Fallen London Wiki:Leaving Fandom
Hey everyone. Today is an important day - we finally have the chance to leave Fandom. It's been a long time coming, and we’ve talked about it for quite some time. We have the full support of Failbetter, both financially and institutionally, and the time is ripe to move.
We've already created this new self-hosted wiki, put a lot of work into designing it, and, assuming people are on board with this, we're going to publicly launch it in a few days. It's using a snapshot of the wiki from the 15th March 2021 for now. Once we fully launch, we'll be merging in all the changes we've made to it with the most up-to-date version of the Fandom wiki.
Please check it out, and give us feedback on the design, any issues you find with any pages (broken JS/lua/templates/whatever), etc. This can be done using this form or via the new wiki Discord. The wiki is massive and while we've tried our best to fix everything, some things may have slipped through the cracks. Also, due to ongoing work the sites could go down for short periods or run slowly at any time due to backend maintenance.
I also suggest you begin migrating any and all bookmarks, etc. to point to the new wiki. You can remove search bar autocomplete links to Fandom on Chrome and Firefox by highlighting the suggestion and pressing Shift+Delete.
You can also set up a custom search, which allows you to search the wiki using the address bar. An editor made a guide to creating a custom search in Chrome here.
We are confident that forking is the best option for the future of the wiki. We really hope that you will agree, and hope to see everyone over on the new wiki.
I'm sure most of you want details about what's happening, so let's get into that now. Feel free to ask anything, either here or on Discord, and we'll answer as much as we can.
Wiki note: Editors: please read Fallen London Wiki:Notable Changes. There are important changes to the viewing and editing experience that apply to this wiki.
What is forking and who does it affect?
Forking is the process of leaving Fandom.
The only wiki that will be forking is the Fallen London Wiki (this wiki).
We may consider forking the Fifth City Wiki or the Sunless wikis in future - for the time being, only the Fallen London Wiki will be moving.
Short answer: To get away from Fandom.
Longer answer: Here are a few reasons:
- The state of advertisements on Fandom is horrendous and not improving.
- Fandom's increasing control over our site content, via things like JS review and pushing video advertisements over actual articles.
- Fandom's security history is terrible; historically, they haven't fixed a problem until someone abuses it.
- Fandom's extensive edits to MediaWiki mean that the versions of the software that they run are often very out of date. MediaWiki 1.19, the version that predated the Unified Community Platform (UCP), was eight years old. Even UCP is not immune to this effect - the version that it's running now (1.33.3) reached its end of life last June. Security fixes and similar have to be backported and Fandom's custom additions are largely things we don't like.
- As a result of the drastic version bump from 1.19 to 1.33.3, several pages and calculators broke (most notably the best-in-slot calculators), and editors had to scramble to fix them.
- Fandom recently rolled out a change where the default search behaviour searches all Fandom wikis.
- Fandom's Special:Search, when accessed from Chrome's Omnibox, doesn't take you directly to the selected page, but to the search page, which also features other Fandom wikis on the right-hand side; these results are always irrelevant and sometimes inappropriate.
- The available content area on Fandom wiki pages is less than half the width of the screen. This issue forces columns in complex tables to be very narrow.
- Many features simply aren't present or don't work properly on Fandom's mobile skin, including but by no means limited to:
- Some variant tables don't appear.
- It's not possible to collapse tables.
- It's not possible to collapse category lists on Quality/Item pages.
- Sometimes, images and text straight-up don't appear.
- Fandom forces "Trending Pages" sections onto category pages, which are redundant at best and irrelevant at worst.
We can solve all of the above by not being on Fandom.
- We get to use the latest MediaWiki version, 1.35.1 (and keep upgrading it incrementally as updates are released).
- We get to use new and updated extensions, modify them to suit our needs, or even create our own.
- 2FA is available for all accounts.
- We use a new full width skin, allowing us to display more content on the page, and greatly improving the readability of pages with detailed tables.
- Perhaps most consequentially, we can be free from the scourge of advertising, which had made the use of an adblocker all but essential for reading the wiki.
One of the most important things, though, is that the people running the wiki will be community members that actually care about the game and its community.
How did this happen?
Here's a summary of the important points.
- In response to continued complaints about the Fandom user experience, Alan decided to reach out to editors and seriously determine the feasibility of a move.
- After gathering a critical mass of support from editors and the community, we reached out to Failbetter about this project.
- We began pushing ahead with test versions of the wiki.
- After much back-and-forth with Failbetter, they assented to providing the support that this project requested.
- We finalised things on 3 March, 2021, kicking us into gear to get ready to launch.
Who is running the wiki? How much are Failbetter involved?
The wiki will be entirely community-run. Failbetter have assented to providing financial support, but stipulated that they could provide no technical support. In their own words:
We would happy to support this venture and commit to covering the monthly costs.
We cannot host this ourselves, or offer technical support, and the community would need to be fully responsible otherwise, including being a point of contact.
There is currently one sysadmin responsible for maintaining the servers (Alan).
Why wasn't this announced sooner?
We've kept this relatively quiet for two reasons:
- Things could have fallen through at several points.
- We weren't able to settle on a precise timeline until very recently.
Hyping up the community early on by divulging concrete plans could easily have backfired if things didn't happen or were delayed.
Do I keep my account? What about user groups?
- Main article: Fallen London Wiki:Migration
Yep! Every account that has ever edited the wiki has been moved over to the new wiki. You can log in to your account on the fork using your Fandom credentials - this will then be authenticated via Fandom's API and, if it's correct, your account will be fully activated. Your password will remain the same and is stored securely (it would be good practice to change your password, though). Your account will only be authenticated with Fandom on the initial login - subsequent logins will occur through our servers only. This account migration ability may eventually be changed or removed.
All user groups and memberships will be transferred - autoconfirmed, admin, bureaucrat, etc.
We will be able to rename accounts. This will be available when the wiki officially launches, on the 23rd March. More information on renaming is available here.
What happens to the old wiki?
We stop editing it, and it slowly becomes obsolete and withers away. That’s it.
What about SEO and traffic?
This has always been the main issue with leaving Fandom in the past - many forks from Fandom have been pretty successful at moving all of the editors over, but less successful at moving the readers. Here are the reasons we think this opportunity is different:
- The support we've received from Failbetter is incredibly valuable. Being able to broadcast this announcement in-game, on Discord, Reddit, and the forums all but ensures that all active players will hear about this move, without any interference from Fandom.
- More importantly, Failbetter have been very prolific with new content updates, and the proportion of traffic coming from very recent updates (Moulin, new Heists, new social actions, e.g.) is extremely high. That means obsolescence will come very, very quickly if the old wiki does not receive updates.
SEO will initially be a problem - it'll take a while for us to beat out the old wiki in terms of Google searches and such. But we have several factors that will be very beneficial to us getting there:
- Our new domain is closer to the primary site (i.e. fallenlondon isn't a subdomain), an advantage over Fandom.
- Direct linking from primary sites (i.e. links on fallenlondon.com and failbettergames.com) is a strong SEO boost.
Right now, please check out this wiki and give us feedback on it.
Edits made to the Fallen London Wiki on Fandom after approximately 5:00 AM (UTC) on the 23rd March will not be saved, and will need to be recreated on this site. There will be a short period between the final database dump and full launch to make sure that the import was successful, edits were merged correctly, and otherwise make sure that the wiki is running fine before permitting editing.
Our launch timeline is:
- Tuesday, 16 March: First announcement, publicly announcing the existence of this wiki.
- Tuesday, 23 March: Final migration from Fandom. Second announcement. Go live!
This effort could not have been possible without several key players:
- Wiki editors, for their amenability and enthusiasm towards a move, and their encouragement throughout the development process.
- Alan, for his incredible work on both starting the project and doing the technical work on the new wiki.
- 0bsidianFire, who created the wiki's fabulous logo.
- Failbetter, for their generous support in this venture.
- The Runescape Wiki, whose prominent success encouraged this effort, and from whose announcement post this current post was largely adapted.
- The Blaseball Wiki, whose guidance in the details of pulling data from Fandom was invaluable.