Clones of Ekşi Sözlük


This article was written by 矢立美月 @ pixiv

Dictionary-based social media networks founded after Ekşi Sözlük are called “clones”, because they’re generally sharing same structure, scripts, codings and page designs with Ekşi Sözlük. 

Actually, the term “clone” started to be used in the jargon of social dictionaries by emerging of the oldest imitation called “Marvin Rehber (Marvin Guide)”. This imitation dictionary was created with source codes and some entries stolen from Ekşi Sözlük. The moderators and members of Ekşi Sözlük naturally did not welcome this and called it “clone”. Now it’s known that Marvin Rehber was shutted down in the time. And of course, a lot of members of Ekşi don’t like clones.

It’s known that there are more than 100 clones of Ekşi. Some clones are being shutted down for some reasons, new clones are emerging time by time. A lot of clones emerged againist to the structural or formal order of Ekşi Sözlük, some are emerged by internet users’ curiosity or desire to do something new.  

Especially, some collaborative hypertext dictionary services attract a lot of attention just like blog services. Most common of these is Sözlükspot which is a collaborative hypertext dictionary variant of Blogspot. This free service allows everyone to create their own dictionary page. Also, there is another service called Sözlük Sistemi (“Dictionary System”) which is a paid dictionary service that allows everyone to create dictionaries in 10 different languages with a special domain bought from external services.

Unfortunately, this social dictionary concept adopted in Turkey is not considered important in many foreign countries. In some other countries, a lot of clones emerged but shutted down in the time. The only active foreign clone is founded in Azerbajian, it’s called “Sözaltı Sözlük”.

When creating Ekşi Sözlük, I didn’t know a single important fact about Turkey. Freedom of speech is important of course, but I wasn’t aware of such a need. I think freedom of expression is the key aspect behind Ekşi Sözlük’s popularity. There was a tradition in Turkish internet culture that you create a website and anyone who objects to it gets kicked out. I didn’t follow that tradition. Instead, I allowed everyone with any view at all to stay and write on the website. That policy made it grow very fast. In the first month we got 300 contributors, which was not bad for that time. At the end of 1999, we had around 1.500 authors creating entries and interacting. In 2003 we had 5 000, and now there are more than 34.000 writers.

an interview on Mashallah News

So much so that “freedom of speech” is not exactly considered as normal in Turkey. A lot of people are afraid of the criminal sanctions will occur when they express their opinions freely. Popular social networks such as Facebook and Twitter can’t exactly meet their freedom needs, because some posts can be hidden there. But on collaborative hypertext dictionaries, no posts or user profiles can be hidden. The fact that only nicknames can be seen as personal information provides “trust that being anonymous is giving” in people. But of course, users who share illegal posts face judicial processes. Because, like all websites, it is imperative to comply with the laws also on these social dictionary sites.

Also see: 

Analysis: Eksi Sozluk, a bastion of free speech in Turkey? (from BBC in English)

The Secret Behind The Turkish Protesters’ Social Media Mastery (from in English)