August 28, 2009

"WikiFur" Escapes From Wikia, Inc.

The "WikiFur" community has finished its escape from being digital sharecroppers on the electronic plantation, err, part of wikifarm company Wikia, Inc. Remember, that's the startup co-founded by Jimmy Wales to, in the words of one article (they said it, not me!), "take the success -- and, indeed, the underlying philosophy -- of Wikipedia," and "commercialize the hell out of it".

As put in a statement:

Why did WikiFur move?

Our current host, Wikia, is a for-profit company funded by venture capital. They have been able to expand rapidly as a result, and provide both technical and community support. This has usually been beneficial to WikiFur.

However, there comes a time when every business has to start making money. To increase revenue, Wikia applied new adverts which intrude into the content area, pushing aside existing content. We believe this significantly detracts from the design of these pages. To date, WikiFur readers have been spared the worst of these - see Wookieepedia (without an ad-blocker) for an example of what it would be like.

Wikia also imposed major changes to the user interfaces of hosted wikis, in a deliberate trend towards a branded look. They wish to be seen as an integral part of the site, rather than the providers of a hosting service to separate communities.

The changes mean that Wikia's service no longer met our needs, so we decided to part company.

Hat tip: Fan History’s Blog, which has this interesting additional aspect:

Since the move, we've seen a drop in traffic (Google was our number-one referrer), but editing has remained active, so we're happy. From our past experience with other language projects, we know they'll find our new location soon enough.

Good luck, folks. Let's see how Google treats you in the future.

By Seth Finkelstein | posted in wikia | on August 28, 2009 11:59 PM (Infothought permalink)
Seth Finkelstein's Infothought blog (Wikipedia, Google, censorware, and an inside view of net-politics) - Syndicate site (subscribe, RSS)

Subscribe with Bloglines      Subscribe in NewsGator Online  Google Reader or Homepage  Twitter

Very ironic sourcing there, as FanHistory is very much in the 'commercialise the hell of it' camp and is desperately angling for venture capital; the non-profit group OTW/Fanlore was basically set up to provide a non-commercial alternative to it. There's a lot of other wrongness surrounding FanHistory; see here.

Posted by: Thene at August 29, 2009 11:52 AM

Without taking sides, I was just giving link-credit - the sourcing is actually WikiFur's statement and their tech lead's comment.

Posted by: Seth Finkelstein at August 29, 2009 06:02 PM

Something I don't fully understand... did the former Wikia Furry community not only pack up and set up their own site, but also remove the old content from Wikia? How did Jimbo ever allow that?

Anyway, I'm sure that Wikia will press on, forging new territory in Spanish:

(One article so far, and counting.)

Posted by: Gregory Kohs at September 1, 2009 12:00 PM

Ask the tech lead mentioned above - he's got some stories about the negotiation with Wikia, it was complicated (I communicated with him a while back, when working on the column about dissatisfaction with Wikia).

I believe very, very, few of Wikia's sites produce much revenue - they can literally afford to allow most everyone to go (what happens with the top few will be very interesting).

Posted by: Seth Finkelstein at September 1, 2009 12:28 PM