Stories from SXSWi 2008 – Edit Me: How Gamers are Adopting the Wiki Way

Eager to get started with the four days of SouthBy goodness, I got off work Friday afternoon a little early, having headed in a little early, and made it downtown in time to wait in a line a half a block long for my SXSW Interactive badge complete with my photo. I only needed a half hour to get through the line, though. For the first time ever I made it to the very first SXSWi session, having to choose between Edit Me: How Gamers are Adopting the Wiki Way, and Career Rev 342: Dabble Dabble, Toil and Kick Ass. Come on, what would you choose?

The wiki talk won out, and I was happy to sit in the back and take notes in my moleskine notebook. Here they are, my notes transcribed from my handwriting, after listening to these panelists. You can listen to them also, as the podcasts are already available.

Angelique Shelton GM of Wikia Gaming, Wikia IncA collection of freely-hosted ad-supported wiki communities using the Open Source MediaWiki software.
April Burba Community Mgr, NCsoft – Game software publisher
George Pribul Lead Admin,

Jake McKee, moderator Chief Ant Wrangler, Ant’s Eye View

Wiki way – gamers community – World Of Warcraft wiki

“People are stronger than the game.”

People devoting time to their product is more valuable than money (because the money will follow, I guess) and because it makes the developers motivated and excited – passion.

Wikia has 6000-7000 communities. Wow.

Why write content for free? NBA Analogy – pick up games in the street are everywhere, they are playing for social status. Same thing with the wiki status – social currency is valuable in the gaming community and other communities. I especially like this analogy because it means I’m like a pro basketball player but I play pick up games when I write on wikis other than my employers. 🙂

Q: What happens when or if the social status in the game collides with the social aspect of the wiki?
A: It happens all the time – the panelist met his girlfriend on the wiki but also played the game with her. Both areas contribute to social status. You can now browse the Internet while you play with side-by-side windows. Lets the wiki be viewed or even edited while playing the game. Wow. In the MMO (Massive Multiplayer Online) game industry, they have seamless interaction between web and the game. XML feeds for character sets and everything already supplied.

Q: What’s the best scenario – when do you (the company) create a wiki, or are you better off letting the community start and run with it?
A: NCSoft decided to let users run their own wiki, citing concern about risk, but offered network hosting, “helping the community help themselves” – ended up making one wiki. Let the community moderate/arbitrate it – thinking they’ll take care of “griefers.”

Q: What about guilds in the game publishing in correct data to mess up other guilds?
A: Wowwiki does not allow anonymous editing, so this isn’t easy to do, although they have seen it attempted but it’s usually futile.

Q: Are published strategy guides losing money because of the wiki? Is there any IP conflict? Sicne Wikia is ad-based, how does it cut into game book revenue? A: Absolutely not, since publishing “freezes” the content, and Walmart is the only one making any “real” money on the product. There’s not enough money to be made on strategy guides. Books on strategy tend to be read in the bathroom (says a panelist), having a passionate community offers more return on investment. Wikis and the community members are accessible at all times across all time zones, the info is up-to-date.

Q: Is it good (intentional) that Blizzard’s developers aren’t on the wiki?
A: Thinks developer editing would hinder the wiki’s growth – especially if users “hate” a particular area of the game, they’ll attack the developer. But, they want info to get it out there. Also, it’s more motivating to the community when a developer comments – means he’s reading with out interfering. The Panel moderator said he would prefer that a CEO comment on blogs rather than write a blog. George commented that the forums are for “railing against” a certain area of the game (or a developer). Also, developers do use internal wikis and have found them very helpful for collaborative idea generation – such as asking for ideas for armor.

If community is not motivated enough on their own, might find someone outside of the company who is passionate, or an inside (the company) community manager can help . One panelist said she thinks 5 editors is the “tipping point” – readers will come if those five continually update. This best practice matches with the findings and other’s findings.

Q: How does support work within the wiki?
A: George says the community “sends them away.” Because their wiki’s conversation is about strategy only, not how to. Fascinating to me. To attempt to interpret for the enterprise wikis that many tech writers might be working on, it seems like there are two potential conversations and perhaps two communities built up around strategy and best practices versus how to and perhaps even troubleshooting. It’s like the difference between asking for help from a professional services group versus asking for help from the customer support group. There are specific conversations you’d expect to have from each group.

Meatball wiki guy asked, what collaborative projects such as fan on a wiki writing fan fiction on the wiki (amateurs) like what happens in the film industry (I’m not sure what this is an example of, but I’d love to see it.) A: Again George said that their wiki isn’t set up for that, they’d send them to another area, apparently.

On the way out, I ran into another Austinite Laura P Thomas, known as LPT on Twitter, and her daughter. I had met Laura at an Austin Social Media Club meeting. She had chosen the Career rev talk instead, and she said it was good. I told them about the giant pile of Legos (it looked like a pit of Legos from where I saw it while waiting in line! But it was actually a pile.) I saw later on Twitter that they both enjoyed them! 🙂 I love that kids had things they could see and do at SXSW Interactive. A great start to a great conference.

One comment

  • March 17, 2008 - 7:47 am | Permalink

    It was great to see you, too, Anne! I think one of everyone’s favorite things about SXSWi is the opportunity we get to see so many people we talk to online in real life. My write of the “Career Rev” panel ( includes a link to a pic of my daughter enjoying the lego pit. Thanks again for alerting us to it!

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