Welcome to the first Sneak Peek - a series of blog posts that highlight some of the features and changes in Wikia’s new look and share the reasoning behind the choices we’re making.
One big surprise during early user testing was that it’s not clear to newbies that Wikia pages are written by people just like them. How did we find this out? Simple! We sat testers down in front of a wiki on Monaco and asked, “Who do you think wrote this?” The most common response was “Ummm, I don’t know.”
When pressed further, some other responses were:
- "Wikia wrote it!"
- "This must be written by NBC’s media people." [on Muppet Wiki]
We were stunned that such a core part of the wiki experience could be misunderstood. If new users don’t know how the content is created, they are much less likely to join and contribute. We feel that one of the biggest causes of this disconnect is that the page History and Recent Changes can be tricky to find and difficult to understand. As highly active Wikians, this might seem strange -- but remember when you were brand new and didn’t have the deep knowledge of wikis that you do now. Wasn’t it kind of confusing?
The new look does a better job surfacing that the content on Wikia is written by a community. For example, we’ve moved the most recent editor’s name from the bottom of the page to the top, added an avatar, and a new mini-history dropdown. We’ve also added a new recent wiki activity module to the right sidebar on article pages.
These changes provide visual cues to visitors that they are viewing a living, breathing, real-time website created by people just like them. And hopefully it motivates them to dive right in and become passionate community members.
Many of you are asking specific questions about features and design. We want to reiterate that we don’t have all the answers right now and we’re also trying to avoid giving you misleading information as things change. We want you to know that we do hear the concern about the new skin in many of your comments. While not every piece of feedback leads to a change that doesn’t mean we aren’t listening and thoughtfully weighing all that you have to say.
At this point we have over 130 people participating in the beta, with hundreds more to be added in the coming weeks. The input we’ve received has led to changes and fixes that are now incorporated into the new look, and will be released into the ongoing beta this Wednesday.
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