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[personal profile] jarandhel
 So, I'm considering the structure of information on AnOtherWiki and I think making some changes to existing categories might make it easier for people to find things.  

Right now, we have separate categories for "Blogs" (currently only communities, not personal blogs), "Mailing lists", "Forums", and "Social Networking Groups".  I'm thinking that it may be better to roll all of these together into one larger category: "Discussion Groups".  

Subcategories would continue to organize these into the various types of Discussion Group, all the way down to the specific providers such as Facebook, LiveJournal, Google Groups, etc.  This is a similar approach to how "Chats" have been addressed on the wiki, and would focus more on the function of the group - hosting discussions - than on the specific medium being used.  What do people think?  Would that be less confusing?  More?  About the same?  It's a big change and I'd like some feedback before I decide whether or not to implement it.  

I'm also considering getting rid of the category "Community Resource" as it is currently poorly defined and I think it might be better to focus on specific functionality the sites provide.

And as long as we're on the topic, are there any major categories for resources that we're currently missing?

Updates!

Nov. 25th, 2015 04:03 pm
jarandhel: (Default)
[personal profile] jarandhel
 A few updates for AnOtherWiki this month:
  1. We've moved to a new webhost!
  2. We've upgraded from MediaWiki 1.23 to 1.25!
  3. We've put some new features in place behind the scenes to deal with malicious users and spammers.
  4. We've reduced the Captcha questions on signup and page edit for users who have not confirmed their email address to just one question: what is the name of this wiki?  This was done to help users who may not be as familiar with the community trivia necessary to answer our old Captcha questions.
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[personal profile] jarandhel

I just found out that AnOtherWiki has been backed up to archive.org as its own collection, courtesy of the WikiTeam wiki archiving project: https://archive.org/details/wiki-anotherwikiorg 

I'm not sure how often the backup will be updated, but it's always good to have things backed up like this.

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[personal profile] jarandhel
As I mentioned in my last post, I've gone ahead and updated the template for upcoming community events on AnOtherWiki.  It has a bit nicer and more modern look to it, and requires a bit less special handling to get images and such to show up properly in it.   All of the new features are implemented in it, and appear to be working fine.  It will also make editing the template in the future a bit easier, as it makes use of another template to dynamically generate infoboxes.  As always, if anyone encounters any bugs or unexpected behavior with this change, please let me know.
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[personal profile] jarandhel

As I mentioned in my last post, I've been doing some work on enhancing the Upcoming Community Events listing over on AnOtherWiki.  It took a bit of late-night hacking followed by some early morning debugging, but I'm pleased to say that I've finished another round of updates and it looks like we have automatic creation of RSS feeds and iCal feeds (the latter of which have automatic tinyurls so they are compatible with google calendar) working now.  I can't say there won't be any bugs going forward, I've already encountered one with long event names that's been fixed, but if you run into any let me know and I'll fix them as quickly as possible.  The new feeds show up as part of the infobox which is created automatically for all events made using the event form.

In the next few days I'll probably also update the infobox template to make it a little fancier/more modern looking.

jarandhel: (Default)
[personal profile] jarandhel
A little change for upcoming community events over on AnOtherWiki that I think is going to be very interesting and useful for everyone: you can now subscribe to upcoming events in iCal, Google Calendar, or other programs which accept iCal feeds using this url

This is step one.  Step two is getting each individual event its own feed so that people can subscribe to just the events which are local to them and which they are interested in.  That's going to take a bit more planning, since at this time Google Calendar can't work with the long urls by which Semantic Mediawiki's iCal export is generated and there is no easy way to automate the use of tinyurl for each new event.  It may simply need to be done manually.  I've already set up one for the Northern Virginia Otherkin Meetup as a test, and it's working perfectly, but I'm exploring options to see if we can automate it somehow before doing them all by hand.

The iCal export only covers events happening in the next 60 days at this time.  If you know of any community events happening in that time period which don't appear on it, please let me know.  Or, better yet, add them to the wiki yourself!  They'll be added to the events calendar  and list of upcoming community events automatically.
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[personal profile] jarandhel

Seeking volunteers to help maintain and update AnOtherWiki. It's a big job, and a wiki really isn't meant for one person to edit. Ideally, I would like to build a core group of editors working steadily to grow and improve the wiki. Over time, as we get more users and activity, this may evolve into an co-mod role for those with a history of valuable contribution to the wiki.

For those who don't already know, AnOtherWiki is a free encyclopedia written by, for, and about the otherkin, therian, draconity, and real vampire communities. It also contains information about other related communities which have had significant overlap with ours, such as the multiplicity community, the soulbonding community, and the psionics community. And more information is being added virtually every day.  We currently have over 800 articles, and are always seeking new information about websites or people in the community, gathers, chatrooms, jargon, or anything else of general community interest. We also take the view that a community is only as good as the collective memory it has, so we're particularly interested in information about our community's history and shared culture. Please join us, and help us grow.

To get started, sign up here.
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[personal profile] jarandhel
Just did a massive cleanup of external links on AnOtherWiki. Fixed any broken links I could, if they couldn't be fixed I marked the resource as defunct or linked to an archived copy where available and appropriate. There are still some broken links, but those are the ones I really just couldn't do anything with and for which no archived copies were available. Also: whoever's been making a point of archiving pages linked to from the wiki, you rock. You made that job so much easier.


jarandhel: (Default)
[personal profile] jarandhel
Upgraded AnOtherWiki today - most of the improvements are behind the scenes, but users will hopefully notice an increase in speed and a few other bells and whistles.  Personally, I particularly like the new date picker when creating events, I think it looks a lot better than the old one.  

As always, if you encounter any errors or other problems please let me know.  I've recently been informed that some users were having trouble with compression, some pages were coming through garbled - I believe this has been fixed, but if it happens to anyone else please let me know.  Really, if the site behaves odd in any way please let me know.  I can't troubleshoot things if I don't know there's a problem.

Btw, some quick stats - since its creation on March 20, 2012 AnOtherWiki has 741 articles across 273 categories.  That's an average of about 1.36 articles a day and one new category every two days.  And we're still going.  Today alone we've added articles for three new meetups, two in New England and one in California, and an article for the Facebook Therianthropy IRC channel.  But as always, we could use more help.  While there are 66 registered users on AnOtherWiki, only 5 users have edited the wiki in the last 30 days.  That's simply not enough to provide a broad perspective on the community.

The more people we have working on this, the more likely we are to cover all the resources, meetups, chats, etc. that are actually out there.  And the more likely we are to be able to make a wiki that is truly an unbiased expression of what our community is.  Like I've been saying from the start: This is our encyclopedia, written for our community by our community and about our community. Let’s make it everything it can be, together.


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[personal profile] jarandhel
AnOtherWiki has had certain, as yet unwritten, policies I've tried to adhere to with regard to what events to add to its upcoming events listing. Any event listed there has to be geared towards people who identify as nonhuman. Simple enough, as long as we can find them, right?

Unfortunately, particularly with the vampire community, that's led to some major events not being listed because while they are put on by members of the real vampire community they're not necessarily geared towards that same community as much as they are to anyone who is interested in the aesthetic of the fictional vampire. For example:

Atlanta Vampire Meetup Group - This meetup is run by the Atlanta Vampire Alliance, an organization for real vampires. But the meetup itself welcomes "Vampires & admirers, folkloric/literary enthusiasts, Goths, psychics, pagans, spiritualists, occultists, paranormalists, DragonCon/Frolicon/Other "Con" attendees, audiophiles & music lovers, board-gamers, club goers, coffee & tea drinkers, conversationalists, fine dining patrons, horror fans, kinky-minded people, movie fans, trivia nerds, wine & cheese snobs, etc." and goes on to specifically ask that topics regarding psychic or sanguinarian vampirism not be brought up at the meetup. Because of this policy, I have not included it in the list of upcoming community events on AnOtherWiki.

Dracula's Ball - While run by a member of the real vampire community, the event describes itself as a "national gathering of vampire enthusiasts" and does not mention real vampires anywhere on its site.  It is, primarily, a vampire-themed club night.  As such, I haven't included it in the list of upcoming community events on AnOtherWiki either.

Siren Shadow Gala - Again, while run by members of the real vampire community, in this case affiliated with the New Orleans Vampire Association, the event itself seems geared more towards vampire enthusiasts though its description does contain the single line "The main ballroom upstairs is the music hall for finely-attired Vampires and Otherkin alike, as all hold court and enjoy the company of kindred spirits."  I just found this one last night, and the use of the word otherkin had me leaning towards including it at first but I'm really not sure it's qualitatively different as an event than Dracula's Ball.  

Should the word otherkin itself be our shibboleth?  With the entry on Otherworlds Festival I thought it (along with therians) should be, but now I am less sure.  Certainly I have not included a number of furry meetup groups that list therians and otherkin as keywords for their group, because their descriptions make it clear that they are primarily oriented towards furries:

  • http://www.meetup.com/Arizona-Furries/
  • http://www.meetup.com/houtxfurries/
  • http://www.meetup.com/CSFurries/
  • http://www.meetup.com/Inland-Northwest-Fur-Folk/
  • http://www.meetup.com/SEFFurs/

I could go on, but the point is probably made. It's more than a little unclear on where the line should be drawn with regard to events that are loosely associated with the otherkin, therians, and real vampire communities but not necessarily geared towards these communities in particular. Any thoughts/feedback?

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[personal profile] jarandhel
I'm still giving some thought to the creation of Portals, ala Wikipedia, to aid in navigation on AnOtherWiki.  I can see how it might be useful to have some sort of guide to a subject, rather than just dropping someone off in a category and expecting them to find their own way around.  But looking at the actual Portals that have been implemented on Wikipedia, I'm not sure they actually accomplish that very well.  They're pretty much just topical reproductions of the Main Page.

If we did decide to use Portals as guides to the subjects on AnOtherWiki, I think we'd have to do it somewhat differently.  More like a travel guide, perhaps, or a WikiProject but still geared towards readers as well as contributors.  But doing so also opens up its own dangers - it may be difficult to write guides to broad subjects in the otherkin community without potentially violating the Objective point of view policy.

And, on the other hand, WikiFur seems to function fairly well using just categories without any sort of Portal, Project, or Guide.  And any effort we dedicate to making a Portal or Guide is effort that's being taken away from writing new articles, creating new categories, etc.

Yeah, still no firm decisions yet.  Anyone have any thoughts on this?

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[personal profile] jarandhel
Trying a new layout for the main page that gives higher placement to the Otherkin News and Upcoming Events sections.  It also reduces whitespace (well, bluespace in this case).  I'm not 100% sold on it just yet, but I think it might be better than what we had before.  Possibly with a few more stylistic tweaks.

It's been suggested that usability may be further improved by replacing the current category links on the main page with portals, as found on Wikipedia.  Making and maintaining them would be a lot of additional work, and I'd have to work out exactly what topics it would be most useful to have portals for, so I haven't started on that yet but it's definitely under considerations.  Suggestions/alternatives are of course welcome.

Unfortunatly we've lost power here and I'm not sure when it will come back up.  Connected via my phone and the wonders of tethering right now.  So that's it for the moment.
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[personal profile] jarandhel
Continuing the effort to make things on the wiki more accessible for newcomers, I've installed an extension that will post the following greeting on new user's talk pages when their accounts are first created:

"Hello, [UserName]! Welcome to AnOtherWiki! I'm Jarandhel Dreamsinger, the admin here, and I hope you enjoy what you've seen so far. There are some resources to help get you started at the community portal. If you have any questions feel free to start a new topic on my talk page, or at the help desk, or come chat with folks in the IRC channel. Actually, do that last one even if you don't have any questions, we love to meet new people! *grins*
-- Jarandhel (talk) [Datestamp]"

I've also started an effort to get users to spread the word about us.  We're no good to the community if no one is aware of our existence, and the more editors we have adding new content the more useful we can be.  I'll also be trying to spread the word more myself, on other forums, in the near future.  Webweaving is important, and it's something I think gets neglected too much in the community today.

In that spirit, I've also added a list of new users to the bottom of the community portal to help recognize and showcase our newest editors.  The links there go directly to their user talk pages, so it'll be easier for all of us to welcome them to our community and see how they're doing.  Right now the order of that list is a little messed up because of the last batch of manual "Welcome to AnOtherWiki" notices I sent out - I didn't take care to do the oldest ones first - but now that welcoming is automated the issue should correct itself.
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[personal profile] jarandhel
I also added all of the resource links I send out on tumblr in my daily "A few more links" post to the sidebar of the wiki, to help newcomers find them.
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[personal profile] jarandhel
Working a bit more on AnOtherWiki tonight.  I'm trying to make things a bit more accessible for people new to working with wikis and not as familiar with things.  To that end, I've added a community portal to help guide newcomers and to serve as a resource for users of all ability levels.  I've also added a "site news" link that will bring anyone who clicks on it here to the new [community profile] anotherwiki Dreamwidth community, where future updates about the site will be archived and where folks can talk about the articles they're editing, ask questions, make comments, and meet some of the other people helping to make AnOtherWiki one of the best resources our community has ever seen.
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[personal profile] jarandhel
Since the March anniversary of AnOtherWiki I haven't really been doing much with it beyond updating the event listings.  Frankly, it took a lot of work to meet the target number of articles on time, and I needed a bit of a break and a breather to work on other projects.  That break is now over, and I'm again beginning work in earnest on the wiki. 

One change, perhaps the biggest, is that AnOtherWiki is no longer hosted on a subdomain of Dreamhart.org but rather has its own domain: AnOtherWiki.org  All old urls should properly forward to their respective articles on the new domain; if there are any problems with that please let me know.

Another is that I have, for now, decided to remove the Featured Article section.  In time that may be restored, but I think that the random article links and the did you know section adequately showcase the contents of the wiki at present.  Besides, with no one nominating articles to be featured the selection has been somewhat arbitrary.  I'd like to save featured articles for when it can actually mean something and stand as an achievement for an article to be showcased that way.

I'm also making a push towards getting more community involvement in the wiki.  At this time I've sent out some messages asking groups and individuals if they would be interested in writing articles for the wiki about their kintypes.  So far I've approached windigowaks, Tuatha de Danaan, Brinn/Kon'yrii, and Leannan Sidhe.  I've also asked the fivetrees mailing list if anyone there would be interested in writing an article about Guardians for the wiki, as there has been a good bit of overlap between the two communities in the past.  I'll probably be approaching others soon - I'm going to see if I can find current contacts for polymorphs and Rissti, for instance.

We could also use a lot of help cataloging otherkin websites and other resources, writing about influential persons and groups, making a glossary of community jargon and terms from remembered languages, and just generally expanding the content we have.  We've planted the seeds of a great encyclopedia by, for, and about our community.  Now let's help it grow.
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