Posts Tagged ‘wikis’

After Lawsuit Threat, LyricWiki Is With Wikia

September 23rd, 2009

Written by Nile Flores (@blondishnet on Twitter)

A recent article in The Register called US music publishers sue online lyrics sites. TechDirt also covered this in their article Music Publishers Now Suing Lyrics Sites And Their Execs. One of the sites included was LyricWiki. Basically this lawsuit would shove the site in with those who burn and sell music without a license.

Also, recently Wikia acquired LyricWiki. As explained in their LyricWiki:Wikia Migration FAQ:

The dream will live on – Yay! Wikia has arranged a licensing deal so that royalties can be paid to music publishers, which will avoid the nasty risk of the site being sued out of existence. It’s good to know that our years of hard work won’t be evaporating any time soon! This is a gigantic relief for me and I’m sure many of you as well.

It is unfortunate to hear such things have to happen to some sites. I am willing to bet it was more for the money to sue in these economic times, rather than to stick it to another for copyright infringement. With so many sites out there that involve lyrics.

No offense, but when I go to a lyrics site, I am usually thinking of a tune or maybe a friend asked and here I am searching to find the song. Not all artists print their lyrics within their albums. I know, I have quite a few CDs on my shelf to prove that. So – these lyrics sites are really useful. Some of these lyrics sites I have gone to for years have been open for over a decade. How is a .ORG site (which technically by definition means the site is not really for profit) actually profitting from this?

As Michael Masnick said in his Techdirt article about his opinion on these lyric sites being sued.

I’d really like to see them prove that. These sites aren’t profiting off the backs of songwriters, they’re helping more people find and understand the lyrics of songs they like. That gives fans a closer connection to the music and more reason to buy things which will actually bring songwriters money. It’s stunning how shortsighted and backwards the music publishers are being here.

Although it has been said years ago that it was indeed illegal to do such, these sites have been harmless. Anyway…

For me to LyricWiki, I guess it kind of was a forced move to go to Wikia. Myself, I probably would have done the same if faced with being sued and the licensing price alone was insanely expensive. Sorry to hear about it – may Wikia not kill your site.

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.

Question and answer:

June 23rd, 2009

I recieved an e-mail.  It basically asked the following question: I want to contribute to an article but I’m hesitant because I might be biased.  How can I still edit?

My answer:
1.  Comment on the talk page before editing to say that you’re trying to be as neutral as possible and ask others to help check your edits to make sure they are neutral.  (It demonstrates good faith on your part and is  signal to admins that you’re trying.)
2.  Where you know you can’t be unbiased, create a section that says “MY NAME’s perspective’, at the top of that section, put {{MP}} and follow the directions outlined at http://www.fanhistory.com/wiki/Help:Multiple_perspectives .
3.  When you’re editing in, comment using <!– to explain what you’re doing in the article’s source code to explain your opinion in the text.
4.  Screen cap and cite everywhere to make your point.  If quoting, try to avoid taking things out of context.  Try to quote primary sources when you can.
5.  If an administrator comments on the edit, respond back and try to work with them.  If some one later has an issue with the edits, we’ll have a record of what happened.  It makes resolving potential conflict easier.
6.  Don’t fret too much if you’re concerned about bias.  People who are self aware of bias and work towards trying to make sure they are not being biased tend to be less biased.

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. :)

yourwiki.net

June 16th, 2009

I love irc.  I love irc.freenode.net.  There are a number of wiki related chat rooms on there and a month or so ago, an acquaintence introduced me to yourwiki.net.  It is a wiki hosting company that is run by a couple of friends.  At the moment, they are pretty small and they aren’t focused on making money.  Rather, they are focused on offering great support that being a small wiki host allows them.

yourwiki.net is a traditional wiki farm of sorts in that there is a shared user base across multiple wikis.   This is similar to how PBWiki and Wikia work.  This can be great for community building on your wiki because there is a larger pool of contributors from which you can edit.

They currently make some money with google ads.  None of them are in the content area.  In the near future, they will be launching premium accounts so you can have an ad free wiki.

If you’re looking for a first wiki and don’t want to pay for hosting, this is an option you might want to consider.  The directs below are from their About page and tell you how to get a new wiki:

First, you’ll need to Login or Create an Account so we can keep track of who owns the wiki. After you have done that, you may request a wiki on Meta Wiki, our collaboration site about YourWiki. If you cannot create an account for whatever reason, just send us an e-mail and we’ll work with you; Just send us a preferred username.

If a big wiki is impractical for a small subject you want to write on, then you can create a Mini Wiki. Mini Wikis can be created by anyone. Although they aren’t full wikis, they’re still perfect to use for small public projects.

If anyone else knows wiki projects like yourwiki.net worth supporting, drop me an e-mail and I can happily plug.

PRESS RELEASE: Fan History is Breaking Wiki Size Barriers

June 6th, 2009

In May 2009, Fan History became the biggest MediaWiki-based wiki that is not affiliated with the Wikimedia Foundation.

Sleepy Hollow, Illinois – If you are looking for information about fans and all the activities they engage in, you need to check out Fan History Wiki located at http://www.fanhistory.com/ . In May 2009, in trying to become the best resource of its kind, Fan History became the biggest MediaWiki-based wiki that is not part of the Wikimedia Foundation with over 750,000 articles.

Fan History’s accomplishment has been several years in the making.  Since May 2006, the project has been working on documenting the history of fan communities.  Fan History started with some basic history information that had originally been found on FanFiction.Net.  The focus had been on media fandom and fan fiction.  In 2007, the focus changed and became broader and less focused on fan fiction.  In 2008, Fan History created a directory of members of the fan community and added over half a million articles in the process of doing that.  Fan History also added statistical information that updates daily; the wiki tracks the growth of fan fiction and LiveJournal communities representing over 4,000 television shows, anime shows, musical groups, actors and video games.  In 2009, Fan History continued its expansion and breadth of topics covered.  This was done by adding articles about fanzines, musical groups, movies and episodes of television. At every step, the fandom community responded, helped improve many of our stubs and added new content.

Fan History’s place as the biggest wiki of its kind is good news for those seeking to document the history of fandom.  The size of the wiki has led to an increase in traffic and number of contributors.  It has meant that important or interesting things in fandom have been documented for others to learn from.  This includes covering events such as the kerfuffle over Russet Noon in the Twilight fan community, how Dreamwidth Studios was viewed within the LiveJournal fan community, on going issues related to racism in fandom, how Police fans responded to the concert tour, and the current and past role of fanzines in fandom.   Many of these events are not covered elsewhere.  The current size and scope of the project makes this possible where other wikis and projects not in wiki format cannot.

For a list of the largest MediaWikis, see http://s23.org/wikistats/largest_html.php .

About Fan History LLC:

Fan History is a collaborative project like none other currently serving the fandom community. Its core function is as a wiki which allows members of fandom – men and women, young and old – to actively participate in documenting the history of their various fandoms, share current news which may impact their experiences, as well as creating an easily searchable web index of related communities, projects, and activities. It gives members of fandom a chance to share current fandom news that may impact people’s experiences in fandom. Fan History users can also promote their own creative projects, and share opinions with fellow fans and alert them to scams and questionable practices encountered within fandom. By providing these resources, Fan History allows users to celebrate their activities, whichever corner of fandom they come from: anime, cartoons, comics, movies, politics, radio, science fiction, sports, television, theater, and video games.

wiki.name.com: Dear WebUpon, Not a threat

May 23rd, 2009

This morning, I was reading WebUpon’s article about wiki.name.com. I think the author is a little bit paranoid.

If you haven’t heard of name.com, they are domain registrar. They have a wiki, which is described as follows:

Welcome to WikiName, the name encyclopedia that you can edit. It’s all about names – name meanings, name origins, name variants – you name it. We’ve got information about baby names, brand names, and all kinds of names. Currently, we’re even compiling a list of every name in the world! This free name resource is powered, inspired and maintained by the community friendly domain registrar, Name.com. Please join our effort by writing about a name subject not yet covered, or adding to an existing article. Muchas gracias.

They have about 9,854 content pages and 4,429,633 total pages. That’s a lot of people potentially swept up in that wiki. The WebUpon article characterizes it as follows:

It’s sounds great doesn’t? Not so fast, because if you have ever published, blogged or used your name on the internet, it could be dangerous for you career wise. If there is only one listing for your name, it may also list your city and age, especially if you have google adsense or are listed on classmates.com. They offer the name for purchase as a domain; all for the low cost of $8.99.

This is just a bit too paranoid. Name.Com is a domain registrar. You’ve always been able to buy domains related to your name since domain names first became available. People have always been able to buy yours. I don’t particularly see what Name.Com is doing as unethical in this regards.

As for the information about you that might end up on a wiki article like Bob Smith? Name.Com’s bot that generates these wiki articles is pulling up only publicly available information. At first glance, this appears to almost be just a wiki version of Pipl, a people search engine. It has similar aggregate data like links to LinkedIn, Twitter and other social networking sites. The only major difference that I can see is that you can edit the page which has your name and there are advertisements to buy domain names that relate to your name on said article.

Concern about pedophiles hijacking your name and ruining it are one thing, but wiki.name.com doesn’t facilitate it. It is just one more site where you need to monitor for the sake of your online reputation. wiki.name.com doesn’t change the picture at all. This type of content has been around for a few years now. The searchability of your name has been around for years. If you’re that concerned about pedophiles using your name and killing your career, monitor the Pipl search, the wiki.name.com page, set up google alerts. It is up to you to protect your privacy by not giving sites like wiki.name.com that information to begin with through online posting.

Riding the wikiHow bus…

May 19th, 2009

I love wikiHow and the community there. As a result, I spend a lot of time in their irc chat room. The artwork below was posted by Dvortygirl as a thank you to another contributor and I really love it and wanted to share it with others because it really expresses what I love about wikis (and wikiHow).

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.

#rcc09 Moving on

February 22nd, 2009

Session notes:

Wikis can fail quickly. One or two people do work and then they abandon it. If a wiki doesn’t work, they get abandoned. It can be a social problem because of the software.

People can also leave because the rules or social climate change and that is a distinctly non-wiki thinking.

Wikis are often talked about in terms of organic things like wiki gardening. We call inactive wikis dead wikis.

Some times people do less wiki work as they move on. Sometimes with open source, things die because the creator refuses to turn things over to others in order to keep the project on.

Some people move on and have emotional issues with that regarding backing off.

People need to have a way to deal with possible absence of key staff members for a wiki.

Often you have a small group of people who run the show and get emotional over criticism because they understand everything going on on the inside. And then you have people on the outside criticising. They dont necessarily know. How do you bring that group in to the leadership?

There is a power curve of where there is often a group of one leader for seven people.

People understand the fact that people get tired and move on in the wiki community. It can help change certain dynamics because people know they are willing to do things.

RecentChangesCamp has had a lot of turn over with who ran the event. There is only one real volunteer who helped so lots of support and that was Mark Dilley. It kind of shows that wiki philosophy of allowing people to come forward.

Projects can be really slow for years and then massively scale in a short period of time. It can create really problems. It can be a reason why you need transparency in your actions to allow people to come in and fit in, get tasks to do, etc.

Things happen because some one days let’s go there. You can’t do that unless some one is willing to step forward to go through the door and take that first step.

Make sure that you systematically pair up with people to run a project. Question of should you pick a person to take over OR have that person rise up in to a leadership position?

What keeps people involved? Is it passion or skills? Is it desire or skill?

You need that one person in a group to help you keep something from falling apart.

It is okay to fail. You learn from failure. You learn from the process of failing. It isn’t always a reflection on you.

Maybe we need a wiki camp to preserve and revive dead wikis so the knowledge is preserved.

There is some one on a wiki who is ultimately responsible. There is a curve and you can’t get away from it with wikis.

EncyclopediaDramatica is an interesting case where moderators probably don’t burn out as much because of the nature of it.

Wikis are better at knowledge systems than a lot of other systems because they have the social problems being really visible. With Drupal, you can hide certain social problems where they don’t have to be addressed right away because you can get filters, etc.

Wikis seem like a step up in terms of the evolution of human interaction.

Platforms are really changing right now. It is a great time to be living in.

Things that are changing right now in open source and wikis is that it is okay to take it seriously. Technology makes things more serious and adds legitimacy for things in ways that they didn’t do it before. You can treat topics more seriously in a wiki than you could otherwise.

We’re at a stage where people can put time and energy in a way that they might not have done before because of that. They can turn it into a career and it isn’t viewed as unacceptable as they are moving up.

The guy from meatball wiki is a case of a guy who left wikis to go to accounting and we lost a great resource in the wiki community. It might be viewed as a waste because we lost knowledge. It could also be a good thing showing that we can move on and do it successfully, translate those skills.

SocialText founder has sort of moved beyond wikis but the philosophy of wikis still underlines his projects and life. He is involved but not as visible.

Wiki burnout happens because wiki work is now done. You can always work on it and nagging feeling that you’re not doing that.

As a leader, you have to decide what you will and won’t do that. You also need to give space for other people to do that.

For Fan History, this is done with Tikatu monitoring Recent Changes and handling policy regarding how to handle changes because that it NOT my job.

#rcc09 Wikis as Business

February 21st, 2009

Taking notes as a presentation by Evan on wikis as business because I am not facilitating this session. Some random thoughts from this:

Introducing money into the equation can change the dynamics of a wiki community.

There is a fear that the wiki maintainer will profit off other people’s work. Wiki maintainers and owners need to really work on it so that they treat their contributors with respect, help with administration and provide services to the community. Communities need to own the project. The company owns the website.

One wiki model that has worked is doing wiki farms but it isn’t really a software business in an interesting way because it doesn’t have the content issue and the community issues in that way.

This may pose a question regarding a business model that is viable. How can you make it a successful business if you can’t generate revenue just through advertising?

Ways to do that? Let the community pay for the platform… That may work well in some places but people are like “Why should I pay for the privilege of working for you?”

Google Advertising can remove value because the value ends up only being in the words. Possible way is to go directly to the advertiser. It helps improve your return on advertising.

Display Revenue takes a lot more organizational work than Google Revenue.

For a site like vinismo, direct advertising may work really well because the content is very focused in its content and mission.

WikiTravel declared that the far right column is for advertising. The ads didn’t appear in the wiki content.

WikiTravel also generates revenue through being able to print up physical version in a condensed version for people to use in another medium where they sell that printed version.

Most of the editors for the print version come from the WikiTravel community. They get hired for the print version. Being hired for wikitravel from with in the community helps maintain the community.

Books cost between $12.95 and $25 and you get the most up to date version.

Other mediums are about brand extension.

Yellow Wikis got shut down because of trademark but they were similar to the yellow pages. Their business model was that businesses could pay to protect their page. It was partially succesful. It might have moved to Wikia.

There is a question of if paying for ownership of a topic can be done in an ethical.

AboutUs pays for the article to be written, the article to be featured, etc. Companies get follow links when they pay. (But everyone who does constructive edits gets their links turned on to follow. That is manually being done. That policy is still in the air.) The main page rank has a lot of good page rank so that they have good reason to pay in some reasons.

There was a business that did a pay for improving articles on Wikipedia. The business that did that kind of got shut down because while they had the know how to write good edits on Wikipedia, the business didn’t interact well with the Wikipedia community.

Some people still do paid article writing on Wikipedia. They just aren’t as obvious as about it, are good communities, etc.

If you can show value to the community, that you aren’t taking anything away from the community, then it makes sense to do some monetization.

Three basic components to monetize: 1) Software, 2) Content & Advertising services, 3) People side and how to wiki. (Steven Walling.)

Dream Fish does a collaboration and co-working consulting business that is about establishing a collaboration culture. It is about practicing together. There is a paid content fee for some types of content. They help them find the appropriate wiki software to help them serve their goal. They help them figure out how they want to network and use collaborative tools. They also help people identify key people to help them implement their solution.

Steward Meyner does wiki consulting.

Microsoft has tried to put out white papers on how they use wikis.

Portland created a wiki and later didn’t realize what they wanted to do with their wiki. They ended up backtracking because of that as a result.

There is a need for a wiki for wiki consultants where you can get reputation, years of experience and involvement with types of software.

Wiki is great for content based websites. It can be more cost effective with users generating content.

GoogleAds wasn’t something that AboutUs originally feel was going to pan out but now they have changed their view because it now works and their Google Ads and they make money. It helps because they have really broad ads which works pulls them up which Google Ads helps serves up. They are also helped because they get a lot of traffic. They tried content categories for niche sales but for AboutUs it really hasn’t worked well so far. AboutUs thinks that Google Ads works well for random content where they can’t really target. It can be hard to sell specific ads for sections because it takes time and effort and people to sell ads across those categories.

wikiHow has a very similar model to AboutUs. That works really well for wikiHow.

LeadGen is a model about selling the ability to do surveys where the company does polls that they then sell that polling information to marketing companies. Leads can be worth $30 to $40. AboutUs learned about it from All Star Directory. That site has a lot of information about colleges and universities. People fill out forms with the expectation of being contacted about that information. It is online research, offline purchase. It can remove some of those issues involving community as your community isn’t going to get ad information they don’t ask for.

Wagn is a company that gets paid to host and doing consulting services related to the wiki they are hosting. Wagn doesn’t have wiki competitor because of what they are doing.

Mahalo has a micropayment service to reward for contributors where they can monetize it off. This might not work for everyone as people can be corrupted by reward. Alfie Cone did some research where kids were paid to play games and some were not. The kids who got paid stopped playing with toys when they told they were done. People get different things out of an altruistic activity. You need to consider some of that when you try things like that.

Evan doesn’t see wiki software business as much different than other software selling businesses. The only thing that might be different is the admin type function.

Wikia pays people to do some of that community maintenance. But that feels like doing it just to help generate community. Wikia also pays for wikis. They use a selling point of helping with community moderation to help prevent fights.

Wagn has a possible selling point of maintaining things so that people wn’t have to worry about becoming them next magnolia. The person can have back ups easier than other places. Wagn can also sell on having structured data and yet behind collaborative. They can also show that they need to sell that the content can’t be behind a firewall because their software is so great. They also help people to help them wagneering/wikibuilding which helps those users get greater ownership in house.

Ward Cunningham was told with in a week that he should patent the wiki idea. He didn’t necessarily see a way to patent it with out a wiki community being active. He didn’t see a business model off the first wikis. A few years later, he talked to entrepreneurs who paid him to do consulting and customer support where he found that it could make money in that way in terms of live organizational support and structuring. But the amount of support wasn’t necessarily right as it required almost a job to do that he wasn’t interested in. He now gives wikis to people for free. Ward calls his software The Wiki or more properly, Wiki Version 4. His big wiki is currently on Wiki Version 1. Wiki Version 4 is more modular. Ward did explore potential when was at its peak to sell the wiki. He talked to some people, went through some friends and some people might have been interested but the people interested would only have paid for the code based on how much it would have cost for the company to create the software themselves. The potential buyers were not interested in the community built on the site. Ward has made some money off Amazon Associated from the sale of books. He also makes money off the business card. He has never gotten any consulting work off of his wiki work… which is wow as he invented wikis. That might have been because he highballed the price. He was competing against Lotus Notes. The competitor might have looked at it as Lotus Notes vs. lone consultant and the end users doing the asking because they wanted to avoid Lotus Notes. The higher ups weren’t as interested in the user experience.

Are we hard wired to get personal gratification for being altruistic? Can that be used to make wikis better? Maybe wikis can be used to help prevent donor fatigue.

Some people may be hard wired to give and people might be emotionally hurt if they don’t give.

How would be work differently if that isn’t hard wired but cultural? Maybe it wouldn’t make a difference at all.

People might be financially rewarded for what they are passionate about. Though that might actually be hard to monetize.

Ward Cunningham didn’t worry about money as much when perusing his passion. He might not have been positioned as well connection wise in order to make money.

Wiki might not have been positioned correctly to get patented because when done it might have been viewed as something like herding chickens.

The idea for patents is to encourage innovation but it might not do that because it encourages people to work in isolation. Rather, all it does is encourage people to make a business model around an idea.

#rcc09 : Welcoming on wikis and edits

February 21st, 2009

I missed the presentation by wikiHow that talked about welcoming on wikis but I heard about it later when a small group from wikiHow and a few tag alongs like myself went to dinner.   If you’re not aware of it, welcoming on wikis is when people are welcomed to the wiki after they make their first contribution or register for an account.   Some of the wiki people I know do this because they think it helps to build community which in turn translates into additional edits to the wiki.  As wikis need edits to improve their content, this is really important.  Wikis should always be looking for ways to convert edits.

At the session, wikiHow apparently talked about the effect of welcoming and their conversion rate in terms of helping to get more edits.  They did a student on the topic in fact.  They found that welcoming people to a wiki did not have a relationship to people’s edit totals or likelihood to edit more.  (I wasn’t there so I am probably missing more of it.)

That’s kind of interesting as I know of a number of wikis that try that including AboutUs, EncyclopediaDramatica, wikiHow and some wikis on Wikia.  We’ve never really done it on Fan History because we couldn’t figure out how to automate the process and most people seemed to come in, edit their article and that was it.  Why waste the energy on it?  But at the same time, all these other wikis were doing it.   It seemed ingrained in wiki culture.  Why not do it?  Are we just being lazy?  It feels kind of nice o be redeemed and know it doesn’t necessarily help in terms of community development.

I would be kind of interested to learn why it doesn’t convert to additional edits though.  Is the lack of conversion a result of how people view wikis?  Possibly not as a community?  Is it because people who want to edit will edit no matter what and some people just edit here and there because of subject matter expertise?  Lots of reasons probably and I want to learn more. :)

Templates are not mandatory but blanking is still vandalism…

February 11th, 2009

Over on the wiki today, we had a contributor blank a number of articles related to the Rescue Rangers fandom and then set up redirects to the Rangerphiles wikis with an explanation of “Since templates are not mandatory, and the Ranger Wiki carries a lot more information about CDRR fans, I changed this article into a Ranger Wiki redirect.” Needless to say, these edits were immediately rolled back and the contributor was banned.

Templates on Fan History are NOT mandatory. We use them because we’ve found that they increase the number of contributions that we get. People feel more comfortable editing articles when they have an established framework to contribute to. The templates also help give an idea as to how we organize, what is and isn’t allowed, where emphasis on the wiki is placed. Sometimes, people who know wikis really well come in and remove our template format. So long as they keep the information, that’s fine. The article about Elwin Blaine Coldiron is a great example of that.

But you cannot just blank an article and say that information is available elsewhere. It doesn’t work like that. Blanking is vandalism. And while YAY! GO YOU! AND YOUR FANDOM’S EFFORTS TO DOCUMENT ITS OWN HISTORY!, that doesn’t mean you can vandalize a wiki, violate its rules in order to promote your own project. And you most certainly can’t use a redirect to try to get our traffic. A redirect should be for wiki articles on our site only. Otherwise, that redirect implies a relationship between our project that doesn’t exist. If you want that, you let us know.

We have relationships with other sites and other wikis where shared documentation goes on. (Police Wiki is our biggest and most important relationship.) We don’t redirect. We MIRROR content and we have article boxes on top of those articles that say the content is mirrored. We have different audiences, different purposes, different rules… and those mirrored articles are based on a relationship where both wikis are willing to play by the same set of rules for those articles.

What was done, blanking and redirecting to an off site wiki, amounts to a form of black hat wiki promoting. We normally would probably ban for two weeks. This particular user was banned permanently. He’s edited before. He should know better. And if you want to promote your wiki (or any site for that matter) on Fan History, there are a lot of ways to do that. You can put in a see also section for interwiki links. You can add links in the external links section. You can put an article box on the top, saying that this series of articles is being jointly worked on on Fan History and your wiki. You can cite your own wiki all over the article.

Templates aren’t mandatory. Promoting your wiki is fine. Citing first hand sources is awesome. But blanking is still vandalism and redirecting is still black hat promoting. Also, it annoys us.

RecentChangesCamp 2009: Your Invitation! (we would enjoy you being here)

January 8th, 2009

This is a cross post from the RecentChangesCamp site/wiki.

“When? Where? I want in!”


February 20-22, 2009

University Place Hotel, Portland State University, Portland, OR

Add your name to the list of attendees.

We’ll convene on at the Univeristy Place Hotel on the Portland State University campus Friday morning (February 20) and wrap-up Sunday afternoon (February 22). There is no cost to participate other than transportation, just  We may even be able to help you find lodging.

“Give me more!”

Recent Changes Camp was born from the intersection of wiki and Open Space. Going far beyond technology, we’re interested in wiki culture and other networks/groups/etc. that share many of the values implicit in it — from cultural creatives, to public participation and free culture advocates. If you use a wiki or you value open collaboration, Recent Changes Camp is created for you. RCC is about openness and inclusion, collaboration and community, creativity and flow. Further down this page you can check out a sampling of sessions we’ve enjoyed in the past, along with pictures and videos from previous events.

This unconference/BarCamp has been held at least once every year since 2006 (and twice in 2007). Unlike a conventional conference, where everything’s pre-planned and structured, RecentChangesCamp is a gathering where we decide for ourselves what we’re going to get out of it by offering sessions on whatever we want. There’s no agenda until we make it up! Now, that might sound a bit chaotic if you’re never been to this type of gathering, but be prepared to be surprised at how much people can learn and create when they collaborate spontaneously.

With an emergent agenda, it can be hard to describe specifically what you will get from participating in Recent Changes Camp. In large part, that is up to you to be responsible for. Participants often say greater sense of wiki community, broader sense of wiki way and wiki tools, or more excitement about the our future together as well as inspiration and discovery. Conversations at 2006 Portland RCC generated the wiki-ish tool used to organize 2009 Portland RCC.

Sessions covering an array of interests

At Recent Changes Camp, everybody is welcomed. You don’t need to be an expert on anything, and you certainly don’t need to consider yourself a geek. Collaboration thrives on diversity! All you need to bring is an open mind, and a willingness to participate, whether by teaching or by taking an active role in discussions. And, don’t forget, an unconference is what we make it, so let’s make it enlightening and fun.

Gallery of Good Times

A 2008 session on structured wiki

The schedule wall

John Abbe describing Open Space

See more photos tagged recentchangescamp at Flickr.

RCC in Motion

Documentary of the 2006 RecentChangesCamp, shot and edited in-camera by Geri Weis-Corbley (of the GoodNewsNetwork) to great effect. Part one:

Part two:

Video from RoCoCo (Montréal 2007):

Testimonials and earlier invitations

  • RoCoCo was great! I met a lot of other people working on some really awesome wiki projects who had a lot of respect for wikiHow and were dealing with many of the same issues we’re dealing with here. The conference is user-generated, which meant that the talks were interactive discussions…I highly recommend people go if they get the chance…” —Nicole Willson
  • “It was great, everyone there had the wikiLove and was very pleasant, it really sounded like they all read How to Have a Great Conversation. There was a few unconferences about how we can use technology to obtain other goals, too. Things like activism were explained through technology, even tho it is in its own partly against technology.” —Nadon
  • “I went primarily to meet other wikiHow people, and this was amazing. But what I did not realize was that the OTHER attendees would be fascinating and passionate about wikis and that they would have so many ideas about how to use wikis for all kinds of things. Anyone looking for a little inspiration in life may wish to sign up and attend the next wikiHow event. Great for the creative juices……….” —KnowItSome

Invitation from: 2008 Palo Alto | 2007 Montreál French (English) | 2007 Portland | 2006 Portland

So are you going to be there or what? Put your name on the attendees list!

Congratulations to Encyclopedia Dramatica!

December 17th, 2008

In the Open Web Awards, I spent a lot of time voting for WikiHow and EncyclopediaDramatica. I was really happy to see that EncyclopediaDramatica won. My friends and Fan History’s tech guy really enjoy the site… at least in terms of content. There are also a lot of interesting articles over there, including one about Fan History. So yeah. Congrats to ED. Congrats to WikiHow too. You guys also rock!

Writing WoWWiki: Online Collaborative Composition in a Fan Community

November 9th, 2008

Writing WoWWiki: Online Collaborative Composition in a Fan Community is a dissertation written by University of Wisconsin, Madison students that looks at what the title suggests it looks at. If you’re interested in wikis and fan communities, this might be worth giving a read.

RecentChangesCamp 2009

October 27th, 2008

Fan History is going to RecentChangesCamp again this year. If you love wikis, I can’t say enough good things about this gathering and you should go! The 2009 gathering is being held in Portland, Oregon from February 20 to February 22. (If you’re possibly coming from out of town, let me know and we can see about sharing a hotel room.)

If you’re not familiar with RecentChangesCamp, it is a wiki conference that uses the open space model in terms of organizing the conference, determining the programming tracks, etc. It means that everyone who attends has an investment in it and if there is a wiki related issue that you have a pressing need to discuss with people, you can most definitely do it here.

At last year’s RCC, there were people from WikiHow, Wikia, AboutUs, WikiTravel, Fan History, Wikipedia, academic institutions who used wikis, WikInvest, Vinismo, SocialText, a debate wiki, and more. I learned a lot from the people who attended.

This year, I’d really, really love to see more fandom wiki people show up. There are some unique issues that fandom people can have to deal with that would be great to discuss with other fandom people. How do you handle mentioning members of fandom? What are the copyright issues that fans should be aware of? What corporations should fans be careful of in terms of intellectual property when creating their wiki? How do you develop an audience for your fandom specific wiki? Who can you talk with about wikis to get guidance when things don’t look good? How good of a model is Wikipedia for fandom? Is wiki code too big of a barrier to entry to get large scale participation among the general fandom population? How can you avoid wank on your wiki? What are fun things you’ve learned about fandom as a result of working on your wiki? Can you play an active role in your wiki or is there too much fandom liability for the creator to be the major editor of it? How can wikis be used in the fan communities and on existing fan sites? Yes, a lot of these questions apply to the wiki community as a whole but fandom politics can give some of these issues interesting twists.

If you’re thinking of attending, yay! Please let me know. Maybe we can create a mailing list for fandom wiki people in the run up to RCC, get together before the RCC for lunch or something else to help really start developing fandom oriented wiki networking so that we can begin to get a good support group in place.

Wagn

September 5th, 2008

Today, I saw a demo of wagn, a new wiki engine. It is an interesting interface and might really be of interest to some one looking for a database type solution while wanting all the benefits of a wiki.

#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.

Thoughts on Wikia and Dreamwidth Studios

June 12th, 2008

That sounds interesting but at the same time, this comment gives me pause and I wonder about the long term funding and growth. It seems like they have a good team, a good plan but so many things happen in fandom.

I’m also watching the Wikia situation closely. It does really demonstrate that classic web paradox: You need a lot of money to launch. You probably can’t monetize right way. Monetization comes after you have the user base. The user base creates the content for which you’re able to monetize. In exchange, unless you’re doing a service like LinkedIn which is reliant upon contribution, the user gets “free” web hosting and related services. The site has to answer to both parties. Sometimes, the users will get what they see as the short end of the stick in order for the other parts of this system to get what they need. Sometimes, the investors/advertisers will have to do what they don’t want to do in order to maintain the balance. The company, maintainer, website, fan is in the middle, having to figure out how they can please both, or who they can afford to offend in order to meet their own goals and objectives.

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