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Kercopypasta'd from someone's blog, or: my Feelings about the bs with wikia

"I would have to disagree on being able to "walk out" at any time. Wikia is holding our contributions hostage.Creative commons says that your work is free to use by the community if you agree to it's use by the aforementioned parties. While things like the articles are a sticky situation (if multiple people contribute), pictures have an easily identifiable source.

And yet trying to delete your images (or all of the information that you've only worked on) is considered vandalism and they'll ban you and reverse your deletions. You can't link to the new location (even if it's self-hosted) because they're "protecting their interests"... even if it goes against the very license they make you agree to when you upload an image or contribute to the site.

In addition if you edit on multiple wikis and you want to still help out at one of the others for whatever reason, the vandalism clause suddenly becomes a tool for blackmail. "Now play nice and don't do anything rash... wouldn't it be terrible if you couldn't help your friend out at that other wiki?"

There are some good features about wikia, but they're all technical by this point. The wysiwyg editor is the best out there, they have extensions that you only normally get by self-hosting, and until recently they allowed the admin to have full control over the css. However now these features are overshadowed by a layout that's hard to navigate and harder to work with. We didn't all start out as festering hate-filled balls of spite, many of us (even me, who's not even in the awa) started giving constructive crit and it was subsequently ignored or wikia made even worse changes. There are good features of the new skin, but the problematic issues far outweigh them.

And lastly, how on earth do you magically know how many of us tried to work with the skin? I tried to work with it, found it unnavigable, clunky and cramped (and yes, I have an old 15 inch crt, so it looks bad on old monitors too) and then after trying to replicate a few pages I gave up. I check in now and again to see if it gets better with time, but no, it really doesn't.

So yes, the people against the skin are sarcastic. We're sarcastic and hateful because it's the only thing that makes some speck of a difference. When toadies come in to say that we need to shut up, we give the same attitude right back to them. Where were they when the vast majority of people had a problem with the skin? Where were they in the Beta? Where were they when Wikia's staff started violating their own creative commons license? I'll tell you were I think they were, they were waiting until most of the big boys either left or were banned. Now the anti-anti-wikia people are acting like they're hot crap floating around. Guess what, they're not huge carp in a pond, they're goldfish in a tiny bowl"

Melodramatic? Sure. But I still think the company is doing a diservice to it's users. I could even put up a decent mockup of what they could fix that would make the skin an improvement over Monaco, but I'd still be wary about my content. What happens the next time the team pulls a stupid stunt like this? What if they decide to branch out and for some reason think that other user's content would make a great product in some form? In addition they're setting themselves up to get shot in the foot. Simpsions wiki and Red Dead wiki are two wikis that are entirely based on copyrighted content. All both of those wikis need to do is inform the parent companies that someone's monetizing on their license and BAM, lawsuit at their door. They can't pull the whole "we didn't know they didn't have permission" card. Everybody with half a brain and an ounce of common sense knows that fan sites are rarely endorsed by the companies themselves. The companies just don't care until money enters the equation.

The fact is that Wikia more or less said that they approve of these fan wikis by making them spotlights. They're more or less banking on these large wikis that are about someone elses' property. No argument they could make would hold up in court, so why do they keep sticking their necks out in a precarious spot? Mainly? Because that's going to be the source of revenue for the company in the future.

Now see, there've been studies that show that it's notoriously difficult to advertize in social media. The web 2.0 movement is about giving you tools and a place to stick your stuff, not provide the stuff for you. User content is still big years after that study, and yet companies find it difficult to monetize said content. Video ads are annoying, popups block information, banner ads disrupt the flow of information. In addition the sheer number of exploits that are delivered through flash and java ads mean even users who want to support the site, can't. It's too much of a risk to turn off their adblock. The closest thing to a good, discreet ad are the google ones, but even then those can be overlooked. Sadly the best ways to promote a company or service is through word-of-mouth or promotions. The former is expensive with a dubious chance of payoff, and the latter can't be cultivated, so if a company wants you to advertise something that sucks, they're not going to get great results. So ads that work in the same way as T.V. commercials are a form of compromise. They're going to give you a bit of roach bait for your brain for the next time you're out shopping. They don't expect you to buy something today, but to build a brand image for later. And they need lots of people to see those visual roach baits. That means content that attracts, and a steady flow of new users.

For this reason they're flagrantly ignoring creative commons and potentially risking a copyright infringement lawsuit. To get people to read and stay on the site they need information that people want to see. To attract users they need something that looks sleek and like other products out there I.E. Facebook and other social networking sites. If a person or even a team leaves, it doesn't matter as long as their information- and thus their draw, remain. They're banking that the people who left won't seek legal advice or contact the parent companies. After all, getting the parent company down on the former editor (as well as wikia) is a possible side-effect, and lawyers are expensive. Other groups like free speech advocates can be accessed rather easily, but again it could take years before the case could be brought up in court. Most likely the user won't have the free time to pursue this course of action unless they really have an axe to grind.

So what is the solution? Well first you have to look and see if Wikia really has all the features that you can't get at other sites. A comparison chart only goes so far, you really have to play around on the other farms to see where their limits are and if they'll work for you. If they do, move. Deleting your information may be against the TOS, but it's up to you to decide if you honestly care or not by that point. You can also try to bend the rules and find roundabout ways to direct people to your new location, but again, that falls under the topic of "how much do I want to skirt the TOS?". A better option could be placing part of your content in the article, and then referencing the link of the new page where the new, expanded content will be kept. As far as I know it's perfectly legal, but in case it isn't then Wikia is now banning references and... would you really want to stay on a site like that if you've got what you want on another one?

But if, like me, you've found that the other sites don't have the features you want and private hosting isn't in your budget at the moment, consider these two options. The first you can do is talk to your other editors and place a comment on the front page of your wiki saying that the main users aren't going to contribute until you see how everything turns out. It's a good strategy even if you're not opposed to Oasis. The skin is still being bug-tested and it's really not worth it to entirely redo the articles every couple of days because of layout/technical issues.

The second and most important option is simply: talk to the ad-men. I'm not going to say the whole load of how advertisers are evil, soulless creatures who feed off the blood of innocents- because they are, but everybody knows that by now. Three or four generations of people have grown up with ads and we've developed a natural ability to read between the lines. We know that a company isn't going to change it's demands on Wikia just because people think it's omgsomean!!1, but we can make deals with them if enough people do it at once. Go ahead, turn off that adblock for a moment and look at who the companies are, now go send them an email about how you feel less inclined to purchase their product because of what Wikia says the company's telling them to do. Back when Monaco first had ads in the content, Wikia said that was what they heard from the ad groups, so let them know that it's causing a black spot on their brand. Also do let other people know about what's going on. Yes is seems trite, but communicating on other social platforms makes the issue more visible, and that puts even more pressure on the groups who are telling Wikia "this is what you need to do". is it likely to work? Possibly not, but even Facebook and Livejournal caved after the news got out far enough.

Lastly, stay legal. Wikia's TOS doesn't make any stipulations on what you can and can't say on other sites. period. However pulling things on staff blogs and vandalizing (the TOS version and the version applied to the rest of internet-land) pages won't do much in the long run. But doing everything you can legally, will. And remember: tell your friends about this if they're thinking of starting a wiki here. It's better for them to take a bit longer to consider all the options then have them do something they'll regret later.

(who wants to make bets on how long it stays up before the Wikia staff delete it?)

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