Forum:The future of Tolkien Gateway
OK everyone, I know I haven't been around or active much lately but there are some serious issues that need to be discussed; they all resolve around the future of Tolkien Gateway.
As you know, we're being spammed like hell as bots have found weaknesses in our site; the obvious thing to do is to block unregistered users from editting the site. However, I severely doubt that Hyarion will suddenly appear on Wednesday when voting ends. This leads onto another problem, arguable more serious problem - Hyarion's inactivity. Whilst I understand and respect that Hyarion is genuinely inactive and 'real-life' takes up all of his time, the future of the site is in doubt as it's owner is not here to look after it. That's not to mention the question of whether hosting and the domain name will be renewed and paid for when the time comes. Not only is Hyarion inactive, but many of our former most active members are inactive too; and those that are still active are certainly not as active as they used to be. Indeed our current spamming problem I'm sure is making the 'surviving' contributors tired and bored.
Therefore, how do we address these serious problems? Well, it seems obvious to me that we need to set up this site elsewhere. There are few different ways we can do this, but it is certainly possible for us to export all pages on this site and import them to a new MediaWiki website (with page history and all). For example we could set up Tolkien Gateway over on Wikia, where it is free to host and any hosting/spam problems aren't our problem and we can concentrate on content rather than reverting spam. It would also mean automatic advertisement and much more activity with new users - we could also have more than one admin and users with revert powers, a luxury we can not have here without activity from Hyarion. Another option would be to have one of us host the site ourselves and import all the data from here; obviously the problem with this is that we have to pay for it and it eats into our time with maintenance and updates. The advantage though would be that we have full operational freedom, something we would not get (to a point) on Wikia (i.e. we could install new add-ons on a whim).
I think we really need to discuss these issues, let me know your thoughts here. We could also look into having a meeting (yes, one of those old things! :P) - for those that have trouble accessing IRC, this link should help you out: http://widget.mibbit.com/?server=irc.tolkiengateway.net&channel=%23TolkienGateway%2C%23Wiki
Anyway, I just thought I'd give you my feelings about the site; I didn't mean to criticise anyone's inactivity.--23:51, 21 June 2010 (UTC)
- I imagine there'll be a general reluctance to respond to this thread, so as someone who has been here a long time (and have been actively editing recently), I'll be the first to break cover. I'll go through each of the points in order but in general I think I'm in cautious agreement with the above.
- Hyarion's activity: It is regrettable to he hasn't been around more as we all know there are some problems which would benefit from his attention. However, I recognise that he has as a life beyond this wiki and indeed he has worked diligently in creating and setting up the foundations of this site. I honestly don't know if he'll be renewing our hosting, but I certainly hope he does! I have to admit, however, it would be useful if we had access to the server-side of things and if Hyarion were more active; I hope to see him soon!
- A bot could be used to change the protection status of each individual article if necessary.
- Member activity: I think the problem of "editor retention" is a serious one. The Tolkien Gateway has nearly 2,000 users but sometimes only 2 editors on any given day. People willing to contribute certainly exist: you only have to look at Wikipedia or any Tolkien forum to see that people want to be involved and need a decent online encylcopædia; indeed, even LOTR Wikia, which although has fewer articles and fewer edits, actually manages to have a great number of people contributing.
- Unfortunately, the nature of a wiki isn't conducive to creating a "community" - a group of people who work together and become friendly with one another (and maybe we need to tie ourselves to a forum in order to achieve this). What we can do, however, is reward people: a long time ago we spoke about barnstars, featured articles, the opportunity for promotion, and also simple compliments can all encourage people to edit. Indeed, if it had not been for Hyarion's early encouragements I don't think I would have continued editing. Furthermore, if you're a new editor, having your edits reverted or heavily changed by an existing editor can be quite disheartening and a bit patronising - perhaps we should be kinder on new editors so as not to scare them off.
- We had an excellent plan with projects, set up in 2008, but it wasn't followed through. From running websites in the past I know that members require constant attention and leadership which is why the projects were not the success we hoped for. What we need is direction: editors need to be guided as to what to do and how to do it.
- I suggested a long time ago that we have some kind of advertising manager (just as the Tolkien Society has a publicity officer) in order to recruit members and to advertise our existence to the wider world. I still think we should.
- Move to Wikia: if the Gateway were to move - which I hope it wouldn't have to as this is a good domain - I'd hope it wasn't to the advert-infested Wikia and rather to a new domain. I have run and hosted websites in the past and I would be happy to do so again, if required.