Fortnightly update – 15 September 2012

Hi,

This is the fortnightly update, detailing what we’ve done since the last fortnightly update, which was published on 1 September 2012 and what are our plans for the future.

Recent updates

Our developers have mostly been working on backend things during this period. Namely, we’ve set up an analytics site that uses the great and free, open source Piwik analytics software.

Piwik shows detailed information about the visitors of a ShoutWiki-hosted wiki, such as the user’s (ISP’s) country, name of their Internet service provider (ISP), a graph of latest visits to the site, most popular browsers and their versions, popular search keywords, a list of websites referring users to the wiki and lots more!

Right now our Piwik instance is accessible by staff only, but we’re looking for ways to make the data available to wiki administrators in the future, as we feel it could be a valuable tool in promoting the wiki as well as generally improving the site.

A security vulnerability (SQL injection point) was identified in the Phalanx anti-spam extension by Chris Steipp of the Wikimedia Foundation. The issue was quickly fixed by Jack Phoenix and the fix was committed upstream.

We also fixed a CSS issue with diff pages on the Dark Monobook theme, as well as an issue with the CreateWiki founder talk page message always showing up in English, even if a translation was available.

What are we currently working on?

We’re trying to improve our internationalization (i18n) and localization (l10n) support to provide an even better ShoutWiki experience to our users who are not native or fluent speakers of the English language.
Some ShoutWiki extensions not previously translatable via translatewiki.net, such as Phalanx and SiteMetrics, can now be translated there.
Everything else that is not translatable via translatewiki.net can be translated via our Interface Messages Wiki. Please contact us to get translating privileges on the Interface Messages Wiki.

There has been some talk about designing and writing a custom skin for ShoutWiki. While no code has yet been written, this is certainly something we’re excited about. If and when such a skin would be written, it would most likely become the default skin of official ShoutWiki wikis, such as the English ShoutWiki Hub and its translations (for example, the Finnish ShoutWiki Hub, the French ShoutWiki Hub, etc.), but we want to emphasize this: it is not our intention to force a specific skin on ShoutWiki sites.
We, the ShoutWiki staff, believe in the freedom of opinion and the possibility to choose; the possibility to choose how you want your wiki to look like. That is precisely the reason why we’re offering a plethora of premium skins and we plan to add more premium skins in the future.

As always, we would love to hear your thoughts and suggestions regarding these features, as well as what we could do to make ShoutWiki even better! If you have a great idea for a feature, a suggestion or just general feedback, let us know — either in the comments section of this blog post or via the contact form.

BugZilla

We’ve upgraded our BugZilla to use the popular Vector skin as the default skin.
Please report any and all software bugs you may come across to on our BugZilla to help us in getting them fixed and improving ShoutWiki!

—-
On behalf of the ShoutWiki staff,
– Solar Dragon
ShoutWiki Customer Support Team

7 thoughts on “Fortnightly update – 15 September 2012”

  1. What is the largest active wiki on Shoutwiki now? I want to see what it looks like. Can you import large wikis (1500 content pages and 2200 images)? Wikia is in the process of screwing things up some more, and many wikis will want to leave. Navigation is being messed up again on Wikia, and made even worse. Can navigation be added to the left sidebar in Vector? Wikia used to have great, nested site navigation in the left sidebar (back when there was a left sidebar).

    Is ShoutWiki really back? Do you have a sustainable business model yet? I don’t think you will be really sustainable until you create a sidebar at least 300 pixels wide where you can post real ads. It does not matter to me which side. I just don’t want ads in content space. I don’t mind ads in the left sidebar above the links for wiki tools. I don’t consider that to be content space. I don’t mind 2 sidebars. Ads make wiki farms sustainable. As long as we don’t have a narrow fixed content space that will not expand much, then I don’t mind ads in 2 sidebars. Fixed-width, slit pages, as at Wikia, suck.

    This is the first time I have been back here in a while. It looks like you are the only other wiki farm listed here that uses standard MediaWiki:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comparison_of_wiki_hosting_services

    I so wish for plain old MediaWiki that I can customize for my wiki. I don’t want any special skins, host-forced customizations, etc..

    1. RuneWiki, the Finnish-language RuneScape encyclopedia is our largest wiki, having over 7,000 content pages and over 8,400 media files. Jedipedia, the Finnish-language Star Wars encyclopedia is our largest active wiki as of now, with its nearly 5,000 content pages and over 3,000 media files. A wiki with 1,500 content pages and 2,210 media files isn’t even that big and it certainly shouldn’t pose any difficulties for us to transfer a wiki of that size over to ShoutWiki.

      Now, I’m not exactly sure what you mean by your question “Can navigation be added to the left sidebar in Vector?“; Vector skin, like all other core MediaWiki skins, uses the same sidebar interface message, MediaWiki:Sidebar. You can add more items to the left-hand navigation menu by editing that interface message. See our help page about the sidebar for more information.

      Yes, we are back for good and we’ve been back for quite a while by now and we have no intention of going anywhere. While ads are our main source of income, not everything is based on them. We do appreciate your genuine concern over site stability and income, but rest assured, you don’t need to worry about those; we will deal with those questions and issues, so that you can focus on editing and not have to deal with those tasks.

      “Plain” MediaWiki is our basic free product and everyone is free to create a wiki at ShoutWiki, provided that they agree to our terms of use. We will try to keep the amount of “host-forced customizations” as low as possible, but needless to say, there are certain things that you can’t opt out from, such as MediaWiki upgrades, anti-spam measures and such. Nevertheless, we at ShoutWiki believe that you need to have the options available, but we cannot and will not force you to use certain things (such as a certain skin) over your personal preferences.

  2. Just 1 question: Could you PLEASE not be like Wikia and actually open-source this new skin? I would like a host that’s original and has open source software. I’d recommend asking for donations to fund the new project along with the premium skins, and I’d like you to just keep working at it! 🙂

    1. Here’s the thing, Wikia releases a huge amount of its code as open source, probably a similar, if not higher percentage than ShoutWiki. Also, our staff are not completely money orientated. We work on ShoutWiki because we love the job, and we’ve already discussed whether or not we will take donations from users for anything, and the answer at the moment is No.
      The reasons for this are fairly simple – if users donate, we don’t have a set “thing” we can offer them for their money, and that leads to pressure on the staff team to produce a lot more than we can, or rush things out simply because it’s not fair on this person or that person if we don’t have this thing ready quickly.
      Also, being non-profit or donation based is a dangerous way of running – donations come and go. If we offer a constant service, such as premium skins on a recurring payment, we can predict fairly accurately how much money we will have to work with. I say “fairly accurately” to the extent that nothing involving humans is never really perfectly predictable…

    1. As it is a public and official skin, I think that we probably will – however this is not a made decision yet and will depend on factors that will be decided closer to release such as any licensing on parts of the skin we use, and if there are any proprietary features built into the skin.

      I’m still not entirely sure what you mean when you say “Could you PLEASE not be like Wikia and actually open-source this new skin?”. Because all of their skins are in their SVN, as can be seen here. The current Wikia skin is of course, Oasis.

  3. I meant that Wikia locks users out by open-sourcing their code but doing it in a way that only their servers can (usually) read. You guys are the only people that could decode Nirvana.

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