Forums:The future of Tolkien Gateway

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Tolkien Gateway > Council > 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:

Anyway, I just thought I'd give you my feelings about the site; I didn't mean to criticise anyone's inactivity.-- KingAragorn  talk  contribs  edits  email  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.
Meeting: I'm also going to sitting in the IRC over the next few days if anyone is available for a chat in a less formal (and public) arena, but in the meantime can I suggest we have resurrect meetings to have on on these issues. --Mith (Talk/Contribs/Edits) 19:27, 22 June 2010 (UTC)
Let me just chime in and recognize that Ederchil in my opinion has done, and is doing, a great job in maintaining a general high standard for the articles on TG (compared to some other Tolkien wikis out there). Sadly, he's not a Sysop, and I'm too sometimes worried about the future of TG. I'm especially afraid since I've spent countless hours editing, not being sure if a back-up of the database exists. Maybe Ederchil has any details about what would happen if Hyarion suddenly drops out from the project completely? Would Ederchil become sysop? Has Hyarion expressed interestest in doing a "come-back" to TG when time permits him? Just some thoughts... --Morgan 20:21, 22 June 2010 (UTC)
Actually, I already am a sysop (or "admin", if you will). I'm just not a bureaucrat, which means I can't promote others; I also don't have access to the server.
What would happen if Hyarion drops out? We'd be screwed, unless he turns over access to the server to someone who knows how to deal with it.
As for back-ups: shortly after the large and non-wikia wiki TFwiki had a crash, I asked him about backups. He mentioned there's still an automated weekly back-up.
I'm going to say it: I too am worried about the future. It's been a while since I read the books and I barely do real Middle-earth content lately. I'm just doing janitorial work now.
Something I've noticed today is that the spam bot is slower... probably because I put up protection on a lot of pages.
I don't recall Hyarion mentioning whether he would come back or not. But he generally responds to emails pretty fast, so we (or, I)'d better mail him about this. -- Ederchil (Talk/Contribs/Edits) 20:49, 22 June 2010 (UTC)
I just want to clarify: I don't want what I said above to be construed as an attack against you, Ederchil. Indeed, you have helped bring about many of the changes which I thought were long overdue with regards to the "scholarly rigour" of our article and to the general quality of the wiki. --Mith (Talk/Contribs/Edits) 23:25, 22 June 2010 (UTC)
Hi all! Before I say anything I do really want to apologize for my activity, or lack there of. I can't even use the term 'recently' anymore because it has been so long since I was last active. I seem to be either absorbed in the project or completely distant, here's hoping to the former in the future. I'll be adding the Recent Changes to my RSS feed so I can start becoming more involved.
I felt bad when I started reading about concerns regarding the site. But then I realized how nice it was that there were concerns. It would be so much more disappointing to come back and not see anyone even care.
As far as concerns about the domain and hosting go, there is nothing to worry about there. Everything is backed up continuously and even if the costs increased by a factor of ten they would still be minimal. The server we are on hasn't been exactly perfect, so I'm looking into improvements that can be made there.
As far as spam goes, only registered users can now make edits. All the editors have been doing an amazing job keeping the spam out, I know how mundane that can become. Hopefully this will free up time for the more enjoyable aspects of the community.
I have no other plans this weekend so I will be focusing on catching up on all the overlooked tasks that I should have been completed long ago. See you around. --Hyarion 04:24, 25 June 2010 (UTC)
Hyarion, I bow to you! --Morgan 08:12, 25 June 2010 (UTC)
Sorry, that I'm inactive last time, however I wasn't realy long active. I was (and still am) busy with school. Monday starts Test Week. Then I finally have vacation, and can become more active. --Amroth 15:05, 26 June 2010 (UTC)