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Comments archived 3.14.05

Do you have any ideas/thoughts on exactly how to achieve things like creating a more effecient way to get around? Seems a bit of a tough problem to me - NightRain

We can always take pages from things like the original wiki. C2. The problem that ExaltedWiki seems to stem from a few problems, most of which can be traced back to my laziness in not educating people early:

  1. People not ReFactoring ThreadMode pages. Once a page is done, all the "comments" should be summed up and the page should be presented as a total, summarized whole. This is always an ongoing process, since few pages in the wiki ever "die".
  2. People making little WalledGardens where they hide their stuff instead of placing them in well known community points. This is one of the real evils of having subdomain (a.k.a. "Slash") pages. Telgar/Charms is a bad thing. Instead, charms should be in SolarResistanceCharms with further categorization as necessary. Instead of keeping everyone's work separate, they should all go in common places and then simply have an AuthorName.
  3. Lack of good introductory docucumentation. Newbie wikifans seldom know exactly what is considered GoodPractice, so they ape others. The problem with this is that the others they copy may also be unsure. The result is a slowly evolving and very unclear system.
  4. People favor sublinks and one word links over WikiWords. The result is really unpredictable page names. Originally I enabled the double-bracket links because I wanted to let people have names which are one word keep homepages. The practice is kind of out of control now, with lots of subpages and mono-word pages hiding most of the content (and drastically slowing down the search feature, I might add).

Don't worry though, it's hardly the EndOfTheWorld. We start small and work as we can. Perhaps we should open a discussion, HowShouldTheWikiBeFormatted?

-- DaveFayram

The "walled garden", insofar as I use it, is a place to hash out ideas before feeding them into the collective pages. It might be useful to continue the practice of user-isolated sections, where people can accept comments and discussion. There should be a 'NewIdeas' page (or set of pages) where people shill their personal stuff before it gets put into the more stable regular areas.

I would like to propose the following layout:

Not sure if Combos are really a first-class section, but I doubt it. Charms/Combos

-- BillGarrett

Personally I like my walled garden. I like having my own copy of various pages, which only I can change (except for comments) - fairly often others prefer different page layouts, and I'm happy for them to have theirs and me to have mine.

Personal pages do need to be properly linked through to common areas, of course. On occasion it is appropriate for there to be only a common copy, but that I like it that that is my choice! Part of the attraction of the wiki, is the chance to have my own pages.

As for the common area layout, ImportantLinks does that fairly well (covering almost everything BillGarrett suggests above, I do believe).

I think the common area needs someone to go through the items in the walled gardens and insert links to them in the common areas, more than it needs layout expansion.

-- BrokenShade

You make a very valid point about new users Dave. I for one am new to this Wiki and all Wikis in general. I have no idea what is good practice, and what is bad practice. What I bring with me is the expectations of how I think it will work based on my experiences with other web based communites. And those expectations lead me to expect a walled off area, they lead me to expect the ability to make it obvious something is something of mine I'm sharing with the community, as opposed to something I'm trying to make a collaborative effort. Now reading your posts, I get a much more solid idea of what the Wiki expectations are, and the divergence from that that has taken place to make things work more like people not familiar with Wikis expect.

For example, I'm putting together an update of my campaign, including descriptions, people, places etc. Now, my initial expectations suggest to me that this isn't collaborative. I don't overly want other people tinkering with it and putting their own spin on what is intended to be the telling of actual events. So, I put it in as a subsection of my user page so people will know it's mine. I'm also putting all the people places etc on one page, hence my question on anchors in WikiQuestions. In your preferred version, this feature wouldn't exist? Instead of being buried away in my user page, I'd have a page for people, a page for places, or maybe even a page for each person or place, and they'd be named appropriately, so that whenever referenced from any source, the links would automatically appear, instead of someone having to try and explicitly link to them? I'd also presumably try and find some appropriate centralised locations to link to my places, people and events?

That's an important difference in focus/intent, and one I actualy quite like, but it's also something I JustDidNotGet until thinking your comments through. This stuff most certainly needs to be easily accessable to people when they first join up. There is an entire philosophy here that people might not get until it's too late.

-- NightRain

I personally am also one of the people who like the idea of being able to have a "walled garden" to a certain extent; for example, I put a short story at Dissolvegirl/SlumberParty instead of just at SlumberParty because it's complete and non-collaborative-- meaning I don't want anyone sticking in a surprise ending where a Solar busts in and slaughters all five characters or something. But to continue the metaphor, walled gardens can still have doors. I like the common pages(FanFiction is a good example) where people list their relevant pages that are in their little subset of the Wiki. It also makes it easier to see who authored something at a glance. --Dissolvegirl (whose name may look like two words, but has always been one word and therefore un-wikifriendly)

Restructuring some page names into WikiWords shouldn't be hard at all, a lot of them can stand it. That's something we can fix without bothering anyone's personal interests or whatever. As for the whole "walled garden" problem, that can also be resolved. I too like having a map of all *my* stuff accessable from Telgar. But, I must also agree with Dave that if the main organization is by content-type instead of user. Complining all the Artifacts into LevelOne, LevelTwo and so on and simply giving credit where due. This may, however, increase the size of the Wiki by a very great deal. I think we have to see what's best before we start making changes. In the mean time, it certainly wouldn't hurt to simply make more WikiWords and get some updated indexing done over at ImportantLinks. - Telgar

Walled gardens indicate, to me, exactly one thing: static content. I'm of the opinion that this is stuff that belongs not on a public Wiki but on a personal page, possibly with links from the Wiki so that wikiusers can find it. - willows

I'm not saying that all private content is evil. WalledGardens are okay in small doses, because they allow authors to begin to commit something to the wiki and work out very early problems with it. This is a good thing. However, all too often content will never leave the gardens. That's bad. The inherent evil of large walled gardens is that:

  1. They create a navigation hazard for new users.
  2. They hide data away from people who might want it. With the wiki getting bigger everyday, work needs to be done to prevent this.
  3. They discourage GroupCollaboration, which is the very heart and soul of wiki. Some things (like an account of your game or some FanFiction) may not be subject to this, but in general, the wiki encourages everyone to change everything as they see fit. This charm is too expensive? Make it 3 motes. If you want to publish charms of your design, that is probably better suited to your homepage elsewhere, as the nature of Wiki makes it more likely that someone will change it, and indeed the point is that they will!

Now, this isn't iron clad, so don't worry if you didn't like what I just said. l am just listing off the reasons that the PortlandPatternRepository doesn't like WalledGardens. Every wiki has to decide for themselves exactly what is acceptable and what is not. My biggest concern is that eventually the sole way to navigate will be via the RecentChanges page. Then, we're no better than a bulletin board. This wiki was designed as an escape from the pain and madness of the Forums, both WW and Instead of being a place of contention like a board, it should be a place of cooperation. The day that we degenerate to a BBS system is the day ExaltedWiki fails.

-- DaveFayram

I agree that the Wiki is foundering badly in regards to navigability, thus the PrettyWikiProject. But I can't really see how to resolved the Walled Garden Syndrome without taking, say, SolarArchery and turning it into some HUGE list of Charms on one page with headers preceding each person's contributions. This will, inevitably, lead to overloading some poor browser or making the wiki take so long to load that newbies won't want to hang around. So, what exactly are we proposing in place of our Walled Gardens? Huge listy pages? Or simply a more inter-linked version of what we have under ImportantLinks where under SolarArchery we have each contributor's Charms on a seperate subpage and then links back to the contributors? This allows for both sources of access, the Charms section and the UserPages, since SolarArchery/Telgar can be linked on SolarArchery and on Telgar/Charms. - Telgar

I'm not sure. This wiki faces a unique challenge in that regard. Most wikis do not do things like charms and whatnot. My first suggestion is to subdivide charms by ability. We do that already. Then, alphabetize. This should provide enough subdivisions. This is one of the cases where "/" pages work well. SolarArchery/A isn't bad. Then, on people's homepages, you can mention which charms you like, etc.

The nice part about this is that people can feel free to add or edit charms that exist. For instance, many charms need their costs adjusted for PowerCombat in the MartialArts page. The MartialArts stuff is an example of a page that has the right idea, but could use ReFactoring. I feel more trepidatious about modifying Telgar/SolarArchery (it's in your UserPage) than I do about modifying SolarArchery/B. This is proper.

Wiki content isn't set in stone, and if you want to publish an immutable set of charms that only you can change, the wiki doesn't give you much garuntee of this. A RealHomePage is probably better for that task.

But, like I said, ExaltedWiki needs to develop its own SweetSpot for this kind of thing.

-- DaveFayram

I'm fairly new to this, but it seems to me that having each person's Charms of a given ability be on separate pages is a very good thing. Very often different people will be working from significantly different design philosophies, or simply making different variations on what are essentially the same ideas. Not separating them on different pages would lead to the situation currently found on some of the FixThePowerCombatRules pages, where a half-dozen slightly different ideas are all presented together, and usefulness is drowned under a massive tide of content. One would like to think that putting everything together would result in collaboration and group synergy, but I suspect people will refuse to compromise on their own versions because THEY ARE RIGHT, and the page would become a headache-inducing mess of conflicting proposals. -- NatalieD

People who refuse to comprimise will find their original charms being moved to archival subpages. This kind of attitude has no place on the wiki, and shouldn't be allowed to detriment the community, NatalieD. The point is that a bunch of rational adults come to a comprimise and figure out the BestOverallSolution. For people who refuse to comprimise, the page can present their alternate ideas if they insist upon it. This is one of the best uses of a "/" subpage.

When a page reaches a point where "[its] sefulness is drowned under a massive tide of content" then it's time to ReFactor the page so that the most workable and most universal fixes are displayed cleanly and dissenting views take place below that.

Wiki pages are always going to have dissenting views and be WorkInProgress. That's fine. However, some the majority will agree on, and these things come first.

Perhaps we need to create a page explaining that WikiUsersShouldHaveNoPride and explain why. If all you want to do is publish your work, then don't put it on the wiki. The only reason that anyone would want to publish on the wiki is because they want to work with others to improve and understand it better.

There is more to a wiki than just providing free webspace. If the wiki degenerates into free webspace, I'd shut it down. That's not why it's here, it can be much more. :)

-- DaveFayram

I have to agree with Natalie; though I didn't put it into that framework, when I first read this page my first fear was that of the entire Wiki turning into one large 'FixTheSolarCharms' page. Frankly, I find the Charms set out just fine the way they are. If I need a charm, I can go to the main Solar page, look at the ability I want, and browse the individual page. This lets me browse, but also lets me decide whose charms I like the best and whose fit into my games the easiest. That'd be a LOT harder in a mixxed page; a browse at the proposed Charms/SolarArchery charm proved that at the very least. I'd say the solution is to make sure that everyone has their stuff linked, in easy to find fashion, to the appropriate 'key pages' with all the content clearly marked.

Then just make sure that peopel can /find those key-pages/. -- CrownedSun

What's important to remember is that if you don't agree with something like "FixTheSolarCharms", then it won't bother you because it's in its own little space. Its a discussion that you need not contribute to. This isn't a case of "IfYouDontHaveAnythingNiceToSayThenDontSayAnything", it's more that the discussion and work has no bearing on your games or interests, and should be ignored. It's time management. :)

Lexicon and WhirlwindBrushMethod are great examples of this. They aren't WalledGardens because they have clear entry points and clear exit points. They do not take over the wiki, and they strongly encorage collaboration and cooperation to refine content. At the same time, they don't bother anyone else. I think that they're the very definition of ExaltedWiki's success, and I congratulate the people who came up with them.

-- DaveFayram

I /like/ the way charms work on the wiki now, though;P If it changed to what your suggesting (which is closer to say, a suggestion asking that all fiction previously in the Fiction/ page should now go into WBM and be put into Queues), I would loose access to something that I find very useful -- charms designed by contributors, sorted by contributors, that I can easily search and use in my game. While a ExtendTheSolarCharmTrees project could be cool, it wouldn't be what we have now, and I *like* what we have now:) Just having all my charms stored in my Exalted directory is nice, but I'd not have any charms that I didn't create that way.

-- CrownedSun

This is something for the wiki community to decide upon, but I caution against it, CrownedSun. Nothing says that people can't index stuff multiple ways. BUT, and this is a major But, the wiki is not personal web publishing. It's collaborative web publishing. If you want to publish charms and not have anyone tinker with them, why are you publishing them on the wiki?

What we have now is servicable, but it is very confusing to newbies. Further, it discourages discussion and revision. If I see that your charms aren't updated for PowerCombat (which is going to be the standard within the next few releases, like it or not), then someone should feel free to update the costs for PowerCombat (albeit non-destructivly, a Cost: and PC Cost: field would be an appropriate way to handle this).

As it stands, it's impolite to do this because they're under your subpages. People who might refactor your charm text to make it clearer or more inline with offical style will not, because it's under your sub-page.

Clearly, there needs to be a comprimise here. On the one hand, you need a way to track changes to charms you care about. On the other hand, people need to be able to find and ReFactor your work if so needed. I am not sure what the answer is.

One thing to remember: unless you specifically mark it, all content on ExaltedWiki is public domain with no legal boundries. I could take every one of Ikselam's hearthstones, sell them for money, and never even tell him. It's legal, and I hope everyone is prepared for this possibility. Your reward is recognition and approval from the ExaltedWiki community. We all know who did it, and we'll give credit where credit is due.

-- DaveFayram

I agree with CS, to a degree. And besides, a lot of those charms are self-contained trees; it's a hell of a lot easier to go to Name/SolarThrown and see a self-contained tree than it is to find a thrown charm you like named "Brilliant flying death of doom" and then go on a scavenger hunt to see if you like its prerequisites just as much. --dissolvegirl

It is only easier if you are very familiar with ExaltedWiki. To a newbie who doesn't know the rules or the ways around here, it is confusing and intimidating. Further, it makes it difficult to let a WikiGnome help keep the wiki up to date transparently. I described some of the weaknesses of this strategy above.

We need to work out some conventions and rules that handle both sides. -- DaveFayram

The only way I can see for handling that particular issue would be if a footer was added to the FormatStandards for charms where it linked to a page that linked the entire custom tree in order. I guess that could work as the alternative to it being under Name-Exalt-Ability. --dissolvegirl

It seems that the discussion here is scaring away several contributors. CrownedSun, Haren and Balthasar have expressed their discontent with the topics here and I can understand that they like the current Wiki format. I like it too. It's nice to be able to find all of, say, Kraken's stuff from his page and not have to sort through GoldenH's stuff or CrownedSun's stuff for his Charms. But it would also be a great project if we had Charm Trees listed so that we COULD build off eachother and such things. This could become another project like WBM and The Lexicon. It should not, however, be the only way to use the Wiki. Our Walled Gardens need a few more doors, sure, but lets not turn them into a park. I hate parks. Make my nose itch. And we certainly don't want people fleeing the Wiki. - Telgar

All this is theoretical. I hope people realize that. -- DaveFayram

I actually do realize that; I just don't want even the chance that my stuff will end up in that format (and I find the notes about 'personal webspace' to be somewhat fitting). I have all my charms on my hard drive. You can consider their removal to be a very vocal vote against this idea. If we end up not doing this and things remain in some format that I can deal with, rest assured, I will most likely laborously and painstakingly put them back up. Most of them are still in wiki format, so it probably won't even take that long.

But I PrettyWikiProject/REALLLLY// hate this idea. To a "stop posting on the wiki" level. -- CrownedSun

Well then, propose something that is dealable instead of throwing a tantrum. :\ I'm not saying what we will do. Only what our general goals are. Like I keep saying, this is up to the community. I'm playing the role of the Newbie Advocate, because someone has to. -- DaveFayram

I'm not sure I'm reading this right, Dave, but it seems to me that you're proposing a potentially total stripping of ownership from all content posted here. Maybe that's always been the case, that anyone can go into someone else's work and change stuff around willy-nilly, or even change nothing except tacking on their own name instead of the original author's, and that anyone who posts here should be willing to spend more time combing over everything they post to look for changes than they do actually creating content. But is this actually a good idea? Is this what people want? I don't.

If I'm misreading things, please set me straight. - Quendalon

Quendalon, it has always been this way. That's the reality of the wiki. You must label content to have it protected by copyright law. If you feel that this is a concern, my suggestion is that you actually protect your work. Print out the wiki page, right now. Then mail it to yourself, and don't unseal the envelope. This is the way that most authors get a "proof of conception".

In reality, this problem seldom occurs. You can own things on a wiki, and that's why UserPages exist. The idea is that is your space, to do with as you will. The legality of it is up to you to deal with. Of course, I don't think you CAN copyright derivative works, so quite frankly WW owns your work already.

Keep that in mind. I didn't make that policy. This is how the law and WW's policies work. I don't like them very much either.

If you care, protect yourself. Although, I honestly doubt that it matters that much to most people. No money can be made off of these charms, since WW owns the copyright, and because I keep a very long history there is a good log of who made what.

In practice, this doesn't happen. People don't steal things because the wiki community respects and protects its own.

Even with all this, it's not like all content should be ReFactorable at will. Things on a UserPage are considered hands-off for a good reason. If you don't want to open something up to peer modification, then keep it in your own space.

However, I regret that in the end, all I am doing is providing free webspace and not really changing the way Exalted fans work together to form better content. I'm not about to shut ExaltedWiki down or tell you all that you have my way or the highway. I just feel sad. If this is the limit of the community that is ExaltedWiki, I have failed on many levels.

-- DaveFayram

Dave, we Exalted fans on the Wiki are working together in new ways to create better content, and I'm puzzled that you're not seeing it. It feels a little like you gave us the parts to make helicopters, we used them to make hang gliders instead, and now you're complaining that we're not taking to the air. - Quendalon

Dave, it's MY content. I can do whatever I want to with it. Unfair, perhaps, but if I don't want it on the wiki -- it's /gone/. At the moment, I don't want it on the wiki. It's not a matter of throwing a tantrum (and believe me, I feel bad for anyone who might have been using those charms; this is gonna be annoying on my players, for instance). My own idea for alternative options is "keep things the way they are"; change the link pages, not the source material itself.

Once again, just for clarity: I apologize for anyone inconvienced by this manuever on my part. It is not an attack on anyone, not even dave. It's just me doing what I think is best with my content. -- CrownedSun

I am against turning the wiki into WikiPudding; I think it fails to acknowledge some of the basic realities of what ExaltedWiki is, which I think is closer to WikiPedia than PortlandPatternRepository. Here are some thoughts on WikiOrganization and BestPractices.\\ _Ikselam

Well, I *am* a newbie here, myself. I just arrived here a few weeks ago, and this is the first Wiki I'd ever seen, no less used. And, y'know, it's not very hard to learn. I think I have the basic hang on things, and it only took a bit of looking over the stuff that exists. I will admit that I rely a lot on the RecentChanges page to navigate through things, but it's not a huge pain, and I think maybe a few "keystone" link pages could make things easier without any real dramatic change of anything that currently exists. With inclusion of things on these pages at the choice of the authors of the information. And, speaking of ownership, I better go back and add some sort of copyright reference on my pages.  ;) - Dimitryi

I disagree with your assessment, Dave. The Lexicon and WBM are exactly what you wanted to get out of the Wiki, so is 1001 Manses. Fix the Solar Charm Trees is sorta close..ish. And not only are there these cooperative projects, but the Wiki is the *best* resource for tasteful, well-written Exalted material anywhere on the internet. That isn't a failure. I wish my website over at was even 1/9th as cool as the Wiki. - Telgar

All right. We now have CrownedSun pulling content in a fit of pique, and DaveFayram moaning that ExaltedWiki is a failure. Let's try and dial back on the drama a little, and have an actual discussion.

Most of this drama seems to stem from collisions between differing conceptions of what WhatExaltedWikiShouldBe. Let's talk about that. I think it will help to clarify things and find a middle ground, before we degenerate into a head-butting "I'm RIGHT!" "No, you're WRONG!" "I'm going to SULK!" argument.\\ _Ikselam

I personally think we wouldn't want to define what the ExaltedWiki should be too much. Too narrow a definition would destroy it. I think the Lexicon and WBM are great and very neat, but also very structured collaborative projects that not everyone is going to feel comfortable getting involved in (or even be interested in getting involved in), and if the entire Wiki is arranged solely around projects like that, it's going to discourage newbies. I watched the Lexicon for awhile, and put things on my user page, before I felt confident enough to even try out being involved in it. I think part of the Wiki is in organized collaborative projects like the Lexicon, and I think part of it is in less organized, more personal, spaces for indidivual material, where people can easily provide feedback. I enjoy both of those aspects. - Dimitryi \

I'm going to mope a little. Nyah nyah. I am also going to start a new wiki. The possessive people can keep their stuff on one wiki, and the people who actually want to work together to make something better can put stuff on another wiki. For me, that solves both goals.

You guys do what you want with organization. I have a direction now that is tangential.

I don't know if it will work. I hope so. If people stopped worrying about the raw credit and started caring about making something greater than the sum of its authors, I think amazing things would result. So perhaps the new wiki will be dedicated to making a new sourcebook, entirely fan driven and audited. We'd pick a setting or event, and then as a GROUP make a complete book. Then I'll use the AutoPDF generator so people can download automatically paginated PDFs.

I think this idea is awesome.

-- DaveFayram

Enh. Personally, I think that's a terrible idea. I think that harms both potential Wikis more than it benefits either. I guess I'm really confused about what the real problem is. Currently, this Wiki possesses a mix of ordered collaborative projects and more chaotic personal tidbits (but less isolated than a webpage because it comes with an active audience and open feedback). Neither damage the other, as far as I can see. If I start putting my own random lexicon on my user page here, it isn't going to damage the excellent collaborative Lexicon that exists. If someone wants to build a collaborative Charms project here, it's not going to be prevented nor damaged by the presence of Charms made by a particular author on his or her user page here. This Wiki is a conglomeration of varied content in varied forms, but the important part is it is a community, created of individuals *and* collaboration. I can make my own web pages, and I've made netbooks with people on the web in the past, but what this Wiki has that those things do not is an open and evolving community presence. - Dimitryi

Dave, how is what you're doing different from what Brandon is doing? Your favorite paradigm isn't the only one on ExaltedWiki, but it is represented.\\ _Ikselam

I'm not removing anything, or changing anything about ExaltedWiki. The problem with mixing the two paradigms is that the closed one always becomes dominant. A WikiMineField, if you will. You never know when you can ReFactor and when you can't. You never know when you're working on content that might be pulled during a fit of temper or something that is benevolently given to the world to refine as they see fit. These two systems cannot be reconciled in general. And if people are afraid to refine content, then people won't.

The end result is a static thing. ExaltedWiki is getting big now. It's several hundred megs of data, and last month we got 300307 hits. We're already way past it. ExaltdWiki is going to start exceeding my monthly bandwidth cap very soon. This means more money per month for me. I don't begrudge this, I knew when I started that this might get expensive.

But how am I supposed to feel, and what am I supposed to do, Ikselam, when I find out that in the end all I'm doing is giving away webspace so that people can recreate message boards in a smaller context? Those kinds of paradigms are exactly what I wanted to escape when I made ExaltedWiki in the first place!

Please, Ikselam. Think about what I am saying. The minute I even discuss change, I have people immediately removing content and threatening to take their friends with them. I don't see many other options.

-- DaveFayram

Dave, I removed some charms -- I didn't "get my friends to say they would to". They agreed with that on their own. You might note, however, that I'm doing what you said for a LOT of my content -- moving it "into the wiki public domain". Once I find a place for it, all my ToC stuff is going to go into the generic 'non-clamped' location. I've opened up large swaths of stuff that I was having trouble with to the rest of the wiki, so they can add new stuff to some of the stuff I've already started. It's OUT THERE. You're idea -- it's cool, and I agree with it. I just don't want it gettting in the way of my charms:P
-- CrownedSun
I think you are blowing things out of proportion. I think people on both sides are. You come in here with a "laying down the law" attitude, telling everyone how they need to completely change their way of approaching the wiki, and then act surprised and upset when people don't immediately abandon their old ways now that you've show them the light.
Likewise, people see you telling them that they're doing wiki wrong, and react to that instead of your other, highly valid points about the Wiki being hard to navigate, and the need for maintenance to keep things from being clogged with chaff.
So what's my suggestion? Put your money where your mouth is. If you are not involved in ExaltedWiki, aside from dealing with occasional behind-the-scenes technical issues, you cannot expect that it will magically evolve to a state where it matches your vision of the PerfectWiki. As currently formulated, ExaltedWiki is not a venue in which FatherKnowsBest works -- you'd have to change the whole thing to a closed paradigm if you wanted that to be the case. If you want to change its direction, LeadByExample. By that, I don't mean step on people's toes by hacking their work; I mean SHOW what you mean when you say "I think so-and-so would be a really great use for the wiki" by creating an area devoted to so-and-so. Maybe people will like it, maybe they won't. But it's the only way to get people to even consider that so-and-so might be a good idea, without stripping away the "organic" nature of the wiki. You can't just say "So-and-so would be a great idea!" and expect other people to make so-and-so happen for you.
And for the love of Pete, don't say stupid defeatist shit like "the closed paradigm always wins." ExaltedWiki is evolving away from the closed paradigm. When it started, it was nothing but collections of Charm trees and artifacts. The collaborative writing projects are a recent development. Granted, they're not taking the wiki by storm or anything, but they have enjoyed some success. If you want to encourage this trend, do not concentrate on convincing people that what they've been doing is all wrong. They probably won't listen. Frame it in terms of "Doing this new thing would be fun." And then give examples of how to do the new thing, in a way which is not destructive of the old fun things that people are already doing.
Also realize that although you haven't made an effort to control the wiki -- a decision which I think was very wise -- it would not exist without you. It runs on your webspace. You could pull the plug if you wanted to. When you come in and say, "I don't like where the wiki is going, you guys are doing it all wrong," it is much more threatening than if someone who wasn't an op said the same thing. I think that's contributing to the overreaction you're encountering.
ExaltedWiki means something to me, and that something is more than what having my own private RealWebPage would mean. I owe you a huge debt of gratitude for creating it. Seeing you dismiss all the good that's come of it, just because you'd hoped it would take a different form, and storming off in a huff to make a new wiki where people will do things the "right" way, makes me angry (as does CrownedSun's pulling his Charms because he feels threatened).

I don't think a constellation of Sourcebook Wikis is a bad idea at all. But I also don't think that they replace the functions of the current ExaltedWiki. Nor do I think that they're as innovative as Dave thinks; basically, they're just NetBooks built in a Wiki rather than by email or message board. I'd love to see the results of the new project, but I'd hate to see it totally supplant our ongoing work here. - Quendalon

Dammit, Dave, you preempted my idea! ...sort of. I think splitting the Wiki into two is a quick way to convolute content -- I think having a more formal place for finalized submission, working hollistically with the existing Wiki, rather than being a divided workspace, would be more beneficial. Regardless, last paragraph details my 'mighty trifecta,' as it were.

If I might toss some change into the discussion -- I will readily admit that I see the Wiki as the easiest storage method for peoples' work -- there is, otherwise, no centralized database of fan-made content on which people can easily post (The ExaltedCompendium is a wasteland, as far as I'm concerned; it's a bottle-necked, poorly designed depository for submissions of hugely less quality than I see on here -- I'm not sure why the quality of submissions is almost universally lower, but the first two points are reason enough anyways). I have little to add to most collaborative projects, and though I made an effort to clarify MartialArts submissions when possible, I will not change any mechanics for clarity of the author's intent. Since most submissions are by active Wikiers, comments are quickly assimilated into the scheme of things.

Likewise, poorly-designed Charms are probably indicative of a poorly-designed tree, and, rather than forcing quality on something which is inherently flawed, I think people are better off designing things from the ground up, and going from there. Charms are probably a poor example, since there's only so far one can revise things -- but I think that's true of most of the material posted, intentionally or not.

Message boards are probably better for irreconcilable discussions, as I gain very little from reading retreads of discussions (though I can see the arguement for ReFactor-ing, and pointing people to those debates when they're brought up later, I think a message board with a thread archive of longer than a month could work too.). I don't think I've suggested this explicitly before, but combining the Wiki with a distinctly seperate database for submissions, and an active, well-maintained message board (possibly White Wolf's, if their upgrade is up-to-snuff.) would probably lead to a more hollistic environment in which the Wiki can live more as Dave sees it -- as an organic concoction of communal thoughts. As it is now, it simply is the easiest place to post finished content, despite the inadequacies of the format in some respects. _Jabberwocky

Hey DaveFayram! The wiki running the Paranoia Lexicon has some nifty automated page link generators based on something called "regexes". D'you know what they are, and can this Wiki use them? - Quendalon

Regular expressions are pretty powerful, but the problem is that in oder for me to automate link generation, everyone would have to annotate their pages in a way that I could build a system to recognize. Regexs are popular and powerful, but they're ultimately limited. If everyone said, "Yes, I will keep my charms indexed exactly this way, and label them exactly this way," then perhaps I could accomplish this task with a wiki-crawler.

I'm not sure this is wise though. There are two issues here. One is what should the wiki be doing, and two is how can we make the wiki more friendly to newbies. Perhaps this page is in need of a ReFactor'ing?

-- DaveFayram

You raise some good points. Would the increased learning curve required to ensure precise indexing scare off newbies? What exactly do we want the Wiki to do anyway? - and this is a major question that I belive you've raised elsewhere.

As to dealing with this page... given the massive traffic it's experienced in so short a time, I'd recommend continuing to split off additional discussion threads as needed, including the questions you're currently raising. Add a category to the Discussions section, with a glaring link from the homepage. That should cover the bases. - Quendalon

What I wanna know is where all this chatter was way back when I first brought up what we're trying to do here. Discussions/PurposeOfExaltedWiki for the gory details. :) DS

I've commented inline -- DaveFayram

Now, that said, I have a few questions. Although I'm a bit late in the game, I hope ya'll bear with me.

Dave; why the sudden urgency in implementing these changes. You've spoken with a great deal of authority (as is your right, this being your wiki and all), but you decided that things like Walled Gardens or wiki-folk displaying their original content for comment rather than open game is a Bad Thing pre-emptively, without bringing the matter up first.

What urgency? This is a discussion. I'm talking speculatively. How many times do I need to say I am only presenting ideas before people realize I am only presenting ideas?

(Note: I do distinguish between a walled garden that there are no links to- if I create a page that is not linked off of any page to, and a page that I simply expect the other users to not re-write on a whim. The term seems to be refering to both, but the former is a selfish use of Dave's bandwidth, while the later is a reasonable expectation of createive control).

A WalledGarden is a series of pages that runs amongst itself, but has 1 or 0 links from the outside world into it. Many UserPages are WalledGarden's that we tolerate because everyone needs their own little breathing room. :)

You attribute the success of the Exalted Wiki to the WhirlwindBrushMethod and similiar projects, but they are not the end all be all of the Wiki, and to try and demand that everything follow the model of them is not only silly, but actively destructive. These are projects which do not interest everyone, which I know, because they do not interest me; part of the reason they don't is the way they are structured. If, for instance, Charms were organized like the WBM stories, I would never have come here twice.

Having personal, individual content is not a Bad Thing. Hell, I'd say it's a good thing. Not all collaboration must be explicit- I know I've drawn a lot of inspiration for my Charms and my mechanical dartboard ideas off of Willow's work on the Infernals (to name one of my major sources of inspiration). The wiki serves a double purpose; it is both a handy place to store ideas for later retrieval without having to go through the tedium of uploading webpages of emailing them to oneself, and maybe the most instantly user action and reaction to that content I've ever seen.

Being able to ReFactor is one the key benefits of the wiki. If you want ironclad creative control, then you'd better publish things elsewhere, DariousSolomon. Simply put, the wiki, by design, cannot give you this. Anyone might, at any time, change your stuff. Sure, it might be rude, and sure, you may change it back with the history function, but that's not the point. The point is that the wiki is designed so that people can helpfully make changes from time to time.

The simple culture we have of leving comments on people's pages, rather than directly imposing the change on the content of that page ourselves, is so vital to the Wiki's success that I can't express. If I didn't have faith that what I put up wouldn't be scribbled on by someone else, I wouldn't post anything. And I would be deprived myself of the potential feedback, and the wiki would be deprived of my content- but this is a greater loss to the wiki than myself, because (as far as I would be concerned), I wouldn't be getting feedback from the wiki, really.

This paragraph seems to take a dim view of your fellow wikizens.

There is also the non-trival issue of information overload. Frankly, we've generated more Charms than exist in the CRB. We have possibly doubled the number of Solar Charms. When I saw the Solar Archery page, I freaked out, because it was sooo long that I could no longer meaningfully relate to or comment on any of it. Breaking them apart by user has the benefit of keeping the new chunks relatively bite size.

This is what makes this problem so hard. Clearly, a list of charms by contributor is a GoodThing. Clearly, a more navigatable system is also a GoodThing. Clearly, we need to find some comprimise. This is what I am explaining, if people would stop acting like I'm somehow stealing their content and think about it for a sec.

Additionally, you assume that the use of WikiWords is an inherently good thing; I disagree. WikiWords are harder to read, unnatural, and break up the flow of the idea in favor the syntax of the machine. Double bracket links, far from being out of control, are an excellent means of control and formating, of drawing emphasis without it being unnatural. WikiWords may be more efficent, but I liken them to Devorac keyboards; the efficency only comes through alienating your users.

Then go back to programming in HTML. The Bracket Syntax is ONLY meant for external links and people with names that aren't immeditatly WikiWord'able. WikiWords are part of the markup that lets you author here, and it's a damn sight easier than working with raw HTML. We need to impose SOME structure on the text if you expect a machine to parse it. WikiWords are good. They have a preditable format, they are clear, they are easy to read so long as they are kept beautiful (clever choices of wording are sometimes important), and they interact well with the search feature. WikiWords are also superior during the most difficult time of working with the wiki, when you actually edit content. Typing multiple brackets and braces is a pain. Typing WordsJammedTogether is not. WikiWords are in every way technically superior to the brace notation. If they are slightly less readable, that is the price we pay for having the machine autolink our pages.

This is one issue I will not budge on. The benefits far outweigh ANY penalty.

Now, I'm all in favor of the general idea behind the Wiki Gnomes; recently, a lot of folks have been creating what have been, in the past, subdomain pages as front pages, have been posting Charms without linking them together with the rest of the pages, and so on. Matters that are functionally ones of content placement, not content control.

Stuff. Blah. Overall, I think you should bring this idea up as a DISCUSSION before trying to implement broad sweeping changes; we need to agree on a formating standard, and on what should and shouldn't (culturally speaking) be freely editable. The idea that Wiki users should have no pride is tantamount to saying that I shouldn't care about what I'm doing; and if I don't care, I'm rapidly not going to be motivated to do it.

I did. I said it was speculative. I said the wiki community had to decide. I did this more than twice. Nobody listens to me, then they get all MyWayOrTheHighway on me and pull content. It's frustrating. I'm trying to help by telling you guys how other similar wikis handle these situations.

That's my two cents. I may go the way of Ikky and CS, as I fully agree with their positions. That would also make me sad. My work is /mine/. I appreciate comments and criteque, but I have pride and I have shame, and if I had known what I was publishing was expected to be public domain (in so far as expected to be freely editable by anyone at any time, with no ultimate final authority), I never would have put any of it up. DS

Your work is White Wolf's if it's in any way derivative of Exalted. You can take that up with them. Your work is also public domain unless you claim it otherwise (assuming it's not WhiteWolf's). This has been ExaltedWiki's policy since day one. It is even on the front page, and is directly related to White Wolf's legal stuff. You can take that issue up with them and their lawyers, but copyright law is pretty clear about derivative work.

The above italics are my reply -- DaveFayram

I think of a lot the problem here comes from peoples ideas on CollaborativeContent, and what that means in terms of the WikiCommunity. I think if we can define peoples expectations of what it means, we can get some sort of solution to it.

-- NightRain

Dave, a few things. First, you're simply wrong about the matter of copyright as it relates to this Wiki. First, the author of a derivative work does hold copyright on it, as it is still a unique creative entity. Because it does technically infringe on someone else's copyright, their ability to distribute it is limited by what the copyright holder of the work it is derived from will allow -- but they do still own the content. Secondly, nothing on this Wiki is public domain. In the United States and all other signatories of the Berne convention, all creative works are automatically copyrighted at the moment they are created -- filing for copyright or mailing a copy to yourself is helpful for documentation, but not necessary. And the only way that copyright can be yielded is through explicit statement of the author -- an implicit disclaimer like that on this site is simply ineffectual. (See http:/copymyths.html these copyright myths for more information.)

Secondly: I think your approach here does a massive disservice to the ExaltedWiki community. What you have here is a unique, evolved community whose members are devoted almost entirely to helping one another, friendly discussion, and mutual aid. Let me list some of the things that this community hosts that any closed website couldn't possibly do:

  • Projects like the Lexicon, WBM, and Taxonomy of Madness that involve collaboration between interested parties, and which result in rich, deep resources for GMs and players alike.
  • The Thus Spoke archives, where the words of Exalted's developer and authors are preserved against the ravages of time, and presented for convenience of reference. Because they're on the Wiki, anyone can drop in a quote when an author posts; as a result, they're practically self-maintaining, rather than requiring one person to scrupulously update.
  • The largest and most useful collection of fan-made Exalted content on the web, both because the Wiki makes it painless for even an idiot with zero HTML skills to post their material online, and because Wiki tools let people format things easily (or have others come through and fix up formatting for them), and because the community here is friendly and encourages creativity.
  • A fantastic element of peer review and commentary. Any work posted here is almost certainly commented upon, and often carefully critiqued. Just take a look at four willows' Infernal charms, for example; you can see how the comments directly shaped the evolution of the charm trees, and how the author altered them in the face of friendly criticism. That's collaboration that wouldn't have occured without the wiki. Sure, a similar thing would be possible on a web board, but the wiki allows the process to go on for as long as possible, allows anyone to participate, and makes the process of changing the actual material itself a snap.

All of that is only possible with this Wiki, Dave. If you consider that a failure -- well, I'm sorry you feel that way, but I think the rest of the community here is very happy with the fantastic opportunity you've given them here.

Do I think it could use some help? Sure. But on a Wiki, that's easy to do. Why not create the ExaltedWikiIndex? Someone could make it, everyone could update it, and it could attempt to organize all the content on the site in a logical fashion. The number of changes to this Wiki per day is low enough that such an index could easily be maintained once it was created, and it would provide a far more thorough and sensible method of navigation than is available right now.

Anyway, I'm sorry you feel like this site isn't doing quite what you'd like it to, Dave, but I think your beliefs in the Ideal Wiki are somewhat different from those of the community that has evolved here. I hope you can come to see the value in what people have built here. -- Charlequin

On the copyright issue. Yes, you can copyright derivative work. However, it won't do you much good. You cannot publish except at the leave of the folks who hold the copyright to the derivative work. WW certainly will not let you sell it. There is also a more practical issue. You can't prove you were the one who authored anything here. Names can be faked. IPs and RDNSs can be faked. Unless you use other methods to protect your work, then you're pretty much out of luck. If I was called to testify in court, I couldn't verify you were the author.
So in practicality, your stuff is in the public domain when you put it up here. That's just the reality of the situation. No one wants to pick a fight, so odds are you're safe, but in the end nothing protects your content here from anything, be it theft or unauthorized modifications.
As for the rest, it only scratches the surface of what a wiki can really do. You're free to keep ownership of your content, but keep in mind that the fact that you publish it here where it is freely distributed and indexed and derived from is a tremendous boost to its popularity. Opening it up to this process even more would only amplify this effect. But, I fear in the end people care more about the credit than the accomplishment itself. I can accept that people have this point of view, even if I do not understand it.
It's not like someone is going to steal your work or not attribute to you. When I talked about collaboration I meant mostly additive modifications, footnotes, etc. I said that early. I said that often. Everyone immediately cried foul because I started referring to the way C2 does things. I think this is a classic example of why threads like this should be ConsideredHarmful. I suspect that people didn't carefully read the conversation, then jumped in with a lot of impassioned oration saying that I'd never take their content into my new Marxist regime.
It's also a great example of why I can't use the wiki the way everyone else can. Everyone else can postulate and theorize and try and help out, but because I'm an admin people turn white-knuckled when I grumble about brace links (stupid brace links, I regret turning them on) and get out their OperAbuse flags and bullhorns. Woe is me, I guess.
-- DaveFayram

I'd typed a long set of in line responses. Charlequin just eloquently summarized everything I wanted to say. Yay. :) DS

DaveFayram, I just want to say thank you at this point for setting up the wiki and letting it evolve in the way it has. I'm truly glad to hear that you were not trying to dictate policy here ... I must admit that I misinterpreted that too. My bad. ^_^

To me the most useful functions of the wiki are twofold - collaboration and archiving. I don't want the archiving functions to suffer because they are not "collaborative" enough.

All the pages on the wiki are collaborative, there are just different degrees of collaboration - and I like the fact that I can choose how much to collaborate on each submission I make to the wiki community.

By the bye, one thing I think we should avoid in almost all instances is an alphabetical listing ... naming is to some extent arbitrary, and I prefer organisation by something more meaningful (e.g. contributor). ^_^

I still really like the idea of people going around inserting links to the various walled gardens.

-- BrokenShade

For what it's worth, I like the current system more than your (Fayram's) preferred idea as a reader, not as a contributor. I'm not objecting because I'm worried about what will happen to my precious content, but because I think the wiki would cease to be a useful resource for me if, for example, charm writeups were no longer separated into pages based on contributors. I'm really not interested in a single, large-scale, designed-by-committee addition to the game. I'd rather have a modular organization of bite-sized additions that I can mix, match, and adapt for my own uses. - NatalieD


Dave, responding to your comments above.

First: the copyright issue is sort of a sidetrack, so I won't go much into it again. I'll just note a couple points: that there's no such thing legally as "practically" in the public domain; no one looking at ExaltedWiki can tell what an author may have done to protect their copyright (and so no one should make assumptions about it); and telling people that they shouldn't expect to retain any authorial control over things they put on a website doesn't seem like a great way to encourage participation to me.

As for the more direct issue. You talk about people "wanting credit," which I think is entirely missing the point. Yes, I want credit for what I create. I created it. My style, my imagination, and my feelings went into it. I don't want that credit so I can feel smug about it when people use it, or so I can hog the glory -- I want it because I feel like the things I create are associated with me, and I want people to understand that. This isn't about winning points from people, it's about personal expression.

You seem to want people to put everything in an open pot and stir together -- have people act like some sort of gestalt creative entity that just produces "community" work over time. But most collaborative art doesn't work like that. It evolves out of a framework for individual creativity -- a setup where the overall setup is geared towards the community voice, but the individual parts each carry the distinct flavor and identity of their creator. It's like a community quilt -- everyone's square is uniquely their own, but the whole comes together as something greater. Hell, it's like an RPG session -- everyone has their own unique PC who they create and they control, but they all work together in creating the game. In most games I've been in, people were quite open to suggestions about their characters and used a lot of those made -- but would resent any attempt to modify the character without their permission. I think that's really the same sort of situation you see here.

In other words: I don't really see these particular things that the wiki "could" be but isn't. I see a solid, healthy model of collaborative artistic creation here, that both mirrors and complements the RPGs it is designed to support. And I'm not inclined to sacrifice that model in favor of one that ignores personal emotional attachment to one's art.

As for the issue of how you can participate in the community: you touched a nerve with the comments on WalledGardens. You directly condemned a part of the way people use this wiki, and which a lot of people feel is important to the way they approach things here. You shouldn't be surprised that people reacted negatively to that. If you had merely come in and said, "hey, let's talk about different ways to organize the wiki" and centered it on the difficulty of nagivation, I think you would've seen much more positive responses.

-- Charlequin

Well, I am a newbie to ExaltedWiki (as of April 30th), so I am not sure how much has actually been done about the above. I am rather curious if an indexing project has been initiated, what (if any) changes to AcceptableUse for content and contributions to ExaltedWiki are, and generally what is happening from here? Please advise. -- SunRunner