“How can people find my wiki?” is an age-old question. Most people find their way to wikis through Google search. On Fandom itself, there’s never been a truly effective way to showcase content from other wikis that people might be interested in. We have the Popular Pages module in the right rail and the Fan Feed on the bottom of the page, but your feedback on those over the years have been clear -- they’re not always relevant, and the Fan Feed is massive at the bottom.

Today we’re excited to tell you about a project we’ve been working on throughout the year, one that will help fans better discover content you create that, most importantly, is relevant to them.

We’re building a Global Taxonomy that we’ll be able to use on our current platform and on the Unified Community Platform.

What is a Global Taxonomy?

A taxonomy is a system that leverages structured data to understand the relationship between different pieces of content and how we can connect it all together in a way that makes it easier for people to discover. Right now, we don’t actually know how pages relate to one another from a structural standpoint. From a technical perspective, our page structure is “flat” — which is to say, all wiki pages are just understood to be pages with no relational value between one another. We have wiki categories, of course, but those only show the relationship between pages on a single wiki, rather than how they might relate to pages on every other wiki.

What our new Global Taxonomy will allow us to do is to build those relationships. On a foundational level, we will be able to understand that the Battlefront Wiki is connected to Wookieepedia, that Luke Skywalker is labeled (via structured data) as a Character, and that Luke Skywalker on Battlefront Wiki is the same character as Luke Skywalker on Wookieepedia. This is a pretty simple example, but it gives you an idea of the type of connections we are establishing in the data, allowing wikis with related content to be documented in a way that connects them.

Why is this important?

A Global Taxonomy will provide fans with the ability to discover content that’s interesting and relevant to them. Just like Netflix has determined that viewers of “Anthony Bourdain’s Parts Unknown” are likely to be interested in “Explained” through viewing habits, we are able to determine that visitors to the Call of Duty Wiki are likely to be interested in the My Little Pony Wiki. And no, I’m not making that up. That’s a real thing! And with a Global Taxonomy, we’ll be able to figure out where more of these not-so-obvious connections between communities exist, draw conclusions about likely interests, and apply what we learn to products like our recommendation feeds across the site.

This will help to solve a major pain point that the community has identified over the years -- lack of relevant content recommendations. The Popular Pages module (formerly used for showcasing editorial content) and the Fan Feed often recommended content that was trending on Fandom but not necessarily relevant to the person viewing it. Admins and users alike would tell us that they did not understand why a gamer was seeing content recommendations for an anime series, and our response was that people are fans of a lot of things. Which is true, but consumers also crave relevance and the Global Taxonomy will give us the opportunity to serve them with content that we are confident (because of a data-driven foundation) will interest them.

Here’s a good use case: Game of Thrones just ended this year. What should I watch next? Through a data-driven Global Taxonomy, we have the opportunity to answer that question. We’ll know the relationships between different fantasy shows and, based on what other Game of Thrones fans have viewed on Fandom, we’ll be able to recommend a new show for people to watch. And not just shows, but also games, books, movies, and more based on those interests.

When will you start to see results?

A lot of the Global Taxonomy work throughout 2019 has been foundational, such as setting up labels and working with our Wiki Managers and Content Team Members on associating wiki pages with the appropriate content labels. We wanted to make sure the expertise of those groups, made up of admins from across Fandom and Gamepedia, was used to ensure the accuracy of our labeling system. In the first few months of 2020, we’ll be launching a pilot program that will use that relational data in a new recommendation experience.

For this pilot program, we’ll repurpose the Fan Feed to surface data-driven recommendations based on our initial Global Taxonomy findings. It won’t be perfect at first, but it’s a step toward making the Fan Feed more relevant to a user’s interests. The findings from this pilot will provide valuable insight for the development of not only a more robust recommendation experience in the Unified Community Platform, but a new and improved design for the Fan Feed experience as well. We also think that this will serve as an effective replacement for related wiki footers that communities often use, by becoming an automated recommendation engine rather than a manually-curated template.

Although this program will be part of the Unified Community Platform, I should note that they are separate projects and Global Taxonomy will be launched on the current Fandom platform as well. It won’t be launched on the Gamepedia platform, but Gamepedia communities will have this as a benefit to being on the Unified Community Platform once Fandom and Gamepedia officially come together.

Let’s Recap

That’s a lot of info, so here’s the TL;DR:

  • Similar to sites like Netflix that have recommendation engines, we are building a Global Taxonomy to see how wikis are interconnected and using this to improve a user’s ability to discover related wikis.
  • We predict that our new Global Taxonomy project will create a better experience for our fans by showing them related content that will be interesting to them. Through this, we’ll be exploring how to better engage our entire audience, wiki editors and readers alike.

This is a huge Fandom initiative and we’re really excited to share this with you today. If you have any questions about the initial information here, fire away in the comments! If you have a staff question about another topic or need support, please contact our support desk.


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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