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BPL Launches Wiki as Lightweight Backpacking Reference

The new BPL Wiki hosted by Backpacking Light!

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by Don Wilson | 2008-11-11 00:15:00-07

Today Backpacking Light launches a wiki as a community-driven reference on lightweight backpacking. With BPL's passionate and active online community, we are confident that the wiki will quickly become a valuable tool and an excellent supplement to BPL's published articles and community forums.

For those not familiar with the technology, a wiki is a website that can be edited by its users, allowing users to create new articles that contain images, links, and tables. It is a community project, where anyone can create content. What makes a wiki unique is that the collective power of a large and passionate community can quickly create a valuable resource. As a site targeted at reference material, the BPL wiki will be limited to certain types of content. Reference material that contains factual information such as articles about hiking trails, collections of recipes, or examples of techniques are perfect for the wiki. Articles that are primarily opinion pieces, such as essays and gear reviews are not appropriate for the wiki.

BPL Launches Wiki as Lightweight Backpacking Reference - 1
The Backpacking Light wiki launches today as a reference for BPL readers.

To get things started, the wiki has been organized into a series of categories to help organize the content. The categories are People, Places, Companies, Food and Nutrition, Techniques, Materials, and Gear. There is also a page to collect links to BPL classic articles, making it easier for users to find those pieces that represent the best and most popular material published on BPL. The wiki has been seeded with a limited amount of content, and we expect it will take some weeks for the community and staff to get it populated more fully. Examples include:

From People: Bio of Ryan Jordan

From Places: John Muir Trail, Superior Hiking Trail, and Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness

From Companies: Snow Peak and Western Mountaineering

From Food and Nutrition: the Recipes page

The BPL Classics page

A Challenge to the BPL Community

As a collaborative project, the wiki will rely on the community to reach its full potential. The collective knowledge and experience of BPL readers is immense, as is evident from the forums and reader reviews. Our challenge to you is to get involved and help grow the wiki. Imagine the value of definitive pages on your favorite trails and wilderness areas. Imagine the knowledge that could be harvested from the BPL forums on topics such as cuben fiber or insulation properties or fording rivers. Imagine the value of collecting links related to a single topic from BPL articles or other areas of the web. Now all of these things can be done easily and with the help of your fellow members.

So our challenge to you is to get involved. To give you a little motivation, we'll be monitoring the wiki and will give out up to fifty gear shop coupons for $14.99 to those who create articles or add significant content. We can monitor this online, so you do not need to contact us - we'll contact you. However, you can send email to if you have suggestions on overall organization or content. You can also direct those same comments to the forums.

Editing the Wiki

There are help pages on the wiki with basic information regarding policies, content, and editing. If you are interested in creating new content, please take a quick look at these pages before you get started. The wiki is open to everyone on the web, but if you wish to edit the wiki, you will need to have a BPL account and be logged in. This allows us to track changes and attribute changes to users.

New Search Engine and Tabs

Also launched today is a re-organization of the tabs on BPL web pages. The new tabs are: Home, Articles, Shop, Community, and Wiki. These changes accurately reflect the organization and use of and will help users more easily navigate the site. Finally, today we are also launching a new search engine. This engine is a significant improvement over BPL's previous search capability and will make it easier and more effective to search the vast collection of material at Backpacking Light.

Collectively, these changes are a significant step forward in creating value for Backpacking Light readers. We are excited to see where the wiki will go in the weeks and months ahead. As always, we welcome your participation in the process and your comments on future directions.


"BPL Launches Wiki as Lightweight Backpacking Reference," by Don Wilson. (ISSN 1537-0364)., 2008-11-11 00:15:00-07.


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BPL Launches Wiki as Lightweight Backpacking Reference
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Addie Bedford
(addiebedford) - MLife

Locale: Montana
BPL Launches Wiki as Lightweight Backpacking Reference on 11/11/2008 18:27:03 MST Print View

Companion forum thread to:

BPL Launches Wiki as Lightweight Backpacking Reference

Ken Helwig
(kennyhel77) - MLife

Locale: Scotts Valley CA via San Jose, CA
Re: BPL Launches Wiki as Lightweight Backpacking Reference on 11/11/2008 18:52:13 MST Print View

ahhhhhh very nice. So far this is looking like a homerun!!! Like the recipie section!

Ashley Brown
(ashleyb) - F
Re: BPL Launches Wiki as Lightweight Backpacking Reference on 11/11/2008 18:53:30 MST Print View

It's been a while coming, but I'm sure it will be a tremendous resource. Well done!

Jay Wilkerson
(Creachen) - MLife

Locale: East Bay
Wiki on 11/11/2008 19:16:41 MST Print View

Sounds like a great resource of backpacking information!!!!

Edited by Creachen on 11/11/2008 20:16:49 MST.

Frank Perkins

Locale: North East
Re: BPL Launches Wiki as Lightweight Backpacking Reference on 11/11/2008 19:20:25 MST Print View

Such a clean slate I don't even know where to start. All I know is that Bill is going to have a grand time in the MYOG section ;-)

Sam Haraldson
(sharalds) - MLife

Locale: Gallatin Range
BPL Launches Wiki as Lightweight Backpacking Reference on 11/11/2008 19:29:12 MST Print View

Get in there and start adding stuff. This is the kind of thing where if we can get a critical mass going off the bat the ball can really get rolling and we'll have a great resource of information available to us.

Pedro Arvy
(PedroArvy) - MLife

Locale: Melbourne on 11/11/2008 20:07:46 MST Print View

Call me a spoil sport but wouldn't getting complete have been a better idea?

It has far more exposure than this site.

Edited by PedroArvy on 11/11/2008 20:09:05 MST.

Kelly Gray
(rdw12and35) - MLife

Locale: an inconsistant state of being
RE: BPL Launches Wiki as Lightweight Backpacking Reference on 11/11/2008 20:12:55 MST Print View

So far it looks great. Go BPL!....and with the backing of the forums....I'm beyond excited.

(strong806) - F
Re; Wiki on 11/11/2008 20:17:48 MST Print View

Petras, a proprietary wiki is much more along the lines of what BPL is about. They are in the content business. Anyone can change a public wiki and change the content and value.

Ryan Jordan
(ryan) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Greater Yellowstone
Wiki / Other site upgrades on 11/11/2008 20:46:33 MST Print View

Hi All -- hang tight for a few hours. We're starting the site upgrade now, integrating the Wiki, the new navbar, and the site search engine.

In the meantime, enjoy the Wiki! It's live, and so is the new site search page.

Edited by ryan on 11/11/2008 20:47:15 MST.

Doug Johnson
(djohnson) - MLife

Locale: Washington State
Re: Wiki / Other site upgrades on 11/11/2008 21:08:14 MST Print View

Oh wow- this is really cool. I can't wait to see what our community makes this wiki into!

Very cool and very collaborative!

Jan Rezac
(zkoumal) - MLife

Locale: Prague, CZ
RE: BPL Launches Wiki as Lightweight Backpacking Reference on 11/11/2008 22:07:53 MST Print View

Edit: The issue discussed here was solved by new copyright policy

The copyright policy ( of the wiki is totally disappointing.

It goes against everything the idea of wiki as a free media is about. I do not see the reason why to create a content just to give all copyrights to a private company.

There is the worst case scenario that is possible within this model: The owner waits for some interesting contents to be generated by volunteers, then closes the wiki and asks money for accessing the information. Is it what you wanted?

I'd prefer to put my work into a free project that is helping the community and give it the rights to use the content it created.

The only restriction I'd accept here is limitation of use of the contents to noncommercial purposes, because I understand that it may be used by BPL's competition.

You don't have to accept the rules, there is nothing easier than publishing your content elsewhere. There are places on the internet that will host a free wiki for free, just because they feel that it is the right way how to accumulate and spread the knowledge.

In the end, I have to say I'm not surprised, I expected something like this when preparation of the wiki was announced. Companies simply tend to take and not to give.

Edited by zkoumal on 11/11/2008 23:05:58 MST.

Craig W.
(xnomanx) - F - M
Re: Re: RE: BPL Launches Wiki as Lightweight Backpacking Reference on 11/11/2008 22:30:51 MST Print View

As a low-tech kinda guy, I must admit I had no idea what a wiki was until now.
This could become a really good resource, I look forward to contributing what I can and seeing it grow.

Just curious, will this remain available to non-subscribers or are there any plans to bundle wiki use with subscriptions?

Ryan Jordan
(ryan) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Greater Yellowstone
RE: BPL Launches Wiki as Lightweight Backpacking Reference on 11/11/2008 22:47:45 MST Print View

Jan and others,

The intent of the Wiki is to preserve it as a free, noncommercial resource in perpetuity. I have zero intention of privatizing this resource, and I wholly agree that would defeat the purpose of the spirit of the wiki concept and community.

Here is the Wiki copyright info:


Edited by ryan on 11/11/2008 23:01:50 MST.

Jan Rezac
(zkoumal) - MLife

Locale: Prague, CZ
RE: BPL Launches Wiki as Lightweight Backpacking Reference on 11/11/2008 23:03:47 MST Print View

Thanks Ryan,
that was fast! I'm really happy to see the rules to be changed to what a wiki should be - a project created by a community for public use.

Don Wilson
(don) - MLife

Locale: Koyukuk River, Alaska
JMT hikers - let's work on the wiki page on 11/12/2008 00:32:23 MST Print View

I know we've got many JMT and High Sierra hikers out there. Let's see what we can do to make the JMT wiki page as informative as possible - an example of what the wiki can become as a resource for the whole hiking community.

Consider this a challenge to see what we can do.

Here is a link to the page:

What's needed:

1. More gear commentary.
2. More comments on logistics and resupply.
3. More photos and info on the trail sections.
4. More links to external sites - photo albums, gear lists, planning sites, etc.
5. More background info on wilderness areas, geology, wildlife, etc.

I'll be working on it too over the next week or so.


Edited by don on 11/12/2008 00:35:50 MST.

David T
(DaveT) - F
. on 11/12/2008 05:03:32 MST Print View


Edited by DaveT on 01/18/2015 19:21:39 MST.

Ken T.
(kthompson) - MLife

Locale: All up in there
wiki on 11/12/2008 06:40:06 MST Print View

Who verifies the legitimacy of information posted?

Mike Whitesell
(madgoat) - F

Locale: Ohio
wiki veracity on 11/12/2008 07:10:37 MST Print View

For those who haven't looked into wiki's before....

The beauty of a wiki is that is content generated by an enthusiast base, a collaborative document. While occasionally someone will come along and put bad / erroneous / slanderous info into the wiki, the enthusiast base will self police and correct the problem.

I for one am very happy to see this. Great resource!

Ryan Jordan
(ryan) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Greater Yellowstone
BPL Search Enging Bug on 11/12/2008 11:07:02 MST Print View

Hi All,

We found a small bug in our new search engine after we moved it live last night, so we're reverting to the old one while the new search index is created on the site.

This will take 24-48 hours, so the new search engine will be up by tomorrow or the day after.