Game of Thrones is a rare event series. Everyone watches. Everyone talks about it. And each episode spawns Reddit theory-crafters, Twitter joke-slingers, and that one guy in your office who thinks he's got it all figured out because he read about the "R + L = J" theory. Through each season, the Game of Thrones wiki provides two essential services: stability and authority. With its emphasis on facts over fiction, and confirmed details over spoilers, the site, along with its more book-specific counterpart the Wiki of Ice and Fire, creates a foundation for the rest of the internet to build on. At its most simple, it helps you keep all those damn names straight.
(On the subject of spoilers, Rhea says that the community has a policy not to use leaked material. This was an issue when the show's plot was catching up with the books, but also intensified online after the 2017 hack of HBO and subsequent leaks of scripts, spoilers, and full episodes. "I think that as fans they have a very strong desire to not do anything that would run afoul of the franchise," says Rhea. Though, he also notes he's not sure if contributors are watching the hacks themselves and pre-writing material to post after the episode airs.)
Make no mistake, the Thrones audience relies on the hard work of the wiki contributors: According to a publicist for FANDOM, when the Season 7 premiere "Dragonstone" aired on July 16, 2017, the GoT wiki site experienced 976,697 unique "sessions," with 134,135 of those occurring at 10pm EST after the episode aired on the East Coast. During that peak, the GoT wiki accounted for 16% of the website's overall traffic, which includes 385,000 separate communities. They've seen a growth of 25.48% in sessions compared to last year's premiere, which suggests that the site's reach, along with the show's popularity, is growing.
That's exciting news for HBO and the investors in FANDOM, but it's less clear how it benefits the wiki contributors themselves. The writers I spoke and corresponded with did seem genuinely excited about their work. "I love writing," writes Shane Jacobus, a 33-year-old contributor who goes by the username Shaneymike. "And I love having wiki as an outlet to help me keep up my writing skills, and provide the public with a detailed analysis of the show." Similarly, Kevin Carney says he simply enjoys doing it. He also cites the discussion boards as an entertaining way to discuss theories, speculate about the show, and interact with other users. It's fun.