Q: There are so many other good pinball resources already on the web. Why start another one? What can this one do that the others can't?
A: A lot!
As the Pinball Wiki starts to grow this is a common question. There are certainly a number of excellent existing sources for pinball information. But like Wikipedia to just about any topic, the Pinball Wiki can be used to fill in all sorts of gaps that other existing resources do not cover.
The People of Pinball
One of the most severely lacking areas of information about pinball is that of the people who have been a part of it. Pioneers, designers, promoters, executives, players, technicians, celebrities, all of these people can easily have a place here. And, unlike Wikipedia, there is effectively no floor of notability. While of course we encourage people not to just make a page for their son who plays in the family room or to participate in any vandalism, anyone who worked on a machine, placed in a tournament, was in any way a notable part of the history of the game, all of those people can have a center of information here.
While there is some good information about some of the largest of the game's manufacturers, the Internet Pinball Database lists 550 known manufacturers. Most of them are currently little more than names. This place gives those with any information about these lost companies a place to pool their knowledge. Additionally, it can be a place to add all sorts of lesser-known but interesting information about the larger companies.
The communal editing nature of a wiki means that if you want to write a rule sheet for an existing machine you don't have to take on the entire project yourself. You can start with a basic skeleton, or you can add bits onto an existing article (including media: some rule sheets would do well with a picture or even video to show unusual elements of the game). Even the machines with the longest existing rule sheets lack far more information than they include, simply because of the vast amount of information there is to include, especially in modern machines. And because of the discussion page of each article, you can talk with others about any additions you are not sure of.
Leagues & Tournaments
Though this has been improving in the last few years with a resurgence in tournament play, the existing information about pinball leagues and tournaments, especially past and/or defunct ones, is still spotty. This gives a place for anyone, especially those involved with said organizations who have direct experience to share, to change that.
Miscellaneous machine information
There is a whole universe of information on the technical nature of pinball machines. This can be an effective place to pool the experience of technicians, mechanics, distributors, and simple home owners to share that information.
Video pinball has gotten little attention from any resource. Anything that can be done for a normal pinball machine can be done here for a video pinball title, including pictures, rule sheets, etc.
High Scores Lists
Everyone in pinball loves to know who has the high score on a machine. Unfortunately, there is not only little coordination in collecting these scores, but a lack of agreement on what constitutes a "valid" score.
Though there may well be a good system in place in the future, this wiki can be used as a place to simply maintain existing scores in a format that is easy to read and edit. Look at the chart on Fish Tales as an example of what this could look like. With some coordination among users to determine what kinds of scores should be given attention, there is no reason not to use this wiki to spotlight the best of the best.
For just about any pinball topic there exist sites devoted to it all around the web. The wiki can be an effective portal to these sites. If you have started a web site devoted to a topic, this can be a good place to link to it. And since these pages can be edited at any time there is no need to have pages with long lists of dead links.
Perhaps most importantly, a wiki can be whatever its users make it. So it doesn't matter if the information you add fits nicely into a pre-existing format or category. If it's related to pinball, and it is notable enough that others would be interested, it will always have a place here!
1: No third party
There is also the advantage to this and any wiki that you do not have to submit to information to a third party and have them add it for you, saving time and relieving your own worries that you are pestering someone. You can edit here as much as your heart desires, and you can make it exactly how you want it.
Further, in most cases existing resources can only be updated by the individuals running them. This means that if there are three people running a web site, it does not matter if there are 10, 100 or 1000 people sending them new information. It will only be updated as fast as the three people running it can do so. Here, the more people interested in being a part of the community, the more rapidly it will expand as a useful resource.
2: Discussion pages
With each article having a discussion page there can be a central place for everyone to go with common questions about any topic, one that will never expire.
3: Site permanence and stability
Without taking anything away from the hard, dedicated work of many of the individuals who run some of the largest current sources of information, these web sites are ultimately dependent on these individuals (in some cases, "individual"). If anything happens to these maintainers (they cannot continue, they lose interest, etc.), their site dies.
The Pinball Wiki is a part of Wikia, Inc. (co-founded by Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales), arguably one of the most stable web sites on the World Wide Web. As long as that company exists this community will almost assuredly exist as well.
There is every reason that the Pinball Wiki can become a powerful resource for the pinball community, without supplanting the many excellent pinball-related web sites already in existence. Come jump in!