Fallout Fans Continue To Struggle With The Company That Hosts Their Wiki

Last year Nukapedia, the fan-run Fallout wiki, fought against the for-profit wiki hosting company Fandom adding video ads to their pages and won. Now the videos are back, and these fans are considering leaving the platform entirely.

When you hop over to the fan-run Stardew Valley wiki to check out what gifts your future spouse prefers, you're on a website owned by Fandom. Fandom hosts almost every video game wiki you check out when you're double checking the specs of a weapon or poring over the details of lore. The entries are all written by volunteers.

Last September, the community that manages the meticulously detailed wiki for Fallout discovered that several pages had videos on them that were not in line with the established editorial tone of the site. Eventually Fandom removed those videos, apologising to the community.

Now they're back, and the Fallout wiki community might just up and leave because of it.

On May 30, videos were added to 17 pages of the Fallout wiki. They are featured at the top of the page, before the article begins, and they autoplay with ads. Unlike the videos that were added last year, they're all official trailers from Bethesda, as opposed to videos made in-house by Fandom.

The videos that were added last year were seen by wiki writers as poor quality. They sometimes used footage taken from YouTube videos, and the wiki community didn't approve of the editorialising in their scripts. They were also added without asking the community, which caused bad feelings regarding the community's dealings with Fandom.

Fandom only announced the return of video the day they went live.

The Fallout Wiki community has also added a template to pages with video apologising for their presence.

Although the new videos are a far cry from the cringey ones from last year, the wiki community would simply prefer it they weren't there at all. According to a representative from Fandom commenting on a blog post about videos on the Fallout wiki, they have a "73% satisfaction rating across all videos here and an 87% satisfaction rating on fallout.wikia.com/wiki/Fallout_76. This tells us that people visiting this wiki are responding positively to the videos."

Members of the wiki are not happy that video has returned. In a "state of the wiki" blog post to the rest of the community, Chad, a "super-admin" for the wiki, said, "Our relationship [with Fandom] has risen and fallen over the years, but we think it's safe to say it's either at, or near, an all time low. We no longer take it for granted that what is good for Wikia is good for us, and are alarmed about the direction they are taking in many areas."

Many community members shared this sentiment, one user writing, "While users may like the content of some of the videos, literally nobody likes autoplay videos. So when a service forces them on you, it shows that service has absolutely no respect for its users."

"We are committed to developing a video strategy and experiences that are compelling and that further fuel fans' passion for the entertainment they love. And, we've seen fans responding well to the videos with solidly positive ratings for both our overall site and for Fallout," a representative from Fandom told Kotaku.

Although Fandom has been clear that from their perspective, response to videos have been positive, the Fallout wiki community is now considering leaving Fandom entirely because of them. They have created their own wiki structure, dubbed Exodus, and Chad has sent a letter to several representatives from Fandom issuing an ultimatum: Either the video goes, or we do.

"We have again seen 'Featured Video' added onto our wiki. Despite the community's repeated insistence that this feature was not wanted and is seen as a breach of our editorial independence and control, it seems that Fandom will not accept that no means no," he wrote.

"The community's greatest desire is that we go back to exactly where we were 12 months ago, where there was no forced video, where we had a positive relationship with Fandom and its staff. It is my belief that we can get back there, if Fandom makes that choice."

A representative from Fandom told Kotaku, "We of course hope Nukapedia leadership decides to keep Fandom as the community's home and will continue conversations with them."

Not every member of the community believes that leaving Fandom is the right choice. Wiki editor The Dyre Wolf said in a comment on this letter that they believe if the Fallout wiki leaves Fandom, they ultimately have more to lose, especially because there's an upcoming Fallout game on the horizon.

"If this dialogue outlasts the initial blast of new information and searches for details on 76, that will effectively eliminate an Independent [Wiki] having a chance to ride the wave of frequent searches," they said. In short, the wiki on Fandom as it exists already gets priority in search results. The same cannot be said for an entirely new wiki, even if they're bringing over a dedicated community of editors and contributors.

At this point in time, Fandom and the Fallout wiki are at an impasse. It appears that the videos are here to stay, and the community is not quite ready to pull the trigger on leaving the site. The future of the Fallout wiki is uncertain, but it's clear that neither Fandom nor the wiki community can continue like they are right now.


Comments

    Didn't they split years ago and went off to gamepedia?

      they did, but they came back to Wikia just before fallout 4 came out. I noticed that Gamepedia was not being updated as quickly or even at all compared to the Wikia. I remember the split as well because it was just with fallout bu also happened with WoW as well, however their gamepedia is still the most reliable

    Have they tried to contact Bethesda to support the wiki with hosting. They could be in a good position to negotiate free hosting and keeping editorial rights and ad free space... its an opportunity for their community managers to support the community. Cause Bethesda seems to want to make Bethesda.net a go to a with their own launcher and store.

    Ugh, it's such a head-up-your-arse-on-purpose corporate way of thinking. Autoplay to fake increased views to make the video seem more successful to advertisers. Next step, add a vaguely worded like/dislike feature that most users won't even use or will only use to judge the quality of the video, not its presence the fact that it autoplays, and then incorrectly use that stat to say that most people are satisfied with autoplay videos.

      As you say, the reason it's got such a high "approval" rating is that it's almost certainly the trailer for fallout76 that just showed for me. In which case, people are liking it because it's a trailer for fallout76, not because they like the fact that it popped up without warning or being activated and started using up their bandwidth/data.

    Similar to bulbapedia, bulbapedia was my go to for all pokemon related stuff and since they forced so many ads and popup auto play ad videos that literally slows down the entire browser on phone. I ditched them and go for serebii ever since.

    Monetisation is important but not in a forced way. I'm sure there are other ways to generate revenue other than forcing auto play ad videos.

      I just checked out bulbapedia without ublock on and ewww.....

      Pro-tip: I recommend using firefox on mobile, as it gives you access to all of the FF extensions, so you add ublock origin/adblock etc... and get the same nice experience as desktop. It's even more important on mobile, as the experience on many sites is simply abysmal otherwise.

        I usually use bulbapedia on my mobile while playing pokemon game when they release and when I started Ultra Sun and fire up bulbapedia my brain just went kaput. What the hell happened to bulbapedia lol. They even created bulbapedia app which I thought will be good but the ads is even worst.

        My phone battery literally goes down the drain and heat up completely due to the amount of javascript and ads that it runs constantly while the page is open.

        I have firefox on my mobile too but I just decided it is not worth it to use bulbapedia and switched to serebii. Serebii is good, non intrusive ads and lightweight and no bloat. I'd rather give them advertising money than bulbapedia.

    Fandom's customers are the advertisers, not the people using the wikis - they're the product.

      True, but they are risking losing their product which leaves them without customers.

      Right, but the users of the wiki are the ones producing the content that brings eyeballs to the ads: if they make the site too unpleasant, the content dries up.

      With that said, Wikia isn't going to shut down their Fallout wiki just because the community leaves. They might decide that there is enough content on the wiki and incoming links that the ads will be profitable without any updates.

        They do this basically every time a community leaves. They keep all the old pages with ads plastered all over and rake in revenue. They don't care if it's ever updated, just that it sits at the top of search engine results.

          Google is too fucking powerful.

            It's a balancing act between 'content has been around for a while so it's valuable' vs 'content is stale so it's out of date'. Wikia's a respectable (hahaha) domain name and the fan content tends to have been around for a while, so there's a bit of lag when the community abandons it for a new wiki. Wikia also hopes new editors won't know the difference and keep updating the old wiki too, as happened with Wowwiki when most of them left to form Wowpedia.

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