History of the Main Page

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This is a nostalgic pictorial look back on the history of the Research Wiki main page and the wiki itself. Included are the images of the changing face of the main page and information highlighting the growth of the wiki.

ModelRocket.jpg
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A work in progress: Please add any notes (or milestones achieved) that you can remember that would aid in the telling of this story (or post a note on the talk page).


The introductory article about the wiki's launch can be found here.


IN THE BEGINNING

The Research Wiki was born in 2007 and the original wiki site was based on the Plone open source software. You can review background information from The Past in an earlier review article. The following display format (shown in this PowerPoint presentation) was used on the website until sometime into the first quarter of 2008.

MainPage 14 Dec 2007

The current wiki format started off with around 800 articles which were imported from the original development site (above) which had a limited group of users. December 14, 2007 marks the appearance of the first Research Wiki main page based on a version of the MediaWiki software.

MainPage 14 Dec 2007

Some of the original wiki articles (based on the “oldest pages” section of Special Pages) included the following:

  • A series of separate articles on Pakistan such as Pakistan Military Records, Minorities, Naturalization and Citizenship, Newspapers, Periodicals, Probate Records, Taxation, Civil Registration –Vital Records, and Court Records.

By the 19th of Dec 2007 new locations and category lists started to be developed.

MainPage 20071221.jpg

Many of the initial wiki articles where developed around portal pages which have since been abandoned in 2009 (with complete elimination by the end of 2012) in favor of the Un-Portal pages as can be seen in the current wiki format (also see portal disadvantages). Besides the need to overcome some technical search engine issues with the portals, the linking of multiple pages on related topics via sidebar templates was deemed easier for contributors to participate rather than trying to edit a single portal page holding all the information.

MainPage 20080207.jpg

The article Wiki: Introduction describes “This is why we built the site.” (for the current page click here).

On 17 April 2008 an article to help with “Old microfilm number conversion of Family History Library numbers used before 1973” was available.

Although the wiki was still in a beta site, by 20 August 2008 there were 3738 registered users with over a 100 new users signing on per week.[1]

MainPage 20080917.jpg

22 January 2009 marks the creation of the FamilySearch Wiki: Success Stories project.

A review of how a wiki should function is described in the article How Community Governs Wikipedia which was created on 20 March 2009.

Formalizing the writing styles being used in the wiki culminated with the article Manual of Style on 20 April 2009.

MainPage 20090529.jpg

January 2010: Featured articles began to be highlighted on the main page and later on the wiki project page FamilySearch Wiki Featured Articles was initiated on 9 June 2011 and continued to mid 2013.

MainPage 20100116.jpg

A new article called Community News was initiated on the main page on the 26 February 2010.

MainPage 20100226.jpg

A modified design utilized new highlight boxes in addition to the featured articles.

MainPage 20100409.jpg

On 26 April 2010 the article Why I Participate noted that the wiki currently includes over 100 countries and 21,000 pages.

The wiki main page was translated into other languages such as: Dutch, Spanish, French, Italian, Chinese, Korean, and Portuguese. On 4 May 2010 the template to access alternative languages was created.

The milestone of 50,000 articles had been achieved on 15 March 2011 (up from about 800 articles approximately three years before) with a prediction that 100,000 would be achieved well before the next three years.

In August 2011 the concept of “mentoring” was defined with the development of the project page FamilySearch_Wiki:Mentors.

In September 2011, FamilySearch invited a group of users to form a Governance Team to lead on reviewing, developing and putting in place the policies/governance process needed by the Research Wiki.

MainPage 20111130.jpg

On 10 May 2012 the development of the Help Wanted project was formalized.

The Genealogical Services Wiki Advisory Council (GSWAC) holds its first meeting in August 2012. One of this council’s primary objectives is to help Wiki become a self-sufficient entity through community resources.

The Wiki Community Council was created and was announced to the community on 20 September 2012. Their function is be advocates of the FamilySearch Research Wiki, help promote the Wiki to the genealogy community, and to be advocates of the Wiki Community to FamilySearch.

MainPage 20121121.jpg

A redesign of the main page allowed faster access to more links.

MainPage 20121127.jpg

Familysearch.org had discontinued the forums on 31 December 2012 therefore alternatives for wiki communication were being evaluated.

MainPage 20130204.jpg

On 19 June 2013 the GSWAC was no longer a functioning entity.

In July 2013 Yammer takes the place of forums which were eliminated at end of 2012 ("not well advertized or easily accessible").

A note from the Community Council meeting minutes of 18 September 2013 indicated that the “Wiki is 3rd most visited area in all of FamilySearch”.

MainPage 20140328.jpg

In June 2014 the reorganization of the wiki support pages using a hub design culminated with the creation of the wiki Support Center.

The formation of the Governance Council was initiated by familysearch.org in mid 2014. This familysearch.org council supersedes the Governance Team and the previously disbanded GSWAC and it oversees the Community Council.

On 10 August 2014 a beta test site was opened in order to evaluate the future upgrade from MediaWiki version 1.17 to 1.22 and to get contributor input. This upgrade would involve a major format change and would affect the look of the wiki site (similar appearance to Wikipedia).

On 25 September 2014 the Research Wiki reached a milestone of 80.000 content articles with over 152,000 pages in total, approximately 150,000 registered users, and had over 550 million views.

The End? (or only the beginning)



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References:

  1. Taken from the meeting minutes of a 2008 User Group meeting.