Potential Wikia mass exodus

Friday, August 1, 2008

Recently Wikia, a commercial company co-founded by Jimmy Wales and Angela Beesley, announced that it would be making changes in the appearances of its wikis, specifically making advertising more prominent. This change to mix advertising directly into the content has led many Wikia hosted sites to begin discussions regarding leaving Wikia hosting for their own. As Wikia's business model hinges entirely upon user-generated content, large numbers of sites leaving could leave Wikia in financial trouble. Wikia has lost editors and volunteer "janitors" as a result of this.

Jimmy Wales presenting Wikia at presentation at Wikimania 2007
Image: Craig Spurrier.

Some changes were made to make sure Wikia doesn't lose its community; one of them being the ability for logged-in users to turn off advertisements in their personal preferences, which would eliminate the ads from all other pages except the main pages of different Wikia wikis. However, this didn't help much and several wikis, most notably the Transformers Wiki advised their users to switch to Firefox browser and install the AdBlock plugin to remove advertisements. The problem was the excessive advertisements on every content pages which most of the Wikia communities didn't agree with.

Since the new Monaco skin version 3.1. was rolled out across all Wikia-hosted wikis, Wikia introduced a set of "main page column tags" meant to aid in main page designing while minding Wikia's new advertisements. Most, if not all Wikia's English-language wikis, such as Wookieepedia, the Star Wars Wiki, Wiki 24 and WoWWiki have converted their main pages to use these new main page column tags. Wikia's "helpers", people working as interns for Wikia, have helped to convert wikis to the new main page layout. However, some wikis, such as the Transformers Wiki opposed the change to their main pages and thus refused to convert their main page to use the main page column tags. Newly-created Wikia wikis will have a main page that has the main page column tags by default.

Certain Wikia-hosted communities have criticized their host for trying to make Wikia look like one big website to please the advertisers when the communities would prefer to stay independent from other Wikia's wikis.

During the rollout of the new Monaco skin, the phrase "Wikia will never host pop-up adverts." was removed from Wikia's terms of use and later reinstated into the terms. Several users thought that this might hint of upcoming pop-up ads at Wikia.


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