Warning! This blog post contains the reflections of "Grandpa" Timeoin. A lot of it has very little bearing about the wiki today, other than to give a historical context to how the wiki is today!
Okay, so a year ago, to this day, I first joined this wiki. Don't ask me how I came across it - I honestly couldn't tell you. I forget now. From memory, I was on Wikia looking at something else, and on a whim, decided to see if there was one for this series.
Anyway, my first reaction to this site was a mixed one: I saw a wiki with a lot of potential to it. I already knew how vast the series was, and this wiki had (at the time) nearly a thousand pages of content (from memory, around about 800). Unfortunately, WikiStats cannot help in this regard, for reasons that I will get to further down. As I was saying though - I saw a lot of potential. However, it was also very problematic.
It was problematic for several reasons: First of all - it was largely inactive. In the months ahead, I would learn that the previous administrators here had had a massive argument (back in 2009), and most of them had gone elsewhere as a result. I was not about to let this phase me, though - I needed a project to work on, and helping fix this wiki seemed like something that I could work on for quite a while. So - I signed up to Wikia.
This wasn't the only thing wrong with the wiki at the time, however. It was an absolute mess, too. I don't really know why, but for whatever reason (probably because they were busy fighting amongst themselves), they had allowed the standard of the pages to drop unbearably low. The "Featured Article" at the time had half a dozen redlinks on it, for crying out loud! (And seriously, why would you even NEED to link to "dead emporer crab", anyway?). The templates were at best, dodgy, and at worse, non-existant. The Wanted Pages list had several in there with over a thousand links to them. (They had unchecked links in their "welcome" template, amongst other things). Compared to now, where, on a BAD day, the most "wanted" page only has 5 or 6 links (And we're working on reducing that each day!) its completely unrecognisable to how it used to be.
There was also another problem - one that I could not see an easy solution too: that of activity. As I mentioned earlier, most of the administrators had left the wiki long ago. There was one admin left, who logged about once a month, just enough so that noone could put up an "adoption request" on wikia. (And doing little more than logging on). Other than that - it was essentially just myself, the occasional vandal (people would drop in every few days and spam rubbish on pages), and so forth. Oh, and after about a month or so, I noticed that Annonnimus (who later, would become an admin on here as well) also helped a lot on here. I mention him by name, because, well - he was instrumental in helping me. His knowledge of wikia's ways, as well as the helping hand he gave me when I was still a newbie here, was probably one of the main reasons that I stuck around for so long. Anyways - back to the activity problem: an unexpected solution revealed itself shortly after I started editing here, which brings me to the second segment of this reminiscance: The Skyrim Wiki.
The Skyrim Wiki
Now, this next bit will, admittedly, confuse a lot of you out there. Sorry about this, but, well, its my reflection of the last year, and this part is important to that tale.
Okay, so, at the time, there were a number of different Elder Scrolls wikis out here on Wikia. There was three major ones: the Elder Scrolls Wiki (this one, which was largely a lore-based wiki); the skyrim wiki (skyrim.wikia), and the OblivioWiki (oblivion.wikia). Each of them existed somewhat independently of one another. I say "somewhat" with good reason. You see, Skyrim Wiki was a relatively new wiki at the time. It was created shortly after the Skyrim game was announced, back in 2010. And it was, as you might imagine, very highly active, as you might imagine: People wanted to know what was going to be in the game, what wasn't, etc. Which was great - the wiki was awesome for that. (And was THE place to go to find information). I can say without false modesty, that quite often, we had more information about the series than the elder scrolls site itself did. (As we had references about the game added from some sources that the site didnt link to, such as published game magazines, etc). Anyways - that site was highly active, and this one had a lot of lore-type things about it.
The idea was proposed that the wikis be merged. After all, a lot of the pages on here was just being copied verbatim to the skyrim wiki, and referenced at the bottom of the page. So - why not merge them? Well, there was only one problem with this: to merge wiki's, you need administrators on both wikis to agree to do so. Now, Skyrim Wiki's Admins (Lordsunflash and Kacj321) were very willing to do this: they saw the potential to this. So did I. The problem, I was an editor here at the time. Enter Ausir:
Now, Ausir has since left Wikia, and works for a different website, but at the time, Ausir was the person to speak to with regards to Game Wikis. Or at least - thats what it seemed to me. He was always willing to help me out when I had problems, and it was he that helped the eventual merging of the wikis. After a few weeks worth of conversations, nothing was happening, however. So at one point, I left him a messaging saying something along the lines of "well, what can I do about it from my side of things? The admin here is extremely inactive?". His reply: to make me an admin/bureaucrat here. (Essentially, I "adopted" the wiki). Which was how I became an Administrator here: because there was noone else here willing/wanting to do the job. Since then (April 11, in case anyone was interested), I've tried to do everything I can to help improve the wiki. I don't think I've done that bad a job really, but thats my own opinion. Feel free to disagree if you wish. :)
Where was I? Oh yeah - the wiki-merging. So, now that I was made an Administrator, I formally stated that I agreed to merge the wikis, and Skyrim.Wikia was merged into this wiki. It took a fair bit of work (there was several hundred pages to merge, and sort through content-wise) but we got there in the end.
And when we had done so - there was a HECK of a lot of new members here on the wiki - and it had the content available for people to search for :)
From then on, we continued working on improving the wiki as much as we could - adding pages, content, references, etc. (In particular, I'm particularly proud of the fact that I had, at the time, added 90% of the books on this wiki). Mainly because I could then use those books as references, which I did, and we have continued to do so today. (Other game wikis do this as well).
Um... skipping forward a bit - in June, we added those Achievement Badges that we have now. From my side of things: there were a few hurdles. (Trying to decide what categories should and should not be added, for instance). However, I think that we got there in the end.
OblivioWiki was probably the biggest hurdle that this wiki has faced. The person running that wiki, Mbjones90, eventually agreed to the idea of merging the wikis, mainly because it was somewhat silly to duplicate the data on two different sites. It created a masive nightmare though, in terms of logistics. At the time, the wiki had something like 4,000 pages (as I said, we'd been busy!), and the OblivioWiki had something like 6,000. You might think that would be 10,000 pages right? Well - no, not really. You see, a lot of those pages were actually duplicated pages. Pages that existed on both wikis. For instance, people had added a page here about the Hero of Kvatch, and obviously, the OblivioWiki had one as well. Same with the deities, etc, etc. There were several hundred pages like this that were both quite lengthy, and written in completely separate writing styles. (It was a lot easier to merge ones where one is a stub about it, and one is a fully-fleshed article).
So - once the merge had started - there was a lot of work to do. And, for the most part - we were successful in getting this work done quickly. Keep in mind, there were thousands of pages to merge. And only a few months before Skyrim came out - so we had our work cut out for us. Then there was the matter of categories. Being a wiki about one game in the series, they didn't have things like "Oblivion: Dark Brotherhood Members", they had them just as "Dark Brotherhood members". And they had just as many templates (administrative and otherwise) as we did. So much so that I doubt that even today, we have fixed the wiki up 100% of the oblivio-wiki issues. (If you see a page that doesnt have any reference to what game it was from: I guarantee you it was from the OblivioWiki). I make no apologies about this: We are only human. Sometimes, we miss things. However, if you notice them - let someone here know, and we'll fix it!
This brings me to the best part of the reminiscence: Skyrim Itself.
Now, to say that we'd been "eagerly anticipating" the game would be the understatement of the century. The hundreds of editors here had been poring over every resource, every reference, to make sure that every tidbit about the game was added (and referenced), as soon as possible. If you dont believe me, go check some of the old blog posts. Kacj, in particular, was particularly good at this, but he was by no means the only one doing so.
Now, considering the activity that was going on here, and the anticipation that the world had towards the game, we expected that the site would become a lot more popular when the game came out. Noone, could have anticipated just how much, though. In hindsight, I guess I really shouldn't have been surprised by it: after all, we'd been THE place to go for Skyrim news for most of the year.
Here are some of the highlights:
On November 14, according to Quantcast (a website that tracks website page-views), recorded that we recieved 8.4 million page views on that day. This smashed the previous Wikia record of 8 million. Now, I realise that a lot of this has to do with the product itself - but the hard work everyone here did before the game came out led to it being the top google search, and thus, the amount of page-views we recieved. Also, around this time, we jumped up Wikia Gaming's list. We broke into the top 10 on PC gaming, first, (late-october, I believe), and each day, steadily kept increasing. We got to number 1, and by November 12 or 13th, we were #1 on all the gaming platforms that the game was on (xbox, ps3, pc, and overall). Haven't checked the other ones in a while, but I know that we've been #1 on the gaming wiki's list since then. To do so, we knocked The Vault off their long-time perch. I hope not, but I suspect that may have been (a very small part, at least?) one of the reasons why they left.
In fact, we were doing so well that Bethesda Softworks themselves registered an account with us. The only other Elder Scrolls site that can claim that is the ones that they own - so that just shows you the level to which we have reached.
Now, I must thank Wikia here as well. It's largely their promotion that helped us stay in that position - we were a "spotlight wiki" for november and decemeber, and a lot of January, too.
Okay, so I know athat last little bit seems like its, well, bragging. Well - It pretty much is. But - with good reason! A year ago, none of this would have seemed dreamable, let alone possible. But, with the help of the community here, we've done the impossible. And, we've even managed to knock the "old guys" off their perch in the process. There was a site out there that was "the" place to go for TES info. No more. Their stats prove this: In January, they were averaging 300k page views on a GOOD day. By comparison, on a BAD day, we got 2 million. (And we often got 4-5 million each day, too).
In January, our wiki got massively involved in helping stop the SOPA and PIPA bills in the United States. These bills would have made it very difficult for our site to exist, and would have enabled the US government to shut down our site, with no appeals process. After taking a community poll, over 90% of our users agreed to participate in the Website Blackout. (for more details, see some of my earlier blogs)
We're not done yet!
Now, whilst we may have just about EVERYTHING Skyrim-related added to the wiki (not fully, but just about), we are by no means finished with the series. There's a lot of games that we are still working on adding stuff for. For example, the Oblivion and Morrowind pages are being added and updated a lot at the moment. That doesn't mean that we don't care about Skyrim anymore - far from it! We're still eager to help out anyone stuck on the game. Its just that we also know that folks are starting to play some of the older games in the series now that a lot of them have finished Skyrim (and its been nearly 4 months now, so a lot of folks HAVE finished it), so we're doing what we can to make sure that there's information for them. If anyone wants to help out - we welcome it! Particularly Morrowind. (Theres a fair bit from Oblivion already added on here, from the OblivioWiki).
A big thankyou!
To you! For getting through this massive wall-of-text! But more importantly, for editing on this wiki! Its all the editors out there that have made the wiki what it is today. Its been my priviledge to help drive the editing here, but - as I'm sure anyone that knows me at all would be able to attest - I strongly believe in community decisions. If people have ideas for improvements to the wiki - I strongly encourage them to put it in the Consensus Track. If its a good idea (and a lot of the ones that people voice ARE good ideas), then people recognise this and the idea gets adopted. Even if you only have the rough outline of what you think should be changed - put that up! Everyone here is just like you - we're all eager to help out. If the idea needs working on - the people on here help to improve the idea to the point where it can be adopted across the wiki :)
The editors are the driving force behind the wiki. That means you! If you're struggling to understand something - that's okay! Ask for help! Everyone here is more than willing to help out - because when you understand whats going on, you can then help to improve the wiki, and the community benefits. That's the philosophy that I started with when I became an Administrator here. And I still hold that belief today - everyone's opinions are equal! :) And, I can still remember back when I was a newbie myself, so I'm more than willing to help you out if you need help (just leave me a message and let me know how I can!).
Anyways - other than the editors here: I'd also like to thank the other administrators and editors here. Especially the past few months, we've gotten a lot of low-level vandalism from people, now that we're a "big time" site. You're monitoring for these (along with the other editors who have been doing the same, too), have made it possible to administrate the site, and maintain it :) An even bigger thank you to Wikia itself - the staff members there, and the people from the VSTF and the Community Wikia have been a massive help to me this past year! You're help to me when I've needed it most has not been forgotten, and has been much appreciated - so thank you!
Finally, thank you to Keira, my lovely Fiance, for putting up with my random insanity. :)
p.s: The TL;DR version of this blog: I've been here for a very long time: Thank you everyone. You're awesome. So is this wiki.