Spec Ops Wiki

Greetings! Back in March, we asked you, the admins of some of Wikia's largest wikis, to fill out a survey so we could get to know you better. Thank you to everyone who answered the call and filled out the survey.

One of the questions in the survey was related to learning what you want to learn from us or what is important to you regarding communication from Wikia. Something this group strongly supported was receiving a regular and detailed email from Wikia tailor-made to help inform you about events or site changes that directly impact your wikis. One specific request was to share information on new features, so we'd like to spend this May mailing to focus on recent and upcoming features.


WAM (Wikia Activity Monitor) is a new and unique analytics tool that addresses a few fundamental problems with "traditional" analytical metrics. The two traditional metrics Wikia has relied on in the past are pageviews and edits. Both are, of course, logical indicators of how well a wiki is doing, but those two metrics alone don't answer some important questions. Is the wiki truly growing? How is a wiki doing compared to other wikis of its same approximate age and size? If a wiki has a lot of pageviews but not a lot of edits, is it really a healthy wiki?

WAM begins to answer some of these contextual questions. We use a unique algorithm to combine both pageviews and edits over a short-term (one week) period and a longer-term (four weeks) period to give a more accurate picture of how active a wiki truly is. This means one wiki won't be "on top" of another wiki simply because it has X more pageviews this month if another wiki has Y more edits.

What are the goals of having this algorithm? First, it allows first-time Wikia visitors to discover our largest and most active communities, those that may have popular topics as well as a healthy, active editing community. WAM allows admins like yourself to see where your wiki stacks up compared to other large wikis and allows Wikia staff to discover smaller yet highly active wikis that are growing at a quick pace and engage them in productive way to equip them with some of the effects of rapid growth. We're very excited about WAM because it allows our biggest wikis to publicly showcase how productive they are while also allowing growing communities to get exposure when they otherwise may not.

Where can you check it out? It's live now on our WAM page. We'd also recommend you read Bert's blog on WAM for some extra information. We are interested in putting WAM in more places, including giving you a quick indicator of your WAM score actually on your wiki. We are at the early stages of beginning to think about that, so please feel free to reply to this email, leave a blog comment, or write into Special:Contact with any thoughts about if and where you think it should go on your wiki and what information you would like WAM to entail.

My Wikia & Mobile Improvements

Mobile and tablet devices are everywhere now, and we are happy to introduce "My Wikia", an iPad application we launched at the beginning of April. Available freely in the App Store, iPad users now have a uniquely tailored Wikia reading experience at their fingertips. You can learn more about My Wikia on the feature announcement blog post. (Fear not our Android friends! We're working on an Android version, too.)

If you want to promote MyWikia on your wiki, you can use this template on your wiki to help surface the new way to read Wikia to your users. Also, if you have a few moments, we'd love you to take a survey about MyWikia.

Our April webinar was about improving the mobile experience, including both general best mobile coding practices and the My Wikia app. Did you know that 20% of the visitors to Wikia are on a mobile device? This is a number that keeps on growing, so I would sincerely encourage your communities to take some of the principles outlined in the webinar to heart. You can watch the webinar and see all the slides here.

You can always view how your wiki looks in the Mobile skin by adding "?useskin=wikiamobile" to the end of a URL string.

File Page Redesign

Most the traffic that comes to Wikia comes from search engines. We estimate about 75% of our visitors land here from search. While many people who have gone on to become very active wiki contributors, perhaps even yourself, first found Wikia this way, many people also leave your wiki after reading a page or two. The reasons for this are as numerous as the visitors themselves. Sometimes they really aren't interested in the subject and just looking up something in passing. Sometimes they don't find what they were looking for and look for more information. Other times, they simply found the page they landed on hard-to-read or unuseful.

Trying to get someone who stumbled onto a Wikia wiki from Google to stay and join a community is always going to be a tricky proposition, but we are would like to help improve this conversion rate.

To that end, we're working on improvements to some specific namespaces and pages across Wikia. File namespace pages are an important part of a wiki, since they hold images, file history and copyright information. As Google, Bing, and other search engines have improved their image search results, we've seen File namespace page visits go up as well as their bounce rates. For a random searcher visiting a wiki, file pages in their current state aren't very intuitive. Between a thumbnail, a license, and a few basic links to articles where the file is being used, it's hard for a reader to find a way their way to other pages or more information about the wiki. That's why we are proceeding with a redesign of File namespace pages. Here's an overview of what is changing.

  • File pages are being separated into tabbed sections: About, File History, and Metadata
  • The "About" tab will have description, license information and a paginated list of pages where the file is being used with an image thumbnail & text snippet of that page. This will help a reader better understand where to go and what to expect if they click through. If you want to view the full list of places the file is being used, you can click "see the full list".
  • File History and Metadata will contain the same information they always have. Tabbing these parts out helps the reader not feel overwhelmed when they visit a page but also keeps the crucial administrative parts of a file page useable and clear for admins. A file page will start out with the About tab default open, but if you prefer to always see File History first, simple leave that as your last tab, and this preference will be cookied by your browser (This applies to logged in only)
  • For Video pages, if the video is hosted on the Wikia Video Library, "Appears on these wikis" will appear, showing readers other wikis that are using the same video and thus other wikis that might have a topic that interests them.

These changes will rollout to all English wikis on May 1st. International wikis will follow suit a few weeks later. To get an idea of how these file pages look you can check them out now on Community Central and the Wikia Video Library. Please send in feedback to Special:Contact.

Final Words

While we will try to use this space to let you know more about feature updates, we do want to remind you that you are always guaranteed to hear about feature releases on Community Central.

http://community.wikia.com/wiki/Blog:Wikia_Staff_Blog - Is where all the major announcements are made, including new features, contests, and in depth explanations of topics like internationalizatoin and caching.

http://community.wikia.com/wiki/Blog:Wikia_Technical%20Updates - Wikia releases code every Wednesday to fix bugs and make minor tweaks to features. So every Tuesday, our staff posts a blog to let you know what's coming ahead of time.

We'd strongly encourage you to follow both blogs to always be on top of these changes.

Hope you enjoyed reading our update for May and we'll see you again soon!