We posted an exciting announcement on the Fandom Staff Blog today about how Fandom will be upgrading to a new platform that runs a modern version of MediaWiki, the software that powers wiki editing. This was a big decision for Fandom, and one that was made after a lot of careful consideration and lots of user feedback and user research.
Another factor in the decision was an experimental contribution prototype that we called the Community Builder. This experiment, which we tested and tinkered with over a few years, was run to test a hypothesis: that we could see a meaningful increase in wiki edits and editors if there was an editing software that was simpler to use than MediaWiki. MediaWiki, after all, has a bit of a learning curve, so we wanted to see if we could move the needle at all with something easier.
In the end, after migrating some communities (with community permission) to the Community Builder and opening up the ability for founders to create their own Community Builder wikis, we determined that we were not seeing an improvement in edits and editors. Ultimately, we did not see enough value in supporting a separate platform away from MediaWiki.
I want to emphasize the importance of user feedback in this experiment. There were a handful of conversations about Community Builder on Community Central, and it was an extensive subject of conversation with the Community Council. What emerged was the clear point that existing users did not want to use the Community Builder, they want a modern version with MediaWiki. Users largely understood the premise of why we were testing, but felt that there were ways to make improvements to the site while still running a modern version of MediaWiki.
We appreciate the candor that everyone brought to these conversations, and the incredibly thorough feedback that we received. It was a key factor in our decision-making. We don’t want to make such a big change to the site that risks alienating the users we have now. Any change we make to the platform has to be beneficial to the community.
As a result, the Community Builder experiment is officially being retired and we have removed the ability to create new Community Builder wikis. As we develop the new Fandom platform with its modern version of MediaWiki, we will also be migrating any active Community Builder wikis back to MediaWiki. We do not have a timeframe for this yet, though.
While Community Builder as an editing software isn’t the future of Fandom, there were things that we learned about structured data, easier admin maintenance tasks, and SEO benefits that we may be able to use on the new Fandom platform. I don’t have any details for you about that right now, but there will be more to come on all of that. For now I just didn’t want to leave anyone with the impression that the experiment didn’t bear any fruit!
Like I said earlier, we’re still figuring out the details and timing about migrating existing Community Builder wikis back, but I’m happy to answer any questions I can.