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Wiki Milestones, Statistics, Improvements and the Importance of Community

25 Oct 2010

Time for a little look back at where we’ve come from, where we are going – and most importantly – why we are able to create the best FFXIV wiki around.   Back in June we had our 1-year birthday – so I guess that means we are now approaching our 1.5 birthday – and we reported that our wiki had about 300 content pages with between 2,000 and 8,000 visits per day.  We now have more than 4,500 content pages with between 30,000 and 55,000 visits per day.  The wiki has been viewed more than 8 million times and been edited 50,000 times – and the game is a mere 1-month old.  These statistics far surpass any of the other FFXIV wiki’s out there.  But that’s not even the best, or most important, statistic.

The software tracks “Active users” – which it defines as anyone who has edited in the past 7 days (i.e. a rolling number vs. the total number of contributors).  We’ve been anywhere between 120 and 240 in this statistic – and that stat is the single largest predictor of a wiki’s accuracy and, ultimately, success.  This is of course a very different statistic from the “Top Users”, which are also tracked by the software – which shows the contributions of the top 50 editors.  But here is the crucial point – the wiki needs both.

320px-Long_tail.svgThe image to  the right is a graph from wikipedia’s Long Tail article.  This is what wikipedia itself experiences when it comes to edits, what FFXIclopedia experienced, and what we, and probably all successful wikis, experience.  The top editors (represented by the green coloring in the image) represent a small percentage of the community, but individually make a large volume of edits, while the remaining editors (yellow) make fewer edits individually, but are numerous.  The critical point is that each segment makes the same contribution.  The even more critical point, however, is that a wiki will not, indeed cannot, survive without both segments.

We started creating FFXIclopedia because the admin-controlled database system was unable to keep pace with a constantly developing MMO.  The same thing happens with a wiki when a small group of people are the only ones adding.  The green editors above cannot make a successful wiki without the yellow editors.  So what that means is – add information.  Add new items.  Add a new found mob.  Add a sales price, an NPC or a quest.  Fix a typo, poor grammar, or add a link.  To some extent it doesn’t matter.  Don’t assume that someone else will add the data.  Those community members making just one or two edits are needed for survival.  Plain and simple.  The wiki is a community project that is only as good as the community.  The good news is that we have the best community, and hence, the best wiki.

Next logical question is “why?”  Why do we have the best community?  While many might say that the answer to that is unknown or at the very least intangible and/or unquantifiable – I’d, respectfully, disagree.  We are, of course a “community of interest” that has formed due to us all enjoying – to at least some degree – Final Fantasy XIV.  But so are other communities out there.  I think what we have boils down to a few things.

  • One – a foundation built on respect.  It is pretty buried in the wiki policies, but the wiki foundations of assuming good faith and civility permeate the site.  While the shortest bullet point, it is the most important.  It is the shortest bullet point because it needs no explanation or description.  A community will not survive without respecting each other.
  • Two – “staff” who play, and enjoy, FFXIV and, typically, the Final Fantasy series.  I put staff in quotations because I think tied to this idea of staff being players is that the staff here (wiki admins, news admins, forum moderators, podcasters and translators) are – as we have said before – just regular players.  Volunteers who enjoy being a part of the project and the community.  They do their best to manage everything while balancing school commitments, real life jobs, families and the like.  Staff who play also translates into improvements to the site that we want as players – not those that corporate controlled gaming web-sites might want.  User defined navigation?  Character integration?  Eorzea font?  Maps?  Levequest countdowns?  All of these things (plus many more) we wanted as players – so we developed them and added them to the site.  There is simply no middle-man between the community and the site developers/staff.
  • Third and last – experience.  Experience in the form of experience with communities and with wikis.  With FFXIclopedia under our belt, we took those years of experience and brought them here.  While it may not seem like it, the wiki here is perhaps the most advanced wiki anywhere.  Almost everything is added via templates so we can quickly make site-wide changes.  The information in those templates automatically populates dozens of pages elsewhere in the wiki – so information will be consistent across the site.  We’ve also gone to great lengths to make the data entry itself easier – i.e. categories are added automatically, many common typos will self-correct, wiki-code is often not needed.  Our experience is not limited to FFXIclopedia and wikis either.  Our podacast team has years of experience in podcasting and developing community sites as well.  This lead to the creation of the Aetheryte Radio Network – a network of podcasts that cater to all listeners – whether they want the short updates from Aetheryte Radio News, the roundtable discussion of Aetheryte Radio Topics, Remotely Plausible – our role play show, or the Monthly Aetheryte Radio wrap-up show, to name a few.  This experience, knowing what works and what doesn’t, makes the building of a community site, and community, a lot easier.

So where do we go from here?  We’ve continued to make some significant changes to the structure and look of the wiki.  With crafting taking on such a significant focus in FFXIV, we revamped the recipe template to make it much easier for crafters to see what they need to craft.  We’ve also added support to allow each class and gear slot to be separately viewable.  Want to know what gear a Miner can wear on his/her hands?  Look no further. And as always, these pages are automatically updated by the system based on edits made by any member of the community.  We’ve continued to develop the integration of information from The Lodestone with Eorzeapedia – so that now your information will be shown in the forums as well.  Just sync your Eorzeapedia account with your Lodestone account once, and it will automatically update as you level.  Wed also have a few more podcasts shows coming out that might appeal to different community members.

Because we’ve grown a lot, and added a lot, over the past 18 months – we thought it best to create a page detailing the site’s features and policies (also linked for future reference in the site-wide footer under “Help”).   We’ll update this as we add features, and it will also serve as a reference point if you need a refresher on how to add personal navigation or link accounts.  And add to it we will.  We still have a ton of stuff we want to add and features that need expanding upon.  As with the rest of the site, if you want to help on any larger back-end coding ideas feel free to contact us via email and we can see what’s possible.

So finally – a big thanks to the community – from us at Eorzeapedia and, if I may, from the rest of the FFXIV community.  With only a month behind us we’re already a great resource for new and “old” players alike.  We have, objectively, the #1 wiki and #1 podcast(s), and while perhaps more subjective, the #1 forums.  So anyway…thanks!