FANDOM


  • 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.

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    • Regardless of the outcome, it sounds like the experiment was a success, and that you guys received some important feedback on it. With the new MW upgrade looming ahead, I'm sure there will be the opportunity for more new and exciting experiments and tests in the future.

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    • It's a relief to hear that this product has been officially retired, and I'm also glad to see that the company is staying true to MediaWiki, its first love. As Rick pointed out, I'm sure that we've learned a great deal from this experiment. I am excited to see what the future brings.

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    • Huzzah! Hopefully all the feedback and data from the experiment will prove helpful in improving the software in the future, even if the Community Builder itself didn't succeed. Looking forward to the big MediaWiki update we've been waiting for!

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    • FANDOM learned something, but unfortunately some communities and admins had to be victims of a bad system for the learning experience. Hopefully, FANDOM is going through and helping those communities transition away from Community Builder...

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    • Pcj

      That's what it says. "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."

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    • Migration isn't necessarily help. When FANDOM introduced portable infoboxes, they created a migration tool, but the more important help came from a team called "Vanguard".

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    • Fandyllic wrote: FANDOM learned something, but unfortunately some communities and admins had to be victims of a bad system for the learning experience. Hopefully, FANDOM is going through and helping those communities transition away from Community Builder...

      That is exactly what is going to happen. Remember the 13 Reasons Why Wiki? Yeah, that is going back to what it used to be.

      To Brandon: Thank you for making this decision of retiring the Community Builder, but hey: at least we all learned and now know some stuff from this experiment. It may have not been something we like, but it was worth experimenting.

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    • Fandyllic wrote: Migration isn't necessarily help. When FANDOM introduced portable infoboxes, they created a migration tool, but the more important help came from a team called "Vanguard".

      We're not going to leave communities hanging without the support they need.

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    • Still vague, but whatever.

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    • I can't give you information that doesn't exist at this time. All I can tell you is we're not going to leave wikis without the support they need in order to fully migrate back and not have any residual issues from previously being part of the experiment.

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    • I must be the only one that liked Community Builder. I considered it was the best innovation that Fandom has introduced:

      • data across the wiki was linked so easy to create data tables
      • infoboxes had drop-down data fields to standardize information
      • drag category tree to easy (re)organize
      • forced to rename new images to set up easy-to-find image search

      Now I know that the wiki is moving back to MediaWiki, I can now just abandon it.

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    • What you mentioned are among the ideas we want to see if we can continue to use on the new platform even with an upgraded MediaWiki. Our hope is to find ways where we can still make maintenance tasks or data content creation like that easier for users and admins, even with MediaWiki still being the underpinning software.

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    • To be clear, I was not a fan of Community Builder as it was the last time I saw it. That being said, I haven't exactly been watching it too closely. I assume that it was at least taken to the point where you could have user rolls like admins and whatnot? Otherwise, it seems premature to kill it when even the prototype isn't complete. Also, I think the lack of help pages may have been a significant factor. There were a decent number of users asking for help with Community Builder and most of us here had to shrug our shoulders and apologize for not having any answers. I am not trying to argue against the decision; just trying to figure out if Community Builder was given a fair chance.

      What TableWiz lists all sound like good features. That being said, I fell like some of them have at least somewhat analogous features in MediaWiki already.

      • Dynamic Page List
        • currently available
        • for basic cases
        • some older wikis still have its "predecessor", Semantic MediaWiki
      • Page Forms
        • perhaps could be added
        • some older wikis with Semantic MediaWiki have the "predecessor", Semantic Forms
      • Okay, this one would be uniquely new
      • Could blacklist page names
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    • RickGT wrote: Regardless of the outcome, it sounds like the experiment was a success, and that you guys received some important feedback on it. With the new MW upgrade looming ahead, I'm sure there will be the opportunity for more new and exciting experiments and tests in the future.

      The experiment was an abject failure that only succeeded in proving the people behind it are gargantuan idiots.

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    • Please keep comments respectful and civil. Thank you.

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    • The reasons for trying the Community Builder were good and legitmate, but the execution was highly flawed and didn't seem to have been planned out very well.

      Despite the "positives" mentioned by TableWiz, the biggest problem with Community Builder was lack of admin support and documentation (as mentioned by Andrewds1021) and without that you have something that will only grow randomly and with luck. It didn't have luck. Also those positives weren't even remotely compensation for the huge list of negatives.

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    • Revan's Exile wrote:

      RickGT wrote: Regardless of the outcome, it sounds like the experiment was a success, and that you guys received some important feedback on it. With the new MW upgrade looming ahead, I'm sure there will be the opportunity for more new and exciting experiments and tests in the future.

      The experiment was an abject failure that only succeeded in proving the people behind it are gargantuan idiots.

      You're right that it didn't achieve the improvements that were hoped for, but it was a success in the sense that FANDOM gained insights about what didn't work and what would be a better way to improve the editing experience, hence the coming mediawiki upgrade. Even if the hypothesis is proven wrong, that's still an important lesson learned.

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    • An experiment, by definition and design, is only a failure if you learn nothing from it.

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    • Banarama wrote:

      You're right that it didn't achieve the improvements that were hoped for, but it was a success in the sense that FANDOM gained insights about what didn't work and what would be a better way to improve the editing experience, hence the coming mediawiki upgrade. Even if the hypothesis is proven wrong, that's still an important lesson learned.

      It isn't clear that the reasons for upgrading the MediaWiki engine had anything specifically to do with what was learned by Community Builder. People have been complaining about the MediaWiki engine long before Community Builder was even probably previewed internally. Most of the complaints about MediaWiki are around not being able to take advantage of features and fixes that were in extensions and templates in Wikipedia or other wikis with newer engines (like, guess what... Gamepedia by Curse).

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    • It's true that people have been complaining about it a long time, but the Community Builder experiment showed building a new editing system wasn't worthwhile & was at least slightly connected with the quick shift to upgrading MediaWiki imo.

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    • I was once afraid it could someday replace MediaWiki. Now, I can rest assured my wiki won't ever meet with this fate.

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    • Good riddance! Thankfully Wikia is taking some good steps

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    • I agree. I was afraid that the Community Builder was going to replace MediaWiki and make the Dev Wiki useless. Thankfully Fandom took the right step forward and planned on upgrading MediaWiki!

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    • I thought Community Builder was a good update but when I did use Community Builder then I realized that I was wrong because users can not apply CSS and JS and most of the wikis are attractive because of CSS and JS. Community Builder was good for mobile users because that was a modern thing. But I hope new MediaWiki verison will bring new modern features which are suitable for mobile users.

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    • Attractive? A lot of wikis in part work on CSS/JS

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    • I would like to hear from any experienced admin about Community Builder, because I though it was horrible.

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    • Most of us here are experienced admins.

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    • And you liked Community Builder's admin tools (were there any?)?

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    • The admin tools that they really had were:

      • Page deletion
      • Sitemap editing
      • Theme customization

      Thing is, what we always considered as admin tools, were normal tools for everyone to use on Community Builder, so there were technically no additional permissions for privileged people, and in fact, there even were no user rights. Seems to be pretty odd in my opinion.

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    • I tried editing the 13 reasons why wiki (as a user), add some templates and stuff. It was a horrendous experience.

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    • Utkar22 wrote: I tried editing the 13 reasons why wiki (as a user), add some templates and stuff. It was a horrendous experience.

      Yeah, considering that template transclusion is not even a thing in the Community Builder. Are the templates saved or lost?

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    • I just wanted to make it clear that a wiki or whatever Community Builder is that you can't effectively administer is not a good experience unless you examine it in only the most shallow terms. Sure it will work as a very basic info presentation, but it will never become a rich experience tailored to the topic.

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    • Fandyllic will hate me for bringing this up but I would also like to point out that even the viewing experience was entirely broken in Internet Explorer; at least the last time I checked.

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    • LOL. Community Builder was DOA, if IE didn't like it. ;-)

      BTW, you should try the new Chromium-based Edge... it's quite good. Not sure about if it supports SAML (SSO) any better than the old Edge, because Chrome's SAML support isn't very good.

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    • Is that entirely separate from the one that comes with Windows already or will it come the next time I update the software?

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    • It won't come with a Win10 update yet, since it is still in Beta. Supposedly it works with most of the older OSes maybe down to Win7. Also, since it is Chromium-based it works on many other OSes... see: https://www.microsoftedgeinsider.com/en-us/download/

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    • A FANDOM user
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