Okay, after BK's approval, I'm finally gonna post my essay.
I apologize in advance for the wall of text you are about to see. I wrote this a few days ago, as requested by TNE. She wanted to collect opinions from as many regular users as she could, to initiate something like this. Seeing as how Kate beat her to the punch, I may as well post it here.
Let me start by saying this: Our wiki needs to undergo some serious changes soon, or we may have a large-scale conflict on our hands. I’ve got four points that can’t be stressed enough.
“All work and no play makes jack a dull boy.” –James Howell
Point #1: Our wiki is no fun anymore.
Starting off with that is to say that this wiki has lost its fun side (understatement of the year). Wikia was originally intended to be a place evenly balanced with work and fun, not simply a place for work. Whenever a group of users tries to implement some fun into the wiki (The mirage arena, etc.) it gets shut down. The Forum Bye-Bye, Mirage Arena is a perfect example of this, as that forum was created four days after the Arena opened its doors. Not only did it try to kill a premature idea, it also left nothing to the imagination, essentially saying that it was a detriment to the wiki and it must go immediately. Other occurrences of this have taken place, but that’s for later. Talk pages are being frowned upon at the moment, for the reason that sociable talk page use supposedly “clogs” the Recent Changes list, and lead to unneeded growth of the wiki in the (apparently) “wrong direction”. Even the IRC channel, our main source of socialization, is in jeopardy, because some users are calling it “The cesspool of the wiki”, and are calling for it’s destruction. The closest thing we have to any community or fun is the votes for featured media. A user from the Final Fantasy Wiki, Faethin, even stated something along the lines of “What’s up with KHW? It’s way too serious business.”. If that’s how people from the outside see us, that is definitely not a good thing.
Stuff like the Mirage Arena and user badges can benefit the wiki! Metaphorically, if the workers aren’t happy, nothing’s gonna get done. Both of these are an incentive to editing, and there’s proof that user badges increase productivity. Sure, they may seem like insignificant images to some people, but to others, they could be the coolest thing since sliced bread. Many big-name wikis have userbadges. How do you think they got that way? Happy editors. The badges are a little pat on the back, and prove effective in the long run.
The Mirage Arena started out with a few stumbles, but we can get it up and running with a little hard work. The rules need fixing, and the editcount rule needs to be worked on, but if we put our heart and soul into it, we’ll get back what we put in tenfold.
“Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” –John Dalberg-Acton
Point #2: There is way too much power in the hands of our admins, and some of them need to get off of their high horses.
Our admins… Great as they may be, there is way too much power in their hands, and some of it is power that shouldn’t be in the hands of a select group of people. According to Wikipedia’s page on Wikia administrators, Administration is not a position of power, but a position of trust, with the abilities to delete and ban/block privileges that come with the trust. These powers should never be used to gain upper hand in a dispute, and unfortunately, they are used in that way countless times. In a nutshell, they are regular users, just like you and me. As a position of trust, this gives them next to no authority over other users, meaning that a vote from a user is worth just as much as an admin’s. One instance of this abuse of power is this:
<User> So, a user and I were thinking about userbadges, and how they could benefit the amount of edits we get.
<Admin> No. They'd be editing for the wrong reason. End of discussion.
<User> I think I'll get a few more voices before I let this die.
<Admin> Actually, I think I just closed this topic.
<User>I'm not going to let the opinions of one user let this die.
Unfortunately, some of our admins are under the impression that this power lets them say whatever they want to, make conversation or proposal-ending decisions, and that their word is law. However, as stated before, that is not, and cannot be the case, unless the suggestion in question is vandalism or taking away from userspace and mainspace simultaneously.
Many users also fear or kiss-up to the Administrators, believing that if they are in said admin’s “good books”, that they will have better chances of “making it” on the KHW. From a user’s standpoint, this is one rumor that has been spread, and is commonly believed, and followed. Users (such as myself) also notice changes in atmosphere when an admin joins in on the IRC or a forum. For example, Let’s say the IRC has a fun atmosphere at the moment. If (username censored) were to join, it would immediately change to a dark and serious one. I have first-handedly witnessed people completely changing around admins, saying things such as “I hate (insert admin name here). He/she’s such a jerk, and he/she’s no fun.” But once the admin in question rolls around, and the subject of userbashing (or something similar) comes up, they completely change, either out of fear or to kiss up. I feel that admins shouldn’t instill fear into the regular users, but be warm and kind towards them, and not look down on them, but see them as equals.
“Work Hard, Play Hard” – Australian Proverb
Point #3: Our Administration should consider splitting up.
It’s kind of obvious that our mainspace and userspace have trouble co-existing. There are many users tied to mainspace, who do nothing else, and vice-versa. However, the Administration is not so. We have admins like who are our hard-hitters in mainspace. However, they tend to go against most things that have to do with the userspace, such as the Mirage Arena or the Blogs (however, the latter was removed by a vote.). Likewise, there are the staffers of the people, who aim to keep the users happy and deal with issues pertaining to userspace. As a vice-versa of what was stated before, these types of admins tend to stray away from mainspace, opposing the growth of it. No offense intended to either party, but it becomes a little chaotic when the two mix, such as a mainspace-oriented admin working in userspace, or vice-versa. The thing is, the admins have “specialized” in what section of the wiki they cover, and they tend to chain themselves to it, unintentionally bringing the attitude of the space they specialize in with them when they cross the line between community and mainspace.
That’s not good at all, because the mainspace tends to be solid and down-to-business, while the userspace tends to be carefree and fun. Those two don’t mix very well.
The point of this section is suggesting that we designate admins and mods to mainspace and userspace specifically, because the two don’t mix. It may work better to have two separate groups covering these sections of the wiki altogether. With two separate entities, we may find ourselves a little more at peace.
“Why can’t we be friends?” – War
Point 4: Our IRC needs to learn to co-exist or get lost.
Let’s face it. The IRC, our biggest socialization tool, is turning into a cesspool. It’s being constantly spammed, trolled, every last thing in the book. There have been threats (far from hollow) to disown the IRC from our wiki, and that is a reality that may soon come. Things need to be changed big time. Rules need to be followed, ops need to be constantly present (I can recall at least three times where there have been trolls and no op there to take care of him/her), and people need to learn to co-exist. The IRC is in a downward spiral, and if it doesn’t get fixed, it’ll be gone.
However, with the leaving of the IRC brings back more abuse of the talk pages, which we have far too much of already. Right now, I believe that the IRC is a necessary evil, but one that can be easily remedied, with patience and care. Perhaps with a little more structure, we could get this thing to work.
Another thing I’ve noticed is that a few of the ops refuse to admit their mistakes. For example, let’s say that there are 2 ops in the channel, NumberXVMoogle, and a few users. Op 1 breaks the bot abuse rule by spamming kitty multiple times. A user brings up the fact that the op should receive a warning. Op 1 will immediately deny it, or completely ignore it. If he/she denies it, they will change the rules in their favor (say that the rule for bot abuse is 5 instances in 3 minutes, the Op will change the rule to whatever he/she hadn’t gone over). If op 1 ignores it, Op 2 will come in to defend Op 1, and possibly penalize the user who suggested that Op 1 should receive a warning. By doing so, they broke a few rules there (I’ve even seen instances of said Op drastically changing the subject when he/she realizes that they could be penalized or made look bad, with Op oh.2 going along with it. Said user persists, and would receive an unfair warning.) If this is brought up later, they will deny everything.