We came under attack

26 09 2007

Weird anonymous vandals came and vandalised random articles, even a template or two, wth strings of silly characters.

I could quite cheerfully  vandalise them back.

We’ll solve it with a bot soon.  But, until then, we’ve locked the articles against unregistered users trying to edit

How lovely to be the target of spammers

1 05 2007

We had five spam attacks in one day by spambots that edit existing pages and blast their spam links across the page.

We should have realised this would happen at the start, but we didn’t.  So we’ve implemented a CAPTCHA to limit the effect.  So far today we have seen no spam, but that may just because there have been no attacks yet.  Time will tell.

Interesting visit patterns

18 03 2007

Weekends are slow.  That is wholly unsurprising and wholly surprising, partly because of the time of day when traffic arrives.

At a weekend people are out, doing their thing.  They aren’t at home on the computer.  Me, too.  And weekdays people are at work.  Yet the greatest number of site visits happen during office hours.  The world has a lot of people who are bored witless at work!  But it surprised me, nonetheless

What is obvious to me is not obvious to you

14 03 2007

Last evening I met a “Wiki-Virgin”.  He’d no concept of what a wiki is and needed help.  So many things that were obvious to me were wholly not obvious to him.  And why should they be?

We “experienced wiki users” have probably cut our teeth on Wikipedia, and done our best, and learnt by experience.  But how many people have looked at Wikipedia and said “Yeah, right, if you think I’m editing that, then you have another think coming!”  It’s actually sometimes quite daunting.

Is this a problem we need to solve?  or is it something transient? Will people jump in and play, or is it off putting?

The outcome is a pretty good initial article about rotary snow ploughs (okay, plows) , followed by a little work by me to show my new friend the way it might be enhanced.  and he’s going to upload some pretty spectacular pictures this evening, I hope.

We need a week’s more data

14 03 2007

We have been tuning and tuning the site and software, and we’re pretty much tuned to the hilt as far as our current server goes. We need another week’s worth of data points to be sure of the class of server we migrate to when we migrate, but we know we’ll outstay our welcome on the server we share at present.

That’s the thing, you see. We share a server, and the mediawiki software is a huge eater of resources. Now, while the share of resources we have is limited by the environment we live in, shared servers work by selling the same resource several times over, on the basis that no individual site will use its share to the full.

We’re using our share to the full. It’s hardly surprising, because, between the two main wikis that are live currently we have over fifteen thousand pages in the database, and we’re serving and storing some large pictures.

So we’re gathering data about performance, we’re benchmarking on an offline server to see how performance enhancements relate to a dedicated server instead of a shared one, and we’re looking at the balance sheet to make sure we take a server that is within the advertising revenue that funds the sites.

We’re set to move in a few weeks, and we think performance, since it is on a par with Wikipedia at present, is acceptable for that timeframe. But it isn’t wonderful, and we’re aiming higher.

The usual “new site” problem

4 03 2007

We launched on St Valentine’s day – February 14 2007. There is absolutely no reason for our being at all impatient. The site is just like “Field of Dreams” – “Build it and they will come”.

They are coming, too. Not in great swathes, but in numbers sufficient for Bernd and me to be confident that we have it broadly right. At this stage we have too much similarity to Wikipedia, that is inevitable. And we have more articles than are relevant. That is also a given. But we and a couple of stalwart editors are working on that.

We’ve even been asked to “rescue” some Thomas the Tank Engine stuff in danger of being deleted from Wikipedia. So we are not unknown.

But we do still have that challenge that every community has in the early days. Facebook and MySpace must have had the same problem: “Where do the first people come from?”

It’s not just that. “We have the first members, where to the others come from?”

Obviously it’s a mixture of search engines and word of mouth. It just feels nerve wracking until it starts! But the server is bought and paid for, so there is no real rush. It’s just that we so want the community to succeed, and no amount of growth will ever feel fast enough

Someone has to start!

2 03 2007

It really ought to be me, since I am co-founder of Spotting World. But this is a blank canvas, and I have both a lot to say and no words to say it with!

I do have another blog, but this one I am reserving for Spotting World.

If we believe Tim O’Reilly, Spotting World is a part of “Web 2.0″, the alleged revolution in using the web, where communities come together and create their own web content. Advice is trusted because it can easily be proved or disproved, and people from all colours, creeds, “classes”, and educational backgrounds come together to creat thing sthat are usually quite wonderful.

Tim Berners Lee says this is bunk! he says that this has been happening for ever. And he’s right.

I came online in about 1996, later than some and earlier than many. The internet, at least the World Wide Web, had primitive sites, but there were forums, or messageboards, and people created “own content web pages” using them from probably before then. For me the new thing was the concept of a wiki.

Wikis add the “wisdom of crowds” to the generation of content. They put the community firmly in control. Web 2.0 must be bunk, Berners Lee is right. Maybe it’s Web 1.27!

This morning I was at a seminar where one speaker told us of hios love for his TVR sports car. It’s a typical TVR: much loved, goes like a rocket, makes a lot of noise, breaks down often. He is a member of Pistonheads, and he takes advice on their messageboard about how to mend it when it breaks!

He said “When I’m under my car at weekend I sometimes wonder why I trust ‘Joe from Stoke’. I’ve never met him, and I am doing things on his advice that put my life in his hands”

Another speaker followed him and said “He trusts Joe because Joe has no vested interest. Joe is writing from the heart about things and other people will say if he is wrong”

How is this relevant here? Well, only that Spotting World is a family of wiki fandoms. We’ve started with Trains because we started with trains! The wisdom of crowds that sustains Wikipedia sustains Spotting World. We are a community with Train Spotting World. With the other fandoms we have planned we will be several communities. Tim o’Reilly would surely say that we are Web 2.0, while Tim Berners Lee would say as wisely, “but Web 2.0 is bunk”