Wikitroid aims to become independent and needs your help!

November 16, 2017
November 16, 2017 Michael Freeman

Whether you realize it or not, if you’ve ever searched for Metroid information within the past decade, chances are you’ve stumbled upon Wikitroid. It is undoubtedly one of the best places to visit if you’re looking for anything Metroid-related. And now it needs your help.

Basically, Wikitroid is hosted by Wikia, arguably the biggest and most renowned public wiki host. Although Wikia hosts Wikitroid for free, administrators and editors don’t have control over the wiki configuration, stifling Wikitroid technically. Wikia’s ad-riddled pages make things difficult from a design perspective as well. As such, they are exploring the possibility of “forking” and creating their own independently hosted version of the site.

Doing so would give Wikitroid free reign over the content and software they use, but they would have to pay for everything out of their own pockets. This is where we come in. Wikitroid aims to start a Patreon (or something similar) and estimate the monthly operating costs to be between $150-$300 (USD).

If you are willing to support them in this endeavor and are relatively certain you have the ability to contribute financially, you can complete a survey to help give them an estimate of what to expect from donors. Keep in mind the survey is non-binding and confidential, so it’s not like your answers lock you into anything.

I’ve also posted an FAQ FastLizard4 (a Wikitroid administrator and Wikipedia editor) compiled about the situation below.

FAQs

Q: What will you use the money you earn via Patreon (or otherwise) for?
A: At this time, our aim is solely to recoup operating costs with donations. Any excess will be saved for this purpose only. If it becomes necessary to have paid staff, donors will be consulted first, and this will be limited to system administration and technical support positions; all wiki editing activities and editorial control will forever remain strictly volunteer activities (similar to how the Wikimedia Foundation handles donations for Wikipedia).

Q: Will I get anything for donating?
A: We do plan to offer Patreon perks (or some equivalent), but they will be purely cosmetic, and we mean it. You might get some special flair next to your username on the wiki, or maybe access to a private section of our Discord server, but that’s it. Donors will not be offered any additional editorial control or any advanced user permissions (like administrator), and they will still be subject to the same policies and rules as every other editor, donors or otherwise. But you will get the satisfaction of helping out a great resource for one of the best videogame franchises of all time, and our eternal gratitude! The Baby would be proud!

Q: Who will be running the servers?
Well, me. I’ve been a Wikitroid administrator and Wikipedia editor for over a decade now, and I already have experience hosting several MediaWiki installations and administering my own little network of servers. I also work as a software engineer and a system administrator professionally.

Q: “Fork”? Why do you keep using that word?
A: Wikitroid is a freely-licensed resource, and we are committed to being freely-licensed forever – this means that you can take Wikitroid’s content and reuse, repost, adapt, and do basically whatever you please with our content as long as you properly attribute Wikitroid as the source and make your adaptaions also available under a free license (specifically, we use a license called CC-BY-SA 3.0). Because of this though, and some aspects of Wikia’s Terms of Service and operating history, we most likely will not be able to “shut down” the old version of Wikitroid that remains on Wikia after we move. Instead, it will be renamed, but will otherwise continue to exist as a separate entity from Wikitroid. Hence, we’re not technically “moving” Wikitroid, but “forking” it. What actually would move is our administrators and editors, who would instead dedicate their time to the new independent Wikitroid instead of the old wiki left behind on Wikia. This does mean that we’d have to fight the Wikia version of the wiki for popularity (and search result rankings), but this is one of the ways you could support an independent Wikitroid non-monetarily – by linking to us instead of the old Wikia version, for example.

Q: Have you considered using a different wiki host (e.g., Gamepedia)?
A: Yes, and the various options here all remain on the table should we not be able to fund becoming self-hosted. But, given that the amount of effort required to perform the fork itself is the same no matter where we move, we might as well go full bore and be totally independent, if at all possible.

Q: What happens if this brilliant scheme fails? (Or people stop supporting the site, etc.)
A: As mentioned above, being a freely licensed resource, Wikitroid’s content is and will forever be available for anyone to copy and download. In a reasonably-good-case scenario, if something goes wrong, we can always move to a free wiki host like Gamepedia, but to hedge against a worst case scenario, we plan to make regular full database dumps of our content available to be downloaded publicly (as one can do on both Wikia and Wikipedia); the dumps would contain the full text and history of all articles on Wikitroid, and would be enough for someone to bring the site back from the dead should the worst happen.

Q: Assuming all goes well, what’s the timeframe of this fork?
A: This depends on both how much support we have for the move (both monetary and non-monetary), as well as my own free time. Performing the initial setup of the servers and other infrastructure and forking Wikitroid itself would be the most difficult and time-consuming part; once everything is up and running, regular maintenance is comparatively easy and boring. But, ideally, we would be able to get this process started in the form of an official community vote on the wiki within the next couple of months, and from there a couple more months to do all the necessary background work. No promises, though!

If you’d like to know more or become directly involved, you can visit the Reddit post and join Wikitroid’s Discord server.

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