Home Wikia: Lightning Could Strike Twice For Wikipedia Founders

Wikia: Lightning Could Strike Twice For Wikipedia Founders

I talked with Wikia CEO Gil
Penchina yesterday about the most recent re-design of the Wikia site. I wanted to know
their goals and what progress the company has made towards that vision. The site’’s
rebuild takes advantage of recent technology advances, uses a more Web 2.0 style
interface and has better navigation tools. According to Gil, these latest improvements
are geared to provide an overall better experience for Wikia users. Some of the aspects
that have been added are: simplified editing, voting functionality, a new skin, photo
tagging, YouTube video uploads, a simpler two column format and last but not least, a new

A Thriving Wikia

Sometimes I think we take the very best of the Web for granted. Wikia and its renowned
cousin Wikipedia are often the most valuable
sources of information we use, yet they always seem to be upstaged by more mercurial
sites. Wikia is a for-profit company founded by Jimmy Wales, one of the Web’’s most
renowned entrepreneurs and the founder of Wikipedia. Wikia was originally founded under
the name Wikicities by Wales and Co-Founder Angela Beesley in 2004.

The Wikia communities create free content via the MediaWikia software. CEO Gil
Penchina reiterated the vision of Wikia in our conversation yesterday: “To be
the definitive, unbiased resource of the Web.”
According to Penchina, Wikia is
exactly on course with the growth rate Wikipedia has demonstrated and the site currently
receives from tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands of visitors each day.

Wikia vs. Wikipedia

Aesthetics and Content View-ability

The Wikia site has always been rather striking and it remains so, in that sort of
familiar Wiki way we have grown accustomed to. The two column format actually helps one
to spatially organize the information better and therefore navigate more easily.
Centering the content and moving the tools and edit functions to the right adds greatly
to the user’s viewable content area. It takes a minute or two to get comfortable
with, after being familiar with the 3 column layout, but it really does allow more space
for the tons of categories and navigation links. New users will view the new skin, but
all users have the option to revert to the traditional Wikia skin at any time.

New Skin

Tools and Web 2.0

Based on user feedback gained via polls, Wikia has supplied what their
users voted as their most desirable improvements/additions. The core tools and links
combined with graphical images and new elements have been consolidated on the right to
simplify navigation, add function and to help new users to find their way around


I noticed that these tool elements can also be dragged and dropped to a user’s
preference too. Outside of simplified navigation and reorganized spatial considerations,
Wikia users will find themselves at home as processes have simply been streamlined and
accentuated with the YouTube, sharing and voting aspects.

Tool Widget

Notes and Conclusions

These recent changes might seem a little underwhelming to many people, but it is very
important to take note of what Wikia is in relation to our more
“Hollywood” type communities. As Gil mentioned early in our conversation, the
goal of this community is to become everyone’s resource for “unbiased”
information and online experiences, within their personal interests. Gil told me that
Wikia currently has over 40,000 pages of content relating to Star Wars alone and another
33,000 dealing with WOW. These subjects may not be for everyone, but the shear weight of
all that information on relatively obscure topics is illustrative of a community
dedicated to people and their passions.

I asked Gil if Wikia is where he thought it should be right now, and he related a
question he asked Jimmy Wales when interviewing for his current position. Gil asked Wales
if he thought lightning could strike twice in the same place, to which Wales obviously
replied yes. Gil’’s answer to me reflected his genuine appreciation and amazement
at yet another lightning strike at Wikia. These visions of Jimmy Wales’ occupy what
could be argued as the true heart of user generated excellence. In the final analysis,
Wikipedia and Wikia are about the hundreds of thousands of talented and inspired people
who make up a great community. What is Wikia? Think of Wikipedia as a great reference
book in an immense library, while Wikia is the library.

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