Here's where we can discuss suggestions for additions and modifications to Fictopedia's Main Page.
- Changed the layout of the Main Page to look a little more fancy, using the same table magic that wikipedia does (and the same code, I know)
- Added a "Featured Article" section to the main page. I think this is a great way to draw attention to particularly interesting articles that might inspire a lot of other entries.
- Added a link to this Talk page from the Main Page to encourage people to comment on the project in general as well as creating their own entries.
- Fixed the server time to be EST (which is where I'm located) Webmaster 23:49, 20 June 2010 (EDT)
- Added the "Seed Pod", which is a dumping ground for 1 or 2 sentence ideas that others can later expand. This is basically the "stub hub" idea discussed below.
- Changed "Seed Pod" to "Idea Bank". Less cool image, but probably more intuitive for new users
- Added a "Share/Save" bar to all pages. It enables sharing of individual articles via twitter/facebook/digg/etc.
- Categories - Some enterprising users have already started to categorize various articles by topic AND by Universe. See below for a discussion of this process. I intend to read up on the coding for this so that we can have an nice lush category tree (with all sorts of subcategoies) that will make browsing MUCH easier than before.Syntaxbad 22:41, 20 June 2010 (EDT)
- A "Stub Hub" page where 1 sentence seed ideas can be collected. These would be the name of the link (if that was part of the idea - if not, leave it up to future editors) plus a single sentence description of some idea that hasn't been fleshed out. This would serve as a great starting point for people who want to edit, but can't think of anything at the time. Or it might just help spur people's imaginations.
- Example: "Race of sentient terraforming platforms, initially dispatched by a now-dead race; carrying on in the role of Gods by creating life on various planets."
- Someone would see that seed idea, and could then come up with an entry name and start the article (at which point the seed would be deleted, or moved to a "recently expanded" section of the seed page.
- Actually those terraforming machines sound pretty cool, maybe I should start that article right now...
- Maybe moving this page to a more appropriate location? Like an entire community project discussion namespace? I'll have to look into that.
- Weekly competitions where we challenge users to create the best article on a particular subject (eg. Religions, Alien Races, Cities). The winner could have their article featured on the Main Page, or maybe one of our users with artistic leanings could create an illustration/graphic for the article.
- This would be a great way to drive people to create a lot of content that could later be expanded on. People love competitions!
Re signing posts: To have your username & a datestamp entered, click the "Your signature with timestamp" button above the edit window (between the "Ignore wiki formatting" button and the "Horizontal line (use sparingly)" button.
For those who prefer entering code manually, you can just type ~~~~ - it will automatically be converted to a signature with datestamp. Three tildes (~~~) yields username alone; four tildes (~~~~) is username with timestamp; and five tildes (~~~~~) yields timestamp alone. Like so:
~~~ yields Lexica
~~~~ yields Lexica 13:34, 22 June 2010 (EDT)
~~~~~ yields 13:34, 22 June 2010 (EDT)
Steering Article DevelopmentI see Webmaster just posted an update to the Main Page:
When editing, please check the Discussion tab for an article to see if the original author has any general guidelines for future expansion. These discussion sections are also a good place to discuss any general ideas about where you think a certain article or universe of articles could go with future expansions.I'm not sure how I feel about this. Seems like it only encourages a sense of ownership over aspects of the different "universes" on Fictopedia. I'm not saying that leaving suggestions for other users is a bad idea... but I think putting up fences between different universes goes against the spirit of the site. Not that I wish to single Navelgazer out, but I notice he's been adding this text to various pages:
This page is part of the "Falling Bodies" mythology. If you are unfamiliar with the tone or general facts of this universe, please explore the different link paths before editing or adding pages, to make sure that they are in keeping with the tone and consistency of this particular universe. Thank you.
I realize the pros and cons of putting a framework of sorts around areas you want to preserve. It's easy to take someone else's lovingly crafted canon in a direction they never intended (and don't approve of). Just the same, I think it's better for the site to allow that sort of thing, and encourage folks to roll with the punches as strangers expand on their work, instead of becoming possessive about it. If you don't want the risk of people messing up your work, don't post it on a publicly editable wiki. :-) --Uselessness 17:09, 17 June 2010 (EDT)
I don't have a problem with a request to maintain consistency within a universe, as long as the original author recognizes that ultimately it's ok for people to take it in their own directions. I'm sure that'll be a problem in the future, so maybe a guideline like "You started it, but it belongs to everybody." would be useful. --Bmk 18:01, 17 June 2010 (EDT)
He Y'all, I put that note in the discussion pages to deal with a somewhat inevitable aspect of this site suddenly being opened up to the public, after some discussion with the Webmaster, and this was determined to be the best method of dealing with the wildly varying Universes and tones therein present here. For instance, a great many of new users have excitedly jumped upon the whimsical nature of a lot of entries begun by user "Egads," which is great. Some of the other universes are not within that same genre, however, and can suffer for it. We are currently working on a tagging/categorization system so that user's may get an idea of what different world's encapsulate and be able to best contribute to them. As Syntaxbad has said, the general rule followed here is that of "Yes, and..." for purposes of contribution. That is, accept what has been written and add given what one knows. The flipside to that, however, is that additions should be respectful to what they are building upon, and we are simply trying to find ways to make that possible while being the least constrictive. Of course, all of this is simply from me and Syntaxbad may disagree, but this is my understanding. --Navelgazer 19:12, 17 June 2010 (EDT)
So, I get what Uselessness is saying, as most of what I've done so far has been expanding on other people's ideas, but I don't really agree with the conclusion. There's some distance between "being possessive" and "letting anyone do what they want", and finding the happy medium is going to be a major part of the difficulty with this site. It seems more than reasonable to ask that people try to stick within a general tone (dry and historical, fantastical, mad science-y, surreal comedy) for articles about a given universe. In fact, what Navelgazer is putting on his work seems like it should be a given. Read the other articles about something, explore, THEN add.
Of course, if all that's been written about an entire universe is a name and six words, then sure, you don't have a lot to go on, so you can take it all sorts of places. But remember that collaboration means working with other people, not against them. Expand and improve, form a symbiosis. Don't take over. Or, in other words, what Bmk said. --Dichotomousmind 19:35, 17 June 2010 (EDT)
Wanted to add my two cents as a new user, and my own self-imposed guidelines on editing other folks' "universes." If there's a one sentence entry for something that linked from a one sentence entry, I'll type away, like the page on Clyde Blackacre, for example. But if I come across something more fleshed out like the Drowlto VI universe, I'll generally leave it be. The "Yes, and..." convention seems the best policy.
That being said, if you don't want peoples editing your creation, don't put it on a public wiki. --PresidentBeardface 10:20, 18 June 2010 (EDT)
Nthing support for the "Yes, and..." guideline. --Bmk 10:24, 18 June 2010 (EDT)
I'm definitely of the "Yes, and..." mindset. As was said above, it's a public wiki about fictional things! If someone wants total possession of their ideas, they picked a lousy site to join. More specifically, I think a lot of the potential issues can be handled through the individual pages, and in this regard it's about continuity. If a group of people have taken the time to create a specific reality - here I'm thinking of the work we've all done in the "Pentalog" continuity, especially Drowlto VI - I encourage those new to the site to take the time to see what has already been established. Again, thinking of Drowlto VI (simply because it's the most fleshed out): there's a lot there already, but certainly there can be a lot more.
The challenge, I think, is to make sure the new stuff and the old stuff make sense together. If someone has constructed a nice narrative about how, say, Sonderland was occupied by rebels for 50 years, and this narrative doesn't contradict any current pages about events on Drowlto VI, I think it's a good idea to accept that Sonderland was occupied by rebels for 50 years, craft little details about the rebellion and its effect on other nations, and so on. The more we collaborate, the more "canonical" certain ficts will become, anyway. I mean, would anyone seriously consider overruling BMK's geography of the planet at this point? Probably not! --Tacitean 09:23, 21 June 2010 (EDT)
At the risk of repeating myself, I think one of the points of this site is to make compelling and coherent alternate realities. That is, if someone happened upon Fictopedia for the first time, would they click through and be entertained? The more we collaborate, the more likely the answer to that question will be "yes." --Tacitean 09:59, 21 June 2010 (EDT)
Agreed, Tacitean. I think of the site as storytelling thru encyclopedia entries. If I stumble on a page and like the content, I want to know if there is more of the story already written. I want to click thru the site and follow the story, or add to the missing peices. --PresidentBeardface 10:22, 21 June 2010 (EDT)
You have basically articulated my exact original vision for the site. Starting from random creative impulses, the desire to know more about what you read leads people to explore further, or to create, where further explanation does not yet exist. My only concern is that it may be necessary to have SOME small measure of moderation to avoid to sort of thoughtless incoherence that subtracts from, rather than adds to the entertainment/creative value of a universe/story. My initial thought was that over time, we would develope a hard core group of dedicated users that would come to see themselves as custodians of the project (I think there are people who do this on Wikipedia if I'm not mistaken). These custodians could act as informal moderators, rectifying the really glaring issues, while always attempting to "expand away" a problem, where possible, rather than outright delete it. This reminds me, we should start a section to discuss Disambiguation pages. Eventually we are going to have more than one universe with "Magic" or "Cloaking Devices" in them and we will need to start disambiguating. Creating that section now... Syntaxbad 10:35, 21 June 2010 (EDT)
Could it be possible/feasible to group and gather the existing mythologies out there now? I refer to Navelgazer's Falling Bodies Category page. He's linked everything in that universe on one page, so I can explore the story without blindly wandering and getting annoyed. It also helps me get the tone and theme of the world before I would add to it. Perhaps a Meta-Category of Categories of established universes? I do realize that there would be many "uncategorized" pages that belong only to their own universes and defy grouping. It would help newcomers get the backstory in a certain universe, and provide jumping off points for new additons for those universes. --PresidentBeardface 15:26, 18 June 2010 (EDT)
Could make an "unassociated" universe for the stuff that doesn't have a mythology. --Bmk 21:25, 18 June 2010 (EDT)
I agree that it would be helpful to have tags for "universes". Especially if it was something that was not mandatory, but only added if a cluster of articles seemed like they should be read together. I want to avoid the trap of limiting people's creative impulses by roping every article out there into one "universe" or another. But at the same time, there are clearly certain clusters that fit together thematically. So having some things remain untagged would be good.
The main question is a technical one - how do we have a separate tagging system for universes and for topics? The topics should be things like "planets", "creatures", "music", "biographies", "technology", etc. The universe tags would just go on every article that's firmly within that "universe". But I think we want separate pages to browse through each instead of one messy list where "Falling Bodies" is next to "technologies". Does anyone know mediawiki well enough to know if we can nest a sub-index inside a main Category of "Universes"? Syntaxbad 23:51, 18 June 2010 (EDT)
It's possible to nest categories by putting category pages into larger categories. So you could have a category page called "Universes" and reduce the clutter that way. --Dichotomousmind 20:39, 19 June 2010 (EDT)
And the Meta-Universe page can contain sub-categories, like so: . It has sub-cats, and individual pages can belong to multiple categories. Second on the "Unassociated Universes" grouping too. One thing that does perplex: the Proper Name of each Universe, if not so named like Falling Bodies. Who decides the name? The first creator? The majority vote? Pistols at dawn? --PresidentBeardface 21:04, 19 June 2010 (EDT)
ASCII art duel, I think. --Bmk 21:17, 19 June 2010 (EDT)
This is a good question. Ultimately its not terribly important WHAT the various universes are called, but it is certainly useful to have names. I think perhaps this will be one of those things that comes about by user consensus. Or, in the case of a Universe that is started largely by one user (eg. "Falling Bodies" and Navelgazer), that user can determine the name when they create the initial pages (and categorize them). Syntaxbad 22:22, 20 June 2010 (EDT)
Would like to request an "Alternative Oakland" category, if this is the right place to bring it up. Pirate 21:11 Pacific. I'm doing this by hand, but I think there's some automated thing I'm missing.
You can add any page to a category by adding "[[Category:CATEGORY_NAME]]" to the source of that page. A given page can be added to as many categories as you want just by adding more tags. For now I am I trying to figure out how we should handles nesting categories within a given universe, verses general categories across universes. Eg.
As for now, let's stick to tagging only the beefier high level articles (ie. the central ones that link to a lot of other things in a universe) with a given universe tag. Otherwise we'll have to do a whole lot of re-tagging if we decide on a different practice.
As for the Alternate Oakland universe, you can just start adding appropriately named tags to various pages. And I'd probably put text on the main category page that explain the universe in 1 or 2 sentences and has a "main article" link (in your case, probably to Oakland Mystical Nexus. As for the name, maybe "Mystical Oakland" would be a more distinct universe name? I only suggest this to avoid future confusion if people start making more generic "alt-history" universes. Syntaxbad 08:48, 21 June 2010 (EDT)
Also, if you want to link to a category page (as I did above) instead of actually tagging the page you are writing on with that category, you need to use a leading colon, like so: "[[:Category:CATEGORY_NAME]]". Syntaxbad 10:04, 21 June 2010 (EDT)
So eventually we may need to start using disambiguation pages the way Wikipedia does. There could be more than one universe with "Magic" in it, and rather than force everyone to come up with ever more elaborate alternate names for common fictional concepts, I think we would do well to let them call things what they want and then disambiguate by universe. Additionally, this would allow one of the things I was interested in experimenting with, which is "intentional discontinuity". There's a bit about it in the FAQ, but basically, I see no problem if 3 different people want to take the character Pontius Tacklethorpe in different directions, or give him different spins. I think of it sort of like classic Myths or Legends. There are lots of stories about King Arthur or Zeus, and they don't all fit together neatly the way we'd expect modern fictional universes to. I'm not sure, maybe something like that needs some rough guidelines to help people out. What do you think? Syntaxbad 10:39, 21 June 2010 (EDT)
I think that's a great idea. Using disambiguation pages will allow for overlap in terms/ideas without fighting over the namespace. So, do you imagine the Pontius Tacklethorpe page having three different sections for three different directions, or would you use a disambiguation page and redirect to Pontius Tacklethorpe Pontius Tacklethorpe 2 and Pontius Tacklethorpe 3? Or something else. Actually, I'll go read the FAQ - maybe it answers that :) --Bmk 10:48, 21 June 2010 (EDT)
For some reason, a disambiguation page seems more fun than expanding an entry to have multiple sections that may cover different universes. Thinking about it, I can imagine some of the entries I have in mind getting fairly detailed and multipart just on their own. Having, in effect, a whole 'nother page or two added to the main page seems like it would get unwieldy pretty quickly.
As far as the disambiguation page goes, I'd be inclined toward something like "Did you mean... Pontius Tacklethorpe (seafarer), Pontius Tacklethorpe (lizard rancher), or Pontius Tacklethorpe (poet)?" --Lexica 11:29, 21 June 2010 (EDT)
That sounds good to me. --Bmk 11:33, 21 June 2010 (EDT)
I love it. I just want to say how happy I am that we have a place where the sentence: "This page is about the monitor lizard rancher" makes sense. I think for now that this sort of disambiguation is the way to go with intentional discontinuity (or parallel continuity - call it what you will). And its good to have a deliberate example now that we can point newcomers to. Syntaxbad 23:07, 21 June 2010 (EDT)
Article Stub Hub
So in the "Future Ideas" section above, I've mentioned my desire to create a central page to collect all the totally undeveloped, one-sentence, creative sparks that people have. Ideas that they tweet on the go, or text to themselves to remember (am I the only one who does that?). I describe it a little above - but what do people think? Good idea? If so, how to implement? Could be as simple as having a special page linked from the main page where people can dump their 1 sentence thoughts until they, or someone else, comes back later and gets inspired by them. Also, somehow I'm sure twitter could be worked into it, although I'm not enough of a whiz to know how that might work. Syntaxbad 23:12, 21 June 2010 (EDT)