Hiya. I'm sure most of you don't know me, or maybe you've seen me around the chat or on the mainspace a couple times, but I'm not really an active contributor here in any regard. And there are a few reasons for that, which is actually the reason I'm posting this blog. I want you guys as a collective community to know why I personally have avoided joining this Wiki for real for the last year and a half that I've been here.
I want you to know that this isn't my way of trying to criticize this Wiki or any of you, this is an honest assessment I've put together from the time I've spent here, observing everything that happens. It's my opinion and nothing more. I hope you guys find this helpful in some regard and don't take any offense to what I say. I intend for this to be an open discussion, so please use the comments below to discuss what I bring up. Also, just throwing it out there, I don't participate in flame wars so don't try to start one with me, it won't work :P So yeah, here goes!
You guys have a really complicated way of nominating staff members. You have to be nominated by a current member of that position, you have to go through a long vote of support/opposition and it feels like a popularity contest more than a legitimate vote. That being said, you guys have some cool staff members here. Your Chat Mods, Patrollers, Forum Mods, Sysops, and News Team members are all cool and all do their respective jobs well. I think the main issue you guys may experience with your staff is your lack of it. For example, there is only one Patroller on this site, and while Rim does his job well, that doesn't mean there shouldn't be more on the site.
A simple fix to this would be to make it easier for members to become part of the staff, just not too easy. This would need to be done properly, though, not sloppily. For example, in order to become a Patroller, don't set an arbitrary edit count to reach. Set a precedent through your current Patrollers (or in this case Patroller) which they should try to reach through effort and self-improvement. Let anyone nominate anyone, or turn it back into an application system. I don't have the perfect answer for how to set it up, but a realistic discussion about this HAS to be had.
There is one more issue I feel between users and staff. Some people get the feeling that because someone is a staff member, they are right all the time and their decisions shouldn't be questioned. You guys need to stress that the opinion of everyone is valued, and just because someone has thousands of edits, that doesn't make them infallible. Making the environment of the Wiki one of welcome is the best route to go. The staff members should also be responsible for thanking members for their contributions, no matter how big or small, and making everyone feel welcome.
You guys have a lot of policies. A lot. Of policies. So many that it is intimidating to be a new user on the site, because no one in their right mind can read and remember all of these policies as a new member, and they're expected to follow them. That is why policy needs to be reviewed constantly, not once every couple months. You should always be asking what could be changed about a policy, big or small, that may make it more accessible to new users. Instead of long, drawn-out paragraphs of info, try to make them concise and condensed. It also needs to be known to all that just because there is a policy on something, it is not the final word. Not all policies will always be right, and in the case that a policy is wrong, it is essential that it is broken so that everyone can see that breaking that policy improved the Wiki, and so it should be revised. A great example of this was when there were no active Sysops to nominate someone after Tomb/Ghost/Ebony left and Saj was blocked by Kenny for nominating himself. Now come on, I think we can all agree that policies aren't always right, and if they're prohibiting someone from proactively improving the Wiki, they need to be revised.
I've read almost every consensus track that has been posted in the last 4 or 5 months, and they take absolutely forever to resolve. And when you do resolve them, there's only one definitive side chosen, and the other is essentially told "You're in the minority, your idea is void," which is just flat out wrong. A compromise should be made between the two sides wherever possible. Find common ground that both sides can agree on and work from there. Also, don't keep them open for weeks on end unless discussion is happening on a daily basis during those weeks, which is never is. If there has been no response on a CT within a few days, a decision should be made between the participating parties quickly and it should be closed. People have to be willing to compromise or the slow moving decisions will continue.
This is where I think the Forum Mods could possibly play a really important role. Put your Forum Mods in charge of attempting to mediate these CTs. It's fine if they take a stance on one side or the other, but try to make them responsible for searching for any type of common ground. It will take some work, but I think it could really pay off to benefit this Wiki.
In the roughly year and a half I've been here, it has been clear to me that there are cliques of users who get along with each other, and don't get along with others. That kind of stuff has to stop. You are all a community here to do the same thing: Build an amazing database for an amazing game series. You need to support each other, critique each other, and challenge each other. There is no room for petty squabble or arguments when you're trying to do this. Not to mention this makes it intimidating for new users to join the Wiki, as they will feel like they are forced to pick sides in arguments. Don't put your new users in positions like that. If you could all try to keep in mind the purpose for being here, I think a lot more could get done, as you would realize that like it or not, you're working with the people here and no amount of arguing will change that.
There are a lot of miscellaneous issues that make it unappealing to join the Wiki. I will list a few of them here in no particular order:
- Confusing Manuals of Style
- Vast amount of pages with little guide towards where to start editing
- Unfriendly chat (at times)
- People who religiously revert edits without helping the user who made the edit improve
There are probably more, but it's 10:30 PM and I'm tired, so I'm going to end this post here. I look forward to discussing this with you all, and I plan on extending this post to include what is done right, just not right now....Until that point, hope this helps, and I look forward to the discussion.