When I first started editing the My Little Pony Friendship is Magic Wiki, I was thrilled to earn my first achievement badge! Day after day I would edit on MLP a little here and a little there. Each day, I'd scan the list of top contributors on the leaderboard (Special:Leaderboard) to see my name slowly start to rise. It was thrilling and exciting. I felt like I was helping the community to a better place by adding categories and editing articles. Some people pride themselves on edit counts which is great, but I try to focus on specific goals -- that's why I love achievements.
Achievements are a great way to customize your wiki while also encouraging editors to contribute more. Each achievement is awarded based on of a variety of things. And each achievement can be customized to fit the need of your wiki.
Perhaps the coolest thing about achievements is the ability to change the default image. This helps keep it in theme with your wiki.
As an admin, you can choose to customize your achievements through Special:AchievementsCustomize. On the MLP Wiki, all of the achievements are related to running gags or quotes from the show. A discussion was held on our forums in order to figure out what theme would work best with each track and which pictures to use. The end result grew from the combined efforts of various community members, both admins and regular editors. It was a great team effort.
When editing achievements, it's important to first have an image in mind. The automatic re-sizing of the images can be a bit finicky sometimes, so don't let the system crop your images for you. Instead, it's best to make your images fit the precise size of the area of each type of badge. For bronze badges, upload images that are 78px2; for silver, go with 100px2; and for gold, 95px2 is best. Platinum badges can be of any dimensions, so long as they create a perfect square.
In order to upload a photo simply click the button that says "Choose File" and select which image you'd like displayed for that particular achievement. The system will then automatically re-size the image to fit the border. You then have the option to re-name that achievement.
On MLP Wiki we renamed the achievement to write 1 blog post to "Dear Princess Celestia". This goes with the theme of MLP because every episode ends with the main protagonist writing a letter to her mentor. So it was a perfect compliment as an achievment!
TracksEditMost achievements have "tracks" that follow various paths. Common tracks involve making edits to certain pages and uploading pictures. The edit track begins with awarding an achievement for making 1 edit to page, the next is awarded for making 5 edits, then 10, 25, 50, 100 etc... Once again, the theme is up to you and your wiki to decide! For example, on the Avatar Wiki the edit track is themed with various foods from the show.
Something really cool thing about achievements is that you may create and customize your own unique track based on existing categories.Unsure of what categories your wiki has so far? Navigate on over to Special:Categories. To create a new "Edit in category" track, type the name of the category in the field to the right on the Special:AchievementsCustomize page. Don't worry about losing the regular Edit track. It will still exist as will your new separate track that you can customize separately.
Once the track is created, the new default badges will appear in the list on the left, under the regular edit track. Be sure to customize the names and images for the new track, so that users can see the difference! After you've finished the customization click the "enabled" checkbox to turn on the new track, and then click "Save changes". You can also disable the track later, if you decide you don't want to highlight that category anymore. Users who have earned badges in that track will always keep their badges, even if the track is disabled.
Fallout Wiki has used this system to their advantage and has created various customized achievement tracks based on what pages you edit (characters, games, etc...). Creating a new track is easy and is an effective way to encourage edits on pages that may not normally get as much love or editing attention.
Q: My wiki currently doesn't have achievements, but I want them turned on!
A: Achievements can be turned on and off through Special:WikiFeatures. It is a good idea to make a discussion on the forums, if those are on. Gather opinions from your community members and discuss if achievements are good addition to your community. Remember, not every wiki has them turned on.
Q: Someone on my wiki has been cheating to get achievements! Can I remove his achievements from him?
A: An individual's achievements cannot be removed. The first time a user is caught gaming the system, it's probably a best practice to just talk to them. Explain that cheating ruins the fun for other users that are trying to legitimately earn achievements.
Realistically, however, there will always be a certain — luckily small — percentage of users who see that the fun of any game is in trying to cheat it. For these people, it's best to make sure that your wiki has clear policies in place about the possible punishments for cheating. If you spell out that cheating is a blockable offense, the offending user can hardly be surprised when their editing privileges vanish.
Blocking a user — which should be only a last resort — will hide that user's achievements, and temporarily remove them from the Leaderboard. When their block expires, however, their awards reappear. Of course, this means that they will always retain their ill-gotten gains. Thus, continuing to try to dissuade them from cheating is the best long-term solution — until and unless Wikia can enact some sort of selective point reduction tool. Blocking is probably best viewed as a part of that discussion — one that dramatically alerts the user that you're serious about running an honest game.
Q: Help! My badges keep getting cropped!
A: That's why you should do the cropping yourself. Although you theoretically can upload a picture of practically any size, the better option is to upload pictures that match the dimensions of the various badges precisely. In your image editor, create a transparent-backgrounded square which matches the area available inside the three badge frames. In other words, create a workspace in your graphic editor that is:
- 78px2 for bronze badges
- 100px2 for silver badges
- 95px2 for gold badges
Then, shrink your picture to fit the specified area. This will mean that you are uploading pictures that are 78px, 100px and 95px — so the system doesn't have any choice but to put the image in the right place.
Note that platinum badges are square, so there's much less difficulty in centring images in these boxes. As long as your source picture is itself a perfect square, your image will fit without alteration; there's actually no need to shrink it.
Q: I've contributed to my wiki every day for the past 30 days and I still haven't received the badge for it. What gives? Is this a bug?
A: Nope. It's intentional. For reasons of fair play, the definition of a day must be standardised in such a way that individual players cannot tamper with it. Thus, a day is 0000-2359 UTC, as determined by Wikia's clocks. If it were local time, then you could game the system by simply changing your computer's current time. Or you could remotely use a PC in another time zone to edit Wikia. Setting the time to UTC, as determined by Wikia's servers, puts everyone on the same playing field.
You may want to install a UTC clock — such as DisplayClock — on your wiki so you and your community are always aware of the current UTC time.
Q: If the Achievement Badges are turned off and back on, will that reset the badges each person has earned, allowing everyone to start over?
A: No. Disabling achievements won't reset anything. You can turn them off and then back on and everything will still be there. :)