Doom Wiki transition post-mortem

Now that it's been an incredible three years since we made our content dump of the Doom Wiki at its prior host, I thought I'd go over the situation in retrospect and see how clear it has become that the right decision was made and whether or not the project has been successful.

First and foremost I have to start off by talking about how the situation on Wikia has only deteriorated since we left, particularly since some of the debate at the time of the fork was over whether or not they should be given time to refine the then-so-called "Oasis" skin, which later just became "Wikia". I'll just list out some of the myriad ways in which it has not been improved, but rather made much worse since the split:

  • Image attributions, telling who uploaded a picture rather than who created it, along with a big bright "Add a photo" button on every page, encourage mass addition of media without regard to copyright status.
  • Clicking on actual images no longer takes one to the image's data page but instead to an intermediate gallery. While attempting to cycle through such galleries, images will at random be replaced with ads (even if you have adblock, you get an empty ad page). You must then do a couple additional clicks to actually get to an image's File namespace article.
  • User avatars, forums, and blogs, which don't fit a wiki's purpose or mission, and can't be seamlessly controlled by the moderators.
  • Floating bar at the bottom pushes popup messages on every page hit and takes up more screen real estate that tries to guide the user away from the wiki they're browsing.
  • Direct control. Wikia's answer to us moving was to assign several staff members to take over the old wiki.
  • All external links hit a redirect page that makes sure to show you more ads (or waste-of-time blank space if you have a blocker).
  • "Read more" section automatically generated for every article, can't be controlled, and usurps user-created categorizations and "see also" lists. Often links to things not related, makes arbitrary use of an image off each page that is chosen to represent that article, sometimes with humorous results.
  • WYSIWYG editor which is now the default, lowers the bar of entry to monkey-banging-on-keyboard level. Still generates horrendously broken wiki code in many circumstances, and what you see is NOT always what you get, leading to terribly broken edits.
No questions here. Some of the things I've seen, on the old Doom wiki and on other Wikia sites, surpass even my wildest, darkest conjectures about how things were going to go four years ago.

How are we doing on the new wiki? Edit rates are up, spam is well-controlled, article quality is generally increasing slowly but surely. SEO has had some dramatic ups and downs but it appears we are starting to win out for many types of queries on Google - a few I've done in the past week have *only* returned hits for doomwiki.org, meaning we have some unique, valuable content to offer, and that my own and others' directed efforts toward that end are paying off.

I feel like external recognition is still low, though. A lot of people who are only on the fringe of the community, or outside it entirely, that I've interacted with aren't aware of the new wiki and haven't heard any of the history about why it exists.

For the future I think there is still a lot of work for those of us actively involved to do, but I feel like it has overall been a great success.

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A big thanks to everyone who contributes to the wiki! I know I appreciate it and it's nice to see so many daily additions and fixes.

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I'm not a particularly heavy user of the Wiki so when I want to find something on it, I usually just google terms that I know are likely to be on the page. Almost all of the time, the links that come up are Wikia links. I usually have to scroll quite far down, even on to the next page, before I find a Doom Wiki link, assuming that I get one at all.

As a result, I often just go to the Wikia links because, 9 times out of 10, I just want to check something quickly. With adblock and noscript, the Wikia page is quite functional for me. I do usually scroll down the google search result page to see if I can spot a Doom Wiki alternative link but, if I don't see it quickly, I just hit one of the wikia links instead. I suspect that most casual users wouldn't even make that minimal effort to find a Doom Wiki link (many won't even know that there is an alternative).

All that being said, I fully appreciate that the Wikia page is fatally flawed and I very much applaud and appreciate the efforts that are being made to create and maintain the Doom Wiki. I also know that it is much better than the Wikia pages. I just wish it was easier to access when trying to find information in the manner that I usually look for it. I wonder why, even after what is a very long time on teh intarwebs, the Wikia site is still the one that flags up most commonly with google?

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One thing I do intermittently is to add "Doomwiki" at the end of a google search, which then auto-corrects it to "doom wiki", so I have to click to tell it "doomwiki" is correct, to get the correct result,

I wonder is this a constructive step to improve google's opinion of Doomwiki, and if this is done enough, will Google ever not auto-correct the spelling? Or should I instead use a Doomwiki bookmark to skip Google?

EDIT: similarly, searching "Halopedia" (who migrated around the time Doomwiki did) brings up the Halo Nation wikia page, with Halopedia as the 2nd place. Not all silver medals glitter.

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Enjay said:

I wonder why, even after what is a very long time on teh intarwebs, the Wikia site is still the one that flags up most commonly with google?

It's an unfortunate reality of Google's (in my opinion, highly flawed) PageRank algorithm used to rank search results: The Wikia site gets high traffic from Google searches because people usually just go to the first link provided, and the Wikia site is usually the first link provided because it gets high traffic from Google searches. It's quite the vicious cycle, and one that many independent wikis who have broken apart from Wikia similarly suffer from. I am an administrator on a Half-Life wiki who split from Wikia a while back, and I can echo Quasar's thoughts.

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phi108 said:

One thing I do intermittently is to add "Doomwiki" at the end of a google search

Try adding: doomwiki -wikia

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Enjay said:

I just wish it was easier to access when trying to find information in the manner that I usually look for it.

For most cases, bookmarking the webpage is a way of accessing the site easily. You could even have it in a bookmark toolbar for an even-easier access, if you want.

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Unfortunately, the solution people want is for their destination site to pop up first in google search. No parameters, no bookmarks, etc.

I keep my fingers crossed that Doomwiki.org will eventually beat wikia, I use the doomwiki and I thank everyone who contributes to it. Also, I think it has more information on Heretic and its sequels than its wikia equivalent :D

Revenant100 said:

I am an administrator on a Half-Life wiki who split from Wikia a while back, and I can echo Quasar's thoughts.


I never knew there was a wiki for HL different from wikia. Can you give me the address?

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Blue Shadow said:

For most cases, bookmarking the webpage is a way of accessing the site easily. You could even have it in a bookmark toolbar for an even-easier access, if you want.

In Firefox, you can transform any URL with a parameter in it into a search engine for the search bar. As far as Doom-related searches go, I have Doom Wiki, ZDoom Wiki, and doomworld/idgames database as search engines.
There's this to do that automatically, but it's also possible to do it manually with some XML editing.

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Generally when I need to access the wiki, I go to doomworld first, then go to the link from the home page. Google is becoming a piece of shit lately in regards to pinpoint internet navigation when youre constantly being magnetically directed to broad appeal websites.

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Blue Shadow said:

For most cases, bookmarking the webpage is a way of accessing the site easily. You could even have it in a bookmark toolbar for an even-easier access, if you want.


This is what I do. I just have it bookmarked and go straight there. I don't bother with search engines (in this case). Thanks to everyone who helps keep the wiki running!

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I think the doomwiki.org site will eventually surpass the old wikia, making it obsolete. And, as has been pointed out by Quasar, it may not take too long. It could be faster if it weren't for the laziest contributors (like me), but a lot of people are doing a great work there.

About the search stuff, if you can use a keyboard reasonably fast and don't mind spending a couple of seconds more, you could try "your search term" site:doomwiki.org. Works every time.

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I could maybe help out by throwing down Doomwiki links to map packs for reviews I've written, I dunno how much it'd help though, it took me forever to claw my way past various defunct PWAD review websites. The biggest barrier to filling out the map articles, which I started and quickly abandoned, was some kind of tool to output thing totals and such that could distinguish from multiplayer-only stuff, and also finding out unwritten rules like criticism for using SLADE3 to generate map pics instead of OMGIFOL. There are some unspoken standards that would be nice to have codified, or maybe I hadn't found them yet? Anyway, I wish Doomwiki a healthy, productive 2014 year, it's been invaluable.

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Sad to see how far the Wikia has sunk. I'm glad Doomwiki is still going strong, and one thing I really like about Doomworld is that it automatically changes Wikia links to Doomwiki links. While some might wonder about that, I think it's definitely the right thing, considering all the time and attention that was given to the Doomwiki and how it should be the standard.

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Grazza said:

Try adding: doomwiki -wikia

The safest way is, of course, adding "site:doomwiki.org", which will limit the search to JUST doomwiki. It might be overkill for general purpose searches, but it is just what you need when you're looking for a specific wiki article/topic via google's searchbar.

Keep on trucking, doomwiki!

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kmxexii said:

criticism for using SLADE3 to generate map pics instead of OMGIFOL

Who said that, where, and what do they reproach to SLADE's map pic making feature?

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Gez said:

Who said that, where, and what do they reproach to SLADE's map pic making feature?

Definitely wasn't me. I've got no problem where they come from, so long as the maps are clear and correct :)

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kmxexii said:

unwritten rules

some unspoken standards that would be nice to have codified, or maybe I hadn't found them yet?

(a) You're right (b) Codifying is nearly impossible since nobody wants to have the incredibly boring discussions needed to do so. (When the wiki had like 4 editors, the admins just made up some preliminary rules to get things moving, but we are rather too large for that now.) If someone objects harshly to your actions but doesn't provide a link to the help page explaining what you should have done (or at least examples of similar articles), it's probably just their opinion...

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Xeriphas1994 said:

(When the wiki had like 4 editors, the admins just made up some preliminary rules to get things moving, but we are rather too large for that now.)


I think this is a good thing. If we have a whole community instead of just 4 editors, I think it's more likely (but certainly more complicated) we'll reach a consensus on what needs to be done, and how.

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Zed said:

I think this is a good thing. If we have a whole community instead of just 4 editors, I think it's more likely (but certainly more complicated) we'll reach a consensus on what needs to be done, and how.

I agree. I think that there's a bit of a defeatist attitude amongst some of us older admins when it comes to our ability to get things done which needs to be put aside so we can attempt to push forward.

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Gez said:

Who said that, where, and what do they reproach to SLADE's map pic making feature?


In retrospect, I probably took it more seriously than was intended (looking back at the IRC log), but Xaser seemed less than enthused due to SLADE's output looking slightly different (in the color of the layout) and since TGH didn't disagree I didn't press the issue. I'd be more than happy to keep doing what I was doing, though!

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Excuse my ignorance, but why was there a split from the DOOM wiki to the new doomeiki.org? I'm fairly new around here and I've only used the newer DOOM wiki. Did things get really bad?

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The colors used are in CVARs (map_image_col_*). I can change the default values if they want. Line thickness and map scale/dimensions are also based on CVARs.

FreddBoy said:

Excuse my ignorance, but why was there a split from the DOOM wiki to the new doomeiki.org? I'm fairly new around here and I've only used the newer DOOM wiki. Did things get really bad?

As explained in the OP, yes, things did get really bad. More informations and links here.

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Is there any easy way to download the content for offline viewing and review, other than navigating to each page, and is that even allowed?

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kb1 said:

Is there any easy way to download the content for offline viewing and review, other than navigating to each page, and is that even allowed?

Your post inspired me to google "wiki2pdf" (not sarcasm!) and I was pleasantly surprised, though I obviously can't endorse any of the linked items as I have not tried them.

For personal use, I don't see why you couldn't download it all, provided you live in a country with compatible fair use laws.  Maybe you'd have to feed a list of URLs or article names into the tool first, but that's easily doable here.  If you intend to modify and/or redistribute the content, then a few other requirements come into play due to the CC license.

A massive parallel download might put the server admin in a bad mood, but I assume that's not in the "easy" category.  :>

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Zed said:

I think this is a good thing. If we have a whole community instead of just 4 editors, I think it's more likely (but certainly more complicated) we'll reach a consensus on what needs to be done, and how.

Agreed, and I apologize if I came across as objecting to the community input.  Yes, it is usually a VERY slow and tedious process to form agreement on the wiki.  However, as we know from certain other Doom/Quake sites, when admins start making new rules arbitrarily they usually end up with no more user activity to regulate.

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