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Muppet Wiki:Current Events Archive 27 (June 2008)

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Archive of Current events.

Main Page

I noticed that the main page hasn't been updated in a while. Is it because of the skin changeover? I was just wondering. -- Ken (talk) 01:31, 13 June 2008 (UTC)

Mostly I think we just got behind :). -- Wendy (talk) 04:29, 13 June 2008 (UTC)

Main Page Error in Internet Explorer?

Is anyone seeing the following error on the Main Page in Internet Explorer?

The whole main section is getting pushed down below the right hand column for me.

Actually, the above is just what it looks like when I log in. When I'm not logged in, it has the same problem but also a second 728x90 banner ad directly underneath the first that covers up most of the main Article Bar. See below:

-- Peter (talk) 20:20, 11 June 2008 (UTC)

Argh, how annoying. That may be a problem that we saw last week that I thought was fixed..... Let me ask a few questions, and then I'll let the tech folks know.
What version of IE are you using? Is that the browser that you normally use? Did the problem just start a minute ago, or has it been that way for a while?
Let me know, then I'll alert the tech people. -- Danny@fandom (talk) 20:42, 11 June 2008 (UTC)
I'm in IE6, which I almost never use. I was having seeing images on the Wiki in Firefox (which ended up just being my computer running slow), so I went to check IE to see if the problem was browser-specific, which is when I discovered the problem. I have no idea how long it has been like that. -- Peter (talk) 20:51, 11 June 2008 (UTC)
Okay, I'll let them know. Thanks... -- Danny@fandom (talk) 23:25, 11 June 2008 (UTC)
I'm the tech people. :) I occasionally see it in IE6 if I resize my browser to juuust the right place where IE6 has trouble calculating the layout. What happens if you resize your browser just a bit? BladeBronson@fandom (talk) 23:36, 11 June 2008 (UTC)
The error appeared in IE6 when my browser was full-screen at a 1024x768 resolution, which it seems to me is probably not an uncommon browser/resolution combination. When I take my browser off of full-screen mode, the main page does look more like it is supposed to but still not exactly right. But if I put it back on full-screen mode again, it breaks even worse than it was the first time. See below:
-- Peter (talk) 15:07, 12 June 2008 (UTC)

New format

Hey folks: The announcement is up for the skin and ad format changes that are coming: Wikia's New Style. For the most part, the new ad on the article pages won't disrupt things very much, except on Sesame Episode pages. Check out the screenshot below to see what it looks like on a Wikia test site.

We'll have to come up with a new format for the Sesame episode template, so that the boxes don't leave that empty space. We probably won't be able to do this until the new format goes live on Tuesday, but I wanted to give folks a heads-up so we're not surprised by it. I'll see if I can find any other cases where we'll have to do some fancy footwork. -- Danny@fandom (talk) 21:50, 6 June 2008 (UTC)

Yeah, the 300x250 really screws up the Sesame Street Episode pages. But the regular pages don't look that great with the banner either. I think once the new skin is up and running, it would be worthwhile addressing where we put song boxes, performer boxes, images, etc. on all of our pages. This is especially true for some of our stub pages. If a stub has a photo but very little text, then adding the 300x250 banner ad above the photo will add to the white space on a page that already has too much of it. -- Peter (talk) 05:09, 7 June 2008 (UTC)
Yeah. While I understand the need for more advertising and all that, I'm not sure how I feel about having to re-organize how we do things on a wide scale around it, especially things like images and performer boxes (some of the other info boxes, which are either used less often or supply info as much for the record as for the casual user, can no doubt be adjusted). I've personally tried to beef up stub pages as much as possible, and that's still a good idea, but certain pages have a limit to how much can be said. I guess sandboxing is the best thing, but if there's a way to compromise (especially if the banner has to be on *every* single page, in addition to the ads already on the top), that would help.
I'm also thinking about how this could *really* mess with our many table pages (I suppose it depends on how people see them, since it would push the whole thing down, one might be able to get used to it, but if anything it seems like an incentive to reconsider even using those formats at all in certain cases if they're going to pose problems). I know below isn't prime ad space necessarily, but it's still pretty visible (here, anyway). Right now the inter-Wiki ads are below, but maybe they could be swapped out? (at least on certain problem pages, anyway, like the aforementioned; pages without images at all, or with the placeholder as for the unseen characters, probably wouldn't be hurt in the least, but there's increasingly fewer of those). I'm also concerned about the ads themselves, when they directly clash into the content (on the front page, I think there would be less confusion); in the test images, they seem fine, but I hope the ad team plans to look at the Google ads (not always easy, I know) and weed out the pirates and other black market or spam sites (I'm pretty sure that's a given, but it doesn't hurt to reiterate). Well, we'll find out on Tuesday, I suppose. -- Andrew Leal (talk) 05:34, 7 June 2008 (UTC)
I can clarify a couple things. On article pages, logged-in users will always see one ad. On most pages, that will be a 300x250 ad at the top right. On pages where that would crash into a table (like Muppet & Kid Moments: Herry Monster, for example), the ad will render as a banner ad instead. So if everything works the way it should, then the table pages won't be messed up.
But we will have to look at some of the other pages, and see if there's a better way to use the templates in the new format. We won't really be able to do much until Tuesday, when we see it in action. I think the important pages will be totally fine, but there'll be some strange cases here and there that we'll have to figure out. Luckily, we happen to be immensely talented at wiki design. -- Danny@fandom (talk) 06:41, 7 June 2008 (UTC)
Thanks for clarifying on the tables, Danny! That makes me feel better already (since it seemed like the hardest to work around without abandoning the format). -- Andrew Leal (talk) 06:50, 7 June 2008 (UTC)
Yup. That was actually something that I just got in under the wire. I thought it was working that way, and then today I saw on the test site that it didn't... so I asked about it, and I found out that they'd changed the plan. I made my case, did a little persuading, and convinced them to change it back. This was literally happening while we were finishing up the last edits on the e-mail that Gil sent out to the mailing list. :) I added in a sentence about not breaking the tables about two minutes before the e-mail was sent out. So, just so you know: I am watching this stuff like a hawk. -- Danny@fandom (talk) 07:14, 7 June 2008 (UTC)
Quick question: does Wikia offer fee-based advertising-free wikis? I know that other Wiki hosting services do that keep banners off your wiki for a monthly/annual fee. Is this something Wikia is doing or planning? I know I'd be interested. -- Peter (talk) 13:35, 7 June 2008 (UTC)
Nope, it's a totally different business model. Fee-based wikis are good for companies that want to create an internal wiki for business use. In that situation, there's one person responsible for paying the fee, and either they pay it or they don't.
If a community wiki paid a fee, then it would be up to each community to decide who pays... how much each person pays... whether people are allowed to be admins if they don't pay... what happens if the admin in charge of paying goes on vacation and forgets about it... etc. It would be insane. It's easy for an individual admin to say, hell, if it's a hundred bucks for a year, we'll just pass the hat! But that's not really a long-term strategy, for the individual wiki or for Wikia. Admins come and go. We need to have a source of revenue that we can count on. -- Danny@fandom (talk) 17:29, 7 June 2008 (UTC)

SS Episode Additions

Is it okay to add the episode information that is discussed here? Several episodes listed under the MC link have been confirmed by the Wiki, and I'm itchin' to add more to the guide. -- MuppetDude 15:05, 5 June 2008 (UTC)

You are, huh? With pictures and table formatting and all? --MuppetVJ 16:08, 5 June 2008 (UTC)
No, I mean the information given in this thread, and adding those episodes to the Wiki. The discussion page with Ernie and Jim points out how many shows have been confirmed. I planned on formatting them the same way the early SS episodes are, with a list of segments. -- MuppetDude 16:13, 5 June 2008 (UTC)

Ad on the main page

Well, the 300x250 banner is live on the front page now, and far be it for me to complain about online advertising seeing as how it pays my bills, but it's really pretty ugly. And on my screen, which is at a 1024x768 resolution, you get pretty much none of the main page picture. Now, I, too, am all for keeping Wikia running our Wiki for free, so I'm not intrinsically opposed to banner ads. But the 300x250 is much higher up on the page with respect to the content than on most websites, which usually have some content between the header and topmost 300x250. Also, the content in both the 300x250 and 728x90 ads is pretty redundant, so if people aren't clicking on the 728x90, they aren't given much more incentive to click on the 300x250 aside from its slightly more prominent placements. Do we know if Wikia eventually plans on running Flash ads in these placements? Also, Wikia probably isn't going to release current and target click-through rates, but do we know what the breakdown is of people visiting our front page directly and what percentage of unique visitors are editors? -- Peter (talk) 17:04, 3 June 2008 (UTC)

Yeah, it's not great-looking. We both posted at the same time about how the page looks -- see my comments below about how to get more pictures above the fold.
About the 300x250 and 728x90... The whole skin is going to be changing very soon (probably next week) to move the article bar up, and put the 728x90 banner next to the 300x250. The idea is to get something like what has -- not that big, and not with a spot that follows your mouse around, but that general idea.
Part of the change is about putting the ads in places where people are looking and clicking. It's also about creating ad units that premium advertisers are interested in buying. Advertisers are paying for ads on IGN and the front page of IMDB, because those websites are offering flexibility in how ads are displayed. 300x250 is the main ad unit that people want to buy these days, and they also want the possibility of a 300x250 / banner combination.
We have to be very careful with ads that move. Wikis are a lot more reading-intensive than other websites -- we want people to really read the content, and we want people to write. You can't do that with a "punch the monkey" ad flashing at you. I'm keeping a close eye on what kinds of ads are going to be running. I can't say right now whether there's going to be any motion involved, but I'm trying to make sure that we limit it so that it doesn't turn people away.
I'm also keeping an eye on what the new ad stuff does to the number of active editors... A preliminary test indicated that it didn't have any effect, but that was just on one wiki, so we have to see how this rolls out.
I don't have stats on who visits the main page vs. other pages, but I do have the number of editors/readers. In the last month, 97% of the visitors to Muppet Wiki were anonymous; 3% were logged in. That means the 3% of people who contribute are really important -- we're writing stuff that a lot of people are interested in reading. So the ad format has to do two things -- encourage the 97% to click on ads once in a while, and not get in the way of the 3% who are building the site.
Blah blah blah. Still in progress. I'm workin' on it. -- Danny@fandom (talk) 17:59, 3 June 2008 (UTC)
What's the "article bar"? Is that where it says "Edit this page," etc?
As for why advertisers buy certain spots over others, I agree that 300x250 is the main size that sites are offering and advertising are building placements for. But the reason advertisers would buy placements on IGN or IMdB over Wikia is that those have more highly targeted audiences with traffic that I'd imagine is a sight higher than ours. And from what I understand, Wikia probably isn't staffed to offer more custom placements than the standard IAB sizes at this point.
But I think you get into dangerous territory when you talk about limiting the animation in the banners. Sure, we don't want "punch the monkey" ads, but I'd argue that that's less because they have more animation and more because they lower the integrity of the site. And while it is possible to control what advertising a site will allow and what it won't, the reason advertisers want 300x250s is so they can use attention-grabbing Flash animation to get people to click on the ads. And one of the main reasons to have a 300x250 / 728x90 roadblock is so that you can synch the banners and/or use in-banner and out-of-banner tracking like on IGN. If you're planning on limiting what advertising you'll allow based on how much animation the ads have, you end limiting your advertising income. And we haven't even gotten into expandables. Not that it's impossible to control what advertising you allow -- it's just at odds with making money off of banner advertising.
That said, if we're going to offer a front page roadblock, I don't think that having big animations in the ads is too much of an issue. There's not much content to read or edit on the front page -- most of that is in the articles. It's when we move to adding the 300x250 to the article pages that we need to be careful, not just because those are the pages that are reading-intensive, but also because we need to make sure that advertising is not mistaken for content.
As for main page stats, it's good to know that editors / logged-in users are only 3% of our traffic. But the numbers for total visitors to the main page, as a percentage of visitors to the whole Muppet Wiki, must exist somewhere. We should try to get those, both in terms of total impressions and unique visitors.
It's also important to keep in mind that a good click-through rate on a banner ad is usually just .2%, so it may be in our general interest to click on these banners ourselves a little more often, even if we don't care a whit about Muppet ringtones. -- Peter (talk) 18:56, 3 June 2008 (UTC)
The banner ads I'm seeing right now before I log in are expandable. My browser has weird issues with them -- they don't unexpand. I've actually been unable to log in once or twice because they expand over the login-box placement (when it works as a popup), and it's hard to get to the login button without expanding them. Also they don't necessarily change after logging in until I go to another page, and I've discovered I can't use my user menu while they're up.
That said I don't find the new main page ad that bad <shrug>. It is exactly in the location I'm used to mentally ignoring on yahoo, and works fairly well within our existing design. If we must have another ad I'm ok with it. -- Wendy (talk) 17:45, 5 June 2008 (UTC)
Sorry I didn't get respond to this before... I'm actually dealing with all the communication about the changes that are coming. Things are happening kind of fast.
At a certain point, I can't really comment on the decisions that are being made about ads. We have an ad sales team now, and they're figuring out what we can sell to advertisers. I have some input in the process, but I'm not in charge of it. It's a really tricky balance -- selling ad space to the advertisers without completely distracting people from reading and writing. It's going to evolve as we go along.
My part in that right now is to be a strong advocate for the community. The advertisers will be pushing us in the direction of bigger, louder, more distracting. It's up to me and the other community folks to keep a close eye on the contributor experience, and the community reaction, so that we don't kill the site with too much distraction. That dynamic will help us find a decent balance. -- Danny@fandom (talk) 17:59, 5 June 2008 (UTC)
Interesting point, Wendy. I'm kind of permanently logged in, so I just logged out and saw a Flash 728x90 ad on the front page, but it goes back to the Google text ad when I log in. I guess the ad team is targeting editors differently than visitors. That's smart, actually.
As for the expandables, those are probably being served by rich media vendors. And per IAB (Internet Advertising Board) standards, all expandables must feature a close button when the ad is in the expanded state. If the banners that are running on our wiki do not have this button, or if these buttons are not working, then the ad sales team need to reach out to the rich media vendor ASAP and have then fix the issue.
Wendy, what browser were you working in when you experienced the problem? Sometimes the issues are browser and version specific. And what was the banner for? Different banners can be served through different rich media vendors in the same placement, so the ad sales team will need to know who the advertiser is in order to fix the problem.
Danny, it's understood that we may not be able to prevent the ad sales team from selling expandable ad units in our placements, but we can insist that they work properly. Expandable units that don't offer functioning "close" buttons are unacceptable, industry-wide. -- Peter (talk) 21:20, 5 June 2008 (UTC)
Yeah -- I'll talk to Wendy about the problem that she's seeing. If there's a technical problem, we can fix it, and if there's a problem with a particular advertiser and inappropriate ads, then we can block those ads. -- Danny@fandom (talk) 18:44, 6 June 2008 (UTC)
Cool. By the way, I didn't mean to suggest earlier that the broken banner was nefarious in any way. This sort of thing happens all the time. Even if a rich media vendor's test links work properly in all browsers, sometimes there are issues when the banners go live on a particular site.
It's usually as simple as contacting the ad server. If a banner isn't working, there should be no problem suspending the ad until it is fixed. Once they've addressed the issue, you can set up a dummy page or test link on your site to make sure it's working in the live environment. -- Peter (talk) 21:32, 6 June 2008 (UTC)
Thanks Peter -- I sent a screenshot and the info to Danny. I never knew there was supposed to be a sanity check on ads like a "close" button :). -- Wendy (talk) 00:50, 7 June 2008 (UTC)

Changing the main page

Okay, the new ad is on the main page, sitting there and being all Google-y. It pushes the picture down, so I'm thinking about what we can do to make the rest of the page prettier. The picture was the visual anchor for the page. Now that you can't see the whole picture, the main page looks a lot more bland.

One possibility is to change the format of "Today on Muppet Wiki" so that it includes little thumbnail pictures. That would be a bit harder to update, so maybe we turn it into "This Week on MW"?

Are there other ideas to have more pretty on the main page? -- Danny@fandom (talk) 17:14, 3 June 2008 (UTC)

I think we should hold off on any redesign ideas until everyone can see what the new skin (mentioned in reply to Peter's post above) will look like. —Scott (talk) 18:09, 3 June 2008 (UTC)
That's a very good point. -- Danny@fandom (talk) 18:12, 3 June 2008 (UTC)

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