Discussion:Homebrew 'n SRD Differentiation and other issues

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Homebrew 'n SRD Differentiation and other issues[edit]

SgtLion (talk16:06, 24 August 2016 (MDT)[edit]

I know we've been over this before, but full disclosure, and I hope this doesn't upset GD, or anyone - I decided to reach out and ask some people their issues with dandwiki, the discussion's still ongoing there, but the general idea has come across, and the feedback has been surprisingly positive for our poor reputation in that community - People genuinely seem to want to us as a resource, but are having trouble with it.

The two points that clearly exist in people's mind are:

  1. Newcomers come across our site and get confused about what's SRD and what isn't, causing major frustration for groups and totally banning dandwiki as a whole because their players are getting confused.
  2. People have no way to tell what homebrew articles are any good. No DM wants to wade through every sentence of a whole lot of classes without having any idea if it's worthwhile.

I'm going to list some solutions people have suggested, some are wacky silly, some seem reasonable, they're not mutually exclusive, we can do more than one. I think they're all worth considering.

For SRD/Homebrew confusion:

  1. Homebrew banners/tags/warnings/big red text/etc - We played with this idea in the past; It never came to vote or anything because we never got around to sorting a design. I was very against this last time, but having seen opinions, I'm very much for it. It's an obvious solution what is showing to be by far the greatest problem with this site. The term "SRD" appears to be pretty confusing, too, so maybe a banner to explain what it means?
  2. Changing color schemes/backgrounds/subtle design differences for homebrew and SRD material - Personally I quite like this. Relatively easy to implement, has a similar function to a banner, but allows people to understand that it's Homebrew or Official material in a blink of an eye.
  3. Changing ID Schemes or Namespace - Dragon Knight (3.5e Class) becomes Dragon Knight (3.5e Homebrew Class), or Homebrew: Dragon Knight (3.5e Class), or similar. I think could add a lot of clunkiness to what are already long lists of articles, as well breaking a lot of DPLs and stuff, but I guess if you just did a server-wide replacing of "(3.5e" with "(3.5e Homebrew" and so forth, it's plausible. I'm personally not convinced by this - But another large complaint was that it wasn't obvious that articles were Homebrew from the Google results. Maybe we could add Homebrew to the HTML title if it has a User category, or something?
  4. Only displaying SRD by default - Eh. I think most of us would have the same opinion on this. Homebrew is our main attraction for users, hiding it away by default would likely be counterproductive.
  5. Reserving official class names only for official things - We're pretty good at this generally, but reserving Class/Race/Spell names that are in the SRD (Or possibly even in some Splatbooks) could be a good move. Apparently even Goliath(variant) (5e Race) has caused confusion for a lot of people.
  6. Somehow marking SRD articles as "Official WotC 3.5e Core Material", or similar - I personally didn't have a problem with this, but it seems the larger public is very confused by the term "SRD". A lot of people have no idea what that means. I'm not sure how we'dm ark it, possibly by also introducing a banner?
  7. The search bar having a simple 2.5e/3.5e/4e/5e/Homebrew check buttons - Or something, so that people can easily search the edition (And homebrewin') if they want. As it is, even I usually use to Google to search for articles here. I quite like it.
  8. One or two people did mention that they didn't realise SRD was actually on our site - That's confusing. But probably to do with our new thing in the top left.

For Quality control:

  1. Ratings, ratings and more ratings - Looking at the thread, a whole lotta people like ratings. I know we had a rating system before that didn't really work, but if we could implement an actual Mediawiki addon or something to link votes/ratings to accounts, and make it easy to do in force, this could really help quality control.
  1. Putting ratings in Titles/listings - Depending on how we implemented this, I guess it could work.
  1. Reviews (Maybe with RATINGS attached?) - As before, reviews randomly doesn't really work, and there's too much for just admins or something to be able to review. Someone did put forth the idea that admins could have the ability to review REVIEWS - Then we'd have a list of good reviewers, and consequently good content. I liked it, but that could be confusing.
  2. Locking down submissions and only allowing approved contributors - I think we both agree that this is just a non-choice. It was suggested though.
  3. Curate it EXTRA HARD - Well. We're only limited people, with limited time. I think I and other core users have done a good job thus far of improving average quality.
  4. Pick out a decent article among admins/users/whatever every week/month/whatever - It's a neat enough idea. I like it. Do we have the core users to commit though?
  5. Self/other nomination thing - Users can nominate their own or other articles for featuring, under certain guidelines. This would help the core users from having to find stuff from the sea, but would it work?


  1. There were a few suggestions that indicated it might work under OGL terms to add our own fluff or pictures to our articles. I'm not sure if we should do this, but it could be an idea.
  2. Having buttons or something at the top of the page to swap between 2e/3e/4e/5e (and homebrew, maybe?) - That sounds like a major restructuring. Dwarf Fortress wiki does something similar that sort of works. I'unno.
  3. Some people suggested that SRD images could be used in our articles - I know they're not covered under OGL, but some sites seem to get away with inline-linking to other images. I don't know if that would work?

These are all the ideas I could sum from the linked thread. It got way more active than I expected. I'm hoping we can come to a good progressive conclusion from this. Obviously the end decision rests on Green Dragon/User vote or whatever, but when I poked my finger out to look for feedback, it seems people all over the board rush back with "Differentiate Homebrew and SRD content! And Differentiate Bad and Good content!". Now I admit there's a possibility they're 100% wrong, chances are it would be good to push on with some system to achieve these things.

I'd enjoy it if anyone with an opinion on this shared as much. But I know y'only find these things by browsing recent changes <3

Marasmusine (talk04:04, 25 August 2016 (MDT)[edit]

Regarding quality, I add stub/needsbalance templates to the top of pages I don't think are good enough to be used. That clearly marks it and segregates it. Ideally everything that doesn't have a maintenance template on it is suitable for use. I don't know what else to do - at some point someone has to look at the page and assess it. Adding new banners and review systems and what not doesn't work unless every page can be assessed. Now you may notice that I assess pages a lot, it's 50% or more of my activity here, but new pages are added faster than I can look at them.

The other thing we can do is focus on the Featured Article system... and I mean at least one a week so we build up a portfolio of pages that a DM can be confident to drop into their game... and have FAs filter to the top of the lists with a nice gold star next to them.

Of any solution requires more person-hours. Marasmusine (talk) 04:04, 25 August 2016 (MDT)

Eschatonic (talk05:32, 25 August 2016 (MDT)[edit]

I have a suggested design on my userpage. Hope this helps further some of the discussions and work on this. For clarity, here it is reproduced:

Twemoji 1f37a.svg.png This page is homebrew content and not official D&D material. It may be unbalanced, out of setting, or incompatible with other content. Check with your DM before using this in your game.


SgtLion (talk05:49, 25 August 2016 (MDT)[edit]

I agree that improvement templates are a darn good thing. And I full agree widcha, Marasmusine, that we do a hell of a lot of assessing contributions and can't keep up. In terms of rating and the like - Could we not at least follow a Wikidot style thing where any user account can Rate up/down an article? This would at least give people who come here just to find useful content a fighting chance to separate wheat from chaff. A simple rating system along these lines would mean less work placed on us, the core users, and new visitors can in fact do a lot of the legwork instead. So I reject the idea that any solution requires US to do more work, as such. If anything, a good solution should reduce our workloads.

I like the idea of expanding our use of the FA system, we should look to doing that.

Thanks for the template, too, Eschatonic. Salasay also re-linked me his Template:Homebrew, one of which we could just automatically add to every page with Category:User?

Green Dragon (talk09:21, 25 August 2016 (MDT)[edit]

  • What rating extension are you referring to– SMW Ratings? The concern with a rating system is that pages are changed and the ratings do not always still hold merit, unlike the Improving, Reviewing, and Removing template's scopes. A totally self-perpetuating rating system is not a bad idea, and if an admin can remove any ratings on a page if need be then I don't have anything against this– it could actually be useful for lots of people. We just need to make sure that we can remove the ratings if it comes to that (which I think must be stored in the properties from the SWM Rating extension– if someone knows how this extension works with multiple ratings it would be very easy to implement on D&D Wiki).
  • Distinguishing SRD from Homebrew pages has been brought up many times and each time it seems we run into one problem or another. The pages on D&D Wiki are not stored in folders with the repository structure perpetuated onto the website URL. Rather they are run from a Linuz VM and the data is accessed through GRUB and a RAID data-handling structure. Therefore, it's not as easy as saying "All pages in this type of subfolder will now be like this". We would have to double check with Blue Dragon here to verify this.
  • If we want to change the background for SRD pages I think that we would do this by way of a web control switch checking for the url that is being accessed. If someone knows of this extension then please link to it here, otherwise if we can do this through MediaWIki then we need that information too. This is because the actual page information from MediaWiki is not stored in the SQL database as "varchar" rather as binary. See also [1] and content model, see CONTENT_MODEL_XXX constants; page_content_model varbinary(32) DEFAULT NULL, We should check with Blue Dragon here to verify this.
  • I am against major editing changes which I don't see as really making any difference at all. What difference would a "Homebrew 3.5e Class" namespace really have vs just "3.5e Class"? For me it's just longer and even less inviting for people to read, which would make the entire D&D-structure even less approachable for most people. So, since what we have works and engages people with the D&D-editions I feel this works.
  • If we are to "watermark" a page, being it homebrew or SRD, then the first step is to get information on how to do this. The same would be for a top-bar– what would make it different then the sidebar?
  • I like the searchbox idea, but again, how can we do this? The "Advanced" covers this just fine, and if you notice SRD:System Reference Document requires a whole new search field.
  • I think that before we include another option "review", that the Improving, Reviewing, and Removing templates would need to be overworked. Right now they are easier to use, but there are still entire sections on D&D Wiki that they do not adequately cover or are in an outdated position there.
  • I like Template:Homebrew and even just including this bear mug with the words "Homebrew!" under it on the right side of a page is easy to navigate. Same things here though, we first need to know how to do this short of editing every page (which we can do too of course).

I really agree that we need to work together on the FA system. If another admin would be so kind as to change the FA by having an article there which meets all the criteria listed, then this would be a good first step. Let's see how far this takes us!

SgtLion (talk10:21, 25 August 2016 (MDT)[edit]

Oh wowzies. I'm _really_ pumped that you're open to, and building on these ideas, and you almost sound happy with the idea of sorting our FA, and Homebrew templates. Truth be told, I was slightly scared I'd get reprimanded for accidentally starting a big fuss on a big DnD forum. I'll give these a proper look through and respond more fully when I get home <3

--Kydo (talk) 01:55, 26 August 2016 (MDT)[edit]

Restating what I said elsewhere on the topic...

"One more thing they brought up repeatedly: they all want curation. I think most of those people think of homebrew as being inextricably tied to its author, not a collaborative creation, so they think a wiki is an inappropriate medium, and the only way for it to work is to impose strict membership rules and restricted editing authorities to enforce that kind of segregation. However, even people who like the idea of collaborative homebrew seem to want some sort of official review process. Perhaps we should consider, once there are many more active users, actually creating a dedicated review team and some way of creating a curated "gallery" of works that have been accepted for quality in the state they were at the time of review. Perhaps that's what the magazine could become? --Kydo (talk) 05:31, 25 August 2016 (MDT)

Well people keep calling for quality review and curation. That's exactly what the zine is. Maybe it should have a more prominent home on the site, rather than basically being a ghost, hidden in talk page links, back-passages and watch page announcements. We should try and use that to draw positive attention to the community. The opportunity to get your work noticed enough to be published, and the opportunity to play an active role in producing a product with a large audience could do wonders for us. Not only that, but it shows what this community is good at: excellent homebrew content through collaboration. Pages that have been included in the zine should have a template/category on them, like a banner or something, announcing which issue they appeared in and the date of. That way, even if people have edited the page since, a user could open the history and see what it looked like back then, or just go download the issue in question. This could also potentially allow people to search for only zine-published content by searching for a section of regular text from the banner. --Kydo (talk) 06:15, 25 August 2016 (MDT)"

Tivanir (talk) 21:43, 26 August 2016 (MDT)[edit]

Honestly there are two issues with this setup. First is balance is subjective. I have had people tell me frank & k builds were fine for regular 3.5e for example, and those builds are definitely not within the power structure. The second is that a lot of issues and resistance came up when I simply wanted to run through and mark things by certain creators with a balance tag, because all of their creations were balanced against each other, not 3.5e. Even simple things like that aren't looked at with favor. Overall the idea is solid (I use a lot of 3.5e references because that is primarily where I curate as I haven't played 5e yet) but I think the execution is going to be a pit of filers any way you slide it.

--Kydo (talk) 02:04, 27 August 2016 (MDT)[edit]

OK, so, in an effort to make a difference, I have made myself a reviewing and patrolling schedule, focusing my efforts on 5e backgrounds and 5e races. As the community grows, I think we should encourage users who are especially active and beneficial in a given area which lacks oversight to become admin.

I have begun turning my user page into a sort of toolbox/hub that I can use to more efficiently do this work.

We Need To Communicate Our Expectations

First thing I've noticed just today on my initial patrolling of backgrounds, Subraces, and variant races, is an apparent absence of quality standards. I don't understand how users are expected to produce finished, quality work, without the community clearly communicating its expectations.

Marasmusine has already started changing that, when class do's and dont's was created and added to the top of the class creation page. I think we should do this for every type of content: at the top of the creation page, list about 5 absolute bare minimum expectations.

We Need Design Guides

I have also begun trying to make a change by working on a 5e class building guide. I also think every type of content should have a guide, with common content sharing one. (For example, the 5e Races guide would include Subraces and racial variants) a completed guide should be linked at the top that content page, and should also appear as a "go read the guide if you want more details" at the top of the creation page.

We Need Clear Standards

Finally, I think we need to sit down and hash out a clear definition of what this community counts as "balance" so that newbies have some guidelines to get themselves somewhere in the ballpark. I would suggest the following:

  • All content should be balanced relative to the content presented in the core books of the given edition. Any content which is balanced relative to some other standard, such as content from a supplement or campaign setting, should state so at the top of the page in a design disclaimer.
  • "You can houserule around it." Or similar arguments, are not a valid defense for content which does not fit the stated balance standard.
  • Any content which is only balanced under specific conditions, such as DM experience, use of a specific campaign setting, within the confines of a specific play style, or responsible play, must also have a design disclaimer at the top to inform the reader that some special consideration may be necessary.

If we already do have a standards guide somewhere, I've never seen it. I've been editing here for like 2 years. If we have a standards guide already, it needs to be made significantly more clear and available. Like, front-page and sidebar level available.

SgtLion (talk05:38, 27 August 2016 (MDT)[edit]

Golly gosh, aight. I'm glad Kydo's getting all up with good ideas, as well as e'ryone else -

  • I fully agree with communicating standards and design guides as best we can. We have pointers all over our page creations that could be more prominent, I suppose. But contributors do have a good habit of ignoring them entirely. So I'm not sure how much better we can really make this.
  • As for clear standards - As Tivanir pointed out, it's all pretty subjective. People run high and low power campaigns, this isn't an escapable thing. However, I think we've always tried to keep content somewhat in line with official SRD limits, and that's what we should continue doing, even making balancing more explicit where possible.

As for GD's points above:

  • SMW Ratings looks like it might be good - I should have a proper look at the other rating systems. Just a simple extension where a user can rate an article in a matter of seconds, and that we can sort articles by rating, is all that's really necessary. As for pages changing, I'm happy to actually put work into a bot that will reset ratings on pages that have had meaningful edits/request for it/or however we want to do it.
  • Distinguishing SRD from Homebrew pages has certainly come up before, but I'm starting to learn that it is seen as THE problem with dandwiki. And I like the idea of changing the backgrounds. Like GD says, the technical implementation may be our real limiting factor here, so I won't push it until Blue Dragon weighs in.
  • Again, the only point of an idea like add "Homebrew" to the suffix to all classes with (3.5e Class) is that people who aren't regulars here don't realise that (3.5e Class) means it's homebrew. That's the difference: It communicates that it's entirely non-official content. I agree that it's clunky and may well not be the solution, but distinguishing between homebrew and SRD again is driving a lot of people not only away from our site, but to actively ward others off to save the confusion. I did wonder if there might be some way to change the colours of Homebrew vs. SRD links or something, maybe. To be honest, if we stick banners up on our Homebrew articles, I don't think this is particularly necessary.
  • Yeah, I'm not sure about the whole watermark idea, nor a top bar thing, but it sounds confusing and probably not helpful.
  • Again, I'm not sure about the technical back-end to the workings of Mediawiki search functions, this again something I'll talk to Blue Dragon/Research myself about.
  • I'm glad the Homebrew template is lookin' good, and AGAIN something to talk to BD about the plausibilities of sticking into everything.
  • Whoo FAs, if we have or can make some stricter guidelines for the Perfect FA article, I'd be happy to do up some 3.5e articles to reach that top standard. I'm not exactly sure how the Zine works (because I don't pay enough attention to it), but I'd be happy to do up/find articles for that too. As well as again, publicizing it more.

Salasay Δ 19:27, 27 August 2016 (MDT)[edit]

I have created an example Infobox Template that simply includes the Homebrew Designating Template. I have converted the Eisenmeister (has an image) and Black Flame Evocator (doesn't) classes to use my example Infobox. This could also be done to through the Breadcrumb Template. I added the disclaimer to Template:3.5e Breadcrumb Test, which was linked through Template:3.5e Races Breadcrumb Test as shown in Planetouched— Verrück (3.5e Race).

So the methods that I've worked out are

  1. Using the Infoboxs. Pros, it is the most obvious and clear location-wise. Cons, a varient method will have to be found for non-class things.
  2. Using the 3.5e Breadcrumb. Pros, it requires one edit to apply the template to the entirety of the 3.5e Homebrew. Cons, the bottom of the page is a bad place to put it.

--Kydo (talk) 20:49, 27 August 2016 (MDT)[edit]

It needs a little work- looks pretty wonky on my phone. But I like it otherwise. --Kydo (talk) 20:49, 27 August 2016 (MDT)

SgtLion (talk13:15, 28 August 2016 (MDT)[edit]

It looks coolio, and will certainly work. But I'm convinced there'll be a way to auto-add the template to every page with Category:User with PHP or Wiki magic. Or even with a bot or something. I don't know where Blue Dragon is, but I guess we won't know that for sure 'til he gets back. Editing into even just every template sounds like quite a bit of work.

--Kydo (talk) 03:03, 2 September 2016 (MDT)[edit]

Soooo.... Are we still working on this whole "improvement" thing? I've been busting my ass for over a week trying to make new tools to improve and communicate our standards- while working eight 12-hour work shifts in a row in a filthy, boiling-hot factory that happens to have wi-fi. So far, my work is... Limited and patchy. But, hey, it's only been a week! After watching every page in my areas of expertise, I have discovered this community is actually not too active for me to keep up, I'm just horribly backlogged. What's everyone else been up to? Any cool projects in the works? Anyone gotten into actual contact with BD? Tinkered around with esoteric wiki-code tricks to get that nifty homebrew banner up easily? Patrolling for new user pages to greet them? I'd hate to sound pushy, but I really- REALLY- RREEAALLYY like this website, and it kills me to see our reputation in the shitter. Most of those people who are criticizing the wiki could be turned into valuable editors if we could just sort out a few things. We could have an active community, one where people request a review or ask a question on their post's talk page- and actually receive an answer within 3 months. One where the self-regulation tools actually generate an emergent quality-assured effect, because there are enough eyes, hands, and voices working together. In short, I'd like to enjoy this website for what it is, not what it has the potential to become. (And don't get me wrong, it has the potential to become something truly amazing.) --Kydo (talk) 03:03, 2 September 2016 (MDT)

Tivanir (talk) 05:10, 2 September 2016 (MDT)[edit]

Honestly at this point everything could be solid gold and there would still be people ragging on the site due to the incident some years ago. The major issue we face is that we don't have enough people to police everything coming in on every level (normally before I had some personal problems I was spinning through the classes once a month to nominate deletions.) We do need a way to make it easier for a random person coming to the site to access reliable content, while at the same time dumping all the detrius along the way.

I do have a request for Green Dragon when he has a moment. If a partially finished class is abandoned can we start deleting them instead of holding them forever in limbo? It's difficult to work deletions when a third of them have just enough to not be deleted, and there isn't a lot of people interested in stepping up and fostering random classes. Maybe make an orphaned category and if it hits three months there jettison it.

--Kydo (talk) 08:56, 2 September 2016 (MDT)[edit]

There actually is an orphaned pages page!!!

You're absolutely right. We need people. For that to happen, we need to get people to log in and change stuff, rather Than laughing and walking away. We need to break the "author's property" assumption people make when they come here. People need to know, at a glance, anywhere on this wiki, that everything can be altered by anyone, and good ideas stick.

If we can get an active community going, the reviewing templates will work; users will see something wrong and either fix it or flag it. There'll be people like me patrolling for garbage. It'll have an emergent effect generating assured quality, (as opposed to an explicitly constructed guaranteed quality system using hired inspectors who sign off on content).

People are mostly unaware of the kerfuffle. The people who will always rag on us are the people who say "kill it with fire" to anything not made by WotC. Frankly, I don't care what horrible thing happens to those idiots.

I am curious regarding abandonment as well, actually. Technically, a completed race that is perfect in most every way will not get changed much, so would that be considered abandoned? I don't want to delete good material just because it's stable! At the same time though, an incomplete page could sit around with the incomplete tag for months, over a year even in some cases. Is there some sort of a standard for how long we should wait for a response to a reviewing template before applying an abandoned template?

Salasay Δ 10:43, 2 September 2016 (MDT)[edit]

Part of the issue that I see is that there are not clear definitions for what the various categories mean. For me, this is what the "improvement" templates are: Incomplete- was made a recently, Author hasn't really had long enough to finish it so he's assumed to still be working on it. Stub- the article is usable and functioning, but lacks fluff, DM info, and "non essential" requirements (A majority of my own work falls under this category.) Needs Improvement- page has content and is filled out, but it's a mess and reads badly. Needs Balance- self explanatory. Abandoned- page is not filled out, not complete, and has been so for a wile, but has enough that you can see what the author intended. Will need work to be used in any form in a campaign. Delete- page is not filled out, cannot tell what the page is supposed to ever do.

Jwguy (talk20:02, 7 September 2016 (MDT)[edit]

I still feel like there should be a separate, less negative Needs-Balance template for pages that are for higher- or lower-powered games or campaigns, but that's neither here nor there.

As far as getting more people involved, maybe I should get some of the admins involved on the Facebook Page. I try to remember to update it every now and then, but its meager outreach might be able to assist if you're interested in drawing some attention to particular events on the site. As far as I know, I'm still the only person with access to the administrative features of the page since Hooper handed them off to me, long ago.

The separation of SRD and Homebrew content by background color is a good idea, and I like Salasay's banner at the bottom of the page, but I think we could use something with more pizazz towards the top of the Homebrew pages. That is where it will be most apparent, anyways, and we don't have much occupying them other than a picture, here and there, on the good ones. A small, sparkling banner? Maybe I should make a gif.

--Kydo (talk) 08:22, 8 September 2016 (MDT)[edit]

Lucky for you, I've been working on the issue of the subjectivity of balance. We need a way to recognize and accept the vaguery of the word, while still maintaining its value. To that end, I have created Precedent (DnD Guideline), which sets a general baseline for balance: compatibility with the core game. I have worked on and expanded Template:Design Disclaimer to give it a very specific meaning and purpose: covering fringe cases. Content that is intentionally under or over powered for specific design reasons, or contain properties which are only conditionally or circumstantially broken, would then receive a design disclaimer. It is not an editing, Reviewing, or removing template, so it's basically validation. It communicates the true nature of the content to prevent unwelcome and inappropriate "corrections" without declaring itself somehow incorrect either. It allows us to include that kind of content as being both complete and acceptable, without allowing every poorly-designed nonsense under the sun. The key is the intent and effectiveness of the content. If it was intended to work a certain way, and the content serves that function, then that deserves a DD. If it was designed to work a certain way and the content isn't working right, that's a stub. If it wasn't intended to work the way it currently is, that's balance. It's subtle, but it's also the reality of the thing. (It also isn't "balance points" which is a horrid complication of a problem, rather than a resolution of that problem.)

What? We have a Facebook page?? Since when?! What is it? Where is it? Why is it not announced by this wiki with clarity for people to get involved?? FB pages thrive on noise, not silence!!

I really wish BD would weigh in on the whole homebrew banner thing. I guess I can't force a guy to participate in a community, but it is frustrating.

SgtLion (talk08:27, 8 September 2016 (MDT)[edit]

To be honest, I'm personally stuck at a standstill until Blue Dragon is back from holiday or whatever madness has overcome the poor man. While I recognise there are things we could do and change policy-wise, I'm of the position that we'll need technical backbone changes to address the biggest concerns with our site at the moment. I'll address a couple concerns:

  • If a class is not in a balanced, playable state (but still has a significant amount of half-decent content), then I would stick an {{abandoned}} on it, if it's not been touched for a couple months. While it means we have to do the odd harsh deletion, it's far preferable to having a slew of unplayable mess. There's no need to add abandoned templates to finished articles.
  • I realise there's a lot of blind raging criticism coming from brainless dolts, but a good 90% of the comments and votes in the thread I created were optimistic, constructive, and really seemed to be earnestly giving advice for their issue with our site. It hurts to see something we put so much work into being criticized, however lightly, but these are exactly the people, with a little bit of change, we can turn into active users.
  • It's been brought up multiple times, but the only balance we should be allowing is that in-line with the SRD. Until we create some great solution to categorise pages Low-Medium-High power (which won't happen without an enormous active editor base), enforcing balance to only be in line with the SRD is current standard. (Though I'd argue perhaps exceptions for explicitly Campaign Supplements). In my personal opinion, I still don't think we should letting people get away with unbalanced articles without a glaring template (such as design disclaimer, or even something flashier) at the top. Otherwise we're going to compound our poor reputation on balance.
  • I'd totally get involved in FB page upkeep and news posting. Activity's activity, right?

I should also say a big thanks to Kydo, as yah really seem to be pulling out your finger to improve things, and I'm very grateful for it. I'm also very much in line with Jwguy (As often), distinguishing by background color, and Salasay's banner, 'tis good. But a more noticeable template for the top could be good. Anyway, as I say, largely waiting on BD with his technical wizardry to weigh in here (I also mailed him as GD suggested, but no response), but as with people, I'm sure he has busy things to be getting on with too.

Ah, Kydo jumped in while I looked away. Lil' edited.

--Kydo (talk) 11:27, 8 September 2016 (MDT)[edit]

OK, so, it's pretty clear that we are all actually using the different improvement templates for different things! That's a problem! How are we, or any other users for that matter, supposed to use those tools in a practical way, if they aren't defined well enough to have consistent meaning from one user to the next? Here'so my understanding of it:

The page is, in some way, incomplete. Someone needs to complete it. To that end, WIP needs to be clarified. Either it needs to be incorporated into stub, or made an improvement template in its own right. It also needs to be distinguished from inuse. I think every single preload should have the stub template at the top, like what we currently do with 5e classes.

I also think (and people will almost certainly disagree with me on this) that it should be considered rude for a contributor to remove an improvement template from their own contribution, encouraging people to go out and review other people's work as a way of participating in the community, so that others might review their work and green-light it by removing the remaining templates. I don't think we should have dedicated patrolling users. I don't think we should hide in-progress works. I just think it's crazy that a collaboration-focused community lets 100% independent randos steamroll our wiki with heaps of self-approved work with next to no oversight or review

The page, regardless of completeness, contains some content which deviates significantly from the assumptions the core game makes, and so is imbalanced.
The page is in the wrong category, has an incorrectly formatted name, or is not following a preload built for its section of the wiki.
Not just bad spelling and grammar, but also poorly phrased or confusing passages, particularly rules text. For instance, some people may phrase a racial trait in a very circuitous/disorganized/vague and confusing manner, despite there being a much easier and clearer way to say it. We should not use the needsbalance template for bad writing.
The page has improvement templates which have not been addressed, and has not seen any edits on its main or talk for some time. If a page has no improvement templates, people have good reason to think it is complete and balanced, so there is no reason to place an abandoned template otherwise. An abandoned template does nothing to address the flaws in a page, so it should never replace the improvement templates on that page. I think one quarter, (3 months) of inactivity is a reasonable timer, both for applying the template, and for resolving it. That gives a page over 6 months of defectiveness and inactivity to justify its removal. I think that's pretty damn generous.
The deletion process has begun. A timer is on the page for someone to do something about it. If the timer runs out without complications, it is deleted unceremoniously.

In addition to the improvement templates, we need to start making proper use of our other communication tools.

Design Disclaimer: communicates a balance deviation or complication from the designer to the audience.

Copyright Disclaimer: We need to start flagging derivative works for people. There is a ton of D&D adaptation/crossover fan work on this site. There's nothing wrong with that, we just need to communicate it. People are sick of weaboo stuff showing up at their western fantasy table.

Request Review and Needs Admin also seem to see a bit of overlap. They need detailing, and "needs review" needs to be clarified so people stop using it as a stand-in for every single other template under the sun.

Jwguy (talk12:33, 8 September 2016 (MDT)[edit]

A quick note, while it certainly appears that at least one of you has already found the Facebook Page (Mr. Malcolmson), if you're interested in helping out on the page, it is located here. Drop a message in the page's DMs confirming your identity and I'll get you added.

As for why no-one knows it exists, well, I mention it from time to time. It was never really my project, either; I was not even an administrator on the site when I discovered I was suddenly an administrator for the facebook page.

--Kydo (talk) 09:40, 12 September 2016 (MDT)[edit]

OK, so, a minor update.

I think the 5e Background Design Guide is pretty much complete. It'll probably see some minor formatting tweaks and additional suggestions in the following years. I plan to add a section on choosing a name geared toward the value of a page name here on the wiki, this Friday. I'm still working my way through comprehensive reviews of all of the 5e backgrounds. Idol Follower was difficult, because I really really dislike the misleading page name and wanted to suggest something better, but couldn't come up with the right words. Had to go to English Language Stack Exchange for help on it. (Speaking of, I'll have to add that to my list of useful DM tools on the DMing guide later today...) Anyways, after I add the section on naming next Friday, I'll try to get through to the M's.

For the most part though, I think that section of the wiki is "clean". That is to say, I don't think it will be a source of major complaints from audience member users. As such, I'm going to declare it sort of "open for business" on the FB page at the end of next friday.

Todays, wednesdays, and saturdays, I'm going to devote to working on the Race Design Guide and reviewing 5e races. (Which I just noticed, lacks the 5e descriptor. Damn. I need to move it again.) The reviewing process, and the problems I find while doing it, is what I use to write the guidelines. If anyone would like to participate, it would be deeply appreciated! Like, I'll-mail-you-a-bottle-of-scotch level of appreciation. (I won't actually do that because I don't know you, and because if I'm buying scotch then I'm going to be the one drinking it, but that's how much I'll like you afterwards.)

Saturday will probably be inactive, as it looks like I'll be running LMoP for some newbies. Got my customizable binder-screen and encounter notes all ready to go!

Last friday, I made these things for each of the official 5e races. I don't know if there's a wiki-culture word for them. I call them deflector pages. Basically, their purpose is to preemptively maintain organization in the 5e Races section, by preventing people from submitting duplicates of SRD or official races, and linking them to the SRD, and preventing them from making a variant race with a misleading page name in the wrong section, by also linking them to the variant races page. It isn't perfect. A misspelling, or extra text like "variant" will still get around t by accident, but those will stand out a lot more from the crowd. I think we could do something like this for the other types of content as well, like the classes.

If we can get all of the races and backgrounds cleaned up for 5th edition, then we'll be able to get to work on the real elephant in the room: the classes. That's where the majority of the insane, broken, nonsense, garbage is. With races and backgrounds under control, they'll be easy to maintain while our (my) focus is on classes and the class design guide.

After the classes section is organized, (I'm going to estimate... a year or so from now?) the rest of 5e homewbrew should pretty much fall together with a little tender-loving-elbow-grease. (and also probably another year's worth of work.) If we can get 5e under control, and keep it orderly and clean, we'll have made a "safe" place for a community to grow, a portion of the wiki that is stable enough to foster a community. We need that community, because once we have it, the 5e section will essentially self-regulate, the way the wiki was always intended to. (And then we'll be able to go go after the moby-dick of this website: cleaning up 3.5e and PF content, starting with classes.)

To serve that objective, I am trying to make the wiki more welcoming, in a very literal sense. I have voluntarily made myself into a greeter. I put it in my schedule to greet every new contributor within the most recent 500 new user pages every Monday. It is my hope that by being on top of this, we can give people the impression of community and give them at least one username that they can access directly if they have a question. If we can get people to stick around long enough to form connections with each other, rather than just us, we can get this snowball rolling and start a self-sustaining community; "fake it till we make it" basically.

I have been working on making suggestions on how to convert the FA process into something transparent and accessible by all users, in the hopes that it will encourage more activity in that part of the wiki. As I've said before, elsewhere, the FA process is designed to fundamentally improve the whole wiki by inspiring and encouraging people to put their best work forward. By making it easier for people to interact with that process, we can speed up the "production rate" of FAs. (Basically, giving it laxatives to break that 3-year constipation of nominees it's had.) Having a large supply of FAs, and a high frequency of quality FA nomination and acceptance, will give users who want a "curated" experience something useful on our wiki aside from the zine, even though it isn't actually curated. Also, having a high frequency FA acceptance rate will give us more news-material to pad the FB page and keep it noisy. Right now, I'm kind of jamming it full of fluff, which makes it look a bit like a bot. Nobody likes a bot page intentionally.

Speaking of the magazine, Marasmusine, do we have an idea of when it will be ready? I know I've been inactive with it, despite it being on my schedule, I just keep on being busy on that day. Hopefully, I'll have plenty of time to give a good review and cleanup of magazine nominees. Also, are we starting voting for the next issue's theme yet? I moved away from my whole curation scheme and added a section for people to nominate themselves as content reviewers for that project. What do people think? Good idea? Or am I wasting text?

Speaking of curation, I had a scheme to use that word deceptively as a way of attracting our detractors and converting them to the collaborative method. I have decided against that, because the word itself is just... Not accurate to what we do here. Self-appointed dedicated reviewers is more accurate to what we need, and that's what we should call them, in ALL areas of the wiki. I feel very strongly that the "spirit" of this wiki is the garage/basement DIY gamer. We focus almost entirely on homebrew, D&D has always had a large homebrewing community, D&D itself was born as a homebrew game built out of Chainmail and Wilderness Survival, and in essence that means the entire modern RPG hobby was born from that spirit as well. I see no reason to hide from or disguise that fact- we should embrace it, it's what our hobby is, deep down inside.

Back on the subject of FB, I am totally faking it. I have NO idea how to run a community FB page! I'm just imitating other pages and hoping the wiki will put out some news, so I can focus more on the wiki, and less on generating hype every evening! I'd like to get more attention to the FB page, as I think it could prove an effective channel to get more editors involved, but it needs to show up on peoples' notice boards somehow, like, through shares or something. I have no idea how to make a FB page spread all viral like marketing agents do. Is blabbering about it on other communities like Reddit normal? Is it socially acceptable? I don't want to spend the 5 dollars to "ad-boost" the page because I think spending money to do it would be kind of like selling out or cheating... Just not in the spirit of the wiki. I dunno.

And speaking of Reddit, there's a bunch of people there who were really excited to hear that this community is listening to its audience. Are we going to follow through for those people? Maybe, like, choose a target event, like having 5e Races cleaned up, and then go follow up, showing them how much effort it took and how much we achieved? Or maybe we can push the next release of Houserule there, to show off a project people can participate in and get people hyped? That'd be a good olive-branch of sorts, I think. Showing people proof that this wiki can not only live up to its own standards, but actually be really cool and fun and inviting in the process, would go a long way to making this a better website for everyone.

And that brings me to my final thoughts from the last week. I've been browsing our sister/rival/spinoff wikis, and other non-encyclopedic wikis, and have noticed a trend. Many of them have a sort of "mission statement" page, (though none of them call it that for some reason) explaining exactly what their wiki is and is not. They put their goals and purpose, plain and clear as day, in black and white, for all to see, and they link new users directly to it from their welcome message. One of the recurring complaints was people saying they were confused as to this wiki's purpose. Because we have SRD and OGL content, and also include d20M and PF, people wonder why we're called "dandwiki" and whether this community is supposed to be encyclopedic like wikipedia, or just a big homewbrew sharing community. I think we should write down what we each, as individuals, think this wiki is about, what it stands for, and then lump it all together (with a little bit of poetic creativity to make it sound more coherent than the reality could ever be) as a mission statement, and link to it from the welcome message. Then, if there is ever any doubt, we could point people in a direction and say "that's what we're all about, my friend! Welcome aboard!"

Salasay Δ 11:39, 12 September 2016 (MDT)[edit]

Rough Draft

Our Wiki provides a welcoming community in which we strive to produce quality, creative Homebrew for a more complete gaming experience. We have included SRD and OGL content, created by WotC themselves, in order to allow for reference, citation, and linking within the wiki.

Green Dragon (talk06:00, 9 October 2016 (MDT)[edit]

It turns out that it is possible to change the pages in a namespace's style through MediaWiki:Common.css. Please, lets sort out the styling for the different namespaces as soon as possible, by discussing them at MediaWiki talk:Common.css. I do not know if we can add templates to a namespace, but we will appreciate all the CSS styling knowledge we can possibly get!

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