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October 2010 Archives

October 25, 2010

Wikia: A Case Study in Keeping Your Users Happy

Filed in: Internet.


Some two years ago, when Wikia introduced their new Monaco site skin, the Transformers Wiki moved to independent hosting citing a number of complaints, such as misleading the community, and ignoring dissent and forging ahead with changes.

Wikia are now introducing an even newer skin. Have Wikia learned from TFWiki's departure? Well, from what I can tell from the Community Central blogs, they haven't changed a heck of a lot. Though they said that the skin was going to be mandatory for all Wiki, and that individual Wiki were not going to be allowed to modify the skin beyond a background image and colours, there were a couple of notable exceptions. One particular "shot themselves in the foot" moment was when Wikia offered to let the World of Warcraft Wikia widen the skin, apparently in an attempt to prevent them moving to independent hosting.

There have been many vocal protests on Wikia's staff blog entries, but despite those Wikia are forging ahead with little change to the skin, which has caused a bunch of Wiki to head for independent hosting. The aforementioned World of Warcraft wiki can now be found at, and Halopedia seems to be the latest Wikia to move. The skin change has even resulted in a movement calling itself the Anti-Wikia Alliance.

How much will this affect Wikia? Probably not much in the short term, as they get to keep copies of all of the wiki that leave, but in the long term...

Posted at 5:20 PM | Comments (0)

October 9, 2010

The Scourge of Web Toolbars

Filed in: Internet.

So, I've noticed a new web design element spreading insidiously across the web. Suddenly you can add web toolbars, which float at the bottom of the browser window, to your website, so every user who visits your site gets an extra toolbar full of various tools which may or may not be useful depending on your usual internet hangouts.

Wibiya, for instance, has one which will link to your Twitter, Facebook, and/or YouTube account, and allow visitors to Tweet or "like" your site (you can see a demo of a Wibiya bar on Yet Another Fantasy Gamer Comic). The Meebo Bar similarly allows you to link to Facebook, Twitter, et al. I first started noticing the things when Wikia threw one on their new skin.

Is this a new trend? I note that, unlike toolbars which are actually built into your browser, you can't turn them off. I also wonder if there are privacy concerns here — if a company can get its toolbar on enough sites, they can start building up a pretty comprehensive picture of people's browsing habits. Of course, this isn't new, and web bugs have been around for years, but these web toolbars seem to add an extra carrot to entice webmasters to place them on their web site. Hrm.

Posted at 10:13 AM | Comments (1)


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