Posted by pastfarpoint (16 posts) - - Show Bio

What’s wrong with the ComicVine wiki (CVW); an open letter to Red L.A.M.P. et al.    

The headline was just to get you to click over. This will be a discussion of what I think of the ComicVine wiki – good and bad and where I think the latter could be changed.

Wikipedia, Wiki’s, and the possibility of alternatives    

CW is essentially a modified wiki (even if not technically). It’s a collaborative work that takes inspiration from its subject matter to introduce various subject specific tools. There are fundamental properties in the subject matter of CW – namely comics – that have been integrated into the very basis of CW. I’m talking here about the use of things like specialized page types (character, place, arc, etc) and the way they relate to each other. I’m also talking about how those things are semanticized information – a computer can read CW and work out what places Superman has been to quite easily.

Additionally CW has introduced a community specific aspect to the wiki process by scoring edits. This differs fundamentally from Wikipedia and its avowed anonymity. Again, this is a good thing. Unlike every other wiki and pseudo-wiki I’ve seen, CW takes the wiki-format and customizes it to its own subject matter and goal – namely a community supported comic reference database.    

This is something other subject-based communities should be taking a lesson from: Wikipedia epitomizes the wiki, but it is not its rule; communities should modify the wiki format to their own subject matter and goals.

CW is an authoritarian wiki  

I'm not talking about the editor who rejected your edit. What I am talking about is the enormous community that exists behind Wikipedia. Every page on Wikipedia has a discussion page; Wikipedia has community discussed and developed policies; it has meta-pages that allow developing resources for Wikipedia.

CW has none of these things.

If I have a question about an edit I can either (A) publish it and see if it get rejected, or (B) ask in the forum. I cannot (A) look up a reference (beyond what Redlamp’s written in his blog), nor (B) leave a note attached to the page telling others about my concern. CW needs meta pages. It needs places where people, together, can design and suggest policies and formats for CW; it needs places where people can develop resources for the purpose of editing pages; and it needs places for annotating articles so that pages in CW are truly collaborative and not merely the sum product of sole individuals.

I can say much more about this limitation of CW, and have a few practical (but tentative) ideas, but in any case this is CW's biggest limitation IMO.            

Minor problems with CW    

Where is it? It’s at the top of the page in a little box. CW is an impressive accomplishment; it should have its own front page, eg. at

I can’t search CW! I mean, I can search inside the search box, but because of the way it works I can’t do a search of pages. This means, for example, that I can’t search for issue 405 of Superman, nor can I see if there are any articles that use the phrase “this could be really useful”. As a corollary (I think) it means that I can’t create use any browser addon (eg. firefox, chrome) to search CW. Edit: As I was told in a comment below, it is possible to search for issues; simply tick the "issue" box in the search options!

Edit: Another function that's lacking is -as mentioned a comment below - a page history. My understanding is that, based on what's been discussed elsewhere,  that this is a function that used to be present but was removed because it used up too many resources, but that may be reintroduced in the future.

In a nutshell: The Comicvine wiki is a great accomplishment that modifies the wiki-type to a custom purpose, but fails to provide depth to the collaborative process and undermines the significance of its own achievement.    

#1 Posted by pikahyper (12941 posts) - - Show Bio

you can search for specific issues of a comic by clicking the search options and selecting "issues".
I don't really see an issue in having to post in the forum if you have a question, it has worked fine so far as the community quickly responds to any inquire. If meta pages were attached and people left notes or questions how would anybody else in the community know about it unless they visited the specific page? by posting things in the forum everybody can see it in a timely fashion.

#2 Posted by jamesewelch (608 posts) - - Show Bio

You need to add in page versioning/history - being able to revert back to an earlier version and see exactly who changed what over time.

#3 Posted by Digifiend (582 posts) - - Show Bio
@jamesewelch: I agree, as this would be a quick way to revert vandalism and plagarism.
#4 Posted by Yumulu (757 posts) - - Show Bio
@digifiend: @jamesewelch: It has been confirmed to be in the next update.

#5 Posted by CrimsonAvenger (1162 posts) - - Show Bio
@Yumulu said:
" @digifiend: @jamesewelch: It has been confirmed to be in the next update.

It's about time. Didn't we use to have something like it?
#6 Posted by Yumulu (757 posts) - - Show Bio
@CrimsonAvenger said:
" @Yumulu said:
" @digifiend: @jamesewelch: It has been confirmed to be in the next update.

It's about time. Didn't we use to have something like it? "
I think so, a few year ago. More recently we also used to have a decent search bar, but now we are left with that annoying scrolling bs, meh CV take weird direction sometimes.
#7 Posted by Yumulu (757 posts) - - Show Bio
#8 Posted by pastfarpoint (16 posts) - - Show Bio

 @pikahyper:  Thanks for that tip, I didn't know you could search like that! However I should note that you still can't search the text. If I want to find something in comicvine my best bet is still to use google and include  "" in the query.
As for the importance of meta-pages - can I ask, have you has much experience on Wikipedia? As I wrote above, IMO, the fact that they have no parallel here is the biggest limitation of CV. There is currently no platform for collaborative development of policy, format, or direction, nor is their any place to annotate pages.
 I can respect that you think the forum is sufficient - and I can even agree that they're very good - but its an intrinsically limited approach. 
(1) Forums are poor at structuring any of the things I mentioned, and (2) are (practically, even if not theoretically) temporally limited, by which I mean, they exist strongest in the present and as time goes on lose impact. (Eg. a post now, by default, has more impact and attention now than it will be in three years).
@jamesewelch:  Re. history. Thanks for that. I'll add that as a minor point.

#9 Edited by pikahyper (12941 posts) - - Show Bio
@pastfarpoint:  I have no wikipedia experience at all but I do work with a number of wiki applications for a living as a web designer. I would say the closest parallel here with your wikipedia example is the private message system, there is a great deal of collaboration that happens on the vine and we do a lot of it via pm's or the forums and as far as I know wikipedia does not have such a system. The one major problem I see with comicvine as a wiki platform is the lack of revisions/history which has been announced for a future site update. Also I'm not sure if you've noticed or not but we can add tags to blog posts and new forum threads that link them and display the subject on various wiki pages, an example of which can be viewed here, as you can see below the appearances there is a list of blogs, forum posts and news articles that have used Dark Reign as a tag, it also displays trivia questions with the tag (which I tend to dislike). So in a way the tagging system does allow users to use forum posts and blogs as a type of meta page that can be used for collaboration.
Another thing we have that wikipedia might not is a task queue, mods and staff can create wiki tasks and users can collaborate on them, leave comments and earn extra points. We might not have direct parallels but the features and systems in place are a viable alternative and once we have revisions & history back it will be even better.
Oh and I'll admit the search system can be seen as limiting but I think it is quite useful the way it is set up and I've never had a situation where I couldn't find something or I needed to search for text that was not already searchable via the options.
#10 Posted by Digifiend (582 posts) - - Show Bio