A Milestone Trifecta

Another thousand edits? Where has the time gone?

It seems like only a few weeks ago when I was posting my 3000th Edit blog, a listing of tropes for my stories. It’s actually been about four months, which is more or less my usual 1000-edit pace, but there it is.

I had considered skipping this milestone and waiting until 5000 for my next milestone blog, because I like to do something special for these blogs and I didn’t have any ideas. Besides, I’ve gotten to the point where a thousand edits isn’t what it used to be.

As it turned out, though, I reached not one, but three milestones—I don’t call them goals, because I didn’t actively pursue most of them—within the span of barely two weeks:

  1. 4,000 edits;
  2. promotion to Administrator (aka Sysop); and
  3. passed Nonny, who has been inactive for several months, to become a Top 10 editor by edit count.

Yes, I realize that Bocaj would still be ahead of me if he hadn’t once lost 900 edits in a day due to page deletions, but we’re dealing with a legal fiction here, and legal fictions are solemn things.

Although I never actively sought adminship, it was nonetheless gratifying to see that I had such broad support—second only to TDIwriter’s, last time I checked. Speaking of which, congratulations to my fellow “freshman” admins. I have the utmost confidence in all of you.

It would be remiss of me to not mention another development which, while not strictly a milestone, is nonetheless an important development in my wiki career: my competition story, The Legend of Total Drama Island, officially launched on 3 September to great acclaim.

Of all the comments I’ve received on the First Night chapter, two themes stand out:

  1. Most readers didn’t mind that the chapter ran almost 12,000 words—indeed, some would have liked even more—and;
  2. Several readers compared their feelings when reading the chapter to what they felt when watching TDI for the first time.

The latter is, in fact, just the reaction I was looking for when I decided to write the character intros as if the reader had never heard of TDI, and it seems to have worked. Although the intro chapter followed the canon version fairly closely, I added enough so that it didn’t feel like a copy. As I noted in discussions regarding my Gideon-flavored retelling of the canon TDI, there’s more than one way to be creative. In any case, there are only so many ways you can change an introduction chapter in a competition story, so the contestant intros in a reimagining will naturally tend to hew fairly closely to those in the original.

As for the length, I certainly wasn’t planning to spend OVER 9000!!! words just to get through the intros (9168 words, to be precise), but that’s how it turned out. The lessons here is that the word count doesn’t matter nearly as much as how engaging those words are, and that you shouldn’t be afraid of taking as many words as you must to say what you want to say. In any case, while visual media certainly have their advantages, so does the written word. Most notably, not being constrained by 20-minute segments means that I can go into much more detail about things that I think the reader might want to know, and I would be a fool to not take advantage of that.

Dawn of the Silver Age

In recent blogs, a couple of the veterans reminisced on the wiki’s early days—the bygone Golden Age.

I submit that the wiki recently entered a Silver Age. The quality of new stories has been improving as promising new writers join the fold and veterans continue to gain maturity and experience; a number of users who had long tenures but relatively low edit counts, such as Layla, Lulu and Lilac (nice bit of alliteration there) have become more socially active, and the wiki is a better place for it; and Webly has revived the long-dormant wiki newsletter, with the initial signs being promising. The most obvious sign of a new Silver Age, though, is the Feature voting.

One of the hallmarks of the Golden Age was (with a few exceptions) good voter turnout for the monthly Feature elections, with Featured Story and Featured User (nee Author) winners routinely getting double-digit vote support at a time when the wiki community was much smaller than it is now. By the middle of 2010, though, turnout had begun to decline. Indeed, although others may name different dates, I see the Golden Age as having ended in July 2010, when TDIRM’s “flawed gem” vignette, Violet Hill was voted August’s Featured Story, capping a run wherein the wiki’s “Big Three” single-author noncompetition stories—Life After Lies, Legacy, and Violet Hill were all Featured within a six-month span.

Even then, however, voter turnout had begun to decline—Violet Hill won Featured Story honors with only 8 supporting votes, which at that time was the lowest winning total of 2010. Turnout for the other Feature categories declined as well, a problem worsened by Wikia Central’s decision to eliminate the Monaco skin, which had the side effect of reducing the visibility of the ballot pages. During this period, Featured Image voting declined to the point that the admins worried whether FI voting could remain viable, and the Featured Quote category failed entirely. The nadir of voter turnout came last January (February ballot) where Owe set a dubious record by winning the Featured User election—the category that normally has the heaviest turnout—with only four supporting votes.

Around midyear, things started to turn around. In the last two months, voter turnout has been exceptionally heavy for Featured User and (especially) Featured Image, and has been very good for Featured Story. (I can’t speak to Featured Character, because I didn’t follow that category until recently.) It has largely been the latest wave of “immigrants” who have been flocking to the polls, but some veterans and near-vets who had largely stopped voting—people like Sprink, Shane, and even Nalyd—are now voting again. While this surge in voter turnout has brought some unwanted drama, such as questions regarding civility in the Oppose voting and on-ballot debate on the merits of one nominee or another from people who weren’t actually voting, these problems are secondary. What’s important is that people care about the Features again.

With that in mind, I wish to make my first policy proposal as an administrator:

Proposal to the Admins

I submit that the time is right to revive Featured Quote voting.

We couldn’t have known at the time, but when we first tried FQ voting, back in June of 2010, voter turnout for all the Features had already begun a serious decline. As the new (and therefore least-known) kid on the block, the FQ turnout was naturally hit hard, and FQ voting probably never had a chance under those conditions. Turnout was decent enough for the first couple of cycles, but then declined precipitously. The last FQ winner, from my own breakout story had all of two supporting votes.

Now, though, conditions are far more favorable. If there is any environment at all where Featured Quote voting can be successful, it would seem to be the environment wherein candidates for Featured Image—another category that was on life support not all that long ago—can gain support in the high teens. I think we now have the best chance we’ll ever have for FQ to thrive.

I therefore think we should give FQ voting another chance. If it can’t succeed under current conditions, then that would probably be the signal to put the idea to rest for good.

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