On April 1st, otherwise known as April Fool's Day, the Wiki Administrators decided to play a fairly nasty trick on the wiki users. When you entered the site via http://daviswiki.org you were presented with an extravagant flash intro movie. The movie showcased a few images from the site, had the Wiki Logo twirl around a bit, and ended with the MSN butterfly being 'stamped' onto the Davis Wiki Logo.

The Front Page on April 1st.

Once the main page was brought up, there were a few noticable differences: Ads were pasted above and to the side of every page, the Wiki Logo had the MSN butterfly next to it, search results had eBay results laced in, and there was a news item noting:

We are pleased to announce that in our continuing effort to bring quality online content to Davisites, Davis Wiki has partnered with MSN. In doing so, we hope to offer a more pleasurable experience to all of our readers and editors. Rest assured that aside from a few unobtrusive, highly targeted ads that improve your browsing experience, we remain true to our commitment to provide this unique medium as a totally free collaborative online community. Davis Wiki by MSN It's better with the butterfly.

April fools featured page

On april fools day, a page called "Manholes" was made featured. A play on pages that catalog locations (such as Payphone Project), this page was entirely made up in a matter of minutes. While I realize that a cool Manholes page could be made, I thought it would be funny to pretend to have a page listing all the manhole locations in Davis along with what it's like to crawl into a sewer. If someone actually wants to document all the manholes, the Davis GIS data has the manholes listed.

A manhole (also known as a maintenance hole) is an entry way from the street into the great underground depths. While almost always unnoticed by the casual pedestrian or driver, these manholes lead to an array of treasures such as sewers, storm drains, telephone switches, and the ever-so-elusive gas pipes.

Until now, citizens of Davis had to stumble helplessly through the streets in search of manholes. The City and various corporations attempt to limit information on this important topic. In the interest of the public good, we press on with a critical analysis of Davis' vast and often chaotic manhole and manhole cover system.

After reading this page you should feel comfortable:

  1. Spotting manholes as you walk by them.

  2. Identifying different kinds of manholes by their cover design.

  3. Cataloging newly identified manhole covers for future scientific and public inquiry.

  4. Finding manholes with the use of GIS data, GPS receivers, and the Wiki Map functionality.

  5. Opening manhole covers and exploring sewers.

Manhole identification

The common sewer-access manhole. Found on Third Street.

Manholes can usually be spotted by means of finding their manhole cover — a (usually round) region cut out of the normal sidewalk or street, typically with a few holes through it. The cover usually reads Sewer, Water, or Telephone. However, the only real way to know what's inside of the manhole is to open it yourself (covered below!)

What to do if you find a manhole

In the rare event you encounter a manhole, what is the proper way to report it? Here is the recommended approach, used by Citizens for Open Manholes:

Step 1

Obtain a crayon. Obtain a piece of paper (100% post-consumer recycled paper is best).

Step 2

Approach and center the manhole cover in your field of vision.

Step 3

Place the piece of paper (ref. step 1) on top of the manhole cover's primary design.

Step 4

Slowly, but gently, drag the crayon over the surface of the paper.

Step 5

Submit your precise trace to an independent manhole interest society.

Opening manholes

Manhole at Third and B.

While taking an interest in the manhole cover itself may often reveal important details essential to urban survival, there is often the need to adjust things like telephone service, sewer systems, and water pipes in a more prompt and effective manner (after all, when was the last time city services got this right on their own?) Unfortunately, like so many other things, matters are best taken into your own, skilled hands.

The first thing you'll need to do when opening a manhole is identify the holes in the cover. These are typically circular and toward the edges, but they can be found in different shapes and locations. The manhole at Third and B (pictured left) features 4 holes, each on the far edge of the disc. In order to open the manhole it was required to use a pair of crowbars. In this case, two people worked together to open the manhole, but in the case you're going at it alone you'll need to either get both crowbars in independently then push on both at once (somewhat difficult to do but requires no prep work) or weld two crowbars together at the base and press a single bar down (easy to do but requires metal shop prep work).

Entering the manhole

Descending into the sewer at Third and B.

An entire world opens up before your eyes once the manhole's cover has been lifted — but beware! Many sewers are infested with rats (which carry the plague) and possibly alligators (please update if you can confirm alligators in Davis' sewers). There may or may not be a ladder to ease entry into the sewer system. You should be prepared with a head-mounted light, as well. After you're inside, make sure you don't let the manhole cover slip back over the hole! It can be very, very difficult to remove a manhole cover from the inside (trust me on this one.)

Finding manholes

All known manholes Downtown.

Because manholes are so rare, we attempt to compile a map of local manholes. Through the amazing collaborative powers of wiki, we can maintain a record of all manholes, information about each one, some designs (see "What to do if I find a manhole"), photographs, and personal stories/accounts of various manholes.

  • ["Downtown Manhole 1"]
  • ["Downtown Manhole 2"]
  • ["Downtown Manhole 3"] (a favorite among many)
  • ["Downtown Manhole 4"]
  • ["Downtown Manhole 5"]
  • ["Downtown Manhole 6"]

Some reactions

2005-04-01 08:38:02   Hmmm.... I hate the ads. I hate MSN probably about as much as I hate ads. I realize the need for funding and that some of us [yes, I mean myself] have been extremely lame in that department. But of all the things I've chosen to live with, inviting corporate into the community is not something I'm sure I can handle. I'm actually kinda surprised at how much this disturbs me. Maybe it would be helpful to know what benefits msn, its ads, and data collection provide... shouldn't we at least get some sort of privacy notification now that we've been sold to corporate? —AlphaDog

2005-04-01 08:41:23   AlphaDog, look at your calendar. —KenBloom

2005-04-01 12:40:23   Personally, I have the Adbar on my version of Firefox. I just don't feel comfortable browsing places like daviswiki without the familiar fnords. —BrentLaabs

2005-04-01 13:03:03   I don't like the new intro at all. It took too long to load on high speed and it's excessive. I'd rather have it the way it was. —SS

2005-04-01 13:37:38   WTF. Better with the butterfly? It makes it seem like the wiki is being coded by people from microsoft? Can someone please explain a little bit better? —MattJojola

2005-04-01 14:09:11   Chill out. Please everyone check your calendar, and wait a couple days before complaining about all of the new features. —KenBloom

* When I saw your first response, I just figured you were being, uh, smart. Now I realize that I'm not being so smart... what's this calendar that it sounds like I should know something about?? Maybe we could have some sort of discussion about financing the wiki. I really enjoy it to the point that I spend *way* too much time here, and definitely appreciate all the time and money that you guys have poured in to create this community. I'm curious to know if this might be something that would be eligible for community funding from the City of Davis — that might at least offset the direct costs of hosting the wiki. BTW: Shouldn't that msn flutterby be linked to one of our internal pages?? —AlphaDog

2005-04-01 15:33:49   http://daviswiki.cheshirehall.org/ — the new AD FREE WIKI!!! —JabberWokky

2005-04-01 16:04:22   1) look what day it is 2) i can't see the ads, get the adblock extension for firefox —ArlenAbraham

2005-04-01 21:23:36   This is some funny shit, man! :) —SummerSong

2005-04-01 21:58:26   Crap... it's payback time. —AlphaDog