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Wikia has recently been implementing a whole cartload of tweaks to the design of its wikis, including BioShock Wiki. You may notice some of these as you browse or edit the site. Below is a brief summary and explanation of these changes.
- For more information, see w:Forum:A/B testing.
It seems that the "beta" phase of Wikia's new skin did not get them enough feedback on their changes. They are now tweaking individual elements across many wikis to see how visitors react. This could include removing some things, moving things to different position, or changing the set width of pages. As explained by a Wikia staff member:
|“||Each change will only be seen by a small percentage of visitors, and most of those will be casual readers who won't know that what they are seeing is not the usual. The testing is based on statistical analysis of the changes, so we will actually get the best results from those who don't notice a difference as such, just react to it naturally :) But, because the test group is selected randomly from logged out visitors, some of the regulars may get added to the group before they log in.||”|
Keep this in mind if you see some weird changes around the wiki.
Category Galleries and "Read more"
Another big change is Wikia's addition of a "Read more" section to the bottom of many articles as well as decorative galleries to the tops of category pages. This is an effort by Wikia to encourage visitors to click on links and to continue reading more topics once they visit a wiki.
The previous mindset about categories was that they are just interface pages to help organization, and are not really meant to be seen by visitors. Wikia, however, thinks that categories should be a major way for visitors to navigate a wiki. As explained by a Wikia staff member:
|“||Category pages are just boring lists of links, and they make interesting topics look dull. Related pages and Category galleries will make browsing around the wiki easier, more visual and more fun.||”|
A similar system has been applied to the bottoms of articles. An algorithm checks for pages that have categories in common and generates a short collection of links at the bottom of the page. In keeping with Wikia's idea that words are "boring," an image from the linked article will also display (if the article has any). If there is no image in the article, then a short preview of text from the beginning of the page is shown.
See anything problematic with this?
- What if an article is in the category "spoilers" or has a spoilerific image in it? If it shows up in the "read more" section at the bottom of a page, a visitor might see it by accident (without the benefit of a spoiler tag) and get an unpleasant surprise.
- What if the only image in an article is oddly shaped (such as the images in Codes)? This causes the link to display a bizarre looking cutoff of the top of the image.
This system of generating links is completely automatic, so we currently have no way to control it.
This is something that has been around on Wikia for a long time, but most logged in users won't see it.
Wikia allows advertisers the option to buy a special type of ad on the main page of a wiki that completely replaces the background image with a promotional image. For the last month or so the main page of the BioShock Wiki has had a background advertising World of Warcraft. We have no control over this, since it is part of Wikia's advertising, but unfortunately it is very disruptive for the appearance of the main page.
To see this in effect on the main page, you can log out, or select "show all advertisements" in your user preferences. Check out this forum post for examples and discussion on the topic: Forum:Wikia hijacking main pages