User:Stephane Lo Presti/News/2013-02-08
News, information and questions – February 8, 2013
It’s been a long time and I’m sorry that I couldn’t get this update to the wiki community before today, due to a very busy month of January. It even feels late to wish all of you a happy new year ;) Brace yourselves for a very long update and let me know what you think! This is probably something worthy of a site notice announcement but I’ll let the sysops and bureaucrats decide.
Update of the wikis to MediaWiki 1.20
After weeks of technical discussions, we’ve agreed on a plan to update the MediaWiki software that powers all our wikis. We’re going to start this month to update MediaWiki to the latest version (1.20) and should be done at some point in March. This is going to take some time, due to the fact that our 5 wikis have different versions (English GW and GW2 on 1.16, while German, French and Spanish are on 1.17) and we’re going to update extensions (which will require some careful testing). At the end of this update process, we’ll deploy the Semantic MediaWiki bundle extension and fix the couple of existing bugs. (note that some of the topics I discuss in the remainder of this post would also happen much later down the road)
If the community feels that some technical elements should get a higher priority and be deployed faster (e.g., a particular bug fix, an extension), please get in touch with me via this new subpage created for the topic. It’s important that you explain why and back this with some relevant information. I’ll also keep everyone updated about the update on this page.
We also need some testers to help us with this update plan. To be a tester, you need to be an active editor and have a good knowledge of MediaWiki. You’ll also need to sign an NDA. You can submit an application for this on this new subpage created for the topic. Please indicate: what kind of editor experience you have on the wiki (including if you have specialized knowledge, e.g. use of particular extensions); if you have general testing experience; if you speak German, French or Spanish; if you have specific knowledge about wikis (templates, management, etc.) and any other relevant information. It is imperative that your message be concise.
Note: the German wiki is currently experiencing issues with, it appears, the DPL and Semantic MediaWiki extensions (see) and we’d like to know if editors from the other wikis have experienced something similar. Here are the symptoms to look for: you edit a page with DPL or SMW code and it takes a long time to display the result, ultimately generating an error page with code 502 or 503.
Quality of articles
After a little event we noticed last year (and a few others after that), I started wondering what the “quality” of our wikis are. Putting aside the subjective nature of the term and the fact that this wiki is powered by volunteers, this is something really important to wikis in the long term because of Featured Pages (a set of pages that is promoted in the main wiki page because of their quality). This could also allow us to more generally promote the wiki articles to the global GW2 community. For your information, the Community Team already has a “wiki box” defined on the new, redesigned Community section of our website and this will definitely help!
There are many ways this is can be tackled and here are a few coming from a more technical perspective:
- Use the MediaWiki extension FlaggedRevs; this extension requires that a team accepts edits before they become visible; this is obviously a very big and significant change for this wiki that will require a careful discussion and a clear consensus to be reached (in addition to a new team of volunteers needed to accept the edits);
- Use the MediaWiki extension Article Feedback; this extension allows readers to rate articles and provide quick feedback to the editors; the MediaWiki foundation explained that this extension is provenly increasing the quality of their articles (see );
- Focus on the Data aspect of the information posted on wikis: Wikipedia created a new wiki project called WikiData to gather all technical data in one place so that it can be conveniently used by all wikis; this could solve the issue of data being updated in the game and these changes not being reflected on the wiki; I’ve seen this issue happen once with gem price of some item for example (although I’m not sure if gem price should be on the wiki);
I’ll also mention that I’m already discussing ways we (ArenaNet) could help with that effort, although this may take a while to put together. Note that following a discussion with various editors and sysops, we clarified the fact that ArenaNet employees can edit the wiki to correct information. I’m advising our developers that edit the wiki (and hopefully we’ll get more) put a comment starting with “[ArenaNet edit]” in order to make clear that this is an “official” update and the information is accurate (at this point in time)
You may remember that in November we started sharing information about our Lost Shores update directly with the wiki, so as to “seed” the article for our new content (article that ended up being on the web page for the event). This went very well and we want to thank the wiki community for its work on this. We haven’t reiterated this effort because of the amount of effort required on our side, but it could happen again. I’ll keep everyone updated about this as soon as I’ve got something concrete I can share.
I’d like to hear what the community thinks about this. Feel free to drop ideas or comments on the this new subpage created for the topic. Bear in mind that it’s an important effort for our wikis which could directly benefit them.
Attract (and retain) editors
Another top topic for me this year will be to focus on attracting and retaining editors for our wikis. It’s a crucial aspect of any wiki. While a few very active editors can do (and have done) wonders, the wiki is a collective tool and its power is dependent on its subcommunity of editors. The stronger and bigger that subcommunity is, the better the wiki is and the more we can do. Keep in mind that specific numbers are not important, as the number of editors is something that constantly changes due to a variety of reasons (all editors have a life… and play Guild Wars 2!), but we have at one point to think about this.
Here are a few ideas to help us grow and better serve this subcommunity:
- The MediaWiki extension Article Feedback mentioned above; it could feed valuable information to editors and make readers take a more editor-like behavior (MediaWiki confirmed this is even turning readers into editors on Wikipedia: );
- The WikiMedia foundation (the organization taking care of the MediaWiki software and Wikipedia) is well underway with a project of a WYSIWIG (What You See Is What You Get) editor; this could make the life of many editors so much easier, in particular casual ones, and some readers may even want to try it;
- A redesign of the FAQ/Help center/How to help pages/ links in the left navbar is something we should be doing anyway, but if we focus on new and potential editors, we may make these tools more effective; the current community of editors probably don’t need it so much
- The needs of this community: that one is on me; while we’re getting a pretty good handle of what’s needed on the technical side, it’s difficult to say what editors need in the absolute; this process happens organically on the wiki, from editors to sysops/bureaucrats and then to us, but this chaotic process may mean that some needs are lost and we may want to create a formal process for this;
- Promotion of the wikis: this is a topic that we (ArenaNet and the Community Team in particular) already started discussing and we’re hoping to progressively increase our efforts in that direction; this topic is directly related to the previous section on “Quality of articles” as top articles will be easy for us to promote; this in turn will attract readers and some editors will be born (hopefully) out of these readers.
Let me know your thoughts, opinions, questions and ideas on this new subpage created for the topic.
The current visual design of the GW2 wiki is very close to the one of the GW2 websites. This reflects perfectly its official nature while still keeping this design original (thanks to Alfa-R and those who participated in the redesign). As you’ve probably seen, we have a link to the wiki at the top-left corner of our website and forums. But when players click these links, they end up on the wiki without an “integrated way back”, meaning that it breaks the “natural” navigation through websites. We think that the user experience may be improved if the wiki adopted our masthead (the navigation bar at the top of our webpages) and would like to gather the community’s opinion about this.
Note that we’re aware that this may be something difficult to achieve technically, due to designs inherently different between our websites and the wiki. But at least I hope we can investigate whether it’s possible. The web team provided me with the masthead file if someone wants to investigate (please contact me on my talk page).
Youtube and the wikis
I noticed that some (if not all) of the links to youtube videos have been deleted from articles. While this is non-standard content that has its own set of associated issues (longer to review the content that can’t be edited, external content, potential for abuse, can’t be edited, etc.), I’d like to discuss with the wiki community whether something can be done so that wiki articles can be enriched by video content. I do think that there can be a great value to videos complementing certain articles (jumping puzzles, legendaries, vistas, etc.). What do you think about, for example, using an extension that would only display videos from a particular youtube channel that would be managed by wiki people? Feel free to express your views on on my talk page.
List of other topics
I’ll list here more specific topics that are overall less important.
Thanks to TEF, the Fansites page was modified to lay the ground for more GW2 fansites to be listed. This is something that the GW2 Community Team would like to use at some point, so that we can point players to an extensive (even if incomplete) list of fansites to existing and new players. I’d like to spend some time on it at some point, but wanted to mention it here so that the project gets more traction. If you have some free editing time, we’d be grateful if you can lend a hand to the project.
New wiki for the pictures
This is an idea that spawned from the Wikimedia commons project. This particular wiki is a global repository of pictures that the other WikiMedia wikis can use. Since we currently have 4 GW2 wikis, we thought that such a project could be of great help. It may help us on the backend to sort out the multiple file repositories and could allow editors to benefit from the work of all 4 wikis. Let me know what you think about this idea on my talk page!
We re-enabled a few weeks ago the page counters that MediaWiki uses to count the number of access to various articles. For the background, this is a feature that is disabled on Wikipedia due to its inaccuracy (Wikipedia uses others means to look at access statistics) and we also disabled it because we thought that our caching mechanisms would render the counter values so inaccurate that it would be bad to display them.
We currently have some data to analyze and will compare these counters to the number of views obtained from Google Analytics software. An initial and quick examination of these numbers seemed to indicate that the difference between the two may not be as big as we thought, but it needs to be confirmed as this is not a reliable conclusion. We’ll do at some point a full examination of these numbers and will let the community know the result.
If these page counters are not accurate, we’ll consider alternatives (such as exporting some Google Analytics regularly). Let us know what your needs are.
GW2W twitter bot
The Guild Wars wiki had a twitter account (@GuildWarsWiki) that displayed regular updates about the new top-level information added to the wiki. Its creator ( poke) told me that he’ll be working at some point on an equivalent for the GW2 wiki. I’ll keep everyone updated about this, as I think it could be a very useful tool for everyone.
Currently the GW2 wiki’s default skin is the old and classic Monobook. Vector is a much more modern and elegant skin. What do people think of changing the default skin to Vector? Are there any design reasons not to, or pages that would be broken by this?
Global changelog page
We (ArenaNet) have done updates to the wiki, some of them undocumented. We’d like to create a page to document all the changes we’re making and keep the community updated about technical modifications. We’re open to suggestions on where to put this page.
I organized a while ago a WikiChat on IRC and it was a useful tool for discussing live issues and hot topics of the wiki. Given the length of this update, I’ve decided not to host one until we’ve progressed on the topics raised here. I’m open to the idea of holding several WikiChats on specific topics if the community feels it’s more convenient or the appropriate approach
GW2 wiki mobile application
A few GW2 wiki editors started a while ago a project to develop a mobile application for browsing the GW2 wiki. They’re very close to releasing their first version and I’ll promote their work. Keep an eye on this for future updates.
Last but not the least
My last word is that ArenaNet would like to thank the editors of the wiki for the incredibly valuable work that you’re doing to document our game and keep this site organized, up-to-date and generally a fun place! Every single day, tons of players frequent these wikis and find valuable information that you created. The wikis continue to grow at a great rate. We will continue to support this site and its community, and are looking forward to work with you. ^_^