Archive for the ‘non-fandom’ category

Help wikileaks

September 9th, 2009

There are two things that Fan History Wiki loves: The fan community and the wiki community. The people in both are awesome and they keep us going. We love to give shout outs and mentions to anyone in those community who asks us and that we think could use support when they appear on our radar.

Over on Twitter, wikisgnpost mentioned the wikileaks could use some help. If you haven’t heard of wikileaks, check them out. They are great when it comes to sharing information that the public should know. They need some monetary assistance to keep going with their mission. On their donate page, they give the following info so you can help them complete their mission:

To contribute via bank transfer, please specify our account at the Wau Holland Foundation (a German charity which handles our tax deductability).

Wau Holland Stiftung, Germany
Commerzbank Kassel, bank number (BLZ) 52040021, Account number (Konto) 277281204
(or you can use IBAN: DE46520400210277281204, BIC: COBADEFF520)

To confirm, or contribute by VISA, Mastercard, cheque, Ukash, Moneybookers or other means, please contact wl-supporters@wikileaks.org . Contributions may be tax deductible, depending on your country.

If you are interested in showing your support with a grant, matched contribution, bequest, interest free loan, or have any other questions, please write to wl-supporters@wikileaks.org or wl-supporters@sunshinepress.org


Donate server space

If you can provide rackspace, power and an uplink, or a dedicated server or storage space, for at least 12 months, write to wl-tech@ljsf.org


Donate legal assistance

Individuals or organizations wishing to donate lawyer time write to wl-legal@ljsf.org

WikiLeaks would like to thank the following 18 steadfast supporters:

1. Reporters Committee for the Freedom of the Press (RCFP)
2. The American Society of Newspaper Editors (ASNE)
3. The Associated Press – (AP) world wide news agency, based in New York
4. Citizen Media Law Project
5. The E.W Scripps Company – newspapers, TV, cable TV etc.
6. Gannet Co. Inc – the largest publisher of newspapers in the USA, including USA Today
7. The Heast Corporation – media conglomerate which publishes the San Francisco Chronicle
8. The Los Angeles Times
9. National Newspaper Association (NNA)
10. Newspaper Association of America (NAA)
11. The Radio-Television News Directors Association (RTNDA)
12. The Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ) 13. Public Citizen – founded by Ralph Nader
14. together with the California First Amendment Coalition (CFAC) 15. The Electronic Freedom Foundation (EFF)
16. the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU)
17. The Project on Government Oversight (POGO)
18. Jordan McCorckle, the University of Texas

Developing communities on smaller wikis

September 8th, 2009

I originally wrote this for another purpose. I thought it might be interesting to people on my FList in regards to how we run Fan History, how we have gone about doing certain things, what has worked and what hasn’t worked. This has been slightly modified to be more applicable for a wider audience.

Fan History, like other small wikis and multifandom projects, has had a problem with community identity. Most of our contributors don’t as Fan History community members or members of fandom. Instead, they identify as say Batman fans, Harry Potter fans, Twilight fans. This is a problem that we have been working to solve, even as we try to increase identity and participation inside those specific communities. We’ve been most successful at creating identity by doing two things: Having content that interests people that is not specific to any one fan community and by creating large amounts of content that help demonstrate the size and scope of the whole fan community. We’ve found that both solutions, in terms of content development, have been rather successful. Fan History has covered several fandom kerfluffles that have brought brand awareness. The kerfluffles cross fandom lines in terms of interest, principally due to the large number of people involved. Fan History also has worked to improve our definition pages. These articles connect fandoms by offering definitions from different communities, give examples from across fandom and link to panfannish discussions regarding the terms. People can really begin to see how various fandoms are connected. As a result of these kerfluffles and terminology articles, our visitors have poked around a fair amount. We’ve also blown out our content, going from representing roughly 3,000 fandoms a year ago to representing over 36,000 now. We’ve added a over 25,000 articles about specific pieces of fan fiction, added over 50,000 articles about episodes of television, and added over 50,000 articles about LiveJournal community users. All of these articles have helped the fan community understand that Fan History is for them, that it covers topics that are relevant to them, that it is easy to plug in their own knowledge in to our framework with out fear. Both of these strategies have been successful in their own ways. Definition and kerfluffles ways have helped foster a greater sense of fannish community in the whole of the fannish community. They have helped to increase our traffic and our brand identity. Blowing out our content has not necessarily been as successful in terms of fostering community development inside and outside the wiki. It has helped some with our brand identity and it has with our conversion rates in getting people to contribute to the wiki. These solutions, going hand in hand, have really been successful for us.

Beyond content development, we’ve tried several things to encourage community development and to increase the number of edits that an individual makes. For a while, we tried to welcome new members and individually thank IP addresses that contributed to Fan History. We also tried barn stars. These strategies weren’t very successful in terms of converting a one time or occasional editor in to a regular editor. Our admin team discussed the situation, brain stormed ideas where we could be more effective at community building and helping our contributors; in response, we changed tactics. Our policy became to look more closely at specific edits and monitor for certain types and then respond to offer assistance that addresses those edits. One example involves articles about fan fiction writers. In some cases, they have changed their pen names. When we see edits that indicate that they have changed their names, we offer to help them do that or see clarification as to what they are trying to do. We have found that doing to leads to additional edits to an article to improve it once those changes are made and that the individual will frequently come back to more regularly update the article.

When you’re working on a wiki with a small community, you frequently know the one or two other contributors. You were might have brought them on board. It can sometimes be easier to just send them an IM, a text message, drop them an e-mail. This was a problem that we were occassionally facing on Fan History. Our admin team has become rather close. We often feel like we know what other admins are thinking and respond accordingly. We’ve discussed how this can be bad for a wiki. Our communication channels are not transparent when we do that. It might appear like our admin team is a clique, where our first goal is to maintain our status on the wiki and in the wider fan community. The team made a commitment to using talk pages to discuss all manner of things that we are doing. This includes how to avoid drama that may reflect poorly on us, what sort of content we want to develop, issues with templates, where we need a bot to be run to fix spelling or categorization issues and more. We tried to make sure that in discussions with contributors that more administrators were engaging the community. We tried to balance that so it wouldn’t look like we were dog piling on our contributors. This has been rather successful. Our engagement on the wiki has help our community relations outside the wiki because people can see what we are doing, have the tools to more fairly evaluate our decision making processes and members of the broader fannish community feel like they can approach on wiki or off to deal with concerns that they may have regarding our content. It has also helped internally by improving our communications with users, by making it easier to implement contributor feedback and by fostering a sense of internal community.

Wikis tend to need to define the size and scope of their mission, how to create content to meet their mission, policy creation and how they will enforce their policies. Much of this involves internal decision making that will have an impact on external factors. If the scope is too big, it will be hard to develop content or make the project feel overwhelming. If it is too small, the wiki may turn into a pet project that doesn’t have a large possible pool of contributors to draw from. If they create content with complex templates when they are first starting off, that may prove a barrier to entry for some people who read the content. If the wiki policy is too restrictive, people may not feel like they can contribute because they don’t want to break the rules, understand complex categorization policies or how to create stub articles that are acceptable. If it is too open, there is the potential for a lot of drama as people seek to dominate in certain places by sheer force of will. These are issues that we’ve been working on with Fan History. We’ve worked on policies with both the internal community and external community in mind. The point of the policies has always been to serve the community that exists on the wiki, to serve the information and make it as best as we can, and to be accessible and culturally appropriate when dealing with external critics. For content, we defined our scope and then went the automated route to create stub content to make it clear where the borders of our scope was. According to occasional contributors we’ve surveyed informally, it made the wiki feel less scary as they had base content to start from and they had many examples they could pull from regarding what is acceptable and what is not acceptable. For policy, we made a point of having policy discussions on the wiki and rationalizing those steps so that future wiki users could understand our thought processes. While a well developed community of users does not exist, we went outside the community to our acquaintances who were occasional editors. We surveyed their opinions, incorporated their comments in to our discussion. We invited them to participate in the discussion on the wiki. We also listened to external criticism regarding policies and incorporated that feedback as we developed our policy. The results of this that we are the most proud of involve our deletion policy found at http://www.fanhistory.com/wiki/Help:Article_deletion . Community develop on wikis for ones that don’t have the good fortune to go viral is hard. This is a lesson that we’ve learned at Fan History.

It takes a great deal of work to be successful. It can be especially challenging to build a community because for wikis, it is often easy to overlook community aspects because wikis so often focus on content. We’ve learned that it takes building content with the idea of how random contributors will feel comfortable editing, actively engaging contributors in a way that will solicit a response, being transparent in terms of what the admin team is doing to avoid feelings of cliques, making organizational patterns easy to understand so as not to confuse your contributor base, not being too harsh when enforcing policies, and thinking about what your internal community building will mean in the wider community that your wiki is part of. We hope that you can take our lessons and learn from them as you develop a community on your own wiki.

CC-BY-SA3, Transformers Wiki and consequences

August 27th, 2009

I was reading my friends list on LiveJournal and found this post by Derik Smith of Transformers Wiki. The post discusses the Transformers Wiki ‘s to switch their license from GFDL to CC-BY-SA3.  It then looks like the copyright holder took advantage of new license and what it allows to incorporate content from the Transformers Wiki into an advertisement for an official comic.   The wiki subsequently changed their license to prevent such an occurrence from happening again.  The post is well worth reading and does a much better job at explaining the particulars.  So yes, go forth and read it: http://deriksmith.livejournal.com/45915.html

Congrats to wikiFur on their move!

August 27th, 2009

A few days ago, wikiFur completed their move from Wikia to their own servers. It apparently was a long and difficult process, which is why most wikis hosted there don’t leave. Where did they move? They provided details on their news page, saying:

The English WikiFur is now hosted on a high-bandwidth server offered by French WikiFur administrator Timduru.

This server is currently used to stream the Funday PawPet Show and FursuitTV. It also hosts a variety of fursuit and animal-related websites and galleries, including WikiFur’s other language projects. Its resources (network bandwidth, CPU time, memory and storage) are not taxed by its current operations; there should be plenty for the English WikiFur even in the middle of its current streaming duties.

(For geeks: The server is a Conroe 3040 dual-core system with 4GB RAM, 1TB+500GB+250GB disks, a 40Mbit/sec+ transfer rate and a 3TB/month maximum bandwidth usage, of which about half is currently available. It runs FreeBSD 7.1, and is hosted by ThePlanet in Austin, Texas.)

Several other options were considered, including commercial shared web hosting and virtual machines. The use of an existing dedicated server under the control of a WikiFur administrator won out, for reasons of easy administration, features, cost, and potential for future expansion.

They have an excellent tech team with GreenReaper as their lead so they are unlikely to have problems that another wiki that moved off Wikia had. wikiFur provides a valuable service to the furry fandom and I wish them nothing but the best. I hope that with their new location they can continue being the bedrock to the community that they were before the move.

Wiki adminning: Different strategies to deal with conflicts

August 27th, 2009

We’ve been busy watching our recent changes on Fan History. An incident recently came up and we had a fair amount of behind the scenes discussion on how to handle it. After exploring our possible actions, we analyzed where our desires to take these actions came from. They can best be summarized as follows:

  1. Desire to thoroughly document a topic, be completely truthful, provide multiple perspectives and be as unbiased as possible.
  2. Desire to behave ethically, enforce our policies in an ethical and consistent way, and to adhere to the norms of the community of which we are a member.
  3. Desire to avoid drama, possible negative publicity for the wiki, and personal attacks aimed at our admin staff.

This situation is one that many other wikis are likely to deal with. The problem with these motivations is that plan of action for each requires a different response. The plan of actions will have different outcomes when implemented. The desire for the first will almost certainly run afoul of the third one. The desire for the second one could likely piss off both sides who will see you as negating the first one and resulting in the third one not being met. It is a messy situation to be in. When you’re faced with a similar situation, our advice is to write down the pros and cons of implementing a strategy based on each desire. Examine those pros and cons and then implement the solution that will allow you to sleep at night. There is no right answer.

Pictures from Chicago’s Pride Parade

June 29th, 2009

Disclaimer: This has very little to do with fandom or marketing issues that might be of interest to fans.

Yesterday, I attended Chicago’s Pride Parade with a friend.  He invited me to attend because Lisa Madigan had invited people to walk in the parade on her Fcebook fanpage.  The invite said bring a friend.  Lisa Madigan is one of my favorite politicians so it seemed like a really cool opportunity to meet her.  I’d also never been to an event like Pride and it felt about time in terms of my own coming out experience.

Lisa Madigan’s float was number 81.  The parade officially kicked off at noon.  We didn’t leave the holding pen until around 12:45.  We didn’t reach the end of the route until about 2:35 pm.  It was wild.  The whole thing was beyond cool.  I probably took 250 pictures.  The following are about 100 from that selection.

Click on the image for a larger view.  Images are stored on my LiveJournal scrapbook. These have not been cropped.

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All sorts of people attended with all levels of mobility.  There seemed to be a really good job done at making things handicapped accessible.

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The football like object is actually the ball from rugby.  I believe the float was for the professional rugby team in Chicago.
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Some of the volunteers from Lisa Madigan’s float.

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Illinois Lottery float.
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People waiting in the holding pen.
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I think that is Hamilton College.  Lots of hulu hooping took place during the waiting.
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The really white white white dude with curly hair reminds me of Alice’s main squeeze Jasper from Twilight.

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Lisa Madigan.
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That crowd stretched all the way back to the El station at least a block or two away.

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It doesn’t seem possible that you could get that many people packed in like that.  It was wow, awe inspiring.
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Notice the people sitting on the portable toilets.

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Equality Illinois.

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Young and old attended this.
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More people sitting on portable toilets.

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Salvation Army giving away free lemonade at their college. Their college was bordered on two sides by this parade. No place to escape from it.

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People sitting on tops of street markers. People were all over places that make you go “Huh. Is that safe? and how did you get there?”

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The halfway mark?

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The police.

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The Green Man.

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Hiding the protesters.

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The protesters.

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A political message.

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A peek through…

Yes, Encyclopedia Dramatica is down

June 17th, 2009

It is down.  We know.  The folks who run Encyclopedia Dramatica is down.   They have been hard at work bringing it up.   Please be patient and give them time. :)   If you want updatesm you might want to check out their chat room on IRC.

While at it, yourwiki has been a bit slow as some one uploaded over 1,500 images this week.  They are hard at work too.

Check out WhatPort80

June 17th, 2009

This is another case of being a bit sloth like.   I promised to plug WhatPort80 and it has taken me a while to do that.  WhatPort80 is another wiki site.  On their about page, they describe themselves as:

WhatPort80 is a collection of internet information for your reading pleasure. All material submitted should be work safe. Any non-worksafe images or language will be deleted. If you’d like to contribute to a wiki that allows Non-worksafe content, Wikipedia and Encyclopedia Dramatica may be more to your liking.

They really push the limits of what is work safe and what is not because some images are highly suggestive using objects/fruit and flesh colored clothing.   Still, it is very damned cool and has a lot of great potential.  One article I really like is Lulz because I like the caption below the image.  The jokes feel accessible to me and where I am online.  Please check them out. :)

Wagn: Help Wagn out!

June 10th, 2009

I  got the following e-mail and thought I would pass it along as the folks at Wagn are beyond awesome. :D

Will you help bring more attention to Wagn and healthy organizing patterns?

Here’s how to get the word out (links and resources below):

Thanks for being part of our launch!

– Ethan, Lew, and John

About Wagn

Wagn
Wagn is an open-source web tool for building thriving organizational patterns.  It’s so flexible that you can use it as a website, a work flow tracker, a collaborative work space, and a library integrated all into one — one login, one search bar, one home.  More information, including affordably hosted Wagn sites, is available at Wagn.org.

Wagn 1.0
Wagn, the pattern-driven wiki that RailsInside.com calls “revolutionary”, is announcing its 1.0 release.  With a handful of simple, powerful innovations, Wagn enhances wikis to allow rapid creation of collaborative, dynamic, patterned websites while keeping things simple and clean for casual users.  The 1.0 release adds considerable polish and robustness.

Grass Commons
Grass Commons is a 501(c)3 public education charity that helps build tools for a thrivable world.  Its Wagn project, originally designed for researching company and product impacts, received initial funding as a community knowledge tool in 2006 from Meyer Memorial Trust, Oregon’s largest private foundation. To learn more or contribute please visit grasscommons.org.

Help EncyclopediaDramatica!

May 11th, 2009

There are a couple of wikis who have been extremely supportive of Fan History. They include Wikia, AboutUs, wikiHow and EncyclopediaDramatica.

I was informed that EncyclopediaDramatica had some big cash flow problems, and they need your monetary support.  Yeah, they can be pretty wanktastic, mean and probably deserve some of the reputation they have… but as a wiki community, they can be pretty awesome and supportive of other wikis out there.  If you’re a member of the wider wiki community, please consider helping out.

From the keyword vault…

May 6th, 2009

Sometimes, we get some interesting keyword searches on out blog that look like people need answers that we haven’t answered.  In that spirit, I’m going to address some of those.

what rating did the fans give the twilight movie and why

Ratings can best be found on Yahoo!Movies and on IMDB. Yahoo!Movies fans really liked the movie more than IMDB users. If there was a large amount of wank about the movie being awful, it never hit the radar of the people contributing to our Twilight article.

nicole p. and bonnaroo / nicole p. 104.5 / 104.5 bonnaroo contest

Looking for info on Nicole P?  And why she’s been getting votes in that contest?  That’s because we’ve been heavily plugging it in several places, including Fan History’s main page.   Go vote please.  We would really love for her to be able to go so she could report on music fandom for Fan History. :D

star trek fan total members

How many members are there  in the Star Trek fandom?  I can’t really answer that easily.   There are at least 5,500 fans on LiveJournal.  We can guess that there are over 3,000 on FanFiction.Net for Star Trek in its various forms.  We know there are at least 45 on InsaneJournal.  We also know there at least 43 on JournalFen.   There are probably other places to get numbers but those are the ones we have on the wiki.

the most obscure fandom ever

What is the most obscure fandom ever?  That’s almost impossible to answer.  There are a huge number of small fandoms with very few fan communities.  Some of them could be really old, with very little that got translated online.  A good example probably includes Road to Morocco.  You also can have local sports team for sports that don’t have big international audiences.  An example of that includes the Storhamar Dragons based out of Norway.  Most people probably haven’t heard of them.   So in this case, we really need the term obscure better defined.

fanfiction net – meme’s stargate

I don’t have a clue.   It might appear in our Stargate article, but skimming it?  I’m not seeing an answer.  Some one please educate me!

trace the ip address who visited my community on orkut

I’ve got nothing.  If you can put images in your profile or community, I highly suggest getting a paid account and using LJToys.  I just don’t know orkut well enough to provide better information.

anime fan art history

A history of fanart can be found on Fan History’s fanart article.  It really needs more work, and only generally touches on anime so the anime article might be a better source.

can wanking be beneficial to growth

We talked about this a lot in this blog entry about generating positive metrics.  Wanking can help provide short term traffic spikes but don’t provide long term traffic stability unless you can do that again and again and again on a consistent basis.  Depending on your content?  That may not be desirable.

So ends this edition of “From the keyword vault…”  I kind of liked writing this so I may do another edition soon.

Fan fiction culture does not encourage wiki contributions

April 19th, 2009

A few days ago, I published a blog entry titled The problems FanLore faces are not unique: Learning from Fan History’s experience. In the course of editing it, we removed some bits that weren’t relevant to what we were responding to.  One bit I thought was still pretty interesting so, lo! The bit reappears here!

Fan History’s admins all been in fandom a long time, and sometimes this whole issue of doing crosstalk in an collaborative way that anyone can contribute can be intimidating.  In fandom, this just is not done.  With a piece of fan fiction, the process is solitary in creation and when the story is finished, there is no real questioning the process, questioning the organization, suggesting ways to improve the story.  It just isn’t something that is fundamental to our cultural practices.  People don’t ask “Why did you have Harry Potter doing that particular spell in that scene?  Could you use this spell instead?”  If they do that, it tends to be viewed as antagonstic, or questioning the author’s writing ability.  And on the off chance the author and their supporters do agree that something could have been done differently, most of the time the author doesn’t go back and change it.  And if they do?  The audience doesn’t generally go back and read it.  Our cultural practices from the fan community just don’t lend themselves to crosstalk as equals.

Help wikInvest win a Webby!

April 15th, 2009

We at Fan History love wikis. :D And we love seeing wikis do well.  So when wikInvest sent us an e-mail asking people to vote for them to win a Webby, I thought I would pass it along so you can support other great wiki projects. :D

wikinvest request

So go register and vote now!

The problems FanLore faces are not unique: Learning from Fan History’s experience

April 10th, 2009

At Fan History, we are always looking for ways to improve our content, increase contributions, and improve outreach to the greater community. As such, it is often useful to reflect inward on our own practices and to look outward, to look at other wikis, to see how they tackle these issues, as well as how they are perceived by the public.

Related to this continual practice of self-reflection and outward examination, Sidewinder recently brought a portion of this LiveJournal post regarding FanLore to our attention. It was instructive to go through and compare the problems that the two wikis have in common, and to enumerate the ways Fan History has been trying to deal with those problems ourselves. In some cases, the challenges are quite similar indeed, though our approaches to dealing with them differ. In other cases, the issues were ones we had confronted before and have worked hard in the past two years to improve upon.

http://nextian.livejournal.com/263577.html?format=light

To quote:

“On the one hand, Fanlore has a number of excellent, well-researched articles that are resources for discussions, fanworks, and historical projects. It is easy to edit, comes in multiple decent-looking skins, and has gardeners who are fantastically on the ball. On the other hand…

These are some of the things that FanLore has in common with Fan History. Both are excellent resources for the history of fandom, with some fandoms better represented than others on both. Fan History and FanLore have a number of different skins; Fan History has them available to registered members. Both wikis are easy to edit; Fan History’s templates are designed to give new editors a boost on organizing their materials. And both have “gardeners” or administrators who are involved and easy to contact.

My chief issue with Fanlore is that it is not, as it stands, a community project. There’s very little crosstalk,

Crosstalk takes effort and a commitment from those who are editing. It is why Fan History uses talk pages. It is why we ask people if they need help. It is why we create active talk pages to converse on how things are organized. These things need to be done openly, so that users can have input. We’ll admit that we aren’t always excellent at it… but we do try, and this is one area we have worked hard on improving. We know this is important to the success of a wiki.

Sometimes, crosstalk can be hindered on a wiki. We’ve found this to be a problem at times as some members of the fan community have had limited exposure to wikis. They don’t understand how wikis work. They might not understand the purpose – or even the existence – of a talk page. They might be used to a certain wiki or another project which doesn’t have the same idea of constantly sharing, constantly asking questions, constantly editing, constantly revising. There is a learning curve. As wiki administrators, we need remove those barriers to create crosstalk, to make the users aware of crosstalk. On Fan History, we’re still working on that.  Both FanLore and Fan History need to improve by using methods such as welcoming members, following up with one time contributors, and even changing the text on our talk tab – easy, since we’re using MediaWiki.

no central LJ comm,

We don’t have an LiveJournal community, either. We do have one on InsaneJournal that we use mostly for information sharing. The content, though, tends to be mirrored from our blog. Our recent changes are shown on our Twitter and identi.ca accounts. Our admins are also found on Twitter and they sometimes discuss organizational efforts with a wider community there. But neither our microblogging presence, nor our InsaneJournal presence are in any way really comparable to an off-wiki version of wikiHow’s New Article Boost.

We also have this blog on a subdomain of our wiki. You don’t have to be a member to read it. If you want to comment, you can, just by filling out the form with your name and website address. You can carry over your disqus presence when you comment. It’s our way of bringing our work to a greater fandom audience than the one found on LiveJournal.

We feel it is important that major news, discussions and policy matters are discussed on Fan History itself instead of on an off-site community such as LiveJournal. We try to keep those conversations on the wiki, announcing discussions and events on our main page, and then posting about them on the blog to make finding the conversation easier. Wikis need fewer barriers to help fans get involved.

Other wikis have different means of discussing their organizational and content objectives. wikiHow does their organizing with the wikiHow Herald . On it, they talk about projects they are working on. They highlight featured contributors. They encourage the general community through that and through wikiHow’s forums . A few other wikis on Wikia also have forums where they discuss policy issues, plan article and category improvements, and build a community for their wiki. AboutUs doesn’t really have forums, but they have a GetSatisfaction account where you can ask about policy issues, for article help, and find out how you can get involved in an off-wiki manner.

the chat has been empty every time I’ve gone in,


Fan History recently changed its chat server to
chat.freenode.net in #fanhistory. Unfortunately, it seems that the chat at Fan History is nearly empty, too. But chat can really help with community development. AboutUs, Wikia, wikiHow and EncyclopediaDramatica use it extensively. ED has their own server where people occasionally break out of the main room to work on side projects. wikiHow folks use their chatroom on chat.freenode.net to coordinate patrolling Recent Changes, for writing parts of the Herald, and for discussing improving projects like wikiArt. AboutUs has staff members and community members in their chatroom, ready to help people out who have questions or who are looking for information on how to contribute. It just takes a few dedicated regulars to make it workable.

and the Issues page is a masterpiece of passive-aggressive “well you
may be correct but I feel that possibly your face is stupid.”

Fortunately for Fan History, we seem to have fewer of those issues. We have certainly had articles and sections of the site which have been subject to edit wars and bias concerns, but we have tried to work with the parties involved to create as unbiased a history as possible in these cases. And when a administrator feels personally too close to a subject, that administrator will ask that others with a more neutral stance get involved.

Among other things, this means that there’s no clear outline of what needs work;

Well, they are wikis. If you understand wikis, you can’t really outline what needs to be done as this constantly evolves as a wiki grows. You can begin to outline what needs to be done on talk pages, or on how to lists, etc. The trick is less outline, more “How do you communicate with contributors outside the core to understand what their goals and intentions are for contributing to the project? How do you foster them and work them into your existing wiki work?” If someone comes in and makes an edit, you welcome them and ask how you can help them. Or say something like “Hi! Thanks for your edit on Lord of the Rings. We’ve been wanting to see it improved for a while. If you’re planning on sticking around for a while, we’d love for you to help the category structure there. It could benefit from some one who knows the fandom really well making it more fandom specific. [How does your fandom organize ships and what are the standard ship names? We've not touched those articles because we're not sure.]“

there’s no reward system for putting up a good page,

This is hard. Most bigger wikis like Wikipedia and wikiHow do BarnStars. But when there are just a few regular contributors, doing that becomes difficult. Depending on who is doing the editing, BarnStars can end up looking like a lot of self-congratulatory work.

What Fan History tries to do is to thank really great contributors on our main page and on the blog. We’ve also considered doing an extended featured article on the main page as a reward for the editors who do a lot of work on their own People article. There are other ways of giving those who create good articles and make good edits the feedback that keeps them coming back and continuing.

especially since (as yet) no one is using it as a resource;

This is a battle Fan History faces all the time: demonstrating our relevance. Something like wikiHow, AboutUs, Wikipedia, PoliceWiki even wikiFur and EncyclopediaDramatica have built-in audiences. Or the wikis have done a great job of demonstrating their relevance. wikiFur pretty much made themselves into THE furry portal through content selection and organization. They’ve worked with the community and created standards for writing articles about members. This has made it easier for the the wiki to serve their community peacefully. AboutUs has developed relationships with sites that provide domain information – to the point where you almost can’t get whois information without stumbling across them. PoliceWiki has done a lot of outreach to photographers and musicians to get permission to use their images and content on the site. Through the years, they have also worked to get those directly involved with the band to contribute material themselves as a way of presenting the most accurate resource for the fandom possible–and building good professional relationships. Getting a wiki recognized as a good resource takes concentrated effort, time and marketing. People need to know you’re there before anything else!

policy remains unclear in a number of important areas,

Making policy clear, and changing it when it becomes necessary is important in a collaborative effort such as a wiki. Fan History has been willing to do this, and has opened up policy changes for public discussion on talk pages, linking those pages to the main portal. It is vital to have clear policy on many issues in a wiki, such as privacy, deletion of articles, content relevancy guidelines, overall organization, and these things are best resolved then made clear to the public sooner rather than later.

such as cross-platform work with Fancyclopedia and the Fandom Wank wiki

In the past, we’ve cited the Fandom Wank wiki, but that in itself caused a lot of wank, so we’ve discontinued using it as a main source for information on new and existing articles. On a plus side, Fan History is “working” with FanLore by ?]" href="http://www.fanhistory.com/wiki/Special:WhatLinksHere/FanLore">linking to their articles and citing them as a source in more articles. We have relationships with a few fandom specific wikis such as PoliceWiki and RangersWiki to “mirror” articles relevant to both sites, helping to build cross-community work and traffic to both wikis as a result. We also allow some mirroring of articles with AboutUs. We talk extensively to others in the wiki community, developing positive and beneficial relationships so where we know we can turn for help when needed. This includes having open communications with people who run AboutUs, EncyclopediaDramatica, wikiHow, wikiindex, Richmond Wiki, Wagn, wikiTravel, Kaplak Wiki, Wikimedia Foundation and Wikia. They’ve provided us with assistance on things such as advertising issues, content development, policy creation and letting us use extensions they’ve developed. A lot of this is about becoming a good wiki neighbor, finding areas where projects compliment each other but don’t compete. It fosters the whole idea of the wiki Ohana that is a favorite subject at RecentChangesCamp.

– and, to my deepest dismay, it is not currently a wiki for all of fandom.

This may be an unrealistic goal for any overall wiki on “fandom”–at least if fandom is being defined as covering all aspects and types of fandoms, from sports to television to music to video games. Fan History currently has over 4,000 fandoms represented on our 595,000 plus articles. We don’t even begin touch all of fandom. Truthfully, we don’t think that it’s possible to reach and represent every little corner, every tiny fandom. But we’re trying, oh, we’re trying, and trying to make it easier for people to add those fandoms that aren’t there yet. We’re doing a lot of aggressive outreach, building a lot of stub content and getting people invested. The outreach part is critical but frequently, for many good projects outreach doesn’t get done. It takes a huge amount of time away from content development, and from working on the core goals of the wiki. It can be loads of no fun and requires the kind of commitment that people invested in only a small subcomponent of the wiki might not want to do.

Fanlore is, as it stands, a chronicle of the fannish experience of an extremely small subset of media fans. Have you seen the current incarnation of the Who page? The Harry Potter page? Compare that to the Due South page or the Sentinel page. Though the fandom sizes of Doctor Who and Harry Potter remain enormous, no one is working on them.

Fan History faced much of the same criticism early on, and still does. Some of our fandom pages and categories are great, and have received a tremendous amount of work–often from one or two very dedicated people. But our own Doctor Who and Harry Potter articles could use some work, too. Still, they are a nice representation of what is possible. It is also why we have “Move; don’t remove” as our mantra because as you develop a history, you learn that things must be placed into context, especially when you have large amounts of data.

Some of our administrators and regular contributors spend time building up stub articles and categories in fandoms that we know are popular, to try to make it easier for new users to add their knowledge and experience. But it all takes time and effort and only so much can be done in each day.

And I think that is self-perpetuating. I’ve stubbed out a number
of pages in large fandoms, including the Who version I linked
you to above, but it is not rewarding to do some work on a
collaborative project and receive no … collaboration.

Fan History, wikiHow, RichmondWiki and AboutUs all have a structure that makes it easy for people to come in and figure out how to add content. We try to have a structure on Fan History where people can easily slot things in with out having to worry about writing and editing large tracks of prose. As a result, creating article stubs that can be filled in more fully later isn’t as big of a problem as it could be.

As for collaboration, it’s definitely something that smaller wikis have problems with, but when it happens, it can be fantastic to see. We loved watching this happen with articles such as the Rescue Rangers article, the Shota article, the Draco/Hermione article, the Race Fail article and others. And if one or two people are creating content, they end up learning a lot about fandoms outside their own, which is always a plus. Because in the case of Fan History? A lot of what we are about is sharing knowledge with others.

I am not castigating the other editors for this — that would be somewhat absurd — but I do wonder why I have not seen Fanlore more widely linked to other communities, outside of the one that the founders of the OTW are members of.

This is not hard to figure out. People will link to an article organically if they see a need to or think contributing will benefit themselves. Fan History’s Draco/Hermione gets a lot of views because it has become a resource for finding old and influential fics. People also link to articles about themselves because they’re excited to see themselves mentioned in a wiki. It is another way that they can promote themselves and their work. One of the published authors on our wiki has seen twenty visits a month on the article about herself, which is an incentive to keep it updated and to contribute to our community. Other people contribute in order to control how outsiders view them. That can be seen on Fan History most clearly with the case of AdultFanFiction.Net and Rescue Rangers. Still others contribute to Fan History in order to promote conventions they are involved with, to try to up the standing of those authors and artists they love, or just for the LULZ. That latter one, we think, ends up indicating a certain amount of success if they think that Fan History is worth trying to get LULZ from.

We’ve also developed a large amount of links by linking them ourselves. AboutUs?  bebo? Chickipedia? Delicious? Facebook? FanPop? identi.ca? InsaneJournal? Last.fm? LinkedIn? LiveJournal? MySpace? Orkut? Plurk? Twitter?  Wikia? wikiidex? All of these are linked at Fan History. We also developed content that people would want to link to. Articles about the ordinary fan and fleshed out content on topics or relevant content that can’t be found elsewhere. And it is why our desire to get a few interns (are you interested in interning with us? Contact Laura!) is less for the wiki itself than the community outreach because we know doing that will lead to edits.

Fanlore should have extensive entries on “slan” and “Victoria Bitter,”
not just Laura and Bodie from
The Professionals.

Interesting that FanLore’s most edited article, the last time one of our admins bothered to check, was about Fan History and/or its owner. Here are our top ten most edited articles that didn’t have bot contributions:

  1. Harry Potter

  2. Draco/Hermione

  3. Bandfic

  4. Beauty and the Beast

  5. Supernatural

  6. Digimon

  7. CSI

  8. Rescue Rangers

  9. Doctor Who

  10. X-Files

We’ve been working to make certain our most edited articles are not our personal loves or the people we dislike. Why? It’s not conducive to building a community. We’ve learned this the hard way, admittedly, so it is not surprising to see that another wiki may be encountering the same issues. That said, being seen as a personal “grudge” site with too narrow a focus is not good for building positive public relations. It takes a tremendous amount of time and effort to rebuild trust after working the bias out of your more problematic articles.

I know the only answer to this is “edit it yourself,” but I feel that a stronger sense of community among Fanlore editors would make new editors more comfortable and allow a broader range of articles to arise.”

That’s a problem every wiki faces. But you have to learn from both your own mistakes and the mistakes of others. Learn what makes other wikis successful and adapt them for your own purpose.

We wish FanLore nothing but the best of luck in their endeavor. It is a long a bumpy road but one that be filled with tremendous personal satisfaction in creating a great tool for the greater fan community.

Happy Birthday Wiki!

March 25th, 2009

Happy Birthday Wiki! The folks at AboutUs wrote a terrific blog entry about the wiki turning 14 today. Go over there and give it a read. Or view the video below to see more about the celebration.

Helping out in the wiki community: Ourmed

March 12th, 2009

Over on LinkedIn, Lillian Ruiz is asking for help with OurMed:

Non Profit Health information Site on Wiki platform is looking for volunteer wiki enthusiasts

Hi Everyone,

I work with OurMed.org , we’re a start up 501c3 developing an open source, open license, commercial free health information site. We’re building a strong medical community to create high quality, verifiable information and are using a wiki platform to create an interactive health experience between patients and providers. I’m looking for volunteers to help us customize our wiki with an open source community.

Please contact me to learn more about it. I look forward to hearing from you!

As the wiki community is filled with fabulous people, I thought some of the readers of our blog might be interested in helping.

On privacy, blogging, and hazardous misconceptions

February 16th, 2009

Today’s blog isn’t so much directly about fandom, but the ways in which I’ve recently seen a number of people (inside and outside of fandom) completely miss the boat on the way the internet works–in particular on issues of etiquette and privacy.

Unfortunately, there is no one “bible” on internet etiquette out there to follow; no international rules and regulations beyond those that evolve within the community of internet users through the years. But some of these things really shouldn’t be that difficult to figure out if you are at all familiar with technology and net culture–and have some small amount of common sense about you. They are also things which are worth contemplating from time to time, to determine if your personal expectations of privacy and etiquette can really be automatically expected to be followed by others–or are completely off the mark.

Public postings are exactly that: PUBLIC.

Sure, you can deter robots from spidering through your blog, livejournal, or website. But that doesn’t mean someone you didn’t “intend” to find your rantings about your evil housemates, your boss, or your pornographic Harry Potter fiction isn’t going to stumble upon it in some other fashion. Unless you lock them down through password protection, “friends lock” or other methods, your words, images and actions that you’ve chosen to share on the internet are there for anyone to see, read, and potentially respond to.

Indeed, some of the things people do that they think “protect” themselves may serve as only a greater incentive for the “wrong” audience to want to read on. Putting up a giant post-dated post or header on your blog proclaiming “THIS SITE IS FOR MY FRIENDS ONLY!” without actively locking it down as such? May only be more incentive for the nosy to click away. It’s like leaving an unlocked, hand-written diary out on a coffee table in a house you share with others. Maybe some people will be “polite” enough to ignore it’s there and not open it. But even if you put a sticky note on it saying “DO NOT OPEN”, you’re not doing all you should to guard your privacy.

Linking happens. Deal with it.

One of the primary features of the World Wide Web, since its earliest days, was The Link. An American webpage on, say, Pink Floyd might lead you to another website in Holland featuring a F.A.Q. about the band or discography; it might include a list of mailing lists around the world you could subscribe to to discuss the band; a directory of fan sites for other classic rock bands. A fan-fiction archive for Star Wars might include a “link page” where you could find more Star Wars fiction, information sites about the movies, etc.

Yet linking seems to remain one of those things people can get irrationally weird and protective about. Even while linking has long been one of the easiest and most direct ways for people within a specific community or sharing a common interest could find each other, some people get strangely obsessive over who does and doesn’t link to their sites and whether permission is required to do so. These people don’t seem to understand that linking does not equal stealing content, which is another matter entirely. In fandom, this has often come up in terms of fiction rec lists or sites such as FanWorksFinder–and critical reviews as well. Some have raised objections if their stories were included in a review that was less-than-favorable, claiming it to be “stealing their content”. But a story link is different from, say, taking an entire story out of an archive and publishing it on your own site without asking the author’s permission first (unless the author has given clear, blanket permission to “archive anywhere”).

A large number of blogs (just a sampling, there) have posted about linking etiquette in the blogosphere in the past, with it seemingly coming down to these general guidelines:

1. You don’t need permission to link to a blog, however, it’s generally considered good etiquette to remove a link if asked to do so. (Metafandom is a fannish example of a blog/newsletter which follows this practice–if a post is public, it’s fair game for linking unless the author has said in their post they don’t want it on MF, or ask to have it removed later on).

2. Stealing content without credit, or including information without a link back to where it came from, is bad. So is including links/content in a way that potentially steals revenue from the original blogger.

3. Reciprocal links can be nice but are not mandatory.

Seems like these rules should be easy enough to understand, but that’s not often the case. And coupled with some folks’ apparent misunderstanding of the public nature of un-protected blogs, this can lead to major wank. A recent example of this I witnessed was on the egullet forums–a somewhat elitist website for food and dining enthusiasts. Shola Olunloyo, a very popular “private chef” in the Philadelphia community and Pennsylvania subforum was running a blog on food which mysteriously disappeared, and then returned some time later under strict password protection. In the wank on the egullet forum that followed (posts on the subject mainly deleted by a forum moderator on 2/18/09), it appeared Shola did not like having his blog linked to by others, and then got upset over certain negative/potentially trolling comments that had been posted there.

Certainly, a blog (or any site) can become more trouble than it’s worth if one is constantly harassed or confronted by it, but this incident ended up coming across as someone being unfortunately unfamiliar with the way the internet works and then coming off with a bad case of “I’m taking my toys and going home” or flounce at the end of the day. If a person wanted to share their ideas about food and cooking without ever risking negative comments, comments could have been disabled entirely on the blog (or screened by an assistant to the blog, if the chef never wanted to even see them himself unless the comments were positive). If linking to the site was to be such a “no-no”, a disclaimer should have been clearly put on the site stating as much (and even then, cannot be completely expected to be followed)–just the arguments on egullet that followed showed that everyone’s apparent ideas of netiquette with regard to linking is different from each other. Or perhaps Shola should have simply started with a password-protected blog from the start, the only way to truly limit who had access to his site, as he apparently learned the hard way instead of avoiding certain unpleasantness from the start.

There are a lot more exampled of misconceptions of privacy on-line I can think of which I’ve seen in recent times: a fan-fiction author being outed after not protecting her fannish identity as separate from the “real life” one on Facebook; a chat session being copied on a public messageboard which some participants had believed would be private, which then lead to serious wank within the fandom. Almost every week there seems to be some kerfluffle in fandom related to privacy issues, sometime minor, sometimes major.

So I’m going to end this blog with a point towards Fan History’s Privacy Help Page. We’ve been wanked in the past about it for it being “laughable” and “impractical”; that to follow all the guidelines within would not allow one to participate in fandom at all. And such criticism is missing the point. The point is that one must constantly make thoughtful decisions when on the internet regarding one’s desire and needs for privacy vs. one’s desire to create and share in on-line communities. You can’t expect the millions of people out there on the net to all have the same “good intentions” as you do, nor the same ideas of what constitutes netiquette. One must be aware of the “risks” involved in one’s actions on-line, and make decisions on whether they feel comfortable with those risks. If you create a public blog, you must accept that people are, in fact, going to read it. And maybe disagree with you and what you say, and tell you such. If you post anything under pseudonym to “protect your privacy” but aren’t consistent in keeping your real life identity separate from your fannish one (or try to use your reputation or “standing” within the fannish community to improve your real life one, or vice-versa) eventually someone may “connect the dots” in a way that could have negative repercussions for you. These are the facts of life in the internet world of today, facts which, unfortunately, many only seem to realize from making embarrassing and potentially more hurtful mistakes.

Liz Henry is part of a contest by HP…

November 29th, 2008

Liz Henry is running a contest on her blog in conjunction with HP. I commented on the post itself over here and in reply to her post about RecentChangesCamp.

I’d love to win because I’d love to be able to reward Fan History admins and give back to a school that taught me so much about myself. And that could really use a few extra tech goodies as they have so few. :(

Potential for SAG strike update

November 29th, 2008

SAG national executive director Doug Allen told Back Stage that even if the guild secures strike authorization, a walkout is not imminent. “We had a strike authorization in cable negotiations a little over two years ago,” he said. “There was a substantial majority vote to authorize the board to call a strike, but an agreement was reached without that strike being called.”

Source

I just want to say that the news relieves me. I really want both sides to reach an agreement where they are both happy (or both unhappy) and television, movies and theater continue on. The talk of a strike scares me because of how much damage the WGA one wrecked on a number of shows.

Hi, I’m Rhonda and I’m a FanFic Writer

October 17th, 2008

Yes, I’m Rhonda, and I’m a FanFic Writer. It’s been almost 6 years since my last FanFic piece.

Even though I turned ProFic in 2003 when I sold my first story to YardDog Press, I’m still a fan girl. It’s something I deal with every day. My background is TV genfic fandoms, that’s my basis of reference. Just to be clear.

A couple of weeks ago, I participated in a panel at FenCon called “FanFic to ProFic to Profit” and though only one of us on the panel sees much in the way of “profit”, the point was a positive one. From a writer/creator POV, what’s the positive outcome of FanFic? It’s a very important learning tool. I consider FanFic to be akin to Basic Training for writers who look to move forward with their work.

There are many elements to a good story:

  • plot
  • characterization
  • setting
  • dialog
  • emotional tension
  • story structure

Put all together, these elements can be difficult for even an experienced ProFic writer. For a new writer… learning and incorporating them all at once may be completely overwhelming. This is where FanFic comes into play. It takes some of the pressure off the new writer by providing a setting and most of the characters. It allows the writer to focus on structure, plot, and a few “new” characters. It’s a way to ease into the pool, as it were. Once these elements are, ideally, learned, the writer can then branch out to creating their own worlds and more characters.

Other elements to good writing FanFic should provide for new writers is professional structure:

  • Following guidelines – both for story and format. The writer needs to learn what the group, fandom, etc is looking for in basic terms and provide it.
  • Following the Rules – you have to know what the “rules” are before you can break them. This applies to basic English: spelling, grammar, proofreading, etc. If you make your fandom crazy with your typos, “Text-speak”, whatever – it’s a safe bet no professional editor will touch you.
  • Etiquette – there’s an etiquette to the publishing world. It applies to FanFic. It’s based on the Golden Rule. Don’t take rejection/feedback personally. Don’t start flame wars. Don’t stalk people for their opinion – because then you become the “Don’t Try This At Home” stories at conventions. People – especially writers, editors, and publishers – talk. Unless it’s good, you don’t want your name coming up.
  • Experience the Food Chain – FanFic does actually provide experience in dealing with the “Food Chain” and prepares you for ProFic’s “Food Chain”. Just as there are Big Name Authors in ProFic and new authors have to fight and claw their way up the ladder, so goes FanFic. There are Big Name Fans who get a lot of attention and younger (sometimes as good) authors who have to work hard to get their work read. It’s a Fact of Life writers learn to deal with.

Which brings up feedback. Feedback is one of the reasons I moved away from FanFic and some fandoms. I got tired of people wondering where the “good stuff” was and why no one was doing “X” or “Y” when I’d just done that particular story – but if anyone saw it they didn’t speak up or spread it around. Follow the adage: “If you like what you see, tell your friends. If you don’t like what you see, tell ME.” But I would say, if you like something, SHOUT IT OUT – to your friends, to the author, to anyone who’ll listen. Tired of crap in the writing world? Start promoting the “good stuff”. As with any other part of life, only the complaints get heard. That’s hard on the industry and the writer.

Do you know what the #1 reason is for writers to stop writing? The “sound of crickets”. The phenomenon of of throwing a party and no one came. I don’t know how many of my stories seemed to go into a black hole and never come out. When no one seems to care if someone keeps writing, many times the writer stops writing – either in that fandom or forever.

For the record, that’s not why I stopped writing FanFic. I went ProFic to maybe make money with my writing. Would I write FanFic again? You bet. There are a couple of things that’re gaining my attenton, and I would so love to break into Media Tie-In. What could be better than PAID, APPROVED FanFic geared for a national audience? That would be cool.

So, I’m Rhonda. I’m a FanFic writer, and I’m going to pop in from time to time to write about writing and conventions and whatever happens. I love Questions from the Audience. If there’s something you want to know about, let me know.

#SocialDevCampChicago

August 10th, 2008

Yesterday, I went to SocialDevCampChicago with the goal to learn more about social media, network with people involved in the area and to have a good time.  All goals accomplished.  I didn’t attend as many presentations as I would have liked.  I was just too busy talking to people, eating, volunteering, socializing, networking and preparing my own presentation.  I managed to talk to or at least catch a glimpse of one or two people from StartUpWeekend, Ann Arbor.  It was interesting to catch up and see where one of those startups was in terms of development. Some of them presentations were supposed to have been fantastic including Lindsey LaVine‘s Legal Considerations for Social Media and Saper Law Offices‘s Legal Considerations Part II. Legal Liability under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act and the Communications Decency Act.

I did my own presentation with Jean Pickering of The Tektite Group, LLC on wikis.  We both showed up early.  Jean provided some food.  I was volunteering to help man the registration table.  I asked her if she was presenting.  She said some one was already presenting on her topic.  What topic?  Wikis.  I said that was mine and asked if she wanted to co-present with me.  She said yes.  That was fantastic for me as I had never done an unconference before and the unconference was PowerPoint presentation heavy.  We found some time, put together a basic PowerPoint.  I’ve got to give Jean credit for doing an excellent job at dealing with my nervousness in preparing.

Jean’s perspective was really welcome.  She comes at wikis from the perspective of non-profits and businesses needing a website or an on-line presence.  I come at wikis from a large wiki perspective, from a fandom perspective with the thought of communities being at the forefront.    Different perspectives were helpful.  Our presentation covered what wikis are, why use wikis, how you use wikis and where you can find wiki software.  We tried to build in a lot of interaction with the audience.  Overall, I was really happy with how things went.  I think we gave a fairly good idea about the benefits of wikis and some resources for wiki people.

At the end, I gave out a handout with wiki resources on it.  Putting those here as I think they’re worth sharing again.


Wikis: How to and why to!

Wiki Community

Wiki Conferences and Meetups

Wiki Hosts

Wiki Support


Overall, I really loved SocialDevCampChicago.  I hope there are more events like it in Chicago.  I think it could be improved in the future by having smaller groups to present to; a lecture hall with seats for two hundred when you have 30 people in the room isn’t ideal.    The time for presentations could also be a bit longer; a half hour just didn’t seem to give enough time to cover some topics.   Those problems seem small and easily fixable if this event was to be held again.  And I really do hope that there is another event like this again happening again soon in the city.

Next time, I’ll also figure out public transport, stay the whole time and not be scared of traffic. :-D

Chicago area new media events

July 11th, 2008

One of the things that I’ve realized, as I strive to take Fan History to the next level, is that you need to network.  If you’re like me, and in the Chicago area, here are a few upcoming events that might be of interest.

  • Wiki Wednesday, Chicago is meeting again August. This time it is on August 13. If you love wikis, great little social opportunity. We had lots of fun with July.

Fan History organizational tree: Harry Potter

November 29th, 1999

During the past few days, we’ve been working on trying to visualize our organizational patterns on Fan History in order to understand our own patterns, how we conceptualize fandom, to check for organizational consistency, create tools to help users understand our organizational patterns, to identify areas where we lack stub content. This is our second post in this series. This one is about Harry Potter.

Click on the image to view it full size.

There are things about the top level category that drive me nuts. Namely, the category seems to have way too many categories for specific sites: LiveJournal, GreatestJournal, EZBoard, InvisionFree, JournalFen, Yahoo!Groups. I’m not certain how this can be fixed with out a major category restructure. The major hesitation about doing that is it would disturb our existing patterns, would make the tree a lot deeper and harder to navigate.

Once I start looking at the structure regarding communities in depth, it appears that we have started to move that content into its own separate structure. It just was never fully implemented. Or quite possibly, it was implemented and then people went in and changed it not realizing that we had attempted a restructure. This is a wiki and anything is possible.

Our character and pairing structure was taken apart at one point, with articles removed from them. There is the whole question of if we should restore that and put the articles back into the subcategories and restore that. Some like Draco/Hermione have a lot of content that could go in them including stories around the ship, etc. Having that structure existing just makes it easier to navigate and conceptualize in my opinion. If you specifically find that Snape/Harry LiveJournal community, than it helps to have that sorted if we don’t have an article list of Snape/Harry LiveJournal communities.  

The Harry Potter fandom also seems to be structured around pairings, characters and houses.  The community doesn’t necessarily have the emphasis on a coherent community identity.  Thus, it seems logical to me to structure the fandom more around these articles and rebuild them that way as a history of the fandom would be much more accurate if told from that perspective.

There is also the issue of how to organize fan fiction. We have fan fiction archives, fan fiction, stories, slash, saffic… and all of these deal with fan fiction. Should those sub categories be moved into Category:Harry Potter fan fiction? And looking at that category now, it really looks like everything in it should be moved to Category:Harry Potter stories. Oye.  If we combined communities and organized that way, it feels like it would be logical to combine this one too.  Things just seem really scattered like this; would it make it easier for article contributors to link various parts of the history they tell if the category structure made those connections more obvious?

If you have any feedback on this tree, any questions about how it developed, we would love your feedback. Do the organic patterns we’ve developed make sense? Is this construction too artificial? Is it not logical? Does it make sense in relation to the fandom this structure represents? And if you’re really motivated, we’ve really like that feedback on the relevant talk pages for those categories.

Peter Cutler, @studio525, is obsessed with the wrong metrics

November 29th, 1999

Peter Cutler has 17,000 followers on Twitter. He gets them largely through gaming the system, looking for people who will follow anyone or who autofollow. He’s pretty indiscriminate in his follows and he doesn’t weight things like follower to followee ratio, picks up people using keyword search like SEO and marketing.  He’s not particularly interested in personalizing his tweets to people he follows who may be curious as to why he follows them. He’s busy pushing some links, bragging about his Twitter Grade, etc.

In other words, he is a social media spammer.  If you have 17,000 followers, there is no reason to be following new people.  You can’t possibly follow all 17,000 people.  You can follow some of them if you add them to lists.  (And in my case, he didn’t add me to any.)  Total followers is a meaningless metric that Peter Cutler is obsessed with, as he’s actively trying to grow his count.    The people clicking through links for a few thousand followers, where the followers were gained through autofollow attempts, is pretty low.  (I can break it down for you using Fan History if you care for data.)  The ROI is pretty awful in that regards.  Number of followers might be a nice ego boost.  (Kind of like people who write Bella/Edward Twilight stories to get a lot of readers.  Quality is often irrelevant there.)  He can’t articulate why follows individuals.  He offers little value for those following him in return.   He’s hard to reach, not responsive to people who follow him while he deliberately seeks out those individuals.  He’s gaming the system and a twitter follow spammer.

He might be a fine Creative Director, but he’s not some one I would ever point you at for social media he’s obsessed with the wrong metrics and his methodologies could cause backlash as he doesn’t think through the consequences of, well, you know, actions like gaming the system. 

Mahalo aggressively goes after Wikia

November 29th, 1999

Yes, Jason is trying to get people to leave wikia. (He has never approached us!) Given the licenses of most wikis on Wikia, he doesn’t really need to approach anyone: He can just copy the whole thing on to Mahalo, find some one willing to curate and be done with it. If he is only offering half the money to one person, large wikis aren’t going to move. If he doesn’t have the domain, there isn’t going to be a lot of money unless he can squeeze Wikia and beat them on SEO for the same content.

It will be interesting to see how this plays out.

Edited to add: Linked to Jason’s twitter account and the leavewikia account on #wikia on irc.freenode.net to mostly complain about Jason’s lack of understanding of wiki communities and fan communities. The result: [14:42] -ChanServ- You have been devoiced on #wikia by Dantman (Nadir_Seen_Fire) .

One person cannot do it all… What we should have done differently…

November 29th, 1999

When looking at large scale preservation projects, a lesson I have learned from the Geocities situation, is that one person cannot do it all.  Two people cannot do it all.   Three people cannot do it all.  Four people cannot do it all, even if they are dedicated, well meaning, have certain skills and are willing to put the time into saving and preserving the history of an online community.  I’m ecstatic about what we accomplished but I’m also disappointed.  I feel like we could have done more, if there was more than a core team of a few of us at Fan History. 

In doing a preservation project, one person trying to save things means that things will be missed.  The process can be greatly aided by institutional help in determining the size and scope of what needs to be saved, and in developing a list of resources that need to be saved.  The following of institutional structures that would have been useful for us to have had relationships with:

  • Yahoo/Geocities.  ArchiveTeam tried to reach out to them and were rebuffed.
  • Open Directory Project.  We didn’t really need them because they helpfully provide a list of all the sites listed on DMOZ.  We were able to utilize this.  For that, we are happy.
  • WebRing.  Lots of Geocities sites hosted there.  Couldn’t scrape them easily to try to easily pull a url list.  Didn’t respond to our contact requests.  Couldn’t find anyone associated with them on Twitter to help us get that.  We probably should have called and called and nagged. :/
  • ArchiveTeam.  We used one of the lists they provided to get urls to scrape but most of what they provided publicly wasn’t that useful for our needs.  I did a comment on their blog.   We should have reached out more to them.  They had the technical knowledge to do things, had the computers, had the dedication to do this.  We have the structure to provide a historical framework for some of what they were doing.
  • The Internet Archive. They archive old copies of pages across the Internet.  
  • Organization for Transformative Works.   They are dedicated to preserving fandom history.  Repeatedly reached out to them on Twitter, on LiveJournal, via e-mail and elsewhere.  Never responded.  EXTREMELY FRUSTRATING. They have manpower and a shared purpose that would have been helpful.

We should have gotten institutional support.  They could have provided us with three things: 1] A (structured) list of fandom related urls, 2] Technical assistance, 3] Community support and manpower.  Some of that we got because these institutions provide some of this as part of their own efforts and mission.

After institutional support, we needed technical assistance.  We were lucky in that we got some assistance from Lewis Collard and illyism.   We just didn’t think to ask some people until too late, about two weeks before Geocities closed.  Asking two individuals for all our technical assistance and implementation of technical solutions isn’t fair, won’t result in a timely solution.  It doesn’t allow enough time for integration with institutional support.  Lewis scraped about 5,000 pages and screencapped them.  He downloaded about 2,000 files.  In doing all this, he blew through his monthly bandwidth allotment. Illyism developed a Firefox plugin.   There are several resources we could have, probably should have tapped in our own community, the wiki community and the fandom community.  They include:

  • #mediawiki, #wiki, #yourwiki, #recentchangescamp, #wikia, #pywikipediabot, #wikihow on irc.freenode.net.  These chat rooms have awesome people in them.  They do a lot of open source projects. 
  • Organization for Transformative Works.  They are training female programmers for their projects. 
  • ArchiveTeam and Internet Archive.  They already have technical people. 
  • Idealist.Org.  Listing requests for volunteers might have gotten some assistance.
  • Wikimedia related mailing lists.
  • Tech and programming people we met at RecentChangesCamp.
  • Relevant LinkedIn communities.
  • weget developer community.
  • identi.ca.  They have a lot of developers on the site who use it instead of Twitter.  It is smaller and more intimate.  It has a lot of open source advocates who like doing things for the greater good.

There are probably a few more places where we could have asked for help.  We could have used help creating a list or urls, screencapping sites, creating tools to automatically input the attained data into a usable format, and tools to make it easier for non-tech people to contribute.

The last component in the we cannot do it by ourselves and succeed is community support.  In our case, that community involves fandom.  We needed the community to help edit relevant articles to do deeper documentation on stub articles created by our core team and created with assistance from our tech team.  Sometimes in fandom, it is easy to get locked into a box of thinking of your corner as representative of everyone.  The more people we had, the smaller that box would have been.  We should have been more aggressive with our outreach to that community and to internet news and mainstream news sites that would have covered our project and helped us get greater exposure with our core audience.  Places we should have been more aggressive include:

  • wikiFur, Transformers Wiki, Futurama Wiki, Battlestar Galactica Wiki, Wikia, other fandom related wikis.  The content we created on Fan History that preserved the history of those fandoms could have been shared with them so everyone could have won.  If we had reached out.
  • Twitter.  We should have been tweeting damned near every fan person who mentioned Geocities on Twitter to beg for assistance.
  • Facebook, MySpace, Yahoo!Groups, Ning.  We didn’t reach out there at all.  Large fan communities exist on them and are ones that probably used Geocities.
  • Fanac Fan History Project and other science fiction historical projects.  They stood/stand to lose a lot of their own history too.  This includes convention reports, early histories of scifi fandom on Geocities, pictures, etc.
  • Fansites.  Lots of domain level fansites will plug meaningful projects.  They could have helped us get the word out, helped us to recruit people with this project.

We mostly tried to mobile through LiveJournal, through blogging outreach, on IRC, through contacts on the wiki community (Thank you ProjectOregon and AboutUs!) and our own personal network of acquaintances.  This wasn’t as successful as a method as it could have been.

Repeating: One person (or a small team) cannot do it all.  For this type of project to be successful, you need three things: Institutional support, technical support and community support.  If we hear that other sites are at risk in the future, we now know what needs to be done and better understand the consequences of failing.  We’ve learned an important lesson.

In the meantime, we’ve still got a lot of data that needs to be processed into the wiki into a usable format.  We could use some technical and community assistance in accomplishing that.  How do we get 3 gigs of screencaps uploaded?  What is the best way to upload 1,000 text files to a wiki?  Is there a way to scan those text files to make sure that they are what we think they are?  As a community member, can you help us improve articles we did create?  Can you help by improving descriptions on the screencaps we do have uploaded? We still need help.

Now, I’m going [maybe] to take a bit of a wiki break, data mining break, data processing break because I’ve pretty much been doing that straight through for the past week.

Largest fandoms by total number of wikis on Wikia

November 29th, 1999

We recently created a collection of articles about fandom related wikis on Wikia. The list isn’t complete as Wikia has over 24,000 wikis listed on their own internal list. Six to eight hours of data crunching left us exhausted and so we have about 8,000 or so wikis we haven’t looked at, couldn’t figure out how to handle the problem of ten wikis from the same fandom and language having the same name. That said, we can still give you an idea of some of the most popular fandoms to create wikis about. They are:

  1. Star Wars – 161+ wikis
  2. Pokemon – 135+ wikis
  3. Music wikis (not fandom specific) – 102+ wikis
  4. Movie wikis (not fandom specific) – 100+ wikis
  5. Runsescape – 91+ wikis
  6. Naruto – 88+ wikis
  7. Warcraft – 84+ wikis
  8. Nintendo (non fandom specific) – 75+ wikis
  9. Anime (non fandom specific) – 70+ wikis
  10. Halo – 66+ wikis
  11. Club Penguin – 62+ wikis
  12. Yu-Gi-Oh – 59+ wikis
  13. Dragon Ball – 48+ wikis
  14. Fan fiction (non fandom specific) – 46+ wikis
  15. LEGO (non fandom specific) – 45+ wikis
  16. Comics (non fandom specific) – 44+ wikis

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