This conversation started on another thread, but really deserved its own, so I've moved/transcribed a whole bunch of stuff from here to get us started:
…Can we seriously look into some other hosting options? We were ad and Wikia free before moving here, and there are still few enough of us that we could move pretty easily without much problem as far as splitting the community goes.
…It would probably be a good idea to know what our options are. Would anybody like to volunteer to look into this? We should probably start a new forum thread for this discussion, but here are some points to prime it with:
- Why did we move to wikia in the first place? Too much hassel maintaining a server and mediawiki install? Too costly?
- What other services are available? ShoutWiki is one. Others exist. If they use the mediawiki software, that would be ideal since importing would be much easier.
- Moving images is always going to be a pain... lots of work there.
- New service may not have all of the mediawiki extensions that we are used to/rely on (I can't think of a concrete example, but I'd be willing to bet that we're in pretty deep with at least one feature that isn't stock). Also, no monaco, no achievments, no shoutbox. We'll almost certainly be back to basics with the mediawiki stock skin (whatever it's called).
- What happens to the wikia wiki? Rumour is that wikia staff have been known to lock out admins of larger wikis that attempt to make a move.
For now, I'll continue to concentrate on making the best of the worst situation here at wikia. I am, however, open to a move (despite the work) if we find a good solution elsewhere and/or can't get things sorted out here.
I've started to suffer eye strain with the new skin as well. As it was, I was personally considering leaving Wikia altogether, and having to say farewell to any projects that remained on the network. I don't believe this is caused by our color scheme, and I still love the new theme you've developed, Aeakett; I've been getting headaches regardless of the project I'm looking at, with themes ranging from ours, to the black background of WoWWiki, to the default colors on numerous other projects. I even dread the central community wiki now, due to the effects I've experienced while viewing it for any real length of time. The fact that Wikia denies the claims of anyone experiencing similar fatigue as a result of the new skin doesn't sit well with me, either; this is a real concern that many people have, but Wikia seems to think it is better to say users are exaggerating these symptoms rather than addressing them directly.
As to the concerns that have been mentioned, I do know a few answers:
- There are numerous wiki farms that would accept us, of which ShoutWiki is only one. A list and comparison of several can be found on the forum page that houses the Anti-Wikia Alliance. Additionally, we can look into funding the project ourselves once more.
- Moving would necessitate our return to the use of Monobook, MediaWiki's default skin. I don't see this as too much of a negative, though; Monobook may not be a customizable as Monacco, but it is certainly sufficient for our purposes. Additionally, we would lose things like the shoutbox and achievements, though some of these features could be returned over time through the use of extensions. Ultimately, what it boils down to is that I feel Monobook is better than Wikia's new skin, despite what it may or may not include.
- All our existing content would remain on Wikia, and we would take a copy with us to our new home. Admins who left would likely lose their Admin privileges here, and if none remained the project would be put up for adoption. We would be unable to provide notices on the project that we have moved; Wikia has deemed such action as vandalism, and this is one of the primary actions that Admins have been blocked for.
While we wouldn't be able to announce here that we've moved, we can certainly announce on Paizo.com, twitter, facebook, etc. that we've moved. Users would still get directed here from google, but I am confident that our editing base is in contact with one another well enough that we could move somewhere else and not leave anyone here making updates. Someone could choose to adopt the project, but if there's anyone out there as dedicated as us, they'd already be part of the project.
Wiki does not own pathfinderwiki.com as they do other prominent wiki names like memory alpha, wookkiepedia, and wowwiki, and we could easily start advertising the original site name in Wayfinder and on other topical sites.
Furthermore, I don't think any of the features we'd lose by leaving are the things we're really concerned with. The site did fine before achievements and blogs and I think it can actually help focus the project to not have those being huge distractors to the primary goal of the page.
Without someone updating new material, which we all know comes out very rapidly, and in vast quantities, an abandoned project would run little risk of being a threat to the main project and whether admins are blocked from actively "vandalizing" the site, unless significant changes are made, it will obsolete itself simply by being an out of date project.
I believe we can customize monobook with at least colors via css, if not as intricately as on monoco, at least more than we can make the new oasis skin look like we want. Now that I'm employed again, I'm not opposed to helping fund the cost of hosting if we think that's the way to go. I think there will be a lot of chatter about the site changing look (and losing a lot of its ease of navagability and use as a result) on the 20th when the new skin goes live for anons. Perhaps we wait and see what the Pathfinder community reaction is then. I have loyalty to Pathfinder fans, authors, developers, and potential fans way more than I do to Wikia.
So, my big questions of the day are: Why are we here at Wikia? Where were we before? Why did we move?
I'm just really wondering "What if the next place we move has a giant lapse of common sense too?" Other than the cost what are the issues of self-hosting? Is maintaining the software a huge problem? I think I'm going to check in with the guys that run the Greyhawk wiki and see what their experience has been.
I'm waiting to hear back from a few people about their experiences with self-hosting. Has anybody had a chance to look over the various hosts that Heaven's Agent linked to? Opinions about moving to another farm vs. self-hosting?
I think we should avoid farms. If we're going to move it should be to something we control. If not, we're at the mercy of another company to stay in business and to not make unilateral decisions that hinder our ability to run our wiki the way we want.
I agree that self-hosting is probably the ideal solution. The main concerns are:
- The amount of work involved in keeping the server software maintained
- The cost. It looks like about $10-$12 a month assuming that I haven't underestimated our needs. Further to this, I think that under the CUP we're allowed to undertake various money generated schemes, just as long as we don't profit.
We were self-hosted before right? My impression is that Alfred took care of things. If that's the case, does anybody know how to contact him, so that we could pick his brain?
He shows up on twitter pretty regularly, I'll shoot him a direct message about this thread, and see if he has some input.
Hello there everyone. Thank you Cpt kirstov for dropping me a line so I could contribute to this discussion. Previously the PathfinderWiki website was hosted by Netfirms using an account that I purchased and setup. At the time Netfirms was rather limited in its options and when we tried to upgrade to a newer version of MediaWiki there were massive problems, data loss, and much headache. After getting the upgrade up and beginning to restore the data that had been lost, Netfirms began experiencing some outage issues. It was at that time that it was suggested that the site be moved to Wikia and that www.pathfinderwiki.com just redirect here. I provided the Wikia staff with all of the access and data they needed to port the database over and within a few days everything was up and running here.
So that's the background. Today I still have the pathfinderwiki.com domain and will continue renewing it every year as it comes up. I no longer have any service with Netfirms or any other web hosts, rather I am currently hosting my blogs using my own web server at home. I would gladly offer to host the site, but my only concern would be bandwidth since I am just using a residential data connection (AT&T U-verse, but still).
I agree that self hosting is a much better choice than a wiki farm for all of the reasons stated above. If there is any way we can have Wikia do a database dump then I can help facilitate a migration to a self host if you guys want. I am not embarrassed to say that I was a bit green behind the ears a couple of years ago when all of this started and I have learned a great deal since.
Let me know if there is anything I can do to be of assistance. I will monitor this thread and continue posting while this issue is debated.
I think one key to self-hosting is sharing server access among admins or bureaucrats so that anyone on the project with tech knowledge can make fixes and upgrades without everything needing to funnel through one person, who may have other things going on. Looking at our traffic data from wikia, I think we're getting enough hits a month that we should consider a well-respected and stable hosting service, because we do get a sizable number of hits. We're no Memory Alpha, but we do decently. I'd be worried that someone hosting from home would be unable to handle the load.
I agree that we should probably get a "proper" host. All of my research leads me to believe that paying a little more for hosting is probably worth it. There are lots of small-time operators in the hosting space, some of which offer plans under $10 a month. I'm affraid though that they are WAY overselling. My current thought is to check out Rackspace. They actually charge per hour, so if things don't work out for whatever reason (I can't imagine what though), we can just shut the instance down and wash our hands of it. They also have a backup service at a nominal cost, which we may want to look into once we get things going. Finally, they've been in the hosting business for years, and are publicly traded. While neither of those are gaurentees of quality, to my mind they are indicators. My plan is to sign up at some point today and start getting the software installed this weekend. I've requested an updated dump from wikia (the most recent one on Special:Statistics
was from the middle of September, which is a little worrying), and I think I've figured out how to move the images over. Hopefully, we'll be able to keep costs to under $15 a month. Bandwidth is pretty cheap, and my VERY rough estimate is that we should be able to handle about 20,000 page views per month for $1. Thoughts or questions before I get in too deep on this?
I wish I could contribute more to this discussion, but I'm afraid it's progressed beyond my level of knowledge. In any case, I am fed up with Wikia and ready to move as soon as things are in order; they've started granting special features to some of their larger projects in an effort to retain them on the network, features that they are not granting network-wide. For example, WoWWiki
was just given a wider text area.
As an aside, WoWWiki decided to move despite the width change. They can now be found at http://www.wowpedia.org/. Good for them.
Yes, good for Wowpedia. Hopefully the move doesn't split their community too much. It is refreshing to see that they can basically maintain the look of their skin, as it gives me hope that we can customize the monobook skin to emulate the look people have become used to here.
OK, before I go ahead and pull the trigger on signing up for hosting, can I get a commitment that folks will at least look through their cushions for spare change once in a while? Ideally one or more people would volunteer to be be almsmen and come up with ways to finance this little venture. I don't want to be "that guy", but I'd rather not get stuck with shouldering the entire cost of hosting.
I think we can certainly work something out, be it a donate button or something else to assist in the endeavor, but I will do what I can as often as possible to assist in the cost of keeping the site up.
Sounds like you guys have a plan. Just let me know where I need to redirect the pathfinderwiki.com domain once you are setup. Good luck!
Once we have the new location set up with all the desired plugins and skin tweaks and such, I'll make a blog post about it on Paizo and use my newfound powers to get the word out that Pathfinderwiki is the url to use, not Pathfinder.wikia.com. Unfortunately, we're still going to have google searches pointing here, but I can't think of any way around that. :-(
I can't think of any way to halt Google from directing folks here, either. We can register with them, identify that though a copy of existing content remains, the community is moving to the new location. Initially, existing links leading here will provide more weight to Wikia than our new home; this is something that will just have to balance out over time. We should seek out any active projects that link here, and ask them to update their links to reflect our new web space as well.
We have a little more freedom than some projects that are leaving Wikia, as we've always had support from Paizo directly, and the game's community; that support will move with us, and even if Wikia manages to find someone to adopt and actively update this copy of the project, everyone who is invested in Pathfinder will know where we have gone and, over time, allow us to overtake the Wikia copy on Google search results.
Sorry to have been in absentia for the past few weeks. I had my parents in town and then went to AZ for a family event, but I am back now! Just want to say that I am okay with whatever is decided. Please let me know if there are specific things I can help with.
Hosting secure. Basic server config complete. Minor mediawiki pretty-fication done. Waiting for wikia to finish a page dump. Once we get that, I think we'll be able to get flipped over pretty quick. We'll probably have a LOT of things to clean up, but we'll be free and clear. I don't know how long it will take to get the dump... I suspect that there's probably a bit of a backlog of requests.
As an added bonus, I've set up Google Analytics on the new site. We'll be able to see the traffic that we have, country of origin, browser types, who's linking to us, etc.
Awesome, let me know if you need/want help with any of this... Also, Might want to let people know when the dump happens, so we don't have to manually re-update articles that were edited after the dump tape is sent.
I'm not sure if we can actually tell people here not to edit, as I've heard other admins being banned from projects for such under the guise of being "vandalism." I can make a Paizo blog post. Are there any new features of self-hosting I can mention that might justify a new blog all about it?
WoWWiki worked with Wikia to create a brief message that was allowed to be posted to user talk pages. Essentially, it stated that some of the community was leaving, everyone was welcome to join them, but if anyone instead wanted to stay the Wikia project would still exist. I don't see why we couldn't contact Wikia as well and work out something similar.
As an aside, I'll be maintaining my Wikia account; another project I've been working on doesn't want to leave, and in fact the new skin works well for what the community envisions. I'll just be switching my personal settings to Monobook; I can try to check in on this incarnation of the project from time to time, and see if I can at least keep it clear of major vandalism. If you think there's any point in doing so.
Also want to say to please let me know if you'd like help with anything, Aeakett
. On a related topic, they're not getting rid of Monobook, right? Could we just make Monobook the default and have everyone see it that way, or is there no way for the admins to set what the default skin that everyone sees is? Sorry if I am behind the times on this subject.
Users can set their personal preferences to MonoBook, but admins cannot change the default skin of a project.
OK, thanks for clearing that up.
and the terminology in one of the blogs from the developers (something along the lines of "Monobook is not currently being retired" or "we are allowing you to use monobook for the time being - mostly because of contracts reasons"(paraphrased) didn't bode well for it in the long run
I don't think they can remove MonoBook. It's the default MediaWiki skin, packaged with the software.
@yoda8myhead: No new features, no. In fact, we'll be losing stuff. Blogs are gone, achievments are gone, forums will probably be a little wonky, and our beloved shoutbox will be gone (though I have a bit of a cunning plan to hopefully fill that particular void). The only thing that will be a plus is the lack of ads.
@Heaven's Agent: It should be pretty easy to post a mesage to all talk pages with one of the bots when the time comes. I'll also help keep an eye on things here once we move.
Re: Getting rid of MonoBook. I wouldn't plan on Wikia keeping it around forever (just a hunch). Also, despite the fact that it comes with MediaWiki, the skin itself is VERY easy to get rid of. Simply removing it from the skins directory will remove it as an option.
As for all the offers of help, well thankyou, and don't worry. There will probably be a ton of stuff to clean up once we move over. I'm STILL waiting for the dump to complete, so we're in a bit of a holding pattern (I'm going to give it a tatal of a week and then contact wikia). Once we have that, I can import the pages, probably in a few hours. Then we'll need to scrape the images. I don't think this will be too big of a deal, though once we get them into place, regenerating all of the thumbnails will probably take some time. When we move, everybody will have to recreate their accounts, but your user pages will be waiting for you when you log in. I think that once we get the pages moved, and start scraping the images, we should get Alfred to point the pathfinderwiki.com domain name to the new site. It could take a while for the DSN changes to propogate (up to 72 hrs in theory, but my experience shows that things are usually pretty settled by the 24 hr mark), so a little lead time whil ethe images process will be OK. For now, you can all have a look at our new home at http://pathfinderwiki.me/wiki. I'm still a little unclear on how the import process works, so please don't a.) make a new account with a username that you're using now/will want to use in the future. b.) make a whole lot of new pages, especially ones with names that overlap with our current site.
That url should have been: http://pathfinderwiki.me/wiki
. I'll need to fix that.
I've contacted wikia to find out what's up with getting a dump. That was last thursday. Hopefully we don't have to wait too long.
I've been thinking about advertising our move. Yoda8myhead's offer of an official blob post will be our biggest and best publicity, but we should investigate other avenues. The twitter and facebook accounts come immediately to mind. I also think that there are other community sites that link here (d20pfsrd and pathfinder chronicler ccome to mind) that we should approach about updating their links. We might also see if we could get mentions on some related podcasts like Know Direction and Chronicles: The Pathfinder Podcast. Also, posts on appropriate forums (do places like enworld and the piazza have pathfinder/golarion specific sections?). Does anybody want to volunteer to coordinate this?
So I heard back from Wikia about the status of our database dump. They say that it is coming, but that the process that does the dumps has quite a backlog. Apparently, "there has been quite a demand lately". No kidding. So, it's just a waiting game at this point. Rest assured that I'll let you know when the dump is done, and I start migrating the data.
I'll do my best to find links and ask those responsible people to update them to the new site once we get the dump loaded
Here's a quick question. I've been holding off on making edits recently for fear that they would not be captured by the database dump, and I would just have to do them again. Is this a correct assumption? Many thanks.
No you can go ahead and edit. Just keep an eye on Special:Statistics
. When the date in the dump section changes, just hold off. We might lose a couple of edits, but moving over a few by hand shouldn't be too big of a deal. Also, if you happen to see that date change, let me know. I've been checking it pretty often, but it does slip off of my radar from time to time. And, I suppose that, while you're at it, let any other editors that might be interested in making the move with us know.
Thanks, Andrew! I'll keep an eye out for it.
Other things I've noticed:
- Forum link doesn't work, but forum templates do.... (as evidenced by this page)
- Ennies picture is still not uploaded for main page
- Refs not working
- Refs mid paragraph are inserting a space after them, so the space already there is being treated as an extra space and breaking the paragraph (see the edit I just made to black pudding, I'm going to hold off on more edits like this for now in case its something bots can do or if once the refs are fixed, this issue goes away)
- The RSS feed for the paizo blog isn't working
- Main page clean-up :"Register for a free username to see this page without ads and to track your changes, conversations, and favorite pages." at the top when not signed in- if we don't have ads, this should be edited. The "links to other Wikia gaming wikis" at the bottom should prolly be removed as well. Should we keep the box for the News section, and if so is there a way to re-institute blogs, or are we going to need to use another method?
- I've seen multiple "<createbox> width=24 break=no buttonlabel=Create new article </createbox>" lines of code, including the main page. Not sure if that was a wikia only feature, or if it is just done differently in this version
How many of these 'to do' things should be cleaned before I start emailing sites admins about changing links? I would think the refs issue(s) should be, so that we are accurately documenting the books we are referencing from, and new users don't get confused.
I think most of these are simply a matter of locating and loading the correct MediaWiki Extension:
- "<createbox> width=24 break=no buttonlabel=Create new article </createbox>" seems to a command line from the CreateBox Extension. Once loaded to the project, the code should function again.
- Our references seem to step from implementation of the Cite Extension. Once again, loading the extension should fix these problems.
- The forum issues will likely be remedied upon the addition of the correct forum extension. I'm unsure what one Wikia was using but, extensions that look similar to me are AWC's Forum Extension and MediaWiki Bulletin Board.
- The RSS feed appears to originate from a basic RSS Extension.
Once we get these extensions reinstalled, the various bugs/inoperable code lying around the project should fix themselves.
Thanks for tracking those extensions down. Unfortunatly, I'm not having much luck running them. We already had Cite, but it's not working. I installed RSS, but any page with the tag doesn't load... same with CreateBox. Grr!
For the record, it looks like wikia is using DPLForum. Sleep now. Try again tomorrow.
I'm starting a new discussion regarding technical issues related to the move since this isn't really the spot for them. It can be found at Forum:Move related tech issues