre of staff was brought up.

The rebirth of the Library was officially consecrated by the 2019 Reshelving Project. It was the first community-driven event and while not being an official contest, it still led to the camaraderie and bonding which serves as the bedrock for any and every growing community.