Converting To A Wiki

by Jeff

When Mike and I first started this adventure back in 2009, we went with the blog format since it was the most familiar to me and very easy to set up. Fairly quickly as people began actually reading the site, the blog format proved to be way too much of a top down approach, especially with my limited time to go back and chat in the comments, edit and update each post when they were incorrect or incomplete.

We had an idea last year to have you all, our trusty readers and commenters, to email your explanations for comics and this worked well and we got a ton of great submissions, but still required time from me to check the explanation, format and place on the blog.  I tried to work on it for a few weeks, but ran out of time.

I feel like I'm a fairly smart person, but I cannot and will not know every reference in XKCD.  I do my best to research when I don't know the reference, but that doesn't always work out for the best and sometimes I do not even have enough time to do the proper research I should.  Life gets in the way.  I appreciate all of the (constructive) feedback received on how to make the site better.

For a while, we realized that the wiki is a much better approach and at last we have it installed and configured.  It is not fully filled in yet even with the content from the blog (I'm working backwards putting content in from the blog and I'm at mid-April 2012), so there is plenty of glory to be had and plenty of my mistakes to correct!  Head over to http://www.explainxkcd.com/wiki and register for an account to start submitting your own explanations or editing others.

With a ton of comics in xkcd, there is room for multiple interpretations, please don't bulldoze other interpretations for your own.  There is room on each page for different interpretations.

That being said, the wiki is a huge site and we will need additional admins for the wiki to help us police, format and oversee the site.  If you want to be an admin on the wiki, let us know at explain@explainxkcd.com with the subject "I Want To Be An Admin" (without the quotes).  Let me know what your real name is, your account name that you have set up on the wiki and your Explain XKCD blog commenting name.  I'll grant about a handful to help keep the site clean and tidy.
We have enough wiki admins for now. Everyone can contribute and upload files though!

Also - the placeholding graphic I have for the wiki is tremendously bad.  If you are a wizard with Photoshop (or Photoshop-like software) please email explain@explainxkcd.com with a better logo and I'll use the best with full credit on the main page of the wiki.

Going forward, all explanations are going to be in the wiki and I'll keep this post on top and put explanations below it, which will be simply links to the wiki.

TL; DR - We have a wiki - http://www.explainxkcd.com/wiki

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Comments (52) Trackbacks (0)
  1. Will there be a way to get rss feed when new info is written for new comics?

  2. Hooray! Already started creating some pages! This is going to be fun.

  3. I give this an ‘F’… for ‘Fabulous!’
    Given how Explainxkcd is user-based, a wiki is an excellent format for this goal. Also, this allows for more equality in user submissions (since the explanations that come from you seem to be the authorative ones since you are the one who actually posts here).

    Besides, how many people wanted to explain the backlog of xkcd comics, yet were lost in the dark?

  4. Possibly baiting the down-voters here, but…this should stop all of the whiners, eh? And…also stop the nice people who presented reasonable arguments for this change?

  5. I may be being extremely dim, but how do I get to see a complete list of all the comics which have been explained?

  6. Where is the most recent comic listed on the Wiki? Is there going to be a link on the Main Page?

    • I rather suspect that things will be in flux for a few days… this pre-wiki part of the site contains a huge amount of content that will have to be migrated, and I’m guessing it will be a volunteer effort, with all that entails.

      Mediawiki (the software they chose, the same stuff that Wikipedia wrote and uses) is pretty powerful stuff, so I’m quite certain that in short order, there will be a lot of content, well indexed and categorized. But in the meantime, it may be mayhem with a touch of bedlam thrown in…

      I’m rather looking forward to the ride…

    • As I mention in a thread below, the main page now includes the latest comic, explanation and discussion. Hope that works for you!

  7. Awesome, and thanks for all the hard work Jeff. I know it’s still new, but FWIW, I would make it a priority to add navigation to the main page. It’s currently difficult to find current content or past content that has been added.

  8. Remember to make every “I think” and similar sentences more “formal”.

  9. I think this is great! Thank you for all the work you’ve done.

  10. It would be awesome if there was some sort of standing link to the page for “today’s comic,” which would change such that the adjective “today’s” remained true.

    I’m basically hoping to continue doing what I do now, which is automatically open the comic and the explainxkcd in tabs, as part of my morning reading. This request is entirely selfish and lazy, but I am marginally redeemed by the fact that if I had even a clue *how* to set up a page like this, I would do it myself.

  11. Did I understand this post correctly, in that each new comic will still get a post on the page (albeit just a link)? This means we’ll still have access to the comments section for each comic, right?

  12. I’m very wiki-illiterate, hence this query. I’ve mostly come to explainxkcd for the comments – the different (sometimes funny, sometimes different perspective) explanations, and the entertaining random-stream-of-consciousness-type replies that follow. I haven’t so far really needed an’explanation’ for any xkcd, but the different perspectives of explanations have been enlightening and the comic relief of other comments / replies entertaining. In fact, I recently was hooked enough to join the allude-explain-reply banter.
    Will this new ‘wiki’ format continue to suit the purpose of people like me, or will this be more geared towards just ‘explanations’ and their continued refining?

    • Each wiki page has a discussion tab that allows for banter such as that. Also, I’ll continue to put up posts on the blog with links to the wiki to allow for comments there in the short term.

      • Thanks for the reply Jeff. A new beta-system, some new learning :) . Will go with the flow and learn how this works!

      • Jeff, thank you for working on the ease-of-use aspects of the wiki. There is a significant population of xkcd fans (well, significant because it includes ME) who need help with explaining the comic because we are not as nimble with the intertubes as younger folk. The discussions, especially, are really great, and I hope it becomes a little easier to follow. Thanks!

      • A wiki does NOT facilitate such banter and the atmosphere that we get on the blog’s comments.

        Many of us are not here for dry discussion of the content. We’re here as buddies sitting in a living room. Organic amusing discussion and jokes. Sometimes people say dumb things and that just adds to the fun. Wiki’s are more sterile–and don’t facilitate entertaining skimming.

  13. way to go, awesome solution to the bitchy bitchers you get criticizing what is literally a FREE SERVICE. Sheesh they piss me off. also, i really liked your elegant explanation of the latest one, ‘inner monologue.’ tho it does seem like a lot of work to get this going. Thanks so much for that, you rock.

  14. I made you a new logo http://cl.ly/image/3O2n1K2C3y06 ? Kind of bland. I might also make on with like a globe (alluding wikipedia) but it just seemed like to much stuff.

  15. I did make the globe one! http://cl.ly/image/1H3Z1X0u1A01

    Also if you happen to use my designs make sure to also credit Randall as the images I used are copyrighted by him under CC BY-NC.

  16. Jeff, thanks for the great site and all the fun I got out of it. The way the blog was set up was just perfect! I know you worked hard on the wiki, and apparently you made some people happy. But updating a wiki page is something completely different from commenting a blog post. I hope this experiment will end soon, and the brilliant blog will return to its regular glory. In the meantime I will look for another site to find great discussions.

    • Hang in tight. A few of us who are more used to mediawiki are working hard to make it as friendly as the blog. It will be a little rough on the edges for the first few days, but soon it won’t be as daunting as it seems.

      Besides, with a wiki there are so many more possibilities! You be able to navigate and search the comics by character, topic, date (year, month, weekday, etc.), there will be pages on each character, on Randall, his drawing style, his “blag”, and much more! It will be the encyclopedia of all things XKCD :D

      • I’m totally agree with Phedre… the wiki format it’s not that suitable for the discussion of ideas… even though I don’t think it woudl be hard automate the blog format extracting the info from the wiki one… in the end you really are not forced to have it in a wiki way only and you will keep the new possibilities.

  17. Change! Oh no! Run away!!!

  18. I’d suggest using something like http://www.mediawiki.org/wiki/Extension:Comments which would hopefully provide the benefits of both worlds.

  19. I went to the discussion page, and couldn’t find a place to leave a comment. All I had up there was Log in / create account.

    Here in this comment format, we can go *blam* post right away with logging in and everything. Works wonders on a mobile phone.

    Also, as we read comments, we can scroll up and see the comic again, to cross reference what we just read.

    We can also vote on each other’s comments, and I usually look for the high point ones.

    The wiki thing is definitely different, but not as efficient.

  20. Well, it’s the end of an era. On the bright side, the wiki will provide additional benefits. Thanks Jeff for finding ways to improve the site. Good job!

  21. There are no images in the feed. And the feed item look really strange.

    Any chance to get blog posts in parallel – as it was before? Pretty please?

  22. http://www.explainxkcd.com/wiki/index.php?title=Formal_lang

    This is a page I accidentally created on the wiki. Is there a way for *us* to remove it?

  23. At least the spammers like that Wiki. :(

  24. The downfall is that we cannot upvote good comments and downvote stupid ones. I speed up my reading of comments by reading only those that have higher than average upvotes.

  25. still trying to figure this wiki thing out…

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