Updating IFWiki

I’ve noticed that IFWiki is really out of date for recent stuff, like IFComp 2021 - the page doesn’t exist. Neither does Spring Thing 2021. Is there usually a procedure for updating it? I could probably make a simple script for creating the IFComp entries, if no one else has done so already.

Also, there’s much less content for recent games compared to older games, even very well-rated recent parser games. It’s all basically the same information as IFDB.

Is it worthwhile trying to update IFWiki? It just seems kind of sad right now.

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I don’t know if there’s an official procedure for it. In the past I’ve just gone to the previous comp page and copied and pasted things onto the new page. If there’s no link yet for the (not-yet-existing) competition page, you can add it to “Competition News” first.

Edited to add: If you try to edit the wiki and it asks you for a magic word or something like that, it’s probably one of the words from this page: Xyzzy - IFWiki

You are welcome to use or adapt the attached script if you want. For a little while I was using it to scrape IFDB to make ifwiki pages. (The script is saved as a text file here because otherwise the forum won’t let me upload it.) I haven’t tried it recently, so can’t guarantee that it works. ifwiki.txt (34.3 KB)

I’m not going to try to answer that, but you might find this thread interesting: What would you like to see on IFWiki? (Survey)

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I haven’t looked recently but I used to think it would be good if everything possible game-related could be moved from the wiki to IFDB, leaving only anything unsuitable for IFDB, to avoid duplication, to avoid so many near-empty wiki game pages, and for the wiki to focus on other stuff.

Edit: Originally I probably thought that the IFDB and IFWiki should both be incorporated into a single new wiki…

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There are currently four primary sources of information in English for text adventures and interactive fiction:

  • IFDB (for game listings, reviews and links to games)
  • IFWiki (for information on all sorts of things IF related)
  • CASA (for screen grabs, maps, hints, walkthroughs and solutions)
  • IF Archive (for executable games, source code and tools)

I spend most of my time contributing to CASA. I would like to contribute to the others, as well, but it simply takes up too much time duplicating the same information. I dream of the day when all these resources are combined into one.

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It used to be that IFWiki was one of the main places to find links to IFComp reviews while IFComp was going on, but in recent years, people have started using spreadsheets for review links, so there may be less of an incentive now for people to create the competition page on IFWiki right away.

It would be good if those review spreadsheets (or the information from them) could be uploaded somewhere (IFWiki? IF Archive?) for safe keeping, if they are not already.

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I think IFWiki is weakest in terms of (game-related) content despite the MediaWiki software (with appropriate extensions which are lacking on IFWiki) lending itself perfectly to a huge user-contributed database.

Probably the various copyright licences would be a problem in combining them all, unless the emperors of the various empires were to agree to join forces. For example, CASA says every contribution remains the copyright of each contributor, but if CASA just became part of the IF Behemoth then I doubt the contributors would object. I imagine it would be similar for the others. I vaguely remember that the IFWiki copyright policy woolliness was never really resolved.

Though it would create a single point of failure, which seems relevant as I couldn’t get IFDB.org to load just now!

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I agree that it would be nice to merge CASA and IFDB, if not by actually merging sites than at least at a user-level by increasing interlinking. I briefly took on a project to go through most of the CASA materials and add links to them in IFDB, as well as a lot of new listings, but then I became too busy, and it fell by the wayside. I’d like to return to the project at some point. Things like your walkthroughs and maps really do a lot for preserving the memory and accessibility of the 80s/90s scene. I think it would be nice if IFDB more proactively hosted user-uploaded content in the way that CASA does, because over time links break, and since few bother to go through pages updating dead links, a lot of good information may become permanently lost. Given that IF Archive exists as a long-term file storage and doesn’t seem to have any aspirations to become a robustly user-facing experience, perhaps it would be nice to decrease the burden of uploading user-created content by opening up IFDB itself.

I know CASA has more of a specialist focus, but IFDB’s suite of user curation tools make it relatively trivial to host a big-tent approach. Individual diversity of interest doesn’t necessitate a fragmentation of facilitation resources.

As for IFWiki, I wonder if people could clarify what they want from IFWiki that doesn’t exist on IFDB? Better author splash pages with more links? More information about creation tools? The ability to host more generalized essays? These seem more like feature requests for IFDB than a mission statement for maintaining a second platform.

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The SSL cert renewal failed. Thanks for mentioning it – we’re checking into it.

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IFDB is highly customized to describe games. It is bad at anything that is not games.

IFWiki has a lot of information about IF history. (History of Infocom. History of various competitions – this is not the same as lists of games that were entered! History of the Golden Banana. That sort of thing.)

IFWiki also has information on non-game software like interpreters, development tools, etc. You might say “Oh, just start creating IFDB pages for these things!” but it’s not that simple. For these sorts of entries, you don’t want a list of “reviews”; you want a single page of factual information. (What features it supports, what platforms it runs on, the release history, etc, etc.)

Once you commit to having pages of factual information, you need the other appurtenances of a wiki, such as hyperlinks and an edit history.

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I think it’s reasonable to expect that there should be an IF Wiki in some form.
But as it is, the list of engines isn’t updated regularly.

Yeah, organizing volunteers to keep entries up to date is its own ball game. (Applies no matter what site the entries appear on.)

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I see two issues:

  1. It seems like CASA and IFDB are largely duplicative
  2. IFWiki lacks folks keeping it updated

For #1, I don’t see a solution, unless somebody says “we’re shutting down X; everybody go over to Y now.”

For #2, I think this is mostly due to a lack of volunteers, but also due to a lack of visible governance. I think some folks want “permission” to post stuff on IFWiki, and especially to delete outdated material. But it’s not even clear who you’d ask, or how. So outdated material never gets deleted.

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Another issue, in relation to updating IFWiki, is the duplication between it and the others – the game pages with content that’s available elsewhere – get rid of those pages, focus on what a wiki is good at (as described by Andrew above), and there might be more people willing to work on what’s left.

(I still think that a wiki would be great to replace everything but that’s just a pipe dream.)

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It does seem like there are things that could make it easier or more appealing for people to contribute to IFWiki.

I’m summing up ideas that have been mentioned so far, and adding a few, some of which have come up in past conversations about IFWiki:

  • Installing wiki extensions/tools to make it easier to edit (I’m guessing the person hosting the site would have to do this?)

  • Narrowing the scope of IFWiki, to make it more achievable to keep it up to date

  • Clarifying the focus/purpose of IFWiki, so that people understand the point of maintaining it at all

  • Deciding how to handle the overlap between IFWiki and IFDB

  • Changing the “magic word” question to something easier for IF newbies

  • Solving the copyright questions, so that people don’t worry their contributions may ultimately be useless

  • Organizing a larger group of volunteers to work on maintenance. When there are only a few, it can feel like your efforts are a drop in the bucket, or that people don’t care, and people get burned out.

  • More visible governance

  • Better communication

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As a contributor (and one of the admins) on CASA, I would say that our focus tends to be on parser-centric games, mainly the original older style ones. The content is very much a reflection of the interests of our community. Some contributors really concentrate on the map/solutions side. Others, like myself, like to focus on the research and information side of things. It’s a good place to discover random old adventures, particularly those that very few people have actually played.

I personally see CASA as a very distinct site and wouldn’t want to see in gobbled up by an entity that has a lot less focus on the type of games that I myself enjoy. It’s very much a space for very traditional 1980s and 1990s text adventures. We do spend a lot of time researching titles to correct a lot of the incorrect information that is out there.

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One possible path is to set up cross-site indexes. That is, add the CASA ID to the IFDB database entry for a game, and vice versa. (CASA currently has a “search on IFDB” link but this just searches the title by name.)

This is not a small undertaking, of course!

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There is a difference in approach that doesn’t really justify the time it would take to add manual links on CASA to IFDB pages. IFDB often has multiple entries for a game we classify as a single entity on CASA. A “search for title by name” should technically show these variants.

I think I agree. I don’t expect CASA or IFDB would or should shut down any time soon.

I am curious to know about examples of that.

IFDB has a notion of “Adaptations” which are listed as separate games, cross-linked, e.g. IFDB has separate games for Zork and Zork I, noting that Zork I is an adaptation of Zork. But CASA seems to do the same…?

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This is always true. IFDB entries don’t match up with IFArchive entries one-to-one. IFDB entries don’t match up with CASA entries one-to-one. It’s an iron law of librarianship, I think.

You can still make it mostly work if you want to. As I said, it’s certain to be a lot of work. So I’m not arguing for it; just pointing out the possibility.

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I imagine someone visiting IFDB might like to know if there were hints, solutions, etc. available for a particular game. Could there be an easier (automated, maybe?) way to add links on IFDB to those resources at CASA?

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