Monday, September 6, 2010

Moving your wiki from Wikia to another host (off-Wikia)

You've just started a new wiki at Wikia. Congratulations. After a while, the community grows and there will be many editors. The bigger the wiki, the better, right? Most likely so. But with great articles comes great problems. Wikia's many software updates — at least things like Wikia's New New Style, which are purely political and motivated by the need to gain more revenue — can cause problems. What's the solution? Well, Wikia most certainly isn't going to stop applying software updates and writing new code. Would your community like to have a bit more space? There is a solution for your problem(s) — moving to another wiki host.

But moving off-Wikia to another, non-Wikia host is everything but simple and straightforward. Wikia usually refuses to close down the existing Wikia wiki; while it's true that they have every legal right to keep the Wikia site open, it's just not very fair or courteous towards the editors and administrators — the community of the wiki. In the worst case, administrators of the Wikia site may lose their rights on the Wikia site and the Wikia site will still exist and be editable by the world.

History knows of some fine examples. A Transformers-related wiki was started at a long time ago. When Wikia's New Style — that is, forcing the Monaco skin down the users' throats — was introduced over two years ago, many wikis considered moving off-Wikia. This wiki was one of them. The wiki moved to Autonomy and total control of the wiki and no problems, right? Wrong. Wikia refused to close down the Wikia site and as an added "bonus", a high-ranking Wikia staff member, along with another staff member, removed the admins' and bureaucrats' rights on, the log reason stating that these people have "moved to". Well, it's the truth, you can't doubt that. What's noteworthy is that Wikia has no problems using the content created by these people. Sure, free content, but the current is basically an unwanted and outdated fork of

Another case study: GisleWiki. This wiki was started at Wikia, but the founder (who, btw, pretty much built the site all by himself) didn't like Wikia's way of doing things, so he moved the wiki to its own domain, at Wikia re-opened the Wikia site and look at it now: no edits for a long period of time and has more articles, obviously, because that wiki is being actively maintained by its founder. This didn't stop Wikia staff members from not only removing the founders' rights on the Wikia site, but also calling him a vandal. That's right folks — administrating a community, if you're not doing it as Wikia wants, is VANDALISM!

A more personal example is Jedipedia, the Finnish-language Star Wars wiki. I'm the co-founder of Jedipedia, along with Ufsark. In late July 2010, the wiki held a vote — at my initiative — to move to another wiki hosting service. The vote passed with nine (that's right, 9) people supporting and no-one opposing. Pretty much every active community member voted in the vote. Tells you something, eh?
The Jedipedia community and the administration team knew that Wikia wouldn't let the wiki go just like that, so we inserted a piece of JavaScript code into the site's JS. This JS code redirected the old Wikia site to the new location.
But on August 31st, a Wikia staff member discovered that we had moved and were using JavaScript to redirect the old Wikia site. This said person then proceeded to remove the JS code from our site. JouMan206, a long-serving bureaucrat and administrator of Jedipedia who later resigned at his own free will, reverted the Wikia staff member's action. The next day this Wikia staff member removed JouMan206's bureaucrat and administrator rights on Jedipedia. I must say that this certainly reminds me of the real-life historical event known as Prague Spring...

Moving on, currently there are two Finnish-language Star Wars wikis named Jedipedia: one has a community and is not hosted by Wikia, and the another one which is hosted by Wikia is practically empty in terms of people and activity. But it's not over yet. Dubček was taken to Moscow when the Warsaw Pact forces entered Czechoslovakia and I was about to receive my punishment for...for...for being an innocent bystander who had a solution for the community's problems.

04:58, 2 September 2010 I was blocked on a Wikia-wide scale by another Wikia staff member for "malicious use of javascript"[sic]. I was naturally quite shocked as I hadn't done anything on Wikia for a rather long while. So I sent them a short message; copied and pasted my block message and added "Please explain." This is what Wikia replied to me:

Jack, you were redirecting Wikia sites to your wiki farm, with code that
hid the effect from staff/helpers/vstf. I can (with effort) believe
that others using the code weren't aware that this was a problem, but
I'm sure you were aware of our likely reaction.

It seems it's time for you to move on from Wikia.

Here's a challenge for you, my dear reader: can you find a diff where I added "malicious javascript" to a Wikia-hosted wiki? I tell you that you'll be having difficulties with that task, as there are no diffs because I never added any malicious JavaScript to any Wikia-hosted wiki. Nevertheless, I can say that I saw this coming. All Wikia needed was an excuse, and finally they found a suitable one. Still, this isn't the proper way to treat people who did a lot of volunteer work for you, at least in my humble opinion.
What do you think? Please share your thoughts on this issue with me in the comments section.

P.S. The JS that this post has mentioned a few times is posted here, in case you need to redirect your Wikia site to a different URL address:

if ( wgUserGroups === null || typeof( wgUserGroups ) != null && wgUserGroups.join(' ').indexOf( 'staff' ) == -1 && wgUserGroups.join(' ').indexOf( 'helper' ) == -1 && wgUserGroups.join(' ').indexOf( 'vstf' ) == -1 && wgUserGroups.join(' ').indexOf( 'sysop' ) == -1 && wgUserGroups.join(' ').indexOf( 'bureaucrat' ) == -1 ) {
window.location = '' + wgPageName;


Anonymous said...

"please do not use the Wikia service to advertise a competitive site."

And then Wikia staff edit war the sitenotice with the site admins. Reminds me of transformers wiki, where much the same thing happened.

Anonymous said...

Your JS has an error.

wgUserGroups === null should be replaced by !window.wgUserGroups

Because it's undefined when there's no user groups.

Anonymous said...

null is the same as undefined...

Anonymous said...

no, null is NOT the same as undefined when you compare both with three equal signs.

Anonymous said...

@Anonymous: Aside from it being different. "wgUserGroups === null" (or undefined) will throw a ReferenceError if it's undefined. Accessing it via the window object will never do that.