Note: An important change has been added. See the March 6, 2021 update for more information.
I wanted to give everyone advance notice that I will be activating the requirement not long from now that you have to have a Fandom account to edit on this wiki. It isn't because of a problem with users. It's because we don't have a way of communicating with people who don't have an account without having to block them to get their attention.
Usually when a wiki turns off anonymous editing, it's because they're seeing a lot of poor edits by people who aren't logged in, so they think if they shut that off, it will fix the source of the problems. I know from first-hand experience that doesn't work. If someone is deliberately causing problems, they won't let being required to have an account stop them. They'll create an account and keep on doing it.
It's important to not view all poor edits as deliberate vandalism. It's important to give people a chance and the information that can help them from making edits that have to be cleaned up into being more useful and beneficial. Not everyone listens, but you still have to try.
The issue is that after the Unified Community Platform became active here, we lost that ability. UCP is the update and modernization of the wiki software that brings it back to the standard being used elsewhere. It has benefits and drawbacks, just as any major change does anywhere else. The drawback that's affecting us is Message Walls now only work for people with accounts. IP addresses don't have those. For example, if a person makes an edit from a computer with an address of 220.127.116.11, they no longer have a page at Message Wall:18.104.22.168.
That means we normally can't talk to them. The only ways we can are:
- We shut off the Message Wall and go back to having User Talk pages.
- A page like User:22.214.171.124/talk has to be created that explains what the problem is and/or gives them information, then they are be blocked. Inside the block reason, you provide a link back to that pseudo-Talk page and hope they click on the link to find out what's going on.
Neither is really a good option. The Message Wall provides consistency with how other parts of the wiki work. Turning it off means we go back to a method that's slowly being phased out.
The second one carries with it a kind of punishment that may not be intended. Even if the block is only for a couple of days so they've got a chance to see the notice, they can't respond to it until the block expires. Even if you say, "You didn't do anything wrong. We just needed to tell you how to do things a little better", it can be enough of a discouragement to them that they may not want to come back.
That leaves turning off anonymous editing. By requiring people to be logged into an account in order to edit here, if we do need to talk to them, they'll see the notification at the top of their screen. If they choose not to read it or they do read it and decide to ignore it, that's their decision. But at least we'll have a standardized way of reaching them without having to resort to a block just to get their attention.
This will likely be activated at the end of January to give people time to create an account.
March 6, 2021 update:
Obviously, this hasn't happened yet. I had thought last week we had a second drawback about links inside the UCP version of the Message Wall not working right. That was just a case where you can't manually add a link any longer. You have to use the link button in order for it to work and I'm used to typing with the code and commands. You still get a billboard-like preview inserted afterward, but that's easily deleted.
However, we've got a situation where a majority of the edits made to pages about the movies and cast and crew are being made by people without an account. In contrast, there's a small group of people with accounts that seem to be focusing on only the home media and supplement pages. Those are nice from a historical perspective. It's the kind of detail I've been interested in myself. But I don't limit myself to being only interested in that. That not even 1% of the information available about the movie.
The bigger problem is I'm having doubts about how accurate the information on the home media and supplement pages are. I can't tell if they're just making it up or if they're adding what they've copied from some unknown site. Given how fast they're editing pages and how much information is being added, they're probably copying from elsewhere. So how accurate are those other sites that they're grabbing it from?
So, if I turn off anonymous editing, it will drive away the people who seem to be helping the wiki the most. Add in the fact that right now, I have to essentially punish anonymous users by blocking them just to talk with them and that's not good, either.
Until Fandom can upgrade UCP so that the Message Wall is available for everyone and not just those with an account, switching back to the older User Talk pages will work better when communicating with both registered and unregistered users.
As of now, requiring everyone to have an account is on hold, if not canceled. I'm not making it official just yet, but we will likely switch back to having User Talk pages in a month or two. If there's any messages there you want to keep, save a copy of them now. I'm not sure how to access them once the Message Wall becomes deactivated.