If you haven't read last week's staff blog about upgrading to a modern version of MediaWiki, please do so before reading this one.
Today we’re making a big announcement and entering into a long-term agreement with you, the community.
In 2016, we announced that Wikia would be renamed Fandom powered by Wikia, a move to establish that the platform was more than a traditional wiki experience. The branding decision, while ultimately the correct one, was incomplete. It was an important decision to move our business forward, but the editor experience didn’t really change in any meaningful way. The name changed, but the back end was still the Wikia platform, as those of you who watch our github know very well. To borrow a construction metaphor, we simply put a new coat of paint on the old house.
Updating to a modern version of MediaWiki is building a new foundation for a better house. What we’re embarking on here is a long journey to build the Fandom platform, a top-to-bottom upgrade that keeps the general MediaWiki experience you’re familiar with, but puts new and modern extensions in the hands of editors. The end goals are improved editor experience and a world-class experience for millions of fans.
We’ve talked a lot about what the MediaWiki upgrade announcement will mean for the editor experience, so let’s talk about the long-term agreement we’re making with you.
The road to the new Fandom platform will be a long one and it’s important to us that we set the right expectations. That comes with some commitments we’re making with you, as well as commitments we are asking from you in return. We are calling it the Fandom Community Contract. It is so important to us that it will live front and center on Community Central from now until the new Fandom platform is feature complete.
- Pursue a win/win strategy in all platform decisions. If a decision is not both a win for us AND a win for the most users possible, it is likely not worth making. We will take a community first approach, knowing that what leads to happy and healthy communities is ultimately what makes the entire platform more successful.
- Seek solution parity or better. The new platform will solve for the existing problems as well as new opportunities, but the solutions will not always be the same features as on the legacy platform. If a legacy Wikia feature must be removed, we will seek to replace the solution it presents with an equal or better feature. If a feature is no longer providing an effective solution, however, it might not be replaced. Such decisions will be communicated, and we will invite feedback and criticism of those decisions.
- Take on the responsibility of saying “no” sometimes. We are not going to be able to satisfy everyone. Although we are pursuing a win/win strategy and solution parity, we know that there are times where we have to say “no” to some features or requests and that not everyone will agree. If we said yes to everything, we would be doing a disservice to the stability and future of our community platform by simply replicating the same technology problems we have now. Development teams and other company leaders are empowered and responsible for making final decisions about platform updates and changes.
- Be transparent about how and why we make platform decisions. While we may not always be able to share the specific data used, we will make all decisions with strong data-reinforced backing, not gut feelings, and share the rationale for decisions we make. When we have to say no, or make a difficult choice, you will always know why.
- Communicate clearly and often. This will be a long process and you are stakeholders in the outcome, so it is vital that we communicate often. We hope that the tone and frequency of communication we have established in the past few months gives you a sense of what to expect moving forward.
- Reach out to the community when input is required. We are building this platform for you and for future generations of fans. While we have a very solid understanding of what you want and need for most of the features, some things will require input directly from our editors.
- Listen to valid criticism and act upon it. We receive a lot of criticism, sometimes very well deserved. If you provide relevant, respectful, constructive, actionable criticism to us, we will review it and act upon it — or, if we’re not acting upon it, we will provide you with a thorough explanation of why we’ve made that decision. Recent announcements from the staff blog should set the expectation for what sort of action your constructive criticism can yield.
We ask that you...
- Hold us accountable and challenge us. Our jobs are in service to the communities who call the Fandom family of websites home. If we are not living up to our commitments, tell us! Never be shy to share constructive criticism and feedback.
- Be patient. As I have mentioned, this will be a long journey we take together. Like all software, the first version of the platform will not be perfect and there will be bugs to fix throughout its development. We are committed to the end goals, not just shipping the first version and calling it mission accomplished.
- Embrace constructive change. Some of the things built onto the Wikia platform have been highly-custom versions of MediaWiki features. As we move to a more modern MediaWiki, there will be some changes. We’ll commit to providing you with as much detailed information as possible when these changes arise and, in return, we ask that you embrace positive changes as a way to build better and deeper communities.
That’s the Fandom Community Contract. It is our living covenant with you, our users. This is a company-wide commitment to make the next chapter in Fandom’s history the best one yet.
We cannot do this without you. We hope you will embrace and advocate for the commitments we’ve outlined.
As this is the start of a major undertaking, we will not have answers to many specific questions about functionality, features, technical details, etc., but we’re happy to take your questions regardless!
Will "MisterWoodhouse" Kavanagh Fandom Staff
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