IFWiki and Baf's Guide links (and the future of IFWiki)

(bg) #1

I have posted this question on IFWiki as well. Posting here in the hopes that more people will see it.

(Also: how are decisions about IFWiki style guides typically made? Is there someone officially in charge I should be asking?)

Edited to add to the topic name.


What would you like to see on IFWiki? (Survey)

Changing the style guide to request IFDB profiles seems a good idea to me. Not sure about the existing links - did Baf’s Guide have any information that isn’t on the IFDB page anyway?


(bg) #3

For anyone following this–the general impression I’ve gotten from asking people elsewhere is that all significant info from Baf’s Guide can be found at IFDB. (And of course IFDB will have newer stuff as well.)



First, bg, many thanks for your great contributions on the IFWiki! :smiley: I used to contribute, but I no longer have the motivation now, and apparently it’s also the case of David Welbourn, who was by far the biggest contributor; so your updates are the main reason the IFWiki is still alive.

About the Baf’s Guide: does anybody know if Baf intends to put it back online someday? But as far as I know, “all significant info from Baf’s Guide can be found at IFDB” is correct, so links to Baf’s Guide would probably be redundant if we have IFDB links.

Anyway, whether we keep the Baf’s Guide links or not, I agree that the style guide should now say that there should be links to IFDB. I think we’d need links to their IFDB profile and to an IFDB search for games they authored, because not every author has a profile on the IFDB (only authors who have an IFDB account).

The style guides were almost exclusively David Welbourn’s work (User:Dswxyz), with some suggestions by other people on the Talk Pages. But as I said, he’s not much on the IFWiki any more; you could try sending him an e-mail.


(bg) #5

Thanks Eriorg!

Yikes. Is it worthwhile to try to keep it going then? Does it overlap too much with IFDB for people to see it as useful?



I use IFWiki mostly for its curated collections of links like this one. These don’t need frequent maintenance to remain useful.


(Nathanaël Marion) #7

I find it useful, I prefer to go to IFWiki before IFDB. Also, I’m beginning contributing (only for the French works, for the moment). I wouldn’t be happy if IFWiki dies.

As for the original question, I have no idea, because I don’t really know Baf’s Guide, but according to IFWiki itself, it has been replaced by IFDB.



The wiki platform is much stronger than IFDB. Using Semantic Mediawiki extension or a complex tree of categories it’s possible to put all info from IFDB on wiki.

But. There is no program for that.

Anyone can go to the wiki right now and start removing all the dead links and archiving the working ones. It would require a tremendous amount of man-hours, about a month or so. But a programmer can automate that in a day. And put the script on every day repeat.

Wikipedia has the dead link problem too. They already have the bots. Open source, even. A bot doesn’t need the admin account, it’s just like a regular user with a username and a password.

We need a bot to clear the wiki of junk links. Forever.


(bg) #9

I like the idea of dealing with dead links in an automated way. Ideally the bot could search for a replacement link on the Internet Archive as well.

Does anyone know how to set this up?

How do people feel about narrowing the scope of IFWiki to make it easier to maintain, and also to make less of an overlap with IFDB? For instance, drastically simplifying the individual game/work pages, so they’d consist mostly just of a link to the relevant IFDB entry, and maybe a few internal links (to the author, authoring system, etc.)

Then there could be more of a focus on the stuff the IFWiki was originally intended for. The links to theory and craft articles and history and such.

Also–would someone mind pointing me to David Welbourn’s email address, or point him to this thread? I’d like to hear his thoughts on this.


(bg) #10

(Er, mods, please feel free to split this into a new thread about the future of IFWiki if you think that makes more sense.)


(bg) #11

Ok, here are some proposed changes to style guides/practices to make maintenance more manageable. Please let me know what you think.

1) Pages about individual games/works:

The style guide would be changed to include

  • A single-line game reference that follows the game reference style guide. This could be copied and pasted from whatever page is linking to the game page (e.g. a competition page). The only thing you might add in that case would be the year. And maybe the comp name (so the links will be reciprocal).
  • A links section (to allow for adding links to things that aren’t on IFDB, for instance, author commentary). But the only “required” link in this section would be a link to the game’s IFDB entry.

I’m not sure if we should bother with the categories that appear at the bottom of the page. If we do I suggest they be optional. Or just stick to [[Category:Works]].

Here’s a sample of what this would look like: ifwiki.org/index.php/User:Bg … efWorkPage

2) Which works get their own pages:

There would not be an attempt to include game/work pages for every work by an author. Only works linked to from, say, a competition page or a craft/theory page would get to have a page. (Edit: in retrospect this was poorly worded. I don’t really want to disallow such things if people want to add them.)

3) Which pages list works:

Competition pages that are actually jams, or have lots of entries (but are not major IF-specific competitions like Spring Thing or IFComp), or are in any format that makes them a pain to keep up-to-date, do not actually have to list the entries. The “entries” section could consist of a link to the IFDB competition page. Or that section could be skipped, and the IFDB link could go in the Links section.

4) People pages:

The “author credits” section of a people page would have a link to a search for the person’s games on IFDB or the person’s IFDB profile. Individual games need not be listed on the people page.

Existing people pages that already have an author credits section could have the IFDB link added to that section with the label “Additional author credits” or something like that.

I’m not proposing that we go back and delete existing information on IFWiki. These would be changes to apply going forward.



This scheme looks good bg, but it does raise an unpleasant thought in the back of my mind. What if (knock on wood) we lost the IFDB for some reason? What fallbacks do we have?


(bg) #13

What would happen to the data, you mean? It looks like IFDB data goes to the IF archive four times a year.

(Where does IFWiki data go, I wonder? Surely it’s backed up?)



I’ll mention this to David via the IFMUD tomorrow, if no one with his email sees this first (I imagine he’ll be 'round for the XYZZY awards)


(David Welbourn) #15

Hello everyone. Teaspoon passed on the word that there was a discussion here I should join.

First of all, I’d like to apologize to everyone for abandoning IFWiki as I did. I did not want to stop updating it, but I just lost my motivation. I burnt out. (I burnt out on helping with the XYZZY Awards too.) I hope to contribute again properly to the IFWiki, assuming it’s still there when I’m ready again, but right now, I want to focus my dwindling energies on other projects in the IF realm of things. (My other main excuse is poverty and joblessness for over a decade now. It’s simply not been possible for me to access the web as much as I used to. I need a much better ISP then the one I’m current stuck with.)

Second, on the question of links to Baf’s Guide, well, at the time I was originally figuring out the style of game pages (now work pages), Baf’s Guide was the grande dame of IF info, and I wanted to list it first giving it pride of place. Since Baf’s Guide has been supplanted by IFDB, I would change the style guide to now give that honour to IFDB, listing IFDB first and other links afterwards.

Also, where possible, I would prefer that dead links to Baf’s Guide pages be replaced with the appropriate links to their archived copies at the Internet Archive. This is what ifwizz.de does with its links to Baf’s Guide now, and I think IFWiki ought to do the same.

(As a general principle, I prefer not deleting old links in case they can be recovered via the Internet Archive or by some other means. And even if the link is truly unrecoverable, I’d still prefer to use HTML commenting to hide the dead link from normal view rather than deleting the info altogether.)


(David Welbourn) #16

Well, as far as I know, it’s not backed up or copied or mirrored anywhere. This has certainly been pointed out more than once before, but I’ve never known what to do about it. When the issue was first brought up to me, I was using a computer whose C: drive was so small, I could barely run Windows and my other programs on it. I kept running out of space. I was in no position to copy the wiki, even if I knew how. Currently, I probably have the space now, but not the bandwidth. I have trouble reaching half the web half of the time.

I would like to see a compressed copy of IFWiki saved to IF Archive at least twice a year, but I don’t know how to do that.


(David Welbourn) #17

Regarding style guides on IFWiki… They were my attempt to explain to other people working on the wiki what sort of information I wanted on particular pages and how they were formatted. The style guides can say what sorts of information are greatly desired and what sorts are optional, but in my opinion, style guides should avoid any suggestion that some works of IF are more worthy of note than others, or that some authors of IF are more worthy of note than others, or that some authoring systems are more worthy, etc. The IFWiki pages should avoid making too many value judgments, in my opinion. I would prefer that the readers come to their own conclusions based on the bare info given.

Now, that is not to say that IFWiki should be completely without focus, and this is what the Projects pages were invented for. It was my intent that the Projects pages would help identify where IFWiki contributors should direct their efforts if they were unsure what they should do. As it happened, we didn’t get that many contributors, and so I didn’t push the Project pages to anyone. When contributors are only contributing sporadically, it made more sense to me to let them add what they were most interested in when they wanted to.

And I must also admit my own biases here. I wrote the CYOA category description in a deliberately hamfisted way to limit the amount of CYOA-style games (now normally called choice-based games) listed in the wiki. I really didn’t want to waste my time cataloguing every CYOA under the sun and said so. Which was fine until someone else read it and got upset. And I must admit, choice-based games had evolved into a genre I couldn’t really classify as ‘mostly crap’ any more. (Although, there really are some stinkers out there, if you ask me.) So, I let myself get overruled on that.

And so I really can’t see myself asserting a merit system in IFWiki as a whole at this point. I can only say “I would personally like to update info about parser games today” and let choice-favouring editors update their preferred articles instead, for example. When prioritizing IFWiki as a whole, you want to go with the stuff that you think most people want to read about. Which at this point is probably the IF Comp pages and their games, followed by the XYZZY Awards and their associated information. And everything else after all the pages in those categories have no red links is gravy.


(David Welbourn) #18

Re: automation… Yes, I’ve wanted to automate updating of IFWiki for quite some time, but I somehow never quite managed to get that effort off the ground. In the beginning, I had the motivation, but not the time, expertise, or computer memory to do it. Now, I would say I have the computer memory and somewhat more info on how to do it, but I’m now lacking motivation, personal energy, and computer bandwidth to follow through. It’s been… frustrating.

Perhaps I’m going about it all wrong, but the way I planned to do it (and hopefully will actually do … someday) is to datamine various websites like IFDB, IFWiki itself, people’s blogs and other websites, storing the info in one big JSON file. (I already have a sizable JSON file of IF data, but I’ve been hand editing it with NOTEPAD for years.) After a verification stage, I would then use this combined info to update IFWiki.

And although it’s been my eventual intent to make my own JSON file public too, I can’t really do it now because there’s private data mixed in with it, and that would have to be culled first.



@bg that’s great to see IFDB’s data in the archive. And David no apologies necessary for me, you’ve helped make the wiki into a great resource. For backing up the wiki it seems like the main question is where to put it, and the archive seems like the logical place?


(Andrew Plotkin) #20

Yes, the IF Archive can hold IFWiki data, that’s what it’s for.

I think it’s just a matter of (a) figuring out what facility the wiki has for doing a data dump or backup, then (b) having someone with appropriate wiki permissions do it.