Monday, January 12, 2009

On Wikis and Raider101

Wow! Thanks to all the people who've signed up and started helping to fill out sections on raider101.com. It's interesting, but using a wiki for this has actually brought up a problem I hadn't anticipated. I've come to the conclusion that this project really isn't about the "addition" of knowledge, it's actually about the "subtraction" of knowledge.

That sounds weird, but think about Elitist Jerks for a second. The problem with EJ is that there is too much information. The problem for a new player is that they look at it and are overwhelmed with all the decision points that need to taken into consideration. What I'm trying to do is take that mass of information and cut ruthlessly, to pare things back to the essentials.

For example, looking at poisons for a Combat Rogue, EJ lists three different possible combinations. Which combination is the "best" depends on your weapon type and speed of the off-hand weapon. I just put down the most-common combination at Raider101.

Is that over-simplifying things? Maybe. Some decision points are essential.

Anyways, the thing about wikis is that they make it very easy for anyone to add information. But all those additions have weight. Person A adds something small to one section. Person B adds something small to another section. Person C expands on something else. All those additions have weight, and eventually you end up with the Too Much Information problem again.

It is interesting how the nature of wikis works against an editor. But I think editing is important. Sometimes, what is cut is more important than what is left in, and the "shape" and flow of the article is as important as the content.

I'm not sure how I'm going to approach this with Raider101. I've basically locked a few of the more complete articles (all paladin specs, combat rogues, mutilate rogues). But that means that people can't make corrections or add things which need to added. Of course, who determines what needs to be added is the central question.

28 comments:

Xlade said...

I'm not terribly familiar with wikis, but is there a way to set things up where people can still add information, but it doesn't actually SHOW in the final article until you approve it? If so, I'd do that, and then wait until a significant number of people contribute the same sort of information (x # people all think ability Y is something all should know about) before putting it up for the public. This be sort of like having comments on the blog enabled, but pending your approval before they actually SHOW.

Just my two cents.

Gwaendar said...

Personally I'd just take proposed changes on locked ("complete") pages to comments, and add it after discussion there.

Aerophilia said...

I decided not to add anything to the wiki since there was too much information I wanted to remove.
(I didn't agree with)

Especially on Protection, i'd be interested to see who wrote what. >_<

Anonymous said...

@ Aerophilia

You can see the revision history of any of the articles. I wrote the original prot paladin page. Some of the information has changed. I posted generic information that I personally don't use. I took the spec from talentchic (I use a spec like yours that goes deeper into ret).

PS. you don't have 540 defense.

Jacob said...

Rohan wrote: using a wiki for this has actually brought up a problem I hadn't anticipated

Yes. If you have an "everybody can contribute" page, you'll end up with something rather like wowwiki, and while wowwiki is ok, it's not that great.

If I could offer a suggestion, you may have better success if you can solicit articles from respected leaders in an area. The articles don't have to be perfect, the main goal is to get an article that is written by a single person who is trusted to know their class.

ace danger said...

I guess this should have been thought about before the wiki was created/introduced. There were some pretty big deletions from the Holy Pally article on there.

Aerophilia said...

for the record! I DO have over 540 defence! :D
I was messing around with different tanking gear last night to see what combo of items gives me the most benefit, I just logged out with the wrong gear on!

Damn you armory, you made me look silly again...

Ticker said...

Why not just edit the http://www.wowwiki.com/ instead of making a new one? It has lots of pages specific to classes, raiding strategies, etc. All in need of attention. Hehe.

yunkndatwunk said...

I am not sure the problem is too much information, but too low of a signal to noise ratio. If a clear article was written pointing out different specs and why, it would be helpful. I don't need it simplified down to 1. But for me the problem is that information is spread throughout 30 pages of posts with no index to help me find the information I need.

I don't think "dumbing down" the information is necessary, just present it clearly and in one place. There are other examples of when this was done to negative effect: I's why the FDA released the food triangle, even though most doctors were against it, the FDA thought the real recommendations (certain good fats instead of "low fat") were too complicated for people, so they did the wrong thing because they reacted to the information they were given instead of the true information.

I Like Bubbles said...

I just want to applaud you for this project. I think it's a great idea, for while EJ is awesome, it's also...well, overload.

The Chilly Hollow Needlepoint Adventure said...

To organize any mass of information, one has to decide what is important and what isn't, then figure out a way to organize the good stuff so folks can find it. Of course of the person dividing info into the important and not important piles is key. Do they really know, or are they looking at the information bulk through their own prejudices?

And then you have the problem of folks who still have to pick and choose from the important pile and need tools to do it.

Not an easy task and I've found it very difficult to do using a blog. I've ended up limiting my pile of information to that which we use playing WOW our way, and then keywording each blog entry carefully. I also have two types of blog entries--summary blog entries with what I think are important tools and news blog entries with links to things that are new and potentially useful to the folks who play like we do. Eventually there will be a third blog entry type--information about instance runs and how they were done with various characters we play.

It is not an easy task and I'd love to know if anyone has any better ideas.

Anonymous said...

This is a case where too many cooks in the kitchen spoil the pot.

Paring it down to be a short, useful guide is the right approach. You only need one knowledgeable person to do that. Let other people add their two cents but leave it up to that one knowledgeable person to decide on the 10% of the content that is actually essential for a bare bones guide.

~Jason, DPS Liberation Front

kyrilean said...

I think I agree with Jacob in that soliciting articles from respected members of the blogging community could help or at least get their help to review submittals before final posting.

If your goal is to keep things simple, then this will take a lot of time and effort on your part and a lot of support from others. Based on the responses here, it appears you have the support.

I really like the idea of simplifying info. I use Elitist Jerks sometimes, but it's often overwhelming. I even created a pally healer guide on my blog that blew up into 5 separate posts each large in their own right. I wrote it for some of my guild members and I worry that it wasn't simplistic enough for them to get the basics to build on.

I also highly suggest that a prescribed format be established and someone be responsible for editing (i.e. the respected experts).

Rocklaw said...

You still claim that Holy Light is the primary healing spell for holy pallies in raids. It is not, full stop. Flash of Light is still used 75% of the time.

Delos (Dave) said...

I wrote an Unholy Death Knight tanking wiki on there (which by the way still says empty instead of in-progress) and the tact that I took was to make things simple to read and a general strategy instead of specifics of fights.

For instance instead of putting
In this case, do X
In this case, do Y
etc

I put, in general you need to keep your blood runes on cooldown and keep your diseases up.

I don't think too much information is a problem, just too specific information.

~One Among Many~ said...

I've got it linked on my ultimate blogroll now!

^_^

Michael said...

Having a website with simple, straightforward answers on how gear/spec/play to -START- raiding would have value to many new players.

Keep it short, and easy to understand. Let EJ handle the How/Why questions.

Jong said...

"low of a signal to noise ratio...information is spread throughout 30 pages of posts with no index"

I agree with yunk. I think the problem with ej isn't the amount of information, it's the lack of intuitive ways for the users to navigate through the information.

Vaelin said...

Well, one thing that may help, is using the nested structure of the wiki to your advantage.

By having all the more advanced discussions relegated to the bottom of the page, or to another topic entirely, you may be able to offer a 'skin-deep' explanation very simply and have references and links to more advanced discussions.

The risk you run is, of course, making another wowwiki. Wowwiki is interesting, and I like going there to confirm any lore questions I may have missed or forgotten (because I'm one of THOSE players) but when I want up-to-date info on why to choose certain talents or abilities etc... It lacks the depth.

Locking some of the main pages so that you can organize how the information is presented, while allowing others to contribute to pages like: Poisons-Advanced may work for what you're going for.

Gwaendar said...

The converse problem with the respected authors approach will be the one of maintenance. Things change (duh), and an open / semiclosed wiki is more suitable to avoid that the resource growns stale or completely worthless in 6 months when patch 3.1.4 really puts warlock raiding topsy-turvy.

Rohan said...

You still claim that Holy Light is the primary healing spell for holy pallies in raids. It is not, full stop. Flash of Light is still used 75% of the time.

I'm not claiming it. EJ is claiming it. And they back up the claim, pointing to the fact that with the various cost reducers, HL becomes a lot more efficient, almost to FoL level.

As a general rule, I treat EJ as the default authority, and you're going to need some significant evidence if you wish to contradict them.

Delos (Dave) said...

Somewhat unrelated, but it might not be a bad idea for someone more ambitious than me to start pvp101.com. Also, I figured out I could edit the home page (duh!) so Unholy Tank is now officially "in progress".

Drazmor said...

So basically you need something like revising changes 1st, so it doesn't become a gargantuan behemoth like EJ or wowwiki.

But if it gets popular, you'll have a hell of a lot of stuff to revise.

Kiseran said...

Looks like its time to decide if you want
- An EJ-Frontend
- A Wiki
- Some "How to play class x" - Articles

I'd prefer a well-rounded mix, because I like detailed information on the 'how', but if I only want to find out how to play my twink right all this 'why' is a bit much.
And don't get me started on all those spreadsheats. For some classes they seem to be used for everything from choosing weapons to choosing skill rotations, every class uses their own and they all seem to require a masters degree in rocket sience.

Anonymous said...

You should make sure the locked pages have correct information. As it stand the holy paladin has several serious erros as well as the retribution page.

Rohan said...

Could you post a comment saying what you think is wrong with the Holy and Retribution pages? As far as I know, all the information is correct.

Dyermaker said...

There is an old addage - Give a man a fish and he eats for a day. Teach a man to fish and he eats for a lifetime.

The problem with the site containing just the nuggets of information that someone needs to be productive right now, it doesn't include the why. It does not teach them how to evaluate changes to gear, encounters, abilities, etc. If something changes tomorrow and they never learn the fundemental basics of why, then once this data is no longer valid they are in trouble. Eventually it will be out dated, there's no way around it.

Elitist Jerks has all the why, but digesting theory is not simple. It is time consuming.

What you really need is a means to teach the theory, teach the why, so that people can come up with their own answers.

Wena said...

The problem with EJ is that not everyone has the same understanding of analytical skills to understand the important stickies that do explain the class mechanics. Neither are they able to know how to apply that knowledge to the game.

Your raider101.com is starting point that helps the beginning raider. But the big gap is still the analytical skills and knowing the application of that information.

Some might argue that EJ has posts that gives examples that ppl can learn from. In one sense they do, in another, it's having to read through a lot of posts because ppl either assume that ppl know how to come to their point or they think it's a waste of time to type a detailed explaination.