Madman97 (whispering): I really hope you don't mind, Flightmare. The schedule didn't really allow a break in the show--
Dave: I wish we still had the laugh track.
Madman97: --and you really have no choice in the matter anyway. Come here!
(Madman97, Dave, and Flightmare (the lattermost being uncomfortable) press together so they fit in the shot of Madman97's secret camera.)
Madman97: You are about the enter the court of madness. The people are real. The cases are real. The rulings are final. This is...
(Madman97 readjusts the camera so we can see exactly where he's found himself this time: In court, at the table of the defendant with his partner, Dave, and their unwilling client Flightmare. The courts of Oblivion are usually speedy affairs settled within the realms the crime was committed in, but as with all high profile cases, New Sheoth hosts the court within its castle walls with the Daedric Princes representing the jury, Lord Peryite--wearing a formal business tie over his long, draconic neck--serving as the Prosecution, Haskill as the bailiff, and the booth of the judge is reserved for...)
Haskill: All stand, if you want to keep your knees, for the Daedric Prince of Madness, Lord Sheogorath. Case forty-three on account of the Elder Scrolls Wiki vs Flightmare.
(The echo of the Mad God's purple/gold gavel against a wheel of cheese silences the room. He looks so handsome in that powdered wig.)
Judge Sheogorath: Flighty! Cousin Maddy's told me so much about you. Glad to finally make your acquaintance. And possibly render your bowels inert.
Haskill: The parties are sworn in, my lord. I have assured them that lies will be punished with eternal torture.
Dave (shouting): I'd like to see you try, big bro!
Judge Sheogorath (rapping his gavel): Order! Order in the-heh--heh heh. I can't say that with a straight face. Ahem. Flightmare! Since we decided to skip the arraignment and go straight to trial even though you pleaded Not Guilty, it would only be fair to allow the defense to present their opening statements before the prosecution.
Dave (bowing deeply): Thank you, your honor.
Judge Sheogorath: Oh counselor, you need your ears checked. I said it would only be fair to allow it, not that I was. Proceed with your opening statements, Peryite.
(Madman97 can't help but giggle at Dave's grimace, much to his chagrin. Flightmare darts his eyes between then, unsure if he's going to make it. The way Peryite's slithery tongue hisses at him as the Lord of Pestilence stands from his chair doesn't invoke much hope.)
Lord Peryite: ...There is nothing more sacred than the order which we define by our very existence as manifestations of change. As the Taskmaster, it is my duty to do what other Princes will not for sake of what is the natural state in Oblivion, Nirn...even petty dimensions such as Earth. Yes, it is little secret that Daedric Princes visit the mortal realms to fraternize with those who would do our bidding, and our methods of spreading our names have only become more sophisticated with time.
With the advent of online communities, driven by individuals wide-eyed at the promise of self-regulation and community-supported surveillance among small and uniform user bases, corporate suits have gone on to hail the potential of Wikipedian-style user-generated content by absorbing it into their business models. Because they have commoditized social relationships, they have gained a valuable bi-product of behavioral and profiling data, which in turn gathers connectivity from perceived connectedness. Thus, owners of these sites gain economic capital, and corporate once again looms large over the blue-collar consciousness.
Of course, this was all of my elaborate design. Years later, Wikipedia is a somber reminder of what man's web could have been, having long been the only major site not bought out by a large company. It is here where the appeal of Wikia came in, and struck an adequate balance in between. It is here where our followers may spread the news of the Natural Order and fear of my name anonymously.
It is run by a sequence of code slowly perfecting itself over time as its base grows more competent and any major cataclysm can be averted within a few minutes of clicking. That is, if a bot wasn't running amok! The Wiki has been left in shambles by the bot KINMUNE, and progress has been halted. This is unacceptable. I am here to ensure that Flightmare is rightly punished, and the task of maintenance be acquitted to a more worthy Admin.
I call Admin Atvelonis to the stand!
(From the extensive audience comes the Admin himself, still looking like Sean Bean. He approaches the stand curtly, but professionally, and takes his seat. There is a twinge of distaste in his face as Lord Peryite approaches.)
Lord Peryite: Atvelonis, can you please tell the court about the site's policy when it comes to bots?
Atvelonis: Err...We only let the most trusted users access bots. I've turned down a lot of people asking for bot rights as a matter of principle.
Lord Peryite: And how many users own bot rights at this time?
Atvelonis: Basically, it's just me and Flightmare at this point.
Lord Peryite: And of course you would be able to tell if a bot was abused?
Atvelonis (shifting uncomfortably in his seat): To be honest, we might not catch it immediately, if we're feeling lazy. That's because not edits aren't automatically shown in Special:RecentChanges (although you can toggle this on/off for yourself whenever you want). So unless we happen to be on the lookout for suspicious not edits, they could slip by.
Lord Peryite: Ah, but they didn't. Bailiff, would you please present the judge with my records of the vandalism?
(Haskill does so, and Lord Sheogorath gives them an uncaring glance before tossing them over-shoulder.)
Atvelonis: F-Flight is our go-to admin for everything technical. MediaWiki, tables, templates; he knows it all and even more, but he's also super chill in general!
Lord Peryite: I did not give you permission to speak again, Atvelonis. As the soon-to-be sole remaining Admin of the wiki, you would do well to accrue favor of me. You will need it. Your honor, since you didn't look the papers over, I will divulge their contents. They are edit records from the past few weeks and it is written that the bot KINMUNE has been vandalizing pages, the Daedric Princes' pages; My pages. As Flightmare is the only one with access to KINMUNE, his guilt is all but proven. Nothing further, your honor.
Judge Sheogorath: Oh, finally! I've had enough of proper court. I want to see a disaster, like Malacath on bowling night--
(Over in the jury bench, Malacath grits his ugly teeth.)
Sheogorath: Cousin Maddy! You may proceed with the defense...if you dare.
Madman97 (standing): Thank you, your honor. Ahem. Ladies and gentlemen of the court, you know who I am. Blogger, dissident, and absolutely bonkers, eh cousin?
Judge Sheogorath (raising a fist): Represent.
Madman97: And Lord Peryite made an excellent point earlier about the nature of where we spend our time on the internet.
Lord Peryite: You remember I operate the internet by the bit, counselor. I don't believe I made mention of your porn subscriptions.
Judge Sheogorath: Ha! I haven't seen that sick of a burn since I lit the altars of Sacellum Arden-Sul. Continue!
Madman97: As I was saying, Lord Peryite made note that corporate absorption of social media gave those companies a treasure chest of metadata to work with in terms of personal information. Thus, it's really easy to see what kind of person someone is when all you need to do is look at their actions and posts online. Take me for instance. What do you immediately think of when you hear the name Madman97?
Dave: A douchebag?
Judge Sheogorath: CHEESE!
Madman97: Err, never mind. What I am saying is, action provides a source of identity, and the actions Lord Peryite has addressed are a far cry from the Flightmare other users recognize. Permission to have almost all of my witnesses up on the stand at once?
Lord Peryite: That would be a preposterous--
Judge Sheogorath: I like your spunk, cousin! GRANTED!
(Though, underwhelmingly, only one witness is in the audience to support Madman97's client: RhodiumOdi.)
Madman97: Sh*t, I thought I had more. Um...Could you tell the court about Flightmare's character?
RhodiumOdi: He talks about computer things that I don't get and it scares me.
(Madman97 facepalms, and Flightmare is looking more nervous by the second.)
Madman97 (flatly): Then I suppose this will be my last attempt. Flightmare, may you please take the stand?
(The room once again goes silent as Flightmare awkwardly saunters over, and Madman97 lays a hand on the booth, staring blankly into its bone and flesh structure. This goes on for some time before Haskill clears his throat.)
Madman97: (shrugging): Oh, forgive me. I was just doing the fishstick.
Judge Sheogorath: Mmm. It's a very delicate state of mind.
Madman97: I was just running through my head a scenario in which Flightmare did go rogue, in which he would dare turn against the Wikia he's fought to build up from its less-than-impressive origins to the powerhouse it is today, and I find that unthinkable. We've all thought about questioning others about what they know about Flightmare but never thought of asking Flightmare himself. From what I gather, and I am an all-powerful immortal being, he is no criminal mastermind. And no mere mortal would ever dare lie to me. So I would like to take this time to ask a few questions. I'm not used to being so on the fence for so long, so answer quick and concisely.
When did you first arrive at the Wikia?
Flightmare: I arrived at the wiki a week after The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim was launched. At the time I already knew of Wikia and had been playing Skyrim for the full week. I-I wanted to check some facts, though I'm not really sure anymore what is was about.
Madman97: Was it difficult integrating yourself into the editing scene?
Flightmare: Getting into editing wasn't difficult at all. I think I stumbled upon a broken table one day after looking up a MediaWiki manual page for table syntax. I was able to fix the page. Then I moved to templates and a few edits after I joined the chat, which was hosted on IRC. There I made contact with Timeoin, Deyvid Petteys, Elchzard, G0LD3NF1RE, and many others who have long gone.
Madman97: And of KINMUNE? Where exactly did you get the idea?
Flightmare: I always wanted to have a bot of my own, but was not interested in running any of the existing chat bots for Wikia. With the idea in my head of making something 100% custom I started to reverse-engineer the chat client. Wikipedia:Wireshark (a network analyzer tool) and Postman were my tools of choice. I spent a long time watching the traffic between the web chat and the servers, and then I started mimicking messages. When I had gathered enough knowledge, I wrote the code behind KINMUNE. When the bot was finally done, I realized the actual web chat code is open source and I could have read it to get a better understanding of things, but in the end I was happy I did it the hard way. At least I can say did all the work myself.
Madman97 (nodding): And how long have you been an Admin?
Flightmare: Since March 2012.
Madman97 (shrugging to the crowd): 2012. The hard way. Wanting to make a difference. Do we really believe that such dedication would have meant nothing to him? I know some of you in the jury are legitimately evil, but even then you have some sort of code. I am asking you to uphold the code of law that binds us all and set this man free. Nothing further, cousin. Judge Sheogorath: Dear me, now that's worth deliberating on. Well done! Jury!
(For a few moments, the jury of Princes do nothing but commune silently amongst themselves. And then, they're eyes open. Hermaous Mora, holding a piece of paper within one of its tentacles, floats upwards.)
Hermaous Mora: We find Flightmare to be... GUILTY! A thousand times guilty. Shall we trap him in my libraries where all the editing information is off?
Vaermina: No, let us devour his soul!
Madman97 (turning to Flightmare, shrugging, and smiling sheepishly): Oh well, I tried.
Judge Sheogorath: Wait! I have new evidence to put forth!
Lord Peryite: I'm sorry?
Judge Sheogorath: It has come to my attention that I forgot that it was ME who reprogrammed KINMUNE to make all those changes and then frame Flightmare for it. My mistake!
Lord Peryite: What?!
Madman97 (chest-bumping Dave): Oh yeah! Rock solid!
Judge Sheogorath: Henceforth, I shall sentence myself to a bit of community service, and render all changes void and erase all of your memories so none of you can recollect these events. I HAVE SPOKEN! Good day, sirs. I said, good day!
(And we're back at the studio, with the rap of a gavel and a scream of some innocent bystander taking a gavel to the face. Madman97 and Dave sit in their chairs. The latter holds his head, confused.)
Dave: Wh-Where are we? I feel like...part of my memory has been ripped away.
Madman97 (holding up a tape, grinning): Oh dear Davey, have we got some catching up to do.