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Since we last talked to you about Featured Video and how we want to eventually replace it on the platform, we’ve been working on what that replacement experience looks and feels like for our users. While we are making progress, we are also finding that we need more data points and experimentation to give us the insights to get it right. We’ve found, for instance, that featured video does not change the bounce rate (people who come and leave immediately) vs pages without featured video, and that session lengths and page views are equal with and without featured video. But is there an opportunity to actually extend sessions and engage users more? We hope so. There are many potential solutions, but it is important that we arrive at the right solution, a community-focused feature which creates value for users, contributors, and Fandom.

We are beginning a series of experiments to fill in the knowledge gap. In many cases (this one included), we will use the Featured Video unit so we can learn without using engineering resources currently dedicated to the platform improvements. This experiment will focus on gaining a better understanding of video consumption on the platform, how we can use video to promote our wiki communities, and how we can make video complement wiki content, rather than compete with it.

Complementing the Wikis

Right now, Featured Video content is 100% related to the wiki page it’s on. However, a lot of it is inaccurate, outdated, or just poorly executed. We own that. In the rush to get video populated on-site very quickly, quality suffered. Even when the content is everything we want it to be - accurate, evergreen, well-done- it may be a negative for the wiki content because it competes with the text on the page in question to deliver the answers a reader seeks.

Instead of creating a potentially competing experience or generating outdated content, we focused on finding a complementary and scalable idea. Presumably, if a visitor is on a movie wiki, say Wookieepedia for The Rise of Skywalker or Disney Wiki for Mulan, it can be inferred that individual is interested in movies. Taking this vertical or "interests" based approach lead us to develop our first video series test, called The Loop. The Loop will be a weekly, vertical-specific mini-show produced by Fandom's original content team to cover the latest developments for the wiki's vertical. It will launch initially for movies and TV, and followed in the new year by gaming, and each vertical will have a new episode every week.

Promoting the Wikis

As we have highlighted recently in the Global Taxonomy announcement, wiki discoverability is an area we are looking to improve in 2020. The overwhelmingly dominant point of entry for users to your wiki content today is Google. While this can be very positive for wiki communities with such fantastic search rankings that they outrank the content itself in search results, it is generally a negative for new and lesser-known wiki communities. With Global Taxonomy, we are leveraging the Fan Feed (at the bottom of wiki pages) to surface recommended wikis based on cross-visitation data. That means that we will show you a wiki which other visitors to the wiki you are currently on have been likely to also visit, which is not too dissimilar to suggested videos on YouTube or recommended shows on Netflix. That is just one way to affect wiki discoverability. This new video experiment is another way.

Remember how I said that The Loop will focus on latest developments in a vertical? Well, it’s going to be promoting the wikis for the subjects covered too! That’s the discoverability experiment piece of this. We are looking at how video might encourage people to explore a new wiki based on interest. When we recommend a wiki in The Loop, it will be mentioned in the video and we will provide a link underneath the player to the wiki in question. Since The Loop is updated weekly, the promoted communities are always changing. The concept here is the same as Global Taxonomy’s pilot program: Leverage a feature already on the wiki to test a discoverability feature with minimal engineering requirements and gather data to inform new development of a better experience in the future.

The Loop also allows us to involve the community in a way that we couldn’t with the scale of Featured Video. The Loop episodes will lean heavily into visitation data from wikis - for example, showing how many people have looked at a popular page on Wookieepedia during a release - and incorporate quotes, poll results, and more from communities. We’re also going to be opening up a process soon for how wiki editors can recommend what we cover on the show.

Understanding Video Consumption

To get the best understanding of impact of The Loop, we will be rolling it out to a sample of communities that currently have Featured Video, and some that do not. It is important that we look at as many situations and use cases as possible so we feel confident that we understand the impact of this or any other solutions across our site.

The Rollout

The initial test run of this experiment begins later today on 98 wikis in the TV/Movies vertical (Update: We revised this to 104). It will be ongoing for most of December. At the conclusion of the test, we will be evaluating the data before moving on to a wider rollout. That rollout will be very gradual, allowing us to keep an eye on the data and see how deliberate changes impact engagement.

Just like before, Featured Video will only apply to logged out users. Editors who have logged into their Fandom accounts will not see the content at all, unless they choose to do so via preferences. Additionally, we will have a rate limit for the content, only serving 1 video per community per visit. A user who arrives on a particular wiki looking for information about an episode of their favorite show would see the latest TV episode of The Loop at the top of that page about the episode, but when they drill down to a second page, looking to refresh their memory about a certain character’s love life, the rate limit will prevent another video experience from loading. Should they start or move on and visit another wiki with Featured Video enabled, however, they have started a new limit case in that wiki and would see The Loop on the following page.

Featured Video still represents a significant source of revenue for Fandom, which funds projects like the MediaWiki upgrade, Global Taxonomy, Editor Rewards, and some other cool new things we can’t talk about yet. The Loop, we hope, delivers on both the financial front and teaches us something about the direction we should be taking. The end goal remains the same: Find the best way forward to replace Featured Video entirely so that we have a community-focused feature that benefits the users and Fandom, together.

In Closing

This is not the end state for video on Fandom. This is a bridge we must cross to find the end state. Your feedback has driven this development as we seek to better understand the delicate relationship between video and wiki content. By gathering the data this bridge plan generates, we can provide a better experience at the end of the bridge on the Unified Community Platform.

It is another step in our grand experiment to create a better wiki experience for our readers and contributors, with a focus on discoverability in the same vein as Global Taxonomy and another experiment we’ll be talking about in early 2020.

tl;dr:

  • The Featured Video unit is being leveraged to showcase new weekly mini-shows created by Fandom, called The Loop
  • Each vertical will have its own version of The Loop
  • The Loop will promote wikis on the platform, so interested users can find them
  • It is not a permanent fixture on the platform, it is an experiment to inform the development of Feature Video’s replacement

Want to see an episode of The Loop? Here you go!


MisterWoodhouse

Will "MisterWoodhouse" Kavanagh Fandom Staff

Will is the Global Community Lead at Fandom. Previously, he was the Community Manager for Gamepedia and the Gaming Community Manager for Imzy. Outside of work, he hangs at the beach, explores breweries, plays golf, and lifts big weights for fun.
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