October 03, 2010

Mass Escape of the Digital Sharecroppers - "The Anti-Wikia Alliance"

I've written about various communities, such as Transformers and "WikiFur" which "escape from being digital sharecroppers on the electronic plantation, err, wikifarm company Wikia, Inc. Remember, that's the company co-founded by Jimmy Wales to, in the words of one article (they said it, not me!), "take the success -- and, indeed, the underlying philosophy -- of Wikipedia," and "commercialize the hell out of it"."

Evidently more remaining unpaid content-generators are planning a break for freedom, having formed the "Anti-Wikia Alliance. The main grievance seems to be yet another extensive graphic redesign that apparently favors the company over the creators:

While change to a website is necessary when a time comes, change must be beneficial to the development of a domain and not detrimental to the well-being of a community of Wikis that has thrived for years. Wikia's latest decision to apply a new ultramodernistic skin that is so bland and flavorless does absolutely no benefit the Wikia community other than drive away editors and contributors that have made Wikis of this site rich and informative.

There are many practical issues here. One key aspect is what Google will do to any new site. That is, whether it will bury the escapee with a "duplicate content" penalty. I'm actually a bit less pessimistic about that these days. I just checked today, and not only had the independent Transformers community site survived, it was beating the Transformers Wikia site on Google, ranking #18 vs #20, for the word "Transformers". Granted, they're a relatively small community, but it's heartening.

Now if only there were some sort of nonprofit organization which had grants to host wiki software ...

By Seth Finkelstein | posted in wikia | on October 03, 2010 11:59 PM (Infothought permalink)
Seth Finkelstein's Infothought blog (Wikipedia, Google, censorware, and an inside view of net-politics) - Syndicate site (subscribe, RSS)

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Very interesting, Seth. Thanks for this news break. I also wrote a short news item about the failure of a particular Wikia wiki, which your readers might enjoy:


Posted by: Gregory Kohs at October 4, 2010 11:08 AM

The "Squirtage" Wikia was actually more successful than most, in terms of user activity. It only failed because somebody told the Wikia staff that it existed! Otherwise, it would probably still be in the Top 2 percent of all Wikia subdomains.

The "ultramodernistic skin," called "Oasis" (they considered calling it "Blur," but felt this would be confusing), definitely favors the hosts over the users. For the first time, the Wikia logo and menu bar will now be at the top of every single page, with the logo occupying the coveted upper-left corner where most people expect to see the wiki's own logo. It also hides most of the "Special" links, like Recent Changes and page histories, even more than they were before.

This is really part of a slow, deliberate process that's been going on for some time now. The purpose is almost solely to maintain Wikia's Alexa and Google rankings.

Also, I don't know when this started, but nearly all user-supplied images on Wikia are now being served from a subdomain of nocookie.net, which is good if it means there are no cookies associated with those images. But knowing Wikia, there's probably some reason for their doing this that involves improving their search-engine positioning.

Posted by: Somey at October 4, 2010 02:17 PM


Have you seen this blog?

Posted by: wikipedia1 at October 5, 2010 10:19 AM

I just signed up to your blogs rss feed. Will you post more on this subject?

Posted by: badmash at October 23, 2010 08:29 AM

The new skin *was* called "Oasis". Now they want to just call it "Wikia" because, uh, it's the skin Wikia uses. I'm not sure how this will work in another two years when they change the skin again.

Posted by: Alden at October 26, 2010 07:50 AM