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Some message were originally posted on the talk page, and some may be correspondences with other users' posts on the talk page. Most if not all of the full discussions are now in one of the archives. If you wish to discuss any points here, please check the archives on past discussions to avoid beating dead horses or ask already-answered questions. NOTE: Only selected posts from Wikia people are included below. If you feel something should be added here, discuss on the talk page.


Please feel free to ask question in the talk page. I am keeping a log of donation repayment.

Final Contract (2007 October 23)

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A way forward (Gil Penchina, 2007 October 4th)

From: http://gw.gamewikis.org/index.php?title=GuildWiki_talk:Wikia_Move&diff=1043322&oldid=1043149

The reason I joined Wikia was because I fell in love with the mission of making high quality information free to the public. Free of subscription fees, free to be re-used by others commercially or otherwise, freely available for all to read, share and learn from. Part of that mission is to be the steward for communities and in the case of the Guildwars community, it’s clear that a portion of the community is angry with our decisions and our process. For this I apologize. Let me provide some background and our proposal to go forward after listening to you.

One of the principles of our decision to license most of our content under GFDL is that we are not anti-commercial, nor are our customers. We freely welcome others to take the information we host and profit from it, either by putting it on their web site, or by publishing a book that uses the community’s content. If someone wants to sell a copy of our content on a memory stick for $5, they are free to do so. Similarly if someone builds a web site and wants to sell us the URL, we are not opposed to the owner making a profit with our content.

However, I believe that because we are founded and lead by Jimmy Wales, we should be held to a higher standard. We are a steward for the community and we have set up a system where ALL content on Wikia is under a copyleft license and supported by advertising. We did this for a few reasons

  • Copyleft ensures that at no point in the future can we restrict access to the information or charge subscription fees for it
  • Copyleft with frequent data dumps (which we do voluntarily) ensures the community has the power and responsibility to fork our projects if they feel we are doing something wrong, or not supporting the community as well as they feel we should.

As part of our mission, I asked our team to reach out to other wiki projects and encourage them to join our family and our mission. Many have, while some chose not to for a variety of reasons. Some prefer for us to do the hard work of keeping the sites up and stable. Others want access to our software or the promotion we provide to their efforts. Some just appreciate Jimmy and trust him to do the right thing. To date, we are hosting over 4,000 communities of which a handful joined via an acquisition and we had never heard complaints before. Starting a community can be hard work and hosting the service is not free, so I have no objection to those who feel they are due some compensation for their efforts. This is not without precedent as other wiki projects like Wikitravel and FaqFarm (now wikianswers) have been acquired by for-profit companies and remain successful communities providing great information to the public.

Our intentions in reaching out to Gravewit were honorable, but the process does not leave me 100% proud. I would say in our defense that we are human, with all the frailty and occasional poor judgment that comes with. I make mistakes, everyone on the team does. We try to learn from those mistakes and do better every day, in the knowledge that wiki-users and the open source community holds us to a very high standard. We balance the needs of our customers, the Wikia admins, employees and shareholders on a daily basis. We try to find a balance between customers who want more features and information and those that want faster site speed, as the two are in daily tension with each other.

In retrospect, I could have put in place a more transparent process for these recent acquisitions. Going forward we will:

  • Talk to each community BEFORE signing any legal papers. The better wiki founders did this, but some chose not to and we didn’t force the issue. In the future, we will demand it.
  • Require as part of any contract that the community be offered re-imbursement for any donations they may have made previously
  • Encourage the domain owner(s) to disclose any compensation and at a minimum disclose if there is compensation being offered and to whom

For the Guildwars community. Jimmy and I have talked at length about the various interpretations of CC-NC-SA advocated for on this talk page. Having talked to a number of experts, I am comfortable both with our contract to acquire domain names and with the way we operate Gamewikis today. That said, when I screw up – and you’ve been clear that I did, I have a responsibility to fix it, so this is a issue of stewardship, not license interpretation to me. As I understand it the issues are:

  • Many community members do not want us to profit from the ads on the site and wants an open record on any costs and revenues going forward
  • Some community members would like all of the details on the deal we signed with Gravewit
  • Some community members do not value the work Gravewit did in paying for the domain fees, servers, managing the ad sales, etc and feels he was excessively compensated for his work given that he was not an active editor in the community
  • Most think should have talked to a larger portion of the community first and gotten your approval

I would like to make the following proposal, to help the community understand that we really are trying to be a steward and regain your trust

  • Many community members do not want us to profit from the ads on the site and wants an open record on any costs and revenues going forward
We will publish an annual report on the revenue and costs of running the guildwars wiki. Revenue can easily be tracked by ads sold. Costs can be calculated by the total cost of running all wikis and selling their advertising (servers, bandwith, engineer’s salaries, QA for bug fixes, ad sales, accounting, customer support, etc) and then calculating the percentage of total page views generated by guildwars vs. the rest of Wikia to determine the portion to be allocated to guildwars. Any profits will be taken at the end of the year and spent on give-aways to guildwars visitors or users
  • Some community members would like all of the details on the deal we signed with Gravewit
In light of the above, we will re-negotiate the deal with Gravewit instead of paying out a portion of the purchase price to the community and then upload a jpg copy of the revised contract on the guildwars wiki for all to see

  • Some community members do not value the work Gravewit did in paying for the domain fees, servers, managing the ad sales, etc and feels he was excessively compensated for his work given that he was not an active editor in the community
Here I respectfully disagree. Gravewit did the “not fun” part of managing a community that in many ways Wikia’s engineers and ad sales people do today. He also had legal ownership over domains that he sold us. I will work on re-negotiating the contract, but I do feel he earned something for the work.

  • Most think should have talked to a larger portion of the community first and gotten your approval
Not much I can do here, other than apologize and ensure we learn from that lesson and change our behavior. By offering to host your guildwars content without profits, I hope you understand how seriously we are taking your concerns.



What will happen going forward if you as a community agree to this

  • We will continue hosting gamewikis content
  • We will actively promote guildwars content to our other users and similarly promote other wikis on guildwars via the system we call “spotlights”
  • We will continue to do regular data dumps of the content as we do on all wikis
  • We will report to you annually on the profits or losses from the ads on the content and will track accumulated deficits until we reach a lifetime breakeven (ie if we lose money in 2008 as we expect to, we have the right to earn that back in later years without it being deemed a profit). After reaching breakeven, any profits would be returned to the community as sponsorships for visitors to attend fan events, or prizes, etc
  • We will migrate the wiki to the new wikia skin later this year, that you can see at http://halo.wikia.com or http://starwars.wikia.com so you can use the new widgets and other tools we have developed. However monobook as always remains an option for those who prefer it
  • We will continue to support you with technical services and live support as needed


I can’t take back the mistakes we’ve made, the frustration we’ve caused you, or the time it has taken for us to respond to the wide variety of issues and complaints we heard. Please know that we’re listening and working diligently to earn your trust. I await your thoughts.

Thanks for your patience

Penchina 02:38, 4 October 2007 (UTC)

Change To Deal + Terms (Gravewit, 2007 September 19)

What A Long, Strange, Trip It's Been

So. Quite a week we've had, eh? Having been called many names and threatened with all sorts of stuff, I can tell you it's not been fun for me, and probably not for most of you. Today, I want to try to fix that as much as I can.

When we announced the Wikia merger, I figured there would be some (okay, a lot of) push-back. Any time a community this big has a change like this, there are going to be heated discussions, feelings hurt, and balls picked up and taken home. As I said, this is expected. What was not expected, however, was just how strongly many of you felt about this, especially those of you whose opinions have done the most to shape and grow this community. The people I'm talking about know who they are, and so does pretty much everyone reading this. All communities are bigger than one person, and in the end, all of the content in the world means nothing without the goodwill that has sustained this site from it's inception.

In truth, after a lot of thinking, it only seems fair that all of you, who grew the site, and kept it well all this time, should be cut in. I've reworked my deal with Wikia, and they have agreed to set aside the majority of the cash portion from our original contract aside, for you, the community, to spread around as you see fit (this is in addition to my promise to personally refund all donations, which is ongoing). I think you'll find this solution unique in the history of community websites on the internet. The money is yours to do with what you decide, when you decide it. Gil from Wikia will be weighing in on the specifics of how much, etc, shortly. It should be in the neighbourhood of about $62,000 USD. Let the discussion commence.

GameWikis came from the humblest of beginnings, and in the end, doing the right thing is... well, the right thing to do. Money cannot buyback the bad vibes that have been spread this week, and this gesture is not intended to do that. What it is intended to do is to perhaps make people think twice about the hate, step back, and realize that we're all people. Things were mishandled from the get-go, and that is largely my fault. I know this, and I think what has happened here, though no fun for anyone involved, has given us all a lot of insight for which to be thankful. This is truer for noone than myself. Gravewit 13:03, 19 September 2007 (CDT)

Hi from Jimbo Wales (Jimbo Whales, 2007 Sept 17)

From: http://gw.gamewikis.org/index.php?title=GuildWiki_talk:Wikia_Move&diff=1023064&oldid=1023032

Hey everybody, I am currently in South Africa promoting the growth of free culture in South Africa. I haven't had good Internet access and so I am sorry I was unable to comment earlier. I just wanted to give my personal assurances that we want to work with everyone to make things better, no problem. The issues raised here are complicated and interesting, but please rest assured that we don't intend to change anything unless you want things changed.

As Gil Penchina has said, but worth repeating from me: this wiki has had advertising for a long time, and our intention is to reduce the amount of advertising, not increase it, for sure. This wiki has more advertising on it than is typical for wikia. We want to offer you some new features and skins, but that's never mandatory. And as everyone knows from my work, the one thing that I think I do really well, and that Wikia does really well, is respect communities and work with people.

Of course the content is under a CC license, and will remain so the same as ever. The NC license does not mean that a wiki can't have advertising on it... any more than people uploading CC NC photos to flickr means flickr can't run ads. It means that no one can package up a book from the content and sell it, and that we can't charge people for access to the site. No problem there. In any event, our intention is to reduce the commercialism of the site, not increase it.

Beyond that, as for people's beef with Gravewit, I am sad to say that I really did not anticipate this or know anything about the history here. We will do what we can to make things right for people. I welcome people to email me personally at jwales@wikia.com so I can better understand the situation. Let me know what is your personal pain point, and let's see if there is a way to resolve it.--Jimbo Wales 03:24, 17 September 2007 (CDT)

FAQ and working through the issues (Gil Penchina, 2007 September 16th)

From: http://gw.gamewikis.org/index.php?title=GuildWiki_talk:Wikia_Move&diff=1022825&oldid=1022785

Thank you all for the patience -

FAQ's: A few things I can tell you now, at least to provide some amount of updates for those who are afraid that too many changes will be made:

  • We will not be changing the licensing for the wiki - it will stay with it's current license. For some of the smaller wikis on gamewikis.org - where there is an existing GFDL wiki, we will work with the two communities to try to merge them so that the communities can come together if they're willing
  • We DO NOT plan to put lots of ads to the site, in fact if you look at our sites, they typically only have ONE ad per page instead of TWO so I had hoped we would be viewed as an improvement. Also when you login to our new skins, the ad unit is EVEN smaller
  • We always maintain monobook as an option for people that want to use it, if you don't like our new skins, like on http://tv.wikia.com
  • We do have a number of wiki communities that have come over to Wikia and some but not all received some compensation for this. My contract doesn't permit discussion of this, but I will talk it over with Gravewit as some of the estimates have been speculative
  • What I can tell you about the contract is that we acquired the domain name and did not ask for a copy of any CC-NC content as part of it. However we did acquire any commercial licenses or rights that came with the URL.
  • The content GameWikis presents to the public is available under CC and we WILL continue to make public dumps of it available on a regular basis to insure that it belongs to the community
  • We try to support communities so those who want to stay on their old URL have been able to do so and we would talk to you before making that sort of change.
  • I had hoped that by reducing the number of ads and improving the software, we could help make Gamewikis a better place for fans and that this would be a positive change and one that would improve the experience on the wiki.


I have been trying to work through the various issues raised and want to see if there is consensus about at least the issues

  • Some people appear to be angry that Gravewit received compensation for this, or at least curious about how much.
  • Others are trying to determine what exactly CC-NC-SA prohibits
  • Some are angry that the site was not run by a company, although it was hosted by a commercial hosting facility paid for by Gravewit and will now be hosted by a different commercial hosting company. What I find a bit troubling is the notion that ads are ok if there's no profit. Once there are ads - it is a site with some commercial flavor to it. (Not sure that's a legal term)
  • Others think Wikia is making lots of money from this. If the community has one volunteer who is designated by the admins, I will put them in touch with our accountants and they can hear directly from them that we lose lots of money every month. We hope over the long term that revenues will increase as we attract more passionate users, but for the moment, we are definitely not making a profit despite having over 4,000 wikis on Wikia. That is something I am happy to be super-transparent about.


If there are other issues I need to work through let me know, otherwise I will keep working on these three. I am going to try to be as transparent as I can here - so please continue to contact me if you see things we need to be talking about that we aren't.
Thanks,
Penchina 23:14, 16 September 2007 (CDT)

Still listening (Gil Penchina, 2007 September 14)

From: http://gw.gamewikis.org/index.php?title=GuildWiki_talk:Wikia_Move&diff=1019281&oldid=1019278

I'm reading the various discussions and trying to determine what if anything we can do to resolve the myriad issues people appear to have raised. There is obviously a great deal of passion and anger some people have and I apologize for our part in that. Some updates:

  • We have transfered the DNS of gamewikis
  • We are working on uploading a copy of the information
  • We don't currently have any plans or reason to change the urls - although we may offer a copy of the same content under the wiki URL as a mirror
  • We will keep GW on it's own server to try to improve speed issues
  • We will have monobook for those who don't like the new wikia skins and widget tools, although I think they're kind of cool - I admit I'm biased
  • I will talk to Phil about some of the issues being raised. Obviously as an outsider it's hard for me to fully come up to speed on 2+ years of history - that's my excuse if I appear slow or dim witted, but he and I will have a long conversation SOON
  • I can tell you that our goals are to make all information free and that we view guildwiki as an important part of that effort.
  • A number of people have asked questions about the ads - For now all I can say is that we want to reduce the number of ads without eliminating them, but that I am listening to a number of people who have raised issues about advertising and trying to see what the fair and proper thing is to do here - albeit perhaps at a slower pace than some people would like.
  • For those with concerns - please keep contacting me, for those who are nervous about change - please trust that Jimmy and I are focused on serving the needs of gaming communities and we're committed to giving you the freedom to build the best resource for gamers. We serve over 400 gaming communities today and it's an important part of our vision of making ALL information freely available.


Penchina 16:45, 14 September 2007 (CDT)

General FAQ (GraveWit)

The Long And Short Of It

I have been hosting GameWikis (on various hosting space) for a couple years, now. There's been some downs, but a lot more ups, then I could've possibly imagined when Michael (Nunix) and I started this thing as a way for us to keep track of where things were in Guildwars without having to dig through endless forum posts. It's been nothing short of incredible, unexpected, and humbling to have so many people dedicate so much of their time to something we put together on a whim. There's (famously) been some server moves in there, ad we're on the verge of another big change. In short: GameWikis is now a part of Wikia.

I have been talking with their CEO Gil Penchina for some time now, and, basically came to the realization that Wikia's gaming section is what I wanted GameWikis to be, but with the resources and people to make it happen much more efficiently than I ever could. The hosting bills (mainly due to bandwidth, which ain't cheap) have continued going up, and with my full-time day job taking up my days, worrying about ad revenue at night just isn't any fun.

Seriously, Though, Why?

As you might know, Wikia's been eyeing us for awhile, now. In the past month or so, I've been talking more with Gil and their people, and seen our hits (and hosting bills) continue to climb, especially in the run up and launch of Eye of the North. Basically, they've got the money, infrastructure, and a growing track record for doing the right thing with communities: letting them be themselves. Wikia will be able to keep these sites running better than I could have. They've got people constantly working on the code, full time, to boot, and as we move forward, I don't think GameWikis staying power would be nearly what theirs is going to be.

First Things First: Are You Getting Paid For This?

Short answer: Yes.

Long answer: Wikia gave me some cash and company stock in exchange for all of the related GameWikis URLs, a data dump of all of our content, and the discontinuation of my hosting of the sites. As you're probably aware, GameWikis has had suitors before. This is truly not about the money.

Does Wikia Own User Contributions Now?

Not any more than I do. The licensing of the site and your content will not change against your will. If you want to delete your account, stop contributing, or call me names in public forums, you are as free to do this as you were before the move. As part of the deal, Wikia has also agreed to make public data dumps of all the openly licensed content available on a regular basis, which is something we've always wanted to do, but never quite got off the ground.

Will I Still Be A Sysop/Bureaucrat After The Move?

Yes. The community as it is will stay more or less completely the same. To you, the users, this should feel like nothing more than another server move. You will still be free to do all of the things you were before, and editorial control continue to rest in the same hands it does now. These hands are probably directly in front of you, even as you read this. I believe you will find that they are your own.

Will There Be More Gold Ads, Now?

Wikia has a deal with Google to block gold ads automatically. Their set up should be much more effecient than ours, currently.

When Is This Happening?

It is, in fact, going on right now. This week, I am working with Wikia to get a copy of our sites working on their servers. Once everything is set up, we'll be setting the sites all read-only and making a new up-to-date DB dump to import onto the new server. The switch time will be noted on the main page of all the sites. Once that is done things will continue on like they always have. With some luck, there will be almost no interruption of service. The downtime should only be as long as it takes for the DNS to resolve to our new server with Wikia.

Wikia said they'll make periodic database dumps public available. Where is it?

See GuildWars Wikia:Database dumps for the latest dumps.

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