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Thursday, October 20, 2022

Why People Don't Like Fandom Wikis

By LUDWIG VON KOOPA - The problem is the company.

I totally admit it's a genius business model, and it's obviously working: Fandom, a for-profit business, lets fans across a variety of media types (gaming, books, comics, TV, film, etc.) make free wikis with their software, also known as a wiki farm. Fans manage the wikis as a community. Specificity and detail are encouraged with as many pages on as many minute topics as possible in that IP. That gets a LOT of long-tail search keyword results on search engines, and that's why hundreds of millions of people visit wikis on the Fandom network. Fandom does have a staff that sometimes polices wikis (such as preventing duplicates that might divide communities and harm search results) and may have proactive outreach on things like search engine optimisation (SEO)... but for the most part, they just maintain the wiki software, set network-wide policy, and put up advertisements and profit from the work of fans who make content for them.

In an exciting development for the Zelda Wiki, they just regained independence from Fandom after Fandom acquired them a few years ago. The comments on the tweet have universal acclaim:

There exist a group of Nintendo-based wikis that strive to be high-quality while being independent from corporate influences called the Nintendo Independent Wiki Alliance, or NIWA for short. These independent wikis often compete directly with Fandom counterparts and are often superior in quality and user experience, such as the Fire Emblem Wiki versus the Fire Emblem Fandom Wiki. Fire Emblem fans tend to know that the Fandom wiki is worse in quality, but the Fandom wiki is the one that tends to be first in the search results. Other household name Wikis have pretty clearly won their fight versus their Fandom counterparts, including the Super Mario Wiki, SmashWiki, and Bulbapedia.

But let's get specific using the Zelda Wiki as an example, and what may come for some of Fandom's recent and very aggressive acquisitions.

As you can read in the embedded tweet, Zelda Wiki was independent, and then moved to the Gamepedia wiki platform. And then Fandom acquired Gamepedia, claimed there wouldn't be “immediate impact to your user experience on either site”, and then merged all the Gamepedia competitors with existing Fandom counterparts. A few weeks ago, Fandom make a similar move to acquire several gaming sites from Red Ventures, a feckless venture capital firm that had itself had recently acquired those gaming sites (but didn't seem to do much about them) from ViacomCBS, including GameSpot, GameFAQs, Giant Bomb, and Metacritic. They claim they're figuring out what to actually do with this acquisition, but apparently they're going to want to advertise Fandom wikis on the recently acquired sites, which definitely sucks for them. (And I'm an active GameFAQs user!)

Advertisements are a very touchy subject for Fandom users, because they're... everywhere and obnoxious. We can do a very fun comparison between the two versions of the Zelda Wikis, since the Fandom one still exists. Try to guess which one is which... though they're labelled in the address bar. ...And it should be really obvious.

Zelda Wiki Tingle page Fandom desktop layout ads autoplaying videos advertisements sidebars
There are other advertisements you don't see because they're actually underneath other advertisements, like a “sponsored by” Fandom ad page on the Popular Pages right sidebar.
The left sidebar is a Fandom network-wide “feature” trying to plug irrelevant content.
If you scroll all the way to the bottom, there is a “Fan Feed” with more Fandom content from other websites and sponsored stuff; much of it is not The Legend of Zelda-related.
The videos you see are actually auto-playing and follow you as you scroll through the page.

Zeldapedia Zelda Wiki Tingle desktop page kooloo-limpah
No complaints on this.

Here's the two side-by-side on mobile:

Fandom wiki mobile layout ads Zelda Zeldapedia
The Zeldapedia (non-Fandom) Kooloo-Limpah section on mobile is SO nonintrusive that you can actually fit the whole thing on one screen.
There's a decent chance if you try to close those ads on your mobile device that you'll actually end up opening them.

Fandom is powerful because there's a strong allure of free software and hosting. Other free alternatives exist, but Fandom has been acquiring a lot. And some media properties, unfortunately including Ace Attorney, don't have viable alternative wikis and are stuck on Fandom. By the way, I was pretty nice and euphemistic to Fandom in my opening paragraph. They've been known, once a wiki grows big enough to catch their attention, to make changes (in the name of better SEO and/or revenue, as opposed to user experience or fan culture) without consulting or even notifying fans, including outright changing URLs of wikis. And, of course, the fans on the Fandom wikis don't like how unusable the sites get with all of the videos and ads of irrelevant crap. I highly recommend having ad-blocking software and JavaScript disabled whenever you go on a Fandom site, and don't use browsers that have it on their roadmap to break ad-blockers.

Ludwig uses non-Fandom wikis whenever he can for information, though sometimes it's not very possible to do so. The closest thing KoopaTV has to a Wiki is its TV Tropes pages that get very few edits, despite editing it being a rewardable activity in the KoopaTV Loyalty Rewards Program. Remember that the latest round ends at the end of October, and a spot in KoopaTV's Nintendo Switch Online Family Group is at stake! Ludwig chose Tingle's page for his screenshots because he wanted to do a The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker reference, and from there it went into a Tingle thing. Ludwig had to turn off his extensions on his mobile browser, and used Edge for the desktop screenshots because there aren't any blockers installed on that.

Once upon a time, KoopaTV ran AdSense on the site for a year and a half. It accomplished nothing for the site besides a worse user experience, so KoopaTV stopped and never went back to that again.
If there's more story you want out of Ludwig supporting Tingle, he did (and still does) have Tingle as his most wanted The Legend of Zelda newcomer in Super Smash Bros.


  1. I edited an article on Zelda Wiki, once. It was a cool geek moment for me. I'm definitely glad that they're removing themselves from Fandom. Once the Yu-Gi-Oh wiki went on Fandom, the ads got so cloying that the pages would regularly freeze! Other Fandom wikis don't seem as bad as that but still yikes.

    1. My screenshots and user experience on the existing Zelda Fandom wiki was better than some earlier experiences, so it's...gotten a little better, if you can believe it.

  2. Lets hope blogger doesn't somehow end up getting bought by Fandom. This is a very happy development indeed.

    On a side note, you that despite being a complete hypocrite who frequently makes grammar mistakes, have resigned to a life of persistent dedication to the cleansing of such egregious errors from KoopaTV. As such, i think this line "a feckless venture capital firm that had itself had recently acquired those gaming sites (but didn't seem to do much about them)", should have the 'about' replaced with a 'with'. About implies that the recently acquired sites did something bad or at any rate needed to be fixed in some way. It reads fine, but as you know the loyalty rules implore us to help spot these rare instances. And it's easier than writing a tv trope! If that isn't good enough then "I highly recommend having ad-blocking software and JavaScript disabled" could be confusing for those who weren't aware of either program beforehand. Should you have one and disable the other, or disable both? Please forgive my stinginess.

    On another side note, i did not know that you liked Tingle so much. He is awfully interesting, in a way. I don't think he appeared in breath of the wild but i could be wrong, still haven't beat the game. Have you played his "Tingle's Rosy Rupee Land Game", now that is weird! Actually, come to think of it i can't think of the land really weird Nintendo game to release. Rhythm Heaven, Chibi-Robo, Warioland. I guess the new Warioware counts, but most of the really weird Nintendo games seem to be rather niche. I suppose that makes sense, gotta make what sells

    1. Neither of your correction attempts are of actual mistakes.
      I'd say there were several things wrong with the sites that Red Ventures acquired and did nothing to resolve. GameFAQs has had its userbase dwindle for several years now, for example. Like, it used to be a big brand and now it's quite niche. And since Red Ventures acquired it, there hasn't been another contest. (Probably because fewer and fewer people are visiting GameFAQs to vote.)
      It's just Fandom is poised to make things worse.
      As for ad-blocking software and JavaScript, I'd hope people on KoopaTV would know what both of those are. Certainly ad-blocking software. (Not that you need it on KoopaTV.) You'd have a point if there were three items, but with only two, what I wrote is grammatically correct.
      I don't forgive your stinginess.

      As for the "land really weird Nintendo game to release" (see, that's a real typo there), how about Part Time UFO?

    2. And no, I haven't played Freshly-Picked Tingle's Rosy Rupeeland, since it never released outside of Japan and Europe.

    3. Part time UFO is more of a HAL than main Nintendo, although I guess the port counts. I know that HAL mostly only makes games for Nintendo, but I feel like all of their franchises are weirder than usual anyway. The MOTHER series, for instance, isn't as weird as Captain Rainbow, but it does have some much more common odder elements than a Zelda, Mario, or Pokémon game. I suppose what qualifies a game, would be it's distinct lack of a central theme. Zelda is always sort of medieval, and Metroid is always space/alien stuff. Anything goes in these games.

      DRAT! You win this time, but next time I'll be sure to catch you with a devastating error. I should know, I am the expert of them, aheh.

    4. Nintendo published it on the Switch, anyway.
      How abouuuut Game Builder Garage?


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