NationStates is a free political simulation game founded by author Max Barry back in 2002 (previously). Loosely based on his dystopian corporate thriller Jennifer Government, the game starts by asking players to provide some national trappings and answer a few civics questions, then generates a virtual country with a matching political outlook. Periodic policy decisions like mining rights and compulsory voting allow players to further modify their country along axes of social, political, and economic freedom, arriving at one of twenty-seven colorful government types like Tyranny By Majority or Scandinavian Liberal Paradise. There's also a healthy roleplaying community -- players can discuss current events in the General forum, practice wargaming in International Incidents, form cooperative Regions to debate internal affairs (many of which form their own communities), and elect Delegates to send to the World Assembly (so renamed after an amusing cease-and-desist from the real-world U.N.). Their collective history is thoroughly recorded in the 35,000-article NSWiki, which provides a detailed legislative record, gameplay guide, and profiles on many of the 90,000 active nations, 8,000 player regions, and countless characters that currently make up the game world.
Founded in 2004 as a place to catalog LiveJournal drama rejected from Wikipedia, Encyclopedia Dramatica rapidly became the premier site on the web for all manner of lulz. Intended "in the spirit of Ambrose Bierce's The Devil's Dictionary," ED grew into a sprawling crowdsourced compendium of memes, subcultures, communities, personalities, and the endless feuds and controversies spawned by 4chan and other anonymous imageboards. While comprehensive, the site developed a reputation for nastiness -- full of "ironic" (?) racism, gratuitous porn, organized attacks on other sites, and disturbingly thorough dossiers on perceived enemies, all dripping with vicious snark (just check out their entry on MetaFilter). But now, after more than six years, it appears the troll has become the trolled. Founder Sherrod "Girlvinyl" DeGrippo, allegedly disillusioned by the site's legal woes and nihilistic trajectory, has permanently shuttered the site and replaced it with OhInternet, a slicker, cleaner, Web 2.0 effort modeled after more respectable internet guides like Know Your Meme (which recently sold to Cheezburger Networks for a cool $N million, discussed here). Backups and mirrors abound, but as for the source? Pool's closed... forever.
Based on a quirky animated short that charmed MeFi four years ago, Pendleton Ward's Adventure Time is arguably the most delightful thing in animation right now. Following the surreal adventures of 12-year-old Finn and his magical dog Jake in the fantastical post-apocalyptic Land of Ooo, the series has breezed through two seasons and secured a third -- while generating a devoted fandom along the way (partially through savvy callbacks to things like 4chan's Courage Wolf meme and Kate Beaton's pudgy Shetland pony). There's an exhaustive wiki, an active discussion board, oodles of fan-art, and AdventureTi.me, a fan-made repository of previous episodes (complete with a mobile version) that makes catching up a cinch. Want more? Then check out the show's bountiful production diaries, its equally in-depth blog at Frederator Studios, catch some official clips, follow Pen Ward on Twitter, or buy or make your own awesome Finn hat (though not necessarily what lies beneath). Oh, and a new episode is airing... oh, right now. Totally math! [more inside]
Everybody knows TVTropes is the best and most time-killing-est way to learn about the clichés and archetypes that permeate modern media. But dear reader, there is so much more. Enter Useful Notes. Originally created as a place for tropers to pool factual information as a writing aid, the subsite has quietly grown into a small wiki of its own -- a compendium of crowdsourced wisdom on a staggering array of topics, all written in the site's signature brand of lighthearted snark. Though it reads like an irreverent and informal Wikipedia, its articles act as genuinely useful primers to complex and obscure topics alike, all in service of the project's five goals: "To debunk common media stereotypes; to help you understand some media better; to educate, inform and sometimes entertain; to promote peace and understanding (maybe); and... to facilitate world domination." Sounds about right. Click inside for bountiful highlights... if you dare. [more inside]