Battlestar Wiki:State of the Wiki II

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The "Wrath" of Joe

About 9 months ago I felt like writing up a relative quality comparison of Battlestar Wiki to several other popular science-fiction specific wikis throughout the Internet. At the time, I felt that Battlestar Wiki's articles on the Re-imagined Series were quite strong, but our claim to being a comprehensive resource on the Original Series fell flat, with very few articles complete or in place.

My comments sparked our Fearless Leader to launch the Battlestar_Wiki:Original_Series_Article_Development_Project. Over the course of 9 months, contributors fixed Battlestar Wiki's many "red links" and empty Original Series articles, filling updating, creating and expanding pages. With the timely release of the complete Original Series DVD set, contributors such as Steelviper uploaded screen capture after screen capture. Intrepid contributors such as Mokwella and many others sacrificed hours in their life they can never get back to watch and document "Galactica 1980" for posterity on the Wiki.

After Battlestar Wiki was updated to the latest and more powerful MediaWiki software, users such as Shane and Mercifull added their considerable wiki programming and graphics skills to give Battlestar Wiki a much-needed facelift and helpful templates. A few hundred more contributors joined the wiki to add their 2 cents to the content.

The following is my personal rating on the relative quality and quantity of four wikis.

The Mother of All Wikis, Wikipedia, is NOT used here in comparison as in the first challenge. This is for a handful of reasons, most of these logical, one of them not.

  1. Wikipedia has over 1,100,000 articles, making it a massive wiki that no others can fully compare itself to.
  2. Wikipedia is not a SF-specific wiki.
  3. Wikipedia has become so large and bureaucratic that it can't justify an article on Battlestar Wiki (deleting it by administrator vote[1] in July 2006), while noting other wikis such as Uncyclopedia. I hold a grudge when justified. Contributors here love to link some article content to Wikipedia articles because it is one of the best references. But sadly, at only 1,300 articles, Battlestar Wiki qualifies only as a "microwiki" that may serve the Big Wikis, but cannot be recognized by such due to their "notability" requirements. So be it. (Wikipedia's BSG entries bite anyway, and I'm too annoyed as yet to correct them.)
  4. There are plenty of SF wikis now with sufficient content that compare better in theme to Battlestar Wiki than other general-purpose wikis.

Likewise, I removed the TVIV wiki from this list. While it has grown to be a comprehensive wiki for every TV show ever created, it doesn't quite fall into the SF wikis as their vast articles on non-SF outnumber the SF articles, and it would be a pain to parse out the relevant ones.

Another difference from the first quality challenge is that I'll break down the four criteria scores, now modified for clarity, and then average the results for a better overview. The criteria are:

  1. Wiki Statistics
  2. Detail and authenticity, including that of popular pages, such as central characters or events
  3. Photo content and other illustrative content in articles
  4. Server speed
  5. Overall Wiki navigation and design

The "challengers"

Of these, Wookieepedia was not listed in Quality Challenge 1: It debuted in July, 2005, but has grown dramatically since its inception.

Let's get ready to rumble!

(Statistics as of 8/14/2006)

Wiki Statistics

  • Memory Alpha: 47,565 pages, 20,350 articles, 14,854 users, 16 administrators. Uses MediaWiki 1.7.1.
    • Adjusted articles: 14,100.
  • The Great Machine: 2,868 pages, 998 articles, 215 users, 4 administrators. Uses MediaWiki 1.3.9.
  • Wookieepedia: 86,554 total pages, 36,542 articles, 16 administrators. Uses MediaWiki 1.7.1.
    • Adjusted articles: 30,292
  • Battlestar Wiki: 9,049 pages, 1,345 articles, 1,128 users, 7 administrators. Uses MediaWiki 1.7.1.
    • Adjusted articles: 1,264.

To give this something less than an arbitrary qualifier, I tried to make a yardstick that defined the average expected articles that could be created for a season of one TV show or feature film. (To simplify, any "original series" and sequel series are counted--yes, including "Galactica 1980." Deal with it.)

  • One 10-20+ episode TV season: 600 articles.
  • One 1.5 to 2.5+ hour feature film (TV or theatrical): 300 articles.

Novels are EXCLUDED from this count because Star Wars and Star Trek skew the results with their numbers (125 and 600+ respectively), and because the validity of the novels as canonical in their universes are heavily disputable. In fact, I have used it as a deduction in an attempt to remove the article skew caused by these additions from their statistics. So, the "adjusted" score reflects this. The Great Machine mixes their novels in gingerly as canon in the site. But, if I deduct their number with the same zeal as ST and SW, the Great Machine would have a negative number of articles (21 x 50 = 1050 vs 998 articles), so I left this one alone. While Battlestar Wiki does not treat books or its comics as canon on its wiki, I tried to remove the actual number of articles devoted to their mention to be fair but without any multiplier, bringing its adjusted total to 81 less, or 1264.

  • Star Trek: 27 TV seasons, 10 feature films: Raw Count: 19,200.
  • Babylon 5: 6 TV seasons, 4 feature films. Raw Count: 4,800.
  • Star Wars: 2 TV seasons, 10 feature films. Raw Count: 4,200.
  • Battlestar Galactica: 4 TV seasons, 3 feature films. Raw Count: 3,300.

The "Raw Count" is a general target of the number of articles that a wiki should have on a topic, all things considered.

  • All ST series are counted, including the Animated Series.
  • All B5 series are counted, including the shortlived "Crusade." The 3 B5 films and "Legend of the Rangers" is added.
  • For SW, the "Clone Wars I and II" animated features are counted as a feature film, and "Ewoks," and "Droids" shows were treated as 1 season each. (I should take a 10 points off for that damned "Star Wars Holiday Special." That was an hour of our lives we'll never get back.)
  • Battlestar has 4 seasons: 1 Original Series season, 2 New Series seasons, and 1 (mercifully) short season from "1980." The theatrical release of the Original Series pilot plus the 2-night Miniseries round out the 3 feature films.

From here , I divide the actual articles (adjusted) by the raw count to give me a score:

  • Memory Alpha: 0.734
  • The Great Machine: 0.207
  • Wookieepedia: 7.212 (But note the "Detail and authenticity" penalty in the later section below.)
  • Battlestar Wiki: 0.383

Obviously my attempt at removing the Star Wars EU novel bias is initially hopeless here, where all other wikis attempt to keep to canonical work. As such, Memory Alpha does well, where Battlestar Wiki may be understated, although I cannot figure out a fair way to reflect this. Note that my scoring system is a bit arbitrary, and I probably could weight the effects of novels more dramatically and feature films more, but at least all were graded with the same tool.

For the following categories, I use this horribly subjective grading tool:

  • Extensive: Highly detailed with sufficient brevity and appropriate cross references and linking. (+3)
  • Exhaustive: Strongly documented and illustrated, with only a few central articles with light content. (+2)
  • Sufficient: Typically useful, but lacking in some content, cross-referencing or details. (+1)
  • Sparse: Limited detail in relation to available time where official content or materials has been generated. (0)

Detail and authenticity

  • Memory Alpha: Exhaustive. Avoids discussion of novels and other works of questionable canonicity but still manages to be a large repository. As "technical" as the saga's venerable "library computer."
  • The Great Machine: Sparse, especially for some major characters and events, and considering 5 seasons of aired content, three feature films, one spin-off, and canonical novels and other media. Questionable authenticity on some articles. Appears to invent descriptive terms without notation ("Battlecrab" to describe the Shadow fighter vessel).
  • Wookieepedia: Sparse, canonically. Detailed character and event descriptions, but both of episode and Extended Universe content. The quasi-canonical nature of EU content (and its volume) renders it ponderously confusing and difficult to sort the canon from the noncanon. Thus I apply a "double-secret" penalty of -6.312 for its terrible EU blending to make itself bigger than what it really is, leaving it at a "episode content perfect" score of 0.9. Call it "Revenge of the EU Skew."
  • Battlestar Wiki: Extensive for both Original and Re-imagined Series characters and events. Little information on "extended universe" products as yet, including books and comic summaries. Attempts to at least mark its canon from noncanon with a "separate continuity" tag.

Photo content and other illustrative content in articles

  • Memory Alpha: Sufficient. The number of articles seem to involve more technobabble and mentioned-only content than character and event content.
  • The Great Machine: Sparse. Given that the series and all feature films are available on DVD, this is a detriment. Major and supporting characters, races and events have little to no illustration.
  • Wookieepedia: Exhaustive. Contributors took time to glean illustrations from some novels and other media.
  • Battlestar Wiki: Exhaustive. Mixture of high-definition and conventional captures. Almost all central media articles (episodes, novels, and comics) have at least one illustration.

For the last categories, the scoring legend is:

  • Excellent. (+3)
  • Good. (+2)
  • Fair. (1)
  • Slow. (0)

Server access speed

  • Memory Alpha: Fair. Logical design, strong linking of articles. Hosted on Wikia, which slows it overall.
  • The Great Machine: Good. Resorted to required account login for anti-spamming. May be private server.
  • Wookieepedia: Fair. Hosted by Wikia, a webhost for many other wikis. May not be reachable through some network firewalls. Popularity may be outstripping its host's ability to serve it.
  • Battlestar Wiki: Fair. Private server. Has history of losing or overloading its host, crashing, and dealing with spam attacks.

Overall wiki navigation and design

  • Memory Alpha: Fair. Logical design, strong linking of articles. Given the nature of the illustrative graphics used in the series, this article is very "un-Star Trek" like in its appearance. (Try copying Okuda's TNG interfaces!)
  • The Great Machine: Fair. Uses older MediaWiki software with limited features. Too text based; not very visually appealing. Series illustration derivation could help a lot to the design of this wiki (as with Memory Alpha).
  • Wookieepedia: Good. May be limited in features to Wikia hosting. Best Wiki Name Honorable Mention. Good use of show themes in info banners and use of some icons, but overall lack of theme throughout wiki.
  • Battlestar Wiki: Good. Recent "facelift," with strong use of icons for navigational/informative aids derived from new series illustrations. Uses latest MediaWiki software. Color tones of wiki are darkest of all reviewed wikis, which may be less appealing to some. May have best info banners in terms of illustration.

Overall Scoring

This score adds the Raw Count to the last three categories.

  • Memory Alpha: 5.734.
  • The Great Machine: 3.207.
  • Wookieepedia: 5.900.
  • Battlestar Wiki: 8.383.

The scores reflect more of the quality than the quantity. Wookieepedia, despite its EU skew, is visually good, informational and entertaining. Memory Alpha is no slouch, but the quality suffers from Wikia hosting, unimaginative design, and lack of a real Star Trek theme. The Great Machine sadly lacks any punch at all for a SF story that deserves more than the content it reflects. Battlestar Wiki has the best quality in terms of authenticity, canonical content, and imagery, which lends its score.

Now, I know this is an somewhat arbitrary mess, and that this could be considered the most POV article in the whole wiki, so editing this can be problematic and make the situation worse. For that reason I am protecting this article. All dissent, comment and requests for change can be made on the talk page, where I (or other admins who can unprotect the article to make the changes) will update and adjust the central article's content to reflect the talk page's rants, consensus, whining, or threats. --Spencerian 22:05, 14 August 2006 (CDT)

References

  1. And yes, Our Fearless Leader, Joe, an admin on Wikipedia, cast a delete vote to his own wiki article. Say it ain't so, Joe!