Every website has a limited lifespan, during which its usefulness and relevance will peak. After that peak, if not updated and maintained, sites can quickly become neglected and outdated.
The RichmondWiki project peaked a while ago and has not carried enough momentum to break through the problems caused by spammers, hackers, and negligent admins (me!). Let’s face it, current social media tools are much better at creating communities around a community, and the wiki is no longer the easiest way to classify the people, places, and things that make up our great city.
Rather than let things fall further into disrepair and neglect, I am placing the RichmondWiki on hiatus until further notice. The site and database are still there, but locked down and not editable until further notice.
Anybody that wants to revive the wiki and maintain it going forward is welcome to get in touch by leaving a comment here. I’ll provide admin access and help turn the lights back on if/when these criteria can be met:
Spam must be removed and a plan for moving forward should include more effective safeguards against it.
Future admins should have a plan for making the wiki more useful to more people.
The non-salesy tone and (relatively) non-biased atmosphere must be maintained. This is not a marketing platform or a tool for self-promotion.
It’s been kind of quiet here on the blog and on the wiki. I’ve only had time to keep up with the spam on both, not contribute new content.
Besides time, I’m trying to figure out how the wiki might fit into the local media/web/social scene. An aggregator? A focus on history and/or other static Richmond features? There are a lot of possibilities, but all would require more active users and a focus on creating and maintaining articles.
I’m open to suggestions and ideas for moving the RichmondWiki project forward. I hate to see it sit stagnant for so long, but that’s one of the benefits of a wiki. It’s here. It’s always editable. And it’s free.
Check out the performance gains we’ve achieved on RichmondWiki after a few updates in late May (from Google Webmasters, click to expand):
Time Spent Loading Pages
Average Page Load Times
Faster load times results in Googlebot crawling more pages. This leads to faster indexing of new and updated content and better organic search rankings.
Pages Crawled Per Day
Here’s how we did it
1. Changed Hosts – The wiki is now hosted entirely on DreamHost. We finally were able to leave Network Solutions and the problems associated with their service. I believe this had the greatest impact on the performance of the site.
2. Upgraded to MW 1.15.3 – Part of the problem on NetSol is that we couldn’t run the required shell scripts to upgrade the MediaWiki installation. We were stuck on 1.13.3 for about a year too long. Other than the performance gains, the added security and additional features of each new version makes it a no brainer.
3. Updated extensions – Keeping the core installation up-to-date is a good start, but your extensions need to be updated as well. Again, it helped improve the speed of our MediaWiki installation but also helps keep it secure and more user-friendly.
4. Updated to Google Analytics Asynchronous Tracking Code – The newest version of the GA tracking code loads independently of the rest of the page (hence, “asynchronously”) and doesn’t slow down the rest of the site if it “hangs” or is slow to load from Google’s servers.
I’m in the process of *finally* moving the wiki from Network Solutions to Dreamhost. Along the way, I encountered an unusual error while updating from MW 1.13.1 to 1.15.3 (yeah, so we were a little outdated but whatever):
In my UNIX shell I typed in the following to run the update.php script:
only to get this error:
Sorry! This version of MediaWiki requires PHP 5; you are running 4.9.2. If you are sure you already have PHP 5 installed, it may be installed in a different path from PHP 4. Check with your system administrator.
to invoke PHP5 instead of PHP4. Apparently command line scripts run in PHP4 by default but browser calls are executed with PHP5. Interesting, hope it helps.
The full migration will be completed soon. A few extensions are giving me trouble, then I have to migrate the blog and Piwik. The good news is that the DreamHost servers are working about 4X faster than the old Network Solutions servers. Sweet!