This page is an archive of a community-wide discussion. This page is no longer live. Further comments or questions on this topic should be made in a new Senate Hall page rather than here so that this page is preserved as a historic record. Advanced Jedi Training Droid 6(Talk to my master) 00:00, September 16, 2016 (UTC)
The administrators here at Wookieepedia know about this already, but I wanted to share with you a new feature that is now live here: Discussions.
Discussions is a brand new discussion feature (obviously) that completely changes the way that we do forums on Wikia, mainly by actually making it act like a forum. This isn't a wikitext page (as the standard MediaWiki forum is, which is what the Senate Hall you are reading this in is) or a MediaWiki hack like the current Wikia-style forum is. This new feature doesn't even exist on MediaWiki, giving it more freedom to act like a forum.
Discussions are both part of Wookieepedia and not part of Wookieepedia. Here’s what I mean by that:
Discussions exist in two locations: on the Wikia Star Wars/Wookieepedia app and on the web (though they're both tied together, so it's not two separate Discussion areas). A note about the web version, and this is what I meant when I said “part of and not part of” Wookieepedia: because it's not built on MediaWiki, it exists on its own URL structure (as you can see in the link above). So instead of being on starwars.wikia.com/wiki/whatever, it is on http://starwars.wikia.com/d/f/147/. The d, of course, stands for Discussions. So even from a basic, visual look at the URL, it's part of the Wookieepedia URL structure but it's not part of the wiki content. That creates a clear separation between the encyclopedia and the forum.
Also because it's not built on MediaWiki, its activity doesn’t show up in Recent Changes, meaning that if you're not interested in seeing any conversations that people are having then you don't have to. We may, moving forward, add in an option to see it in Recent Changes, but that would be something you would opt-in to. So this is also a clear separation between the encyclopedia and the forum.
It does not replace or affect Wookieepedia’s current wikitext forums, hence why I can still post this Senate Hall thread here.
Having a feature like Discussions is important now that Star Wars: The Force Awakens is only two weeks away. People are going to be looking for a place on Wookieepedia to share their enthusiasm for the new movie, and for all of the new stories that are coming out. And indeed, as I shared with the admins last week, we've had readers tell us that. Here's what I mean:
Back in September, we ran a survey asking Wookieepedia readers two questions:
How interested would you be in sharing news and talking about all things Star Wars with other fans on Wookieepedia?
What kinds of Star Wars topics would you be interested in discussing on Wookieepedia?
We received hundreds of responses (we went way above what's actually needed to make the results statistically meaningful), and 65% of respondents said that they are interested in participating in discussions on Wookieepedia (40% said they are very interested and 25% said they are somewhat interested). Here is the breakdown on what they would be interested in talking about:
New Star Wars movies: 70.60%
Star Wars: Episodes I-VI: 62.30%
Star Wars TV shows: 46.90%
Star Wars news & rumors: 42.10%
Star Wars books: 47.80%
Star Wars comics: 39.90%
Star Wars games: 58.80%
Other Star Wars merchandise: 28.10%
What these results show is that there is not only a clear interest in being able to actually talk about Star Wars when browsing on Wookieepedia, but also that a discussion area connected to Wookieepedia will be successful, especially if timed with the release of The Force Awakens. I've talked about this before, especially with the admin team, but Wookieepedia is unique in terms of Star Wars fan sites because its traffic means that new elements to the site have a far greater chance of success. Any other Star Wars fan site that was launching a discussion forum would have to start from scratch in a lot of ways, but Wookieepedia's brand is already so strong and there's already so many eyes on it that if you build it, they will come. And while many people will just want to take part in conversations, it's safe to say that others will also become editors on Wookieepedia.
Based on our experience releasing Discussions on other communities, we believe that Wookieepedia is well-positioned for success. In September, we released Discussions on the community app for Fallout Wiki. Between then and now, over 50,000 Wikia accounts have been created in the app. The vast majority of those users created their accounts to participate in Discussions in some way, especially with the release of Fallout 4. If Fallout can do it, I think it’s safe to say Star Wars can too, especially with The Force Awakens on the horizon. So to my point at the end of the last paragraph, if even a tiny fraction of that number ended up being editors on the encyclopedia, that is a lot of new editors. And that’s a great thing for Wookieepedia.
Moderation tools are live in the app and will be available on the web next week. In the absence of any administrative and community decisions regarding who should moderate the forum, I will be handling moderation for the foreseeable future. I will be making sure people stay on topic about Star Wars, are acting civil, and aren't spamming. Absent any policies created by the community about what topics are acceptable, I won't really be enforcing any content policies, just a standard "the discussion has to be about Star Wars" policy. When building something new, it's always better to start broad and see where the new thing goes. We can let this evolve on its own, I think, and then craft policies based on our experiences with Discussions, rather than trying to lock it into preconceived notions about what the forum topics should be.
I would also recommend updating Template:Talkheader to point people to Discussions. That way, rather than just reverting people's edits to talk pages when they try to discuss the subject of an article rather than the article itself, we have a place to point them towards.
I am sure there will be many questions about this, so please don't hesitate to ask me any question you may have. If you’re unsure of anything or have any questions about anything, please do ask them. I hope you’re excited about this, or at least cautiously optimistic, and I hope to see you in the new forums! - Brandon Rhea(talk) 17:12, December 3, 2015 (UTC)
I like the idea, and I've tried it a couple times now. However, I dislike the fact that A.) Wiki code doesn't seem to have any effect and B.) there appears to be no way to edit my posts. Doesn't really feel like something wiki at all in that way. Also, it appears to be just one giant scroll; no organization whatsoever, no way to easily go back to a topic you want to look at. ProfessorTofty (talk) 04:47, December 4, 2015 (UTC)
It's not built on MediaWiki, so wikitext isn't applicable. Organization, such as boards, will likely be coming in later iterations of the product. Right now it's this way because, when building a forum, it's important to start small and see how people actually end up using the product. That's true in most product development work, and forums are no exception. - Brandon Rhea(talk) 13:02, December 4, 2015 (UTC)
Whether Wookieepedia wants to officially consider this part of Wookieepedia and the encyclopedia/wiki is, ultimately, up to Wookieepedia. This exists independently of the wiki. However, given the clear reader interest in this sort of thing and the massive amounts of traffic that will be generated as a result of The Force Awakens, it's to Wookieepedia's benefit to have some sort of discussion area. People are already finding it organically through the app, and it stands to reason that at least some of the users who post comments in Discussions will become editors. After years of consistently losing editors, that's a good thing for the wiki. - Brandon Rhea(talk) 14:42, December 4, 2015 (UTC)
EDIT CONFLICT: But why use our name when we haven't put it to a vote? Using our name as a way to attract viewers, thus creating more revenue for Wikia? If anything, you shouldn't use Wookieepedia's name and URL until the community puts it to a vote. I highly doubt we would receive new editors, Brandon. JangFett(Talk) 14:48, December 4, 2015 (UTC)
As the administrators have said is their preference when it comes to Wikia communication, I first emailed them at the administrative email to let them know about this plan. That was early last week. There was no objection to the outlined plan. - Brandon Rhea(talk) 14:51, December 4, 2015 (UTC)
The problem with your argument is that you say it's going to be independent from the wiki, until we choose to accept it or not, but that's clearly false. Also Brandon, Wikia needs to come back to reality and realize that it can't turn Wookieepedia into some ultimate social media place where Star Wars fans gather and flourish. Given Wikia's prior efforts to bring new editors here, I'm sure this one will be a hit! JangFett(Talk) 14:58, December 4, 2015 (UTC)
It exists off of MediaWiki and isn't part of the wiki structure, so while it's part of Wookieepedia's identity it's not part of the wiki itself. Had the administrators said they wanted a vote, we would have been happy to oblige. There was no request or demand for a vote, and no objection to the outlined plan, so we moved forward with the launch of the feature. Indeed, all of the administrators who provided feedback about the plan were either supportive or cautiously optimistic. I would encourage you to take a wait and see approach. If you don't want to take part in the Discussions and just want to stick to wiki editing, that's certainly your prerogative. - Brandon Rhea(talk) 15:01, December 4, 2015 (UTC)
EDIT CONFLICT: Brandon, Wikia can create an abundance of fancy gadgets and trinkets, but that won't bring in new editors. I'm sorry to say this, but, unlike actual forums, a discussion comment box won't resonate within a guest. Outside of that—I'm not sure if this is an attempt to make us use the Wikia's article comment box and/or chat, or if Wikia has $$$ on its mind. And let's not forget that each of us joined Wookieepedia independently, without Wikia's hand holding, so why can't they? JangFett(Talk) 15:08, December 4, 2015 (UTC)
This has nothing to do with chat or article comments. Wookieepedia has IRC and has indicated it doesn't want the chat feature (the community could have chosen to enable that through Wiki Features if they had wanted to), and I personally would never recommend the article comments feature. This was discussed with the admins and there was no objection, so considering how successful its been on communities like Fallout Wiki, we're excited to see what will happen here. This is also set up to be a forum, and will more closely resemble one soon as the product is developed and currently in-development updates for Discussions are released. - Brandon Rhea(talk) 15:10, December 4, 2015 (UTC)
Reseting indent: While yes, this change could have been handled more democratically, I believe that, with some further development, this will hopefully become. A positive change to Wookieepedia as a whole, especially when it evolves into forums. Not everyone is tech-save enough to use IRC, and this may help streamline communication between editors, so at this point I am cautiously optimistic. - AV-6R7Crew Pit 07:24, December 5, 2015 (UTC)
Judging by the content that exists right now, I say lets re-brand it as StarChan, and change the /d/ to a /b/. Alternatively, it's just a matter of seeing things evolve, see if they smooth out, and hope that the layout ends up looking more like a classic forum environment (a la vbulletin board or something). --Clonehunter(Report your W.M.D.) 07:38, December 5, 2015 (UTC)
More classical forum-like features, including board organization, is on its way and is in development right now. As for the current types of discussions that are being had, that's totally fine too I think. The goal of any forum when it starts out is to get people there. And especially now, with The Force Awakens less than 2 weeks away, having people sharing their enthusiasm and excitement is a great way to get them there and to get involved. Once they're there, then it's the right time to start structuring it more. - Brandon Rhea(talk) 15:19, December 5, 2015 (UTC)
Fair enough. Hopefully that works out, then. However, hopefully better structuring hits before the film does, because otherwise with the current format it will be quite the unorganized mess. I'd imagine everything would have to be white washed, and the new format forum would start fresh without content, or everything that does exist will be dumped into a general area that will just get buried over time and then it won't matter anyways. GUess I'm just spit-balling, or something. --Clonehunter(Report your W.M.D.) 04:15, December 6, 2015 (UTC)
Hi everyone. The new Discussions forum has been going really well so far. Lots of conversations are ongoing and people are sharing their excitement for the new Star Wars movie—exactly what we hoped for. Now that the forum has been live for over a week, I wanted to provide an update with some stats and also some responses to feedback. First, here are some stats. Each one of these numbers is since December 3rd, the day Discussions went live:
620 unique users have posted on the forum
There have been 4,482 posts (585 posts, 3,897 replies to those posts)
There have been 1,864 upvotes (the ability to 'like' a post)
4,212 accounts have been registered in the app. We can't track whether those were specific to Discussions, though, but that's 4,212 new accounts that could potentially edit on Wookieepedia
So considering those numbers, Discussions on Wookieepedia is off to a really good start, which I never doubted considering just how popular Star Wars is.
Some of the users in the forum have also left feedback about ideas they have for it. The following are links to those threads, where you can see their ideas and my replies:
As an admin, I personally find it atrocious how difficult it is to moderate the forum. As far as I can see there's no moderation tools except the ability to delete posts. I'm not really comfortable with associating the cesspit that discussions is currently with Wookieepedia. At the very least, please tell me extensive moderation tools are coming soon. The lack of some sort of easily readable post log makes it difficult to keep out troublemakers; I just had to delete a ton of posts by people impersonating actors. 1358(Talk) 14:58, January 4, 2016 (UTC)
Better moderation tools are coming soon and I've emphasized that it needs to be the top priority for feature development. I've especially asked for IP blocking, which will keep a lot of these people from returning (this is a small group of people causing trouble—no more than 3 or 4 people). After seeing the last few days worth of posts, Product agrees. - Brandon Rhea(talk) 15:12, January 4, 2016 (UTC)
Glad to hear. Is it possible to block them on the wiki to prevent them from posting? 1358(Talk) 15:14, January 4, 2016 (UTC)
Right now there's a bug (that will be fixed now that we're back from break) where only global blocks work on Discussions. So we're globally banning these accounts. That's mostly a game of whack a mole, though, since they just create new ones very quickly. Hence why I have asked for IP blocking to be a top priority. - Brandon Rhea(talk) 15:16, January 4, 2016 (UTC)
Any update on this? 1358(Talk) 22:31, January 24, 2016 (UTC)
Local blocking is already available (I told Cade that). IP and device blocking should be early February. - Brandon Rhea(talk) 00:14, January 25, 2016 (UTC)
A number of new capabilities have been added:
You can now view all posts by a user (on web only - app release is later this month)
You can now delete all posts by a user (on web only - app release is later this month)
Staff can now globally block IP addresses, which will prevent someone from registering a new Wikia account with that email address.
More moderation tools have been rolled out, as well as some user tools. They are:
Users can now report individual posts/replies so an admin/mod can review them. This will show up for admins/mods by showing an orange flag next to reported posts. You can see this in the web version of Discussions right now, and the app users will get this in the version 2.1 update that will be released any day now.
With that update, app users will also get the option to view all posts by a user in one list, which has been an option on the web version for a little while now. This will hopefully start to cut down on repeat posts since the users there will be more able to follow up on (and even discover) older conversations.
Also for moderation, this week we'll release the option to lock conversations and to stop users from posting further replies (i.e. to close a Discussion thread).
Other things that are a focus for the Discussions team right now are more customizable (and visible) guidelines for participants, and more structure to the whole feature, so not everything is all in one big feed. You'll see these and more updates moving forward. - Brandon Rhea(talk) 02:09, March 15, 2016 (UTC)
There should be a way to approve a post in the modqueue without clicking on the post itself. This would speed up the process a lot. Currently the green checkmark only appears in the thread itself, not in the modqueue. 1358(Talk) 19:17, April 26, 2016 (UTC)
This is done deliberately. Since long posts are truncated in the main view, this approval set up means mods have to look at the full original posts and replies before approving them. - Brandon Rhea(talk) 21:17, April 26, 2016 (UTC)
Modqueue doesn't update/does it very slowly. Threads and replies to threads that have been deleted still appear in the queue but when you click on them it just says no such thread. Only approving a post removes it from the queue. 1358(Talk) 17:44, May 2, 2016 (UTC)
In talking to Tope, and seeing a recent deletion of an Administrator's Noticeboard forum where a Discussions user was asking for help in dealing with a troll on Discussions, it is clear that the administration wishes to see a separation between the wiki and Discussions. That's fine, and their choice. However, that does leave a lack of moderation in Discussions, which is a problem. Though Discussions has vastly improved in terms of what needs moderating since it was first launched, there are still trolls who come in and need to be handled. There is also a backlog of over 4,000 reported posts - most of which are spam reports, but no one has handled those reports one way or another.
To that end, with permission from Tope, Wikia will be appointing moderators from within the Discussions community. You will notice this change on the wiki itself, since it requires the use of the Special:UserRights and will appear in logs, but the rights that come with it only apply to Discussions. (Technically speaking it applies to Wall, Forum, Comments, Chat, and Discussions but Wookieepedia only uses Discussions.) These moderators will be responsible for maintaining the forum, with oversight from me and Wikia. Wookieepedia admins can, of course, continue moderating Discussions whenever they want, but I would please ask that they give deference to the moderators who will be assuming active responsibility for Discussions.
Let me know if you have any questions. Thanks. - Brandon Rhea(talk) 18:37, April 26, 2016 (UTC)
The Discussions feature has received some updates:
Authors of posts and replies can now make changes within 24 hours after publishing. This is available now on the web version of Discussions. iOS users will get this ability it the forthcoming update to version 2.2. Android users will have to wait a bit longer, for the 2.3 update that is due in June.
Rich content for links
When you type or paste a URL into a post, you'll see a thumbnail image and some text appear, similar to when you post a URL on Facebook. This makes your post more visually appealing and can give readers a quick preview of what the'’ll see when they follow the link.
This is available now in the latest app version (2.2) for Android. iOS users will get this ability it the forthcoming update to version 2.2. The web version of Discussions will get this ability this week.
We'll have more updates to talk about in the next six weeks. - Brandon Rhea(talk) 17:15, May 23, 2016 (UTC)
Hi everyone. I would like to let you know about some updates to the Discussions feature. Some have happened recently, and others are going to happen soon. Always remember to update to the latest version of the Community App when it becomes available!
Users of the web interface have probably noticed that admins and discussions moderators now have small badges on their avatars, to make their role clear. This addition will come to the community apps in September (it did not quite make it into the app releases for August).
Post count on profile page
A Discussions post count will be seen on a user's wiki profile page, under the edit count. The post count will be linked to the user’s Discussions contributions page. This will help make Discussion activity more visible to all community members. (Note: This is only viewable in the Wikia skin. Monobook does not have the profile header.)
Users will start to get email notifications when their own posts receive replies and upvotes. This matches the push notifications that app users now receive. There will be a new email preference that allows you to opt out of these emails, if you wish. Further in the future (not this month) we will be adding more options for following any post and receiving notifications about it.
Graphics on the web layout
Admins will gain the ability to change the graphics on the web layout, both the square "community avatar" image and the wide "discussions header" image. The community avatar will become editable first. Please see the Help page for details about image size: Help:Admin and Moderator Tools in Discussions
This is the most exciting update. Admins will be able to create categories for Discussions. Once this is done, every user will need to choose a category before completing a post. This will bring much more organization and structure to Discussions, and should be especially helpful for very active communities. We encourage admins to avoid creating too many categories at first. Only create the ones you need right now. The latest versions of the Community App have full support for posting to categories and filtering by category when reading. Remember to update your app!
We are very grateful to this community for being an early adopter of the Discussions feature. Your use of Discussions, and your feedback, has helped our developers learn more about what users want, and will continue to guide our next steps. Keep letting us know what you think! - Brandon Rhea(talk) 18:12, August 16, 2016 (UTC)