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WIKI: Introducing Project Rebirth; What it is, and What it Means for the Wiki


WIKI HN ProjectRebirthAnnouncement

At this point, there's no point sidestepping the topic: Halo Nation has become somewhat outdated with much of the Halo material post-2011, outside of the video games. I believe that the wiki is no longer the reliable source for Halo information it should be, because of this fact.

Being an admin, I feel it is my duty to at least try to help the wiki back onto its feet, and given that I have three months until I start at university, I feel that now is the best time to do so. However, updating the wiki is no easy task, hence why I'm starting Project Rebirth, named after the fictional project of the same name whose aim was to revitalise New Mombasa after the Human-Covenant war. In this blog, I will outline my plans for the project so that others can pitch in if they would like, or simply so that they'll know what's happening, if they don't.

HN Logo ProjectRebirth

The Problem(s)

I would like to preface this section by saying that Halo Nation is far from a bad wiki. In fact, from what I've seen of many other game wikis (many of which are unable to even keep up with game releases, let alone EU media), we are a well above average wiki, an achievement which is due to our small but dedicated editor base, each of whom I thank for their contributions. However, simply being above average isn't sufficient when there are areas in which we can improve, hence why Project Rebirth is necessary.

So, what do I believe the problem is? There are a number of them, but I believe all of them are symptoms of one root problem: inactivity. Our small group of editors does its best, but in a franchise which sees at least half a dozen major media releases a year, there is always bound to be the issue of fatigue, as well as the fact that not all contributors have access to all new releases. To put it plainly, we need more editors.

That said, attracting new editors is not easy and in order to do it, a number of things need to happen. A shift in the attitude of the administration is necessary; rather than reverting edits that don't follow the Manual of Style, we should repair them (assuming the edits are factually correct), and explain to the users what we changed and why. More importantly, though, we need to demonstrate that we are capable of being up-to-date and reliable, and that means we need a large-scale article overhaul and improvement drive.

As with all things, identifying the problem isn't as simple as pointing at a single aspect and saying "That's it", however. The reason that Halo Nation finds itself in the state that it's in isn't wholly due to any single problem. Are there things that could have been done differently, both by normal users and by the administration? Yes. Are there parts of the cause that were outside of our control? Yes. That said, all of that is in the past, and so we cannot change it. To be really nerdy and quote Gandalf: "All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us." And Project Rebirth is what I have decided to do.

Aims

Although the primary aim of Project Rebirth is purely to get the wiki back into shape, I would also like to take the opportunity that it presents to do a complete overhaul of the wiki, to meet the following few important criteria. This should make the wiki easier both to use and to edit and, I hope, prevent the wiki from ever again finding itself in the position it's in now. These criteria are:

  • Reliability - All information on Halo Nation should be up-to-date and correct. Information should be available on all Halo media, new and old. There should be little to no conjecture, and where there is conjecture, it should be clearly labelled as such.
  • Accessibility - Regardless of whether you're familiar with it or not, the wiki should be very easy to navigate and find the information you're looking for. Everything should be logically laid out so that relevant articles are not difficult to find.
  • Consistency - Across all articles, categories, files and templates, a consistent layout should be maintained, as well as a consistent naming scheme. This should not only help make the wiki more presentable to readers, but will also help editors easily find files and templates in addition to giving them an example of how to lay out articles.
  • Professionalism - Articles should be written in an unbiased, neutral and factual manner, using an appropriate tense. The opinions of contributors should not come across in any article. The wiki should appear aesthetically pleasing, and also each page and template should be visually consistent with all others.
  • Comprehensiveness - Everything documented by the wiki should be done so in as much detail as possible. Each object, event or person in the Halo universe should have a page, with as much relevant information in it as is available on the subject.
  • Conciseness - While all pertinent information available on a particular subject should be available on its page, the page itself should also be as concise as reasonably possible. The same information should not be repeated multiple times (excluding information from the infobox), and the text itself should not 'waffle' (i.e. it should not be overly wordy).
  • Friendliness - Although this is more of a community-related criteria, the wiki and its users should be welcoming to new faces. When new contributors make mistakes while editing, rather than the edit being reverted, the mistake should be fixed and user should be shown what they did wrong and how to do better next time. New arrivals should be welcomed into our community, not shunned - else, we will not have enough editors to stay afloat even if this project succeeds.

If these criteria are met, I believe Halo Nation will be a far better source for Halo information, and also much easier for future editors to continue contributing. In addition, I would hope that if we manage to get up-to-date and in so doing demonstrate that we are capable of being a reliable source of information, it would help solve the inactivity problem we are currently facing, as the Halo Nation would have shed the stigma that is currently attached to it within the Halo lore community.

How You Can Help

Pitching In

In the plan laid out below, the final paragraph on each Phase's section describes how, if at all, you can help. Please read it carefully, and if it states that help is wanted, feel free to help out!

While the first three or four phases (for which help from the community is minimal) are being carried out, you can still help out by updating the mainspace wiki with information as you normally would - any Halo info added now is less info that has to be added later on. Once we reach phase five, you can help out by helping with whatever stage is currently active.

If you want to help, but are confused as to how, or have any other questions, don't hesitate to contact me on my message wall!

Suggestions and Feedback

Do you have a suggestion or piece of feedback for Project Rebirth? Great! I genuinely do value your input, and so I encourage you to post a comment here or contact me on on my message wall. After discussing it with you, I will then implement the changes that come out of the conversation into the Project, going through the administration if necessary.

Plan

This project will be comprised of seven main phases (because all plans worth their salt have seven steps). Each of these steps is laid out below. The phases will be executed in roughly the order they are listed in.

(✔) Phase One: Theme and Front Pages

Size Difficulty Help Wanted? Status
Small Heroic No Completed

The front page is very important, because it's the very first thing visitors will see of the wiki. If we don't make a good first impression there, it becomes harder to convince them of our worth later on. Until shortly before the announcement of this project, the Main Page was something of a mess. It contained multiple templates that were either fully or partly broken, had several outdated images, videos and links and finally lacked a few important areas such as an announcements area and an area highlighting necessary improvements. Therefore, it requires an overhaul, which is the intention of this phase.

Also, each front page (the oasis version, monobook version and mobile version) should each be consistent with one another, and up-to-date. Finally, given the recent FANDOM theme change, which removed the contribute button, I would also like to add a toolbox section to the wiki's siderail so that useful links such as Special:Upload are easily available to all users - not just to those who know the URLs or have customised their toolbar.

In order to demonstrate that I mean business with this project, I began the process of overhauling the main page while planning and ratifying Project Rebirth. It is completely finished, although I might consider updating the Featured Images and Did You Know sections during Phases Six and Seven respectively, as well as perhaps bringing back the featured article section at some point after Phase Five.

Because the main page and the theme can only be edited by admins, no help was required from the general community for this phase. However, feedback is welcome!

(…) Phase Two: Policies

Size Difficulty Help Wanted? Status
Small Normal No In Progress

Although it may not be widely known among regular users, shortly after I became an admin almost a year ago, the administration began an overhaul of the policy pages. Despite the fact that several pages were rewritten, ultimately the project was left unfinished. Therefore, as part of Project Rebirth, I would like to update the policies, to be relevant to the current state of Halo and Halo Nation, and also to facilitate and encourage the continued growth of Halo Nation, during and after the project.

While most of the changes will be minor, and simply rewordings, there are a few reasonably major things I intend to introduce, such as a slightly stricter image and template naming scheme, a more defined rank structure and a simplified summary ruleset, so that new contributors to quickly familiarise themselves without being daunted by several pages' worth of text walls. The more defined rank structure will include a tree of ranks leading up to administrator, through which users must rise before finally being eligible for admin status.

Only administrators have the permissions and authority required to edit the Halo Nation policy pages, and so no help from the community is required in order to complete this section. I will rewrite each page and submit it for review by the admin team, and then it will be posted once each detail is ironed out. We may create thread for community feedback at the end of the process, but that is not guaranteed.

(…) Phase Three: Categories

Size Difficulty Help Wanted? Status
Large Easy No In Progress

Halo Nation's category systems aren't as organised or consistently structured as I'd like. A few months ago, I started designing a new category tree to replace it - you might have seen this roll out on a few pages already (Games, Literature and Comics). Despite that I have placed some pages in these new categories, the category system is not yet finished.

As part of Project Rebirth, I intend to complete the category tree, and create each category page. Following that, in Phase Five, all pages will be moved into the correct categories in the new tree, and removed from the old ones. The old, now-unused categories will then be deleted.

No help from the community is requested for this section (besides moving pages into the correct new categories and removing them from the old ones), because it would become confusing if multiple people were to add to the same tree at once. However, feedback is always welcome - message me if you have a suggestion.

(…) Phase Four: Templates

Size Difficulty Help Wanted? Status
Large Heroic Yes In Progress

As mentioned earlier, I would like to introduce a more rigid template naming scheme. Where currently we might have {{Covenant Vehicles}}, I would rather have {{Navbox/Covenant/Vehicles}}, which more clearly defines what type of template it is. Another example would be {{Infobox/Character}} rather than {{Character Infobox}}. I would also like to reduce the amount of unneccessary templates - to give an example, since we have {{Character Infobox}}, we don't need a separate {{Covenant Character Infobox}} template - one infobox will suffice for all character pages. Finally, I'd like to introduce some measure of consistency in the themes and sizes of templates, both in how they are set out and in how they visually appear. That said, most templates will remain functionally the same, even if they are renamed or altered aesthetically, so for normal editors, all this phase entails is re-learning the names of some templates.

Any help in updating templates is welcome, although renaming them will have to be left to the admins, as normal users don't have that permission. Additionally, updating pages whose templates have been renamed is also helpful (although, I imagine I'll do most of this with my new bot).

Phase Five: Mainspace Wiki

Size Difficulty Help Wanted? Status
Huge Mythic Yes Not Started

This section is pretty much what it says on the tin: editing the mainspace (Note: Mainspace is just wiki talk for all the pages which don't have a prefix like Talk:, Template:, Category: or User:) to be up-to-date with all Halo media to date. Despite being so far along in the plan, this is by far the most important phase. It is only so late in the plan because each phase beforehand will serve to make this somewhat easier.

In order to achieve this phase, I intend to re-read/play/watch all the Halo material available to me (which is everything besides the toy lines and a few scattered reference books), and fully update the wiki on whatever we're missing from them. Being such an important stage, I will create a separate blog about our progress in this section, once the first four stages are completed. For the older media, as well as most of the games, this will be merely as easy as perhaps rewording a few things, but in cases like Halo: Envoy, it will mean starting from nothing and working up to full documentation.

Helping out in this phase is easy, however; merely edit like you normally would! Every addition that gets Halo Nation more up-to-date is one less thing which needs to be added later on.

Phase Six: Files

Size Difficulty Help Wanted? Status
Unfrigginbelievable Mythic Yes Not Started

With over 26,000 images and 1,500 videos, it's hardly a surprise that many of them are either low-quality, poorly named or both. In this phase, I would like to run through every single one of them and to fix these problems. If they are user images and aren't properly named in accordance with the Image Policy, they will be deleted without warning, in order to save time. All non-user images that are low-quality will be either replaced or deleted. In addition, any fan-art will be removed without warning too (the only exception to this is fan-art which are properly named user images and are not used anywhere on the mainspace - any fan-art which is used on the mainspace will be deleted.). The remaining images will be renamed in accordance with the Image Policy, if they are not already named appropriately (I've had it with the 0182974832748293.jpg names!)

As well as this, while going through the images, I will sort them into categories based on what they contain - in terms of weapons, vehicles, levels/maps, and armour. This will make it much easier to retrieve appropriate images when editing in future, as well as providing readers with easy access to a large amount of images on any topic.

In the case of videos, any videos not related to Halo will be removed. Furthermore, ones that are deemed to be low quality (less than 480p in resolution or 30FPS in framerate) will also be removed unless that quality is the highest they can be found in, as is the case with early-2000s trailers such as the Halo E3 2000 Trailer.

All of this will be done semi-automatically, in that I will use my bot to bring up images in alphabetical order, then choose what happens to them myself. It will take an extremely long time by my estimations, most likely making this the second longest phase after phase five.

Although only Image Patrollers and Administrations (this was written pre-phase two, so this list might not be accurate by the time phase six is in motion) can rename and delete images, others can help by adding images to the appropriate categories (after phase three is finished), and making sure that any images they upload follow the guidelines set out above.

Phase Seven: Consolidation

Size Difficulty Help Wanted? Status
Huge Legendary Yes Not Started

Though some might call this phase superfluous, I view it as necessary. It will begin once Phase Six is complete, and will involve going through every page alphabetically, double-checking them against the Manual of Style, fact-checking their sources, removing/filling any redlinks and fixing any spelling or grammar mistakes. Although with over 10,000 pages (and likely closer to 15,000 by the time we reach this phase), this stage has a very large volume, the process for each page is thankfully quite simple, and so it shouldn't be nearly as time consuming as Phases Five or Six.

In order to facilitate this phase, we will most likely use a bot to add a header template to each unconsolidated page, stating that it isn't consolidated and adding it to a category. Once this phase is underway, if you would like to help, simply pick a page from the category, read through it, checking the criteria in the paragraph above, and fix any mistakes that might exist. Once you're sure it meets those criteria, remove the header template, which will in turn remove it from the category.

Aftermath

After the project is complete, the wiki should be much easier to manage and maintain. Not only will everything (templates, files, and pages) be easier to find thanks to the naming schemes and category systems, but we will no longer be struggling to catch up, and so we will have more time to review existing pages and make sure that they're the best they can be. Enforcing the new, stricter category and naming schemes will be one thing that becomes more difficult, however Phase Two should help with that by expanding the ranks below admin, so that there are more people patrolling recent edits and recently uploaded images.

Ultimately, for a wiki like Halo Nation and a franchise like Halo, there will always be more work to be done and new projects to undertake (looking at you, CSS/JS), but if we succeed in Project Rebirth, then I am sure that said work will be much easier done than it currently is. I believe we truly can do this, if we try. So, I'll leave you with the wise words of truly the most badass Halo character of all time: Move like you got a purpose!


USER Dab1001 Avatar Dab1001 (messageblogscontributions) UNSC Emblem 20:14, July 9, 2017 (UTC)