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Databases and Wikis - Why Not ZAM?Follow

#1 Nov 30 2010 at 10:55 AM Rating: Excellent
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Let me preface this post by saying that this isn't some sort of request for you, our readers, to start using our database / wiki. While I'd love it if all of you started avidly using our content and shouting our glory to the heavens (*grins*), I know that people have preferences in where they go for information and once someone has used a site for awhile, it's hard to tear them away.

That said, in the epic drama thread that cropped up in here last week, it was mentioned that ZAM isn't really a primary source for FFXI users looking for database or wiki information. Since you are all pretty longtime users of ZAM (and I assume places like Gartr [sp?] and ffxilopedia [sp]), you can actually answer this question better than anyone else I've ever asked.

Why did you decide to use those other sites for FFXI info rather than ZAM? What convinced you that that was the place to go?

And, if you're feeling really ambitious, what could we do in the future to make sure that we don't lack in those areas again? What would make us better than our competitors, in your eyes?

I'm interested to hear what you folks think about our sites.
#2 Nov 30 2010 at 11:10 AM Rating: Excellent
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Originally, zam was one of the places to go but ffxiclopedia made editing and having real time information available. Most the time it's correct but newer content usually takes awhile to get edited. This is much faster than the old days when you had to submit page corrections on ZAM and maybe months down the line it might get updated. I can probably pick a random page on ffxi zam and it wont have all the drops listed it should compared to ffxiclopedia.

ex. Chukwa has been out for 6 months or more now. It is spammed for chloris pops by some people. Drops are pretty well known. However, FFXI ZAM has 4 drops. FFxiclopedia has 22 drops.

see the problem? lol
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#3 Nov 30 2010 at 11:12 AM Rating: Excellent
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ffxiclopedia is the best source for information about FFXI because it has information on everything in great detail and it's updated very quickly(usually), BG has the best informative forums for FFXI. Also I think the FFXI staff are more intrested in FFXIV these days so the rather inadequate updating system gets even less attention than it used to.

Alla to most is simply a basic FFXI chat forum, it honestly offers very little else of value that isnt done better elsewhere. If forum 10 was removed I'm pretty sure the site would lose the majority of it's regular visitors.



Edited, Nov 30th 2010 12:14pm by preludes
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#4 Nov 30 2010 at 11:15 AM Rating: Excellent
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What you could do is like some sites. Have whatever is being talked about automatically linked to the wiki and have that information correct or the ability for people to correct that information.

ex. In the previous example, If I say "Chukwa" It links directly to that page. Someone can look at it as a source of information instead of maybe putting another window/tab and search it on another site.
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#5 Nov 30 2010 at 11:18 AM Rating: Excellent
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Editing here takes too long, and the tags aren't explained well enough. I tried doing some routine edits and had the hardest time trying to figure out how to link articles I was creating both to existing content and to each other.

Plus the Help files here are minuscule at best, and threadbare at worst.

The "Wikibase" is too convoluted for proper use and searching. Wikis are simply easier to create, edit, tag and search.

Edited, Nov 30th 2010 12:19pm by Pawkeshup
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#6 Nov 30 2010 at 11:19 AM Rating: Good
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I used to use alla.com for everything. When I learned of the wiki for FFXI it allowed me access to real time editing/distribution of information that made other sources a stagnant place for outdated information.

Sorry, I don't mean to bash anyone...but knowledge is power as they say. For current info on anything ZAM is one of the last places I go to now.

Edited, Nov 30th 2010 9:21am by spcwill
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#7 Nov 30 2010 at 11:25 AM Rating: Excellent
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As someone who found ZAM as a level 11 no SJ Rdm back in 2004 and used it from then until now both for FFXI and a few years for WoW, I would say it is just uncomfortable.

When I first played, I didn't know about Wiki so I ONLY used Zam. For quests it was alright and for items it's great (mouse over is fantastic) but once I found wiki I've used Zam ONLY for the forum and not at all for quest/item look ups.


User friendliness goes right to Wiki though, no offense.

-Auto-finish on words is amazing. I've not know exact spelling of NM's I wanted to look up, I'd type 2-3 letters and a drop down appears. I love it.

-Visuals of Wiki. The maps are easily visible and marked nicely, every mob has a pic, info is clearly shown in a very easy to read manner and spells/JA's/jobs are not only up to date, but detailed.

-URL accessibility. This is something I doubt you can fix, but the absolute greatest thing for me on Wiki is that I can simply type whatever I am looking for after "wiki/" and it takes me right to the page. Convenient beyond belief.


Perfect examples:

http://ffxi.allakhazam.com/db/quests.html?fquest=1474

vs

http://wiki.ffxiclopedia.org/wiki/Sword_Trials

At first glance Wiki is already in the lead. The URL is perfect. On the page(we'll pretend the Zam one is actually filled out) the layout is very uncomfortable vs wiki's.

Another

http://ffxi.allakhazam.com/db/spell.html?ffspell=609

vs

http://wiki.ffxiclopedia.org/wiki/Blastbomb

The search to begin starts off differently. If you search Blastbomb on Wiki(or type in URL) it automatically takes you to the page. On Zam, it takes you to a hub, with it as the only option. The pages spell out the huge difference in the values though.

Zam has the basic stats of the spell, the spell description, but a horrible descript of obtaining it. Wiki has the picture of the spell text, detailed info on the stats, additional notes, exactly what mobs to fight to learn it (with links to their pages) a VIDEO of the spell's animation and for every magic type, the bottom of the page has a link table of all spells in that type sorted by what they are.


I love Zam forums, but for information it is not nearly as friendly as Wiki :(
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#8 Nov 30 2010 at 11:29 AM Rating: Good
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Alla caused this to themselves by lagging on implementing these systems (wiki database, free search. etc), while other sites were innovating.

I was shocked when Alla was not interested in paying a discounted rate for me to produce high quality happy friday comics, which would have given them a huge viewership edge over the other Ffxi sites and therefore profits. They were also not interested in doing this for the then-upcoming FFXIV site, which would have given them an instant user-grab out of the gate. But this meshes with the realization that Zam has no interest in competing whatsoever, which to be frank dooms them to eventual failure in the face of innovative competition. It is apparent that Zam operates on "minimal investment/no innovation" type operation.

The fact that people are using other sites as their information source, where this site used to be THE place for that, is just another symptom of this. To expect users to revive your horribly outdated database, which you have neglected, is not the answer. Lack of investment by the owners of Zam, and no interest in innovation, is what needs to change, not a database update.

Fact is even if you update everything yourselves, nobody bothers to look here for that info anymore anyway so it will again fall into disrepair from lack of user input. You've lost the FFXI-info battle forever to FFXIclopedia. What else you lose is up to your management. You are now purely a forum discussion site, focus on improving that.


While on that very topic, here's another piece of innovation I suggest. Let's see if you listen this time.

Change the karma system : Allow only a rate-up option, the rate-down replacement being "report a violation" button in which the clicker has to select from a short list of what rule was violated before proceeding. This would then act as a rate-down and be recorded for admin viewing. If a complaint is filed that someone is getting rated down for no reason, it will be easy to look at the reasons people selected for the rate-down and see if they were in the right or abusing the system. Also the more steps a rate-down takes, the less people will spam it just as the "I disagree" button. Posts that become 'excellent would get a small highlight border around them; rewarding good contributions with improved visibility and making them easier to find.

Result :
-Users that contribute positively to your site are rewarded with appropriate status.
-Users that just kick around chit-chatting suffer no ill effects and are motivated to start contributing to discussion instead of hide from rate-downs.
-Rate-down abusers are now forced to provide a valid TOS reason for their down-ratings, 90% will stop abusing it.

Do you see that? It's innovation. Rather than have a system that's more likely to abuse a user, you end up with a system which rewards good contribution with improved visibility. Instead of highlighting the bad by making sub-d collapsed posts which actually stand out.

Want to thank me for this? Guru me. If it wasn't for the years of rate-down haters I would be guru'd years ago. God knows I logged enough contributory keystrokes to earn it.
Quote:
I used to use alla.com for everything. When I learned of the wiki for FFXI it allowed me access to real time editing/distribution of information that made other sources a stagnant place for outdated information.

Quote:
I think it really comes down to the fact that FFXIclopedia was the first to set up a proper wiki and once it took off, it snowballed. Just like others have said, they go to FFXIclopedia because it's more accurate and complete than the info here.

Quote:
Originally, zam was one of the places to go but ffxiclopedia made editing and having real time information available.

Quote:
Trying to catch zam up just doesn't even make sense.

Quote:
I don't use ZAM's wiki simply because it was slow to arrive


Case in point: This very post has already gotten rate-downs, i guarentee for "i disagree". Kindly tell me what part of the TOS validates rating down this contributory post that took over 15 minutes of my day to write and edit to help out? This is exactly why people have and will continue to leave even your discussion forums. Defend this last reason for your site to exist, or face obscurity, failure, and loss of what small pay Zam gives you.

Edited, Nov 30th 2010 1:24pm by RattyBatty
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#9 Nov 30 2010 at 11:35 AM Rating: Good
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I think it really comes down to the fact that FFXIclopedia was the first to set up a proper wiki and once it took off, it snowballed. Just like others have said, they go to FFXIclopedia because it's more accurate and complete than the info here. Since it's visited more often for that information, that information gets updated more often as well. That's not the Alla administration's fault per se, it's just that you guys joined the parade after it had already left. Wiki established itself as the single source of information during a time when Alla was struggling to keep even mildly up-to-date information. The move to a wiki was a good idea, but I think it just came too late when people had already gotten used to using FFXIclopedia.

It's a shame too, with FFXIclopedia getting bastardized by Wikia more and more lately. I kept telling everyone this would happen, ever since the original owners sold the site mere weeks after concluding a successful fundraiser. (They sure cashed out on that one...) I would rather have seen Alla take off, but like I said, I think you guys were growing stagnant during this time and it presented an opportunity which FFXIclopedia jumped on.

That being said, now might be an opportune time to try to bring Alla back into the fold. I think everyone is pretty much agreed that FFXIclopedia's new layout is trash. However, the first step if Alla is going to get serious about it would be to update their information. I don't know how you'd go about doing that, but right now Alla's wikibase is very incomplete compared to FFXIclopedia. You might do well to find a way to motivate people to replicate the information from FFXIclopedia over here. Obviously you can't just copy & paste everything word-for-word, but the basic information like which mobs drop which items can be copied. Obtaining a flow of information into the wiki area of the site will be your #1 hurdle. If you can get that, you're in like Flint.

If you're going to seriously go down that path, one thing I'd suggest that would give you a leg up on FFXIclopedia is providing a strategy section that allows people to discuss strategy in a way that's more formal than the "talk/discussion" pages on FFXIclopedia. Those discussion pages are a mess, you could do a lot better. Perhaps break it up into a few different categories of strategies like standard tank and kill, manaburn, kite & DOT, pet burn, etc. That way people can come to a page, and look at the strategies that apply to their particular setup without sifting through pages of discussion on things varying from some guy's experience getting killed when he popped it solo to someone's opinion on the philosophical meaning of the mob's placement in the game.

Anyway, that's my 2 cents!
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#10 Nov 30 2010 at 11:39 AM Rating: Excellent
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This is an example of the failure of Wiki vs. Alla's solution. You see, Alla used to use a back-end edited database (I still remember the days where the front page was loaded with updates from Pikko and others as they added in information submitted via email).

Alla, seeing wikis becoming the new wave of editing, tried to wedge in a wiki-editing style to their existing database. However, they fundamentally work differently. What you're seeing is a throw-back to the old GET style of item calling used by databases. The text after the ? is the call into the back-end functions used for a database, where as the Wiki uses a different system entirely.

Dinishte wrote:

http://ffxi.allakhazam.com/db/spell.html?ffspell=609

vs

http://wiki.ffxiclopedia.org/wiki/Blastbomb

The search to begin starts off differently. If you search Blastbomb on Wiki(or type in URL) it automatically takes you to the page. On Zam, it takes you to a hub, with it as the only option. The pages spell out the huge difference in the values though.


Disregarding the info sent in/edited on the spell itself, you've encountered the issue I had. Making a page that is easily found via a search is EXTREMELY challenging. Plus it takes time for the indexing of every page to occur, so when you're testing searchability, you literally have to wait for the database to "catch up". Because editing is such a pain, information is bound to be old, inaccurate, or altogether false.

ZAM would either need to go back to having people internally create all pages (ironically by copying info found on other sites of course), or scrap the database and institute a full-blown wiki.
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#11 Nov 30 2010 at 11:47 AM Rating: Decent
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I definitely understand the difficulty, which is what makes it sad. Zam is a great forum but you cannot beat that when I open Firefox, I type in "Fie" in the URL bar and it recalls the Field Manual wiki page for me. Here I used to have to bookmark 20-30 pages I frequented.
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#12 Nov 30 2010 at 11:50 AM Rating: Excellent
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There are many reasons why I go to ffxiclopedia instead of zam for info. Here is a very strong one:

Go to ffxiclopedia and search for "Charis Tiara +1". The page that comes up contains:

* Stats and links to info about stat modifiers
* Quest needed to obtain the item
* Quest that the item is required for
* A link to view the entire set that the item is a part of
* Any special notes about mods provided by the piece

Now go to zam and search for "Charis Tiara +1". The resulting page contains:

* Stats and links to info about stat modifiers

And that's it.

Quick and convenient accessibility to complete and relevant content is why ffxiclopedia beats out others.
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#13 Nov 30 2010 at 11:55 AM Rating: Good
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And, if you're feeling really ambitious, what could we do in the future to make sure that we don't lack in those areas again? What would make us better than our competitors, in your eyes?
At this point, that's not even possible. Zam is so far behind wiki, it would take years to catch up, unless we had hundreds of people constantly updating it. And that will obviously never happen, and it shouldn't happen, because there is still work that needs to be done on ffxiclopedia. There are two sources for ffxi: zam, which is maybe 50% complete, and ffxiclopedia, which is 95%~ complete. Trying to catch zam up just doesn't even make sense.
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#14 Nov 30 2010 at 12:08 PM Rating: Good
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http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Network_effect

Basically, the Wiki model is more suited to community collaboration than the forum/database model. And once it starts picking up steam and being useful, it's in the entire community's best interest to support one (or a small handful) or resources for the widespread user base to update.

I use Zam for forums - I'll also note that the structure of FFXI itself was really helpful for Zam's forum setup. I have spent a lot of time in the job-specific forums, which are GREAT resources for learning to play jobs, specific questions, gear guides, etc. For a game like FFXIV, where identity is less reliant on which job you play (one of the things I found myself disliking about XIV), job specific forums are a lot less useful.

I use ffxiclopedia for missions/quests, looking up NMs, etc.

I use ffxiah.com for quick item lookups because it's MUCH faster than any other resource and the search syntax is fairly forgiving (partial word = will come up with correct search). And of course, I also use it to check prices.

I use BG when I want to dig through a sloppy forum full of elitist a-holes, but occasionally find some good high level strategic discussion.
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#15 Nov 30 2010 at 12:14 PM Rating: Excellent
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I don't use ZAM's wiki simply because it was slow to arrive. Also, maybe it's changed, but it has always seemed to me like the information in ZAM's wiki and database is extremely crowded. As for the lack of information/formatting/etc (that most are commenting on and could be changed by the users)... it's just because there are only so many people in the world that will take the time to edit a wiki and they're already focused on a different site.


Pawkeshup Delivers on Time wrote:
(I still remember the days where the front page was loaded with updates from Pikko and others as they added in information submitted via email).
This is precisely how I learned about most of the items in FFXI. I'd just browse the front page, looking at items with interesting names.


EDIT: Also, whoever had the idea of linking entries to a topic that was being talked about in threads, I think that would help to update the database. I agree with Rog in that ZAM will never catch up to wiki with their information though.

Edited, Nov 30th 2010 12:17pm by xypin
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#16 Nov 30 2010 at 12:54 PM Rating: Good
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Put simply: Zam's database is a malnourished dinosaur in a back room that you can only communicate with through pneumatic tubes. That was the impression I got just when trying to edit an existing page... Creating a new page without the sort of templates available over at Wiki was nigh impossible (without achieving the same by copying an existing page).

Wiki was up for a year or two before alla decided to cobble their database together.
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#17 Nov 30 2010 at 1:07 PM Rating: Default
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Mohit wrote:
Originally, zam was one of the places to go but ffxiclopedia made editing and having real time information available. Most the time it's correct but newer content usually takes awhile to get edited. This is much faster than the old days when you had to submit page corrections on ZAM and maybe months down the line it might get updated. I can probably pick a random page on ffxi zam and it wont have all the drops listed it should compared to ffxiclopedia.

ex. Chukwa has been out for 6 months or more now. It is spammed for chloris pops by some people. Drops are pretty well known. However, FFXI ZAM has 4 drops. FFxiclopedia has 22 drops.

see the problem? lol


On the other hand, it is like a week left to the update, and nobody has updated the staff trials since last update on wiki.

I can't say why I go there though. Just as I can't say why this forum ended up being the one I stayed at.
#18 Nov 30 2010 at 1:15 PM Rating: Excellent
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About the only time I link to the Wikibase here is if I'm linking to something with stats (i.e. an item) and I want people to be able to roll over and see the stats or description without having to click on the link. Implementing that was a very helpful, very good idea.

Wikia also has an autofill function on the search field. Many items in FFXI are not exactly easy to spell, and the exact name may be weird. They have it indexed so that it detects the search string based on the first few letters and provides a list of possible matches.
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#19 Nov 30 2010 at 1:15 PM Rating: Excellent
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Zam's setup just isn't complete, up to date or all that easy to navigate. The one thing it really has going for it though, is the mouseover item display. Other than that, ffxiclopdedia beats the pants off it in every category.
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#20 Nov 30 2010 at 1:19 PM Rating: Excellent
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That's because Alla was pay-to-search for so long and while they removed the need to have a Premium Account to search now, it's too little, too late.

FFXIcylopedia is for ffxi info, Alla is for forum lulz.
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#21 Nov 30 2010 at 1:20 PM Rating: Excellent
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Miitan wrote:
That's because Alla was pay-to-search for so long and while they removed the need to have a Premium Account to search now, it's too little, too late.
You know that was only the forum search, right? You could always search the database for free, regardless of your account status.
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#22 Nov 30 2010 at 1:33 PM Rating: Excellent
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Grand Master Leatherworker ThePsychoticO wrote:
Quote:
And, if you're feeling really ambitious, what could we do in the future to make sure that we don't lack in those areas again? What would make us better than our competitors, in your eyes?
At this point, that's not even possible. Zam is so far behind wiki, it would take years to catch up, unless we had hundreds of people constantly updating it. And that will obviously never happen, and it shouldn't happen, because there is still work that needs to be done on ffxiclopedia. There are two sources for ffxi: zam, which is maybe 50% complete, and ffxiclopedia, which is 95%~ complete. Trying to catch zam up just doesn't even make sense.


In some sense, I agree. That said, a lot of what we do with the wiki is translated to our other sites, so making the user experience better for FFXI would mean making it better for all our sites. I'd hope that, in some ways, if we made it better for XI, there could be some things that would naturally improve - such as the strategy discussions that were talked about.
#23 Nov 30 2010 at 1:34 PM Rating: Good
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Micajah wrote:
Grand Master Leatherworker ThePsychoticO wrote:
Quote:
And, if you're feeling really ambitious, what could we do in the future to make sure that we don't lack in those areas again? What would make us better than our competitors, in your eyes?
At this point, that's not even possible. Zam is so far behind wiki, it would take years to catch up, unless we had hundreds of people constantly updating it. And that will obviously never happen, and it shouldn't happen, because there is still work that needs to be done on ffxiclopedia. There are two sources for ffxi: zam, which is maybe 50% complete, and ffxiclopedia, which is 95%~ complete. Trying to catch zam up just doesn't even make sense.
In some sense, I agree. That said, a lot of what we do with the wiki is translated to our other sites, so making the user experience better for FFXI would mean making it better for all our sites. I'd hope that, in some ways, if we made it better for XI, there could be some things that would naturally improve - such as the strategy discussions that were talked about.
The issue here isn't really the database/wiki itself, but the available information.

There really is nothing you can do to get people to switch from ffxiclopedia to zam for such information.

Edited, Nov 30th 2010 2:35pm by ThePsychoticOne
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#24 Nov 30 2010 at 1:41 PM Rating: Excellent
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xypin wrote:
Miitan wrote:
That's because Alla was pay-to-search for so long and while they removed the need to have a Premium Account to search now, it's too little, too late.
You know that was only the forum search, right? You could always search the database for free, regardless of your account status.


Actually, you could only change search criteria if you had Premium (they'd appear greyed out otherwise) and the data was, as has been previously stated, out of date at best or non-existent.

To get ZAM up to FFXIcyclopedia standard would require such as massive amount of effort that it would be completely impractical.

Edited, Nov 30th 2010 2:45pm by Miitan
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#25 Nov 30 2010 at 1:47 PM Rating: Good
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Grand Master Leatherworker ThePsychoticO wrote:
The issue here isn't really the database/wiki itself, but the available information.

There really is nothing you can do to get people to switch from ffxiclopedia to zam for such information.


Completely correct, and it only makes sense. Yet again, because it's such an important concept, I'll post: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Network_effect. Once a network is in place and the whole community uses it, and it's more complete or widely used than any competitors (even if those competitors are slightly better in some areas), there's a strong incentive to just buy in to the established system rather than reinventing the wheel for information that's already out there.

Now, that being said, ZAM could certainly do something for FUTURE MMOs (and FFXIV is still new enough that the community and resources are still not entirely established). There's zero chance of making ZAM's FFXI database/wiki competitive though, ever. Just looked up the WotG mission fight "Darkness Descends" on both - ffxiclopedia has lots of information, specifics on the battle and lots of strategies. ZAM has the FFXI mission log description, and that's it. And this is for one of the bigger fights in the WotG mission storyline. It's been around since March.

I'm assuming that the OP was thinking more long term and trying to figure out ways to make ZAM appealing for future games where the community isn't so established already. That's a worthwhile cause, and worth looking at people's insights into why they choose one over another.
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#26 Nov 30 2010 at 1:50 PM Rating: Decent
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The two big ones I think have already been covered (updates were slow and organization of data is better)....but I think you need to dig one layer deeper to arrive at the reason for that--people like that idea of being able to have real control over how the information is presented.

It's much easier to receive active participation from the community when gathering data for something like a wiki if you give the same users who are helping you greater control.

This is the same reason the open source community works much better than people writing snippets of code and having a software house make use of that code--the coders feel as if they lose that sense of ownership.
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