Building an RPG database Wiki-style?
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Grandstanding Collector

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Post Posted: Thu Jul 24, 2008 12:16 pm 
 

grubbiv wrote:To resolve matters of fact, something you may find helpful is CITING YOUR SOURCES.


This is exactly what I have done when I attempted to change a Wiki entry.  I changed the unfounded statements and entered ones and included the proper references.  What happened?  Revisions removed and false information got put back in.  I tried making these changes 3 times and each time they were removed.

I am very familiar with proper referencing and proper logic to build an argument.  What I find is that most wikikeepers don't care about logical discussions and will just revert back to their own opinion that is backed up only by their personal thought and no proof.  Also, Google's ranking of Wiki pages first means that they are referenced and accessed more times than forum articles not that they are more credible.

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Post Posted: Thu Jul 24, 2008 1:34 pm 
 

grubbiv wrote:Mars, I think the tomeoftreasures guys should write a script and port the data over into a wiki.  Mostly so you have more flexibility organizing the articles, but you also get revision history, ability to rollback, and a better markup language.


I'm not saying that The Tome of Treasure is necessarily setup the best way possible - maybe a wiki would be better, maybe something else is even better than that.  But, my point is that the Tome of Treasures is already established and has a format that everyone here could start adding items within minutes.

At this point, the main goal is data entry so most of the options you list are not necessary.  I would also argue that creating your own webpages gives you more flexibility for organizing articles and has a better markup language than following the guidelines of Wiki.  Revision history and ability to rollback are obvious things required for Wiki with multiple people editing pages at will.  Not quite so necessary again when you are doing things yourself (or with a small group).  How many times has The Acaeum been rolled back?  

grubbiv wrote:Time to look inward: do you want to see the best product possible up on the web, or do you want to memorialize your personal contribution?


I'm not sure if this is a bit of a personal attack or not - sometimes tough to tell through posts.  I personally, don't care if I am credited for doing this work or not.  The idea of having a complete RPG database and determining printings for products is something that interests me and that I get enjoyment from so I contribute towards that goal.  I think the real question is: are you willing to put your money where your mouth is?

The trouble with this proposal here is quite simple.  Take a look through this thread that is almost 2 years old and look how things have progressed since then.  It's a reality that most people here, enjoy the forums but also have lives outside the Acaeum that take priority over such projects as new subwebs.  I think if you asked everyone here if a subweb for TSR other games, or 2nd Edition campaign settings,  or TSR kitsch, etc that they would say great idea, go to it.  Most of these subwebs would have less than 50 items.  To propose tackling a project that is literally a few hundred times (if not 1000 times) bigger is just doomed to fail.

The group of people entering new info on the Tome is relatively small and if you start such a project you should presume that you will get a similarly small number of contributors.  Also, consider your time requirements for even small contributors.  Regardless of what system you use to enter your data into, you need to scan the item to get an image (rescan if its not a good scan), resize to a standard size, upload image somewhere, write basic info on the book (author, copyright, publishing company etc), recheck entry.  I probably average about 10 minutes for each such entry - even when doing them somewhat en mass - maybe longer if I include finding items, taking them off the shelf and then trying to put them back.

For someone who enters 100 items it would take them about 17 hours of work.  The Tome of Treasures has at least 3000 items entered already.  So to start over, you need to invest at least 500 hours just to catch up.

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Post Posted: Thu Jul 24, 2008 6:33 pm 
 

Yeah, you either need a lot of people to help, or a lot of time to update a subweb/wiki.  And over create a database - i.e. record any and all information since its a pain to go back over all the pages if you decide upon another look  :roll: But I'll tell anyone, despite it all, personally I'd do it all over again (but no, I will not start up another subweb for you :wink: )

ShaneG.


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Post Posted: Fri Jul 25, 2008 8:07 pm 
 

Mars wrote:
put your money where your mouth is



I actually agree with this, and this point hits the nail on the head for all of us with a passion for the hobby. When I started this two years ago, I let it go because I could not commit the time to initiate anything myself. Instead I joined Shane's team and just helped a little with JG valuations, and making the odd contribution here and there on item research through the threads. I actually bumped it because of the discussion Afraid of The Dark initiated in the non-TSR forum just to see how people were thinking two years later.

As you point out, we all have slightly different views of how we would like to see an RPG database built and presented.  I still lean more towards a Wiki-model because of the sense of community ownership that it engenders and the profile that goes with it. Also I think you could get more rapidly to an end result. However, as you point out there can be real pitfalls with the model that may be difficult to resolve.

Another broader point I would like to make though, is that all the sites that are accumulating data are working towards a greater whole.

Ultimately I think our hobby needs a catalogue such as exists for stamps, coins and some types of toys that is the fundamental reference work of the collector. It would add to the credibility of RPG collecting as a serious hobby and branch of game and toy collecting. There are obviously quite a few efforts underway. I think The Acaeum, Adrian Newman's TSR archive, and ToT are the best in this regard. But others sort of start and stagnate like RPGnet and Pen& Paper. These seem to have no one driving them.

But things can go backwards. I have collected MERP for many years. When I started collecting, there was a wonderful site, which has detailed data on all the modules and some of the printings. The Manager also had devised a program that, as I understood it,  automatically trawled Ebay and updated the valuations. This of course had some flaws and didn't distinguish quality, but averaged out for a reasonable representation of the price. The site developer lost interest at some point and the site died. The data was slowly built up again at icewebring - and has been taken a step further by AoTD with his new site. The point to make with this is that intitiatives wax and wane and wheels sometimes need to be re-invented - and this should be avoided if possible.

So I think there exists exist a longer term broader goal that overrides the rise and fall of web sites to make an RPG collectors catalogue / database.

Anyway grist for the mill. Putting 'ones money where ones mouth is' is the key.

For me, future time and effort spent on this depends what happens after I finish my mid life PhD due in at the end of the year. I may be in a position to put considerable time and resources into an effort, but may take a job in an obscure place that will leave my primary hobby on hold - don't know yet.

In the mean time, I must admit though, I am still tempted to use the temporary Wiki idea to build up a new Acaeum Sub-web just to see if it can work.

  

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Post Posted: Fri Jul 25, 2008 8:09 pm 
 

I'd love to help, in theory. In practice, I would probably not be able to.

But, I'd do my damnedest if there was a FASA section... well, at least Earthdawn and Shadowrun (heh.) :) I can help a lot on that, probably.


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Post Posted: Sat Jul 26, 2008 12:26 am 
 

Hermit, you hit on a lot of points that I completely agree with you on.

It is fairly easy to name off a number of websites that had good starts and even developed to a certain point then went stagnant.  Most of these were maintained by a single person or a small group - for a project as big as complete RPG catalog, this approach just won't work.

Another obstacle is that you basically need an expert for each RPG system.  Currently, I don't think there is a single forum out there that can boast this.  And eventually Tome of Treasures will run into this problem as well.  I'm not sure what the solution for this is yet - maybe going to other forums to recruit an expert for particular sections or making an agreement with some other website that has the information posted already.  This, however, is not a problem we will have to deal with for quite some time yet though.

Ultimately, we do have the same goal - a place that brings all systems together into a catalog / database.  The scope of the project is huge.  I have also thought that maybe in the end the Tome should write a new Heroic Worlds type book too.

I've only been a member of the Tome for about a year but it has been around for about 4 years now so it is somewhat established.  I can safely say I am somewhat attached to the place now.  But, if you think that a Wiki would work better and would attract more people to help, by all means give it a go.  What I have suggested though is basically, start out small and build from there.  If you can get small projects done such as new subwebs for here that would be great.  If you would like to join us over on the Tome, we would greatly appreciate more help too.

I can completely understand where you are coming from on the time standpoint.  I am partially pulled to enter items to keep things moving but I am in a bit of a time crunch too and need to get a draft of my PhD thesis finish by Aug 1 at the latest and will probably then need a few weeks of editing, then a defence, then find a job ...

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Post Posted: Sat Jul 26, 2008 1:03 am 
 

Mars wrote:For someone who enters 100 items it would take them about 17 hours of work.  The Tome of Treasures has at least 3000 items entered already.  So to start over, you need to invest at least 500 hours just to catch up.


If you did decide to port Tome of Treasures, the process would go more quickly than you think.  Normally you just copy-and-paste the old post into the new article and the formatting is usually good enough.  With 3000 articles, it may be worthwhile to write a script to do the import.  I think the forum is using phpbb, which usually stores its data in a mysql database.  Writing the script to pull from the db and insert into a wiki might be a day of work.

I don't know if you noticed this, but the forum is incredibly slow.  The top level forum page is 500k, not counting images.  The site would never make it if it had any popularity whatsoever.  This is because phpbb just wasn't designed to have all those categories and subforums.  Even on the detail pages, there is a drop down box with all the subforums in it, which contributes 125k to page size.

  

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Post Posted: Sat Jul 26, 2008 10:21 am 
 

grubbiv wrote:I don't know if you noticed this, but the forum is incredibly slow.


Incredibly slow is a bit of a subjective term.  It takes me between 7-10 seconds for the forum page to load - this isn't a big deal to me.  I remember the days of going into work, turning on the computer to load the program I was working in (ArcView) and then going for a coffee because it would take 10-15 minutes to load.  7-10 seconds isn't exactly a huge commitment to wait.  I believe the server is actually in Germany as well, so this might also contribute to the load times.

If you seriously believe that moving the Tome over to a wiki is a better plan, then I would go to the Tome and propose the idea there with your commitment to help build the database.  Unless there is some sort of guarantee that the change would encourage a flood of people to join the project, there is no real reason to change things.  I think everyone currently working on the Tome is satisfied with the setup and if a change to wiki either slows progress or alienates someone who is already entering items then it just isn't worthwhile.

I personally believe that the Tome is more than merely a data entry site that the wiki would become.  The forum setup builds a sense of community for those working on it and allows for information such as printing differences/order to be discussed.  Wiki may present an easier to build endproduct but seems lacking in all other areas.

Again, if you want to show just how great wiki would be, go to it.  Start a wiki project and show us how using wiki would attract the masses to get it all done quickly.  Considering you are basically asking some people who have worked on the Tome for 4 years to basically junk it and move to something else, I don't think showing by using a small wiki example is too much to ask.

Maybe a first step should be to move The Acaeum to wiki and see how that goes.  After all, most of the data entry work is already done so it should be a simple project and would showcase all the benefits of using wiki: easy article reorganization, rollback, etc and would allow others to update the printing information and valuations that always seem like they need a good update.  It would also take the load off of Foul.

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Post Posted: Sat Jul 26, 2008 2:01 pm 
 

I'm willing to set up a wiki, but chances of success are better if it is hosted on one of the existing sites. I'm aware that the administrators of the sites do their work pro bono.  I have no expectations.

  
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