Everything2, or E2 for short, is a large collaborative Internet community at http://everything2.com (http://everything2.com). It describes itself as having "grown from being a very simple user-written encyclopedia to a very complex online community with a focus to write, publish and edit a quality database of information, insight and humor."
E2 users called noders create pages called nodes and add information in multiple writeups. Only logged-in users can create writeups, and only the author of a writeup or an editor appointed by the site administrators can edit a writeup. Writeups are written in a simplified HTML dialect and do not contain images. As of August 3, 2002 (20:50 GMT), 478,139 writeups existed. The copyright for a writeup rests with the author.
There are other types of nodes that do not contain writeups; for instance, the administrators can create "superdoc" nodes (similar to Wikipedia's special pages) such as Everything New Nodes and Page of Cool that allow interaction, and each user has a "homenode" where she can add a short autobiography or other text (or a picture, if that user is level six or above -- see Rewards, below).
Hard links in E2 are simply words or phrases surrounded by [square brackets]. E2 writeups cannot link outside of E2; to reference an external URL, a noder simply includes it in the writeup as plain text.
At the bottom of every node, the system displays up to 48 soft links. These are two-way links intended to approximate "thought processes". Whenever a logged-in user moves from one node with writeups to another, be it through a hard link, another soft link, or through the title search box, the system creates (or strengthens) the bidirectional soft link between the two nodes. By repeatedly moving from one node to another, users can and do deliberately create such softlinks.
The administrators loosely based E2's reward system on role-playing games. Every time a user creates a writeup, she earns one experience point (XP). Users with at least 25 contributed writeups and 50 experience points can vote + or - on a writeup, which has a 1/3 chance of giving or taking an experience point from the author depending on the direction of the vote and a 1/5 chance of giving a point to the voter; after voting on a writeup, a noder can see the writeup's "reputation," or number of positive and negative votes. (The editors delete writeups that do not meet editorial standards or those whose removal has been author-requested. The only effect on the author's XP is to lose the 1 XP they got for creating it.)
New "levels" are attained by reaching arbitrary numbers of XP and writeups, which are given in the FAQ (http://www.everything2.com/?node_id=444459). A high interquartile mean of the reputations of a user's writeups can lower these numbers by up to half.
The system grants special powers at other levels of writeups and experience, such as "cool" (reward author with three XP and send the writeup to the front page), the ability to create primitive chat rooms on the site, and space for uploading a picture to a user's "homenode."
Everything2 provides two real-time communication tools: the Chatterbox and the message system. The Chatterbox is similar to a chat room. It appears as a panel on the right side of the page that logged-in users can use to read conversations and participate in them. The message system lets users send private messages to other users. The messages are stored in the user's mailbox to be read when they log in the next time. Uses for the message system include giving constructive criticism to the author of a writeup.
The predecessor of E2 was a similar database called Everything (later labeled "Everything1") which was started around March 1998 by Nate Oostendorp[?] and was initially closely aligned with and promoted by Slashdot. The E2 software offered vastly more features, and the Everything1 data was twice incorporated into E2: once on November 13, 1999 and again in January of 2000. E2 is operated by the Blockstackers Intergalactic[?] company.
Writeups in E1 were limited to 512 bytes in size. This, the predominantly "geek" membership back then, and the lack of chat facilities meant the early work was often of poor quality, and full of in-references. As E2 has expanded, higher quality standards have been enforced, a lot of the old material has been removed, and the membership has become broader. Many noders prefer to write encyclopedia articles similar to those on Wikipedia. Others write fiction, and others discuss issues.