DDOGamer had the bright idea of seeking out a DDO Wiki editor (they call themselves “SysOps”) and asking him or her a series of questions about the wiki and about being a wiki-type person. After some searching an editor was identified, Kevin, a.k.a. LrdSlvrhnd, who was then harassed and harangued until he gracefully agreed to serve as an interview subject.
And so a largish batch of questions was prepared and fired off. In true crowd-source fashion, LrdSlvrhnd turned them into a group page on the wiki itself and tagged all of the other primary SysOps, asking them all to answer. And they did. Lots of answer. Lots! Last week we covered the history and continuing presence of the DDO Wiki.
Today we’re talking about life as a SysOp.
DDOGamer: How did you get involved with the wiki?
LrdSlvrhnd: I first started editing the wiki back in October ’09 (about a month after joining, I believe), doing minor edits for grammar & spelling (which is still the bulk of my editing today, actually). I was trying to figure out my own style, so I was rerolling my first couple of characters a *lot* – which meant running through the same low-level quests a *lot*. And I’d noticed that some of them needed fleshing out. And since I’d been running them so much, I figured I could do a decent job with that. And it kind of snowballed from there… I did (and do) a lot of running solo, which meant that I could cheerfully take an hour running through a five-minute quest and working on the wiki page.
Nibelung: I always used the wiki as a resource since I started playing. Then, I noticed that a lot of items (at the time) had stats, but no pictures. Next thing, I started to screenshot everything I got, and putting it on the wiki. I’m not great at research, testing, coding or even plain grammar (because English isn’t my first language). But I found my place doing pic hunting and text dumping.
Yoko: In 2007, nobody was using this wiki it seemed so i started using it as my “personal notepad”.
Tauro: Well, I looking back, saw a couple spelling errors, made an account, read up on how to edit, and went from there. Minor edits like that turned into template layouts, image uploads, etc.
Mjoll: At the time I started playing, second half of 2009, I wasn’t satisfied with wiki’s maps for quests and decided to make my own maps. After a while sharing them with other players sounded like a good idea so I made a thread on the official forums that I kept updating regularly. Later I was approached by either Borror or Yoko and asked if I would like to upload the maps on the wiki and… here I am.
DDOGamer: What is your opinion regarding why do some people (like me) mainly read and use the wiki while other people (like you) feel led to contribute and change it?
Mjoll: I don’t think there is only one correct answer to this question, it’s more about a multitude of factors that influence whether or not someone decides to contribute to the wiki: free time, knowledge of the game, being a hardcore or casual gamer, having 20 alts or none, wanting to fill an information gap that exists on the wiki or to correct erroneous info etc. And a healthy dose of OCD. *laughs*
Tauro: I feel people use the wiki as a reference guide to help them though difficult quests. Lets face it, some of these quests, you could be beating your head in to the wall (or standing in the lava, like at the bottom of The Pit) for hours trying to figure out the puzzles without help. I love the idea people use it and regard it so highly. I do become a little disheartened when someone complains that something is “wrong” or “ddo is not right” or “someone should fix it” – There’s an ‘edit’ button there (*hint*hint*) – and if you mess up, it’s a simple click to revert to a previous version of an article, so not like your lack of wiki-expertise is going to mess anything up.
Yoko: Check this book out. Its kinda old and obsolete, the title is ridiculous (its sooo 2004 and sooo “web2.0″) but it covers all the stuff going on early wiki scene and still holds so much of the truth. This wiki is no different nor special.
Nibelung: Mostly, I believe is a matter of priorities. Some people just don’t have the time to edit a wiki. Others don’t have the knowledge, and don’t believe that learning it may be important in the future. A third group might think that time spent editing the wiki is less time farming stuff. Myself, I like that the wiki exists to help everyone, and try to keep it correct and presentable for everyone.
LrdSlvrhand: I think it’s easier for somebody who primarily runs solo or with an understanding group (…the latter of which would be impossible while PUGging) to do major edits to a quest page. Beyond that, for minor edits… honestly, some pages, if you go to edit them, it can be overwhelming. There’s a lot of use of templates, and people are probably afraid of doing it wrong or breaking something. But the thing is, admins can clean those up fairly easily. Like, if an item’s base value was missing, and somebody added it – the “Value” line will most likely already be on the page. Or with U17, if an item has been updated to include an augment slot (Muck’s Doom, for instance; haven’t seen any or heard of anyone who’s looted one since, so no idea if that got updated)… even if somebody doesn’t know how to use the augment template, they could simply add, say, “Colorless Augment Slot” to the page, and one of us is bound to see it and fix it for the proper template.
Also, it’s simply easier for some of us without lives to be able to find the time to do it – I’m sure there’s a lot of “I don’t want to spend my limited DDO time editing wiki pages; I want to spend it playing.”
DDOGamer: Have you participated in editing other wikis or other similar activities? If yes, how were the editing experiences different from editing DDOWiki?
LrdSlvrhnd: Only a limited amount – the original Wiki, Star Trek’s Memory Alpha, Star Trek’s Wookieepedia, a few others. But almost entirely limited to grammar & spelling. Some of them (the Grimm wiki comes to mind) are more WYSIWYG – you can highlight a word or phrase and click on the “Bold” tag in the editing window, much like a Word document, rather than using a select number of quote marks, for instance – which is rather nice. However, I’m not sure how well that would work here, or how much of an overhaul it would require.
Nibelung: Tried with the wikipedia when it release their portuguese version. Since I’m not a researcher, and they have very high standards for presentation and editing, I gave up. Wikipedia is too strict. DDOwiki is more like a fan job, so as long as we keep with the basic organization stuff (using templates and correct information), we have the space to be more informal.
Shoemaker: I’ve participated in editing many other wikis. DDOwiki is a much calmer and less dramatic place than some of the other places I’ve edited.
Yoko: Yes. Japanese gaming wikis, guitar wikis etc.. Most of these were running on early branch version of MediaWiki called PukiWiki though. I do edit en.wikipedia and ja.wikipedia regularly as well.
Tauro: Yes, I have edited a few other wikis. Some were on Wikia (which uses a really annoying software in comparison to MediaWiki that DDOwiki/Wikipedia uses), and a couple others. DDOwiki is the most developed, with a crew of active editors and admins that constantly add, update, and tweak things daily.
Mjoll: I wrote a couple of guides for two other online games, Sacred and Saga of Ryzom, but DDOWiki is the first wiki I contribute to.
DDOGamer: What motivated you to do so much work in this specific wiki?
Mjoll: Helping myself and helping others, being a giver after being a taker for too long. Everyone wins when you pool together the information rather than having each person hoarding the info for themselves.
Tauro: My love of DDO, and a lot of time on my hands. After seeing all the work being put in by all the admins, I inquired about joining the admin crew
Yoko: At some point of my life, I totally went nuts with this game. Wake up, check the AH and forums then spend all the time at work figuring out builds and item layout, come back home play the game and sleep only to have a dream of playing DDO kinda thing. You know what i am talking about? I hope not lol. I dont really think about rules and styles. All my motivation is to salvage info otherwise gets buried in forum and, well this is a big thing, it is also for learning new stuff myself by putting together articles on them. Trust me, for this kind of geek stuff, there is no better way of learning than to do this. In other words, i do this because it benefits me the most.
Shoemaker: I saw a need, and felt passionate about my ability to be able fill that need to some extent. Also, since I prefer to work mainly on templates and the way the wiki works and less on the actual pages, I’m gaining valuable experience in creating logic they may benefit me in the future.
Nibelung: The feeling to help people. Cliche, I know, but is the truth. I love when someone on game/forums mention something I put on the wiki. I love when I see a new weapon out and be the first one to create a page and put info there so everyone can search for it.
LrdSlvrhnd: I spend a fair amount of time (too much, really, not that knowing that stops me from signing on anyway!) playing DDO, so it’s only reasonable that I then spend a fair amount of time editing the wiki. The wiki’s helped me out so much over the years, that I like to pay it forward by making it better/more useful for future readers.
DDOGamer: What rules or styles do you try to follow when adding to the wiki?
LrdSlvrhnd: I mainly follow basic grammatical & spelling rules… I try to keep things fairly simple and explained well, and I like to interject the occasional note of humor.
Nibelung: Right now, my pet project is collecting the quests loading screens, and updating the bestiary. So, my main moto is: Don’t add incorrect info. Eg, we all know that every mephit in game is true neutral, right? Wrong. Soulbound Mephits are Neutral Evil. We can’t add stuff because it is logical. We need to test it out and confirm it. That’s why I carry an unholy weapon around. Only after I hit a mob with it and a holy weapon I can assure the mob is neutral. There are more examples, but I think this one is good enough.
Shoemaker: Our current rule and style guidelines are currently under construction as we are starting to realize that the wiki that was never suppose to last this long is strong enough to endure most any controversy for the remainder of the lifetime of DDO itself.
Tauro: I try to follow the rules that are set forth by the guidelines (File nameing, capitalization in sentance formats – little things, really), but in my book, no edit is a bad edit so long as it can be edited again to comply with the guidelines.
Mjoll: Common sense, wiki guidelines and my vision about how the final result should look like.
DDOGamer: How do you as a group resolve differences? You can’t all have the same philosophy about wiki work but also cannot spend eternity editing each other to comply with several competing individual philosophies. How does that work?
Tauro: “Edit wars” are ugly, nasty things, and I’ve seen them result in many hurt feelings. We try to avoid them as much as possible. We discuss the issues normally in a Talk page, very similar to a forum thread.
Yoko: bleh, I dont try to resolve differences or anything. Again read the wikipedia book.
Shoemaker: It is about the information… Personally, if the information is correct, then I tend to leave it alone even if it’s not exactly the way I would have done it or the way I like to see it. In extreme cases (which rarely happen), we take it to a discussion page and the two or three people that disagree state their case (sometimes the initial stating of cases is done on our IRC chat channel and although it hasn’t been utilized, I am also happy to field case points in email. Then, after some discussion and deliberation (and usually some mediation from outside parties), we try to reach some kind of agreement that works for everyone. This doesn’t “always” happen, and we have lost a few editors in the past I felt were valuable.
DDOGamer: How much time do you spend in the wiki versus time in the game?
Mjoll: I’d say 50/50 whenever a new update is released because some info I have to get myself (sometimes it can get dull fast, running the same quest for the 10th time in a row because I can’t find the last random trap/chest/rare monster that I need to finish mapping the quest ain’t fun), with considerably less time spent on the wiki between game updates.
Tauro: There was a time when I spent almost all my game time in the wiki, and only logging in to get data for the wiki. Then the MOTU expansion came out. Basically that has flip/floped now, and me and my guild mates have been more active in game.
Yoko: Right now I am not such a enthusiastic gamer/editor. Comes back to game every patches and updates, gets done quickly and take another break kinda player. Editing is minimal as well, just checking RSS feed and paying attention to talk page updates.
Shoemaker: It varies… Sometimes I spend weeks on end editing the wiki and only pop in to get mail, and other times I play daily and only pop into the wiki to check my talk page for notices.
Nibelung: More than I want to admit. Usually, I play and start taking screenshots of everything I think is relevant. Then on the weekends I check the screenshots and add the relevant info on the wiki. Usually this means that every saturday I spend 4-6 hours editing the wiki. And usually part of sunday too, if I play a lot on the weekend.
LrdSlvrhnd: It varies; I’ll generally have it open as I quest, but there will be times when I won’t do anything with the wiki for a while. And then there’ll be times when I’ll realize I spent most of the night sitting in front of the banker because I was doing stuff on DDO Wiki instead.
DDOGamer: What is your favorite piece of work you’ve done for the wiki, and why is it your favorite?
LrdSlvrhnd: I still crack up when I visit the “Assault on Splinterskull” quest pages and see my increasingly-annoyed snarkiness about going into the Outer Fortress *again*. Don’t know that that’s my favorite, but it’s one that springs to mind most easily. Most of my edits are really either cleaning up or fleshing out so kinda meh.
Nibelung: No favorites. I have some pet projects, but they usually involve an entire category (traps, bestiary, optional hunting…), and not a single page. So, I have no personal page that I can point and say “hey, this one is mine and is awesome”.
Shoemaker: My favorite pieces of work for the wiki are some of the more complicated templates I’ve created.
Yoko: Theres no such thing as my favorite work.
Tauro: It’s so hard to choose, I’ve uploaded many item pics to the wiki staring my toons or my guildmates modeling the items.
Shoemaker chose to answer the question “How did you get involved with the wiki?” in the form of a filk. He didn’t mention the melody that is supposed to back these lyrics, but then he didn’t have to, it is a no-brainer.
Let’s close out the DDO Wiki interview sessions with a song.
A long, long time ago…
I can still remember
How the wiki used to make me smile.
And I knew if I had my chance
That I could make those people /dance
And, maybe, they’d be happy for a while.
But February made me shiver
With every ooze I saw quiver.
Bad news from a sahuagin adept;
I couldn’t take one more step.
I can’t remember if I cried
When I saw the changing tide,
But something touched me deep inside
The day the wiki died.
So bye-bye, DDOwiki guy.
navigated my browser to the site,
But the site wouldn’t load now matter how much I did try.
And them gruff old dwarves were drinkin’ stout and ale
Singin’, “this’ll be the day that I die.
“this’ll be the day that I die.”
I strongly believe that DDO Wiki is the single most important DDO document or web artifact. I cannot be effusive enough in praising the efforts of those who prepare and maintain the wiki. Thank you all, so much!
If you missed part one of this series, check it out here!