History Of The Universe: Part Four
rating: +116+x

2011 can be defined as a period where the wiki grew up. We'd had enough time to build up a more experienced community of writers, who could be counted on to produce quality content. We had a disorganized and weaker administrative team, with one strong admin amongst a group of weaker or absentee administrators. Kain Pathos Crow, Gears, snorlison, Pair of Ducks, and Waxx had all but divorced themselves from wiki affairs.

Bright was the most influential person on the wiki, being one of the few active administrators able to effectively run things. In many of the January 2011 forum posts, he is the first one to say anything, often being a voice of dissent. In one thread proposing the creation of a "minutes of a Foundation meeting" story, he posted "This is not a roleplaying site, which is basically what you are suggesting. As an Admin, my vote is not to do this thing."

The issue of deletion had long been a difficult one. Staff members were always hounded by deletion policy, with events like the Mass Edit being the direct result. But by January 2011, we faced the opposite problem. Our deletion process had become too efficient, with entries being deleted as soon as they hit -5. Authors were not able to get feedback on their articles, and it was becoming problematic.

On 05 command, Sophia Light proposed a new system: Instead of carrying out deletion as soon as possible, there would be a 24 hour grace period. In addition, four staff votes would be required for deletion, with the person carrying out the deletion not being the one who finished the vote for it. The memory of deletion-crazed staff was not far behind in their memory, and caution had to be taken.

While a minor issue at the time, this decision has come to be a major policy issue regarding rewrites and ownership. In this case, it was decided that rewrites could be reverted if it no longer showed the quality of the original work, even if the original author had created the rewrite. The effects of this decision will be elaborated on later in this essay.

There were a lot of new staff issues that would be coming up in the next few months, and a new generation of senior staffers was necessary. On March 5th, 2011, Bright promoted TroyL and Dexanote to senior staff, and promoted pooryoric to moderation.

The work of the new staff started quickly. Instituting the modern application system began on March 10th, when DrBright proposed disabling all applications and making the site free to join. This was due to a postulation that the application didn't do enough to stop undesirables from gaining access to the wiki. Within a day, six awful entries had been posted by new authors. While this doesn't seem like much today, it was pretty severe for the time.

So within days we've been crapflooded. Three deletions in 24 hours of some of the most terrible writing I've seen around here in ages, with another three more in the tubes waiting for the flush, all posted by newbie authors within eleven hours of joining the site. You may consider this my official "crawling on my knees begging for a restored application process" post. - pooryoric

The severity of the influx caused many staff members to consider removing the 24 hour grace period, with DrBright, pooryoric, TheRaven, TroyL, Metaphorphosis, Light, and Quikngruvn agreeing to it. However, not everyone posting on 05command agreed. User SophosBlitz posted against removing the grace period.

Maybe just open them up for deletion votes when they get too low? The way I see it, if they're just immediately/automatically deleted once they hit the lower bound, it'll be hard to keep track of the new content coming in and out even if you check the wiki daily.

Plus, given the size of the userbase and active voters on the wiki+chat, the "delete after this value" policy would just circumvent the reasons the whole 24-hour grace period was implemented in the first place. It just moves from -5 to -15 or -20 or negative whatever, and when the size of the active userbase goes up, the lower bound will have to be lowered to accomodate for the voting trends, etc.

The bad SCPs are bad but it's not like they'll slip through the cracks and stay around for too long, but it's not like you can expect every new addition of content to be good. Part of what a creative writing community does is offer criticism and let people understand how they can improve before throwing something into the trash. I think if they're up for display as "This is how you do it wrong" for at least a defined (albeit short) period, it'll help the general userbase figure out what's bad and what's not and shift the general trend of new SCPs away from the bad. I'm not Senior Staff so…ignore this if you want.

Edit: I also think 3 bad SCPs in the first couple of days of a trial period is an overreaction. - SophosBlitz

DrBright supported him with this post:

All right, laying this down here. The reason we have a 24 hour grace period is so a user can see what they did wrong. Unless an SCP is an obvious trolling attempt, such as the racist beans, no matter how low it gets in that 24 hour period, DO NOT DELETE it until that point. There is NO harm to leaving it up the full 24 hours. This is about people knowing what they fucked up, so they can do better next time - DrBright

There were also changes to the chat during this month, when Clef decided to step down as chat owner. In the chat, he gave owner to a user named Malachai, and told them to choose who the new owner would be. While it came close to being Mann, it was decided that Waxx would become the new owner.

Later in the month, Waxx created SCP Minecraft. This was really the first link between gaming and the Foundation. Previously, there had been the CYOA game and Bijhan attempting to make an FPS, but these had not amounted to anything. This became a social area for wiki members. DrGears, DrKens, Bright, and TheRaven were staff members who played. It lasted for a short while, but created the first prolonged interest in SCP Community members gaming together. Currently, a different Minecraft server for Foundation members exists, as well as an off-site Minecraft mod using some SCP articles as the basis for the models.

April was another time for promotions to go down. Bright promoted Sorts to senior staff on April 2nd. This was well received, and was seen as an "about time" type of action. On the 15th, DrMann and DrLight were both going MIA, with Light going on a vacation and Mann deploying to Iraq. So, Quikngruvn and TheRaven were both promoted to administration.

New staff members came at a time when they were desperately needed. The flood of new people had increased dramatically. More people were on the wiki than we'd ever had before, and demographics began to shift. Articles which had been popular for long periods of time began to get downvoted, and as fewer older members stuck around, the culture changed in larger ways. The standard by which articles were judged was changing. Some older users voted based on how they'd seen articles evolve, and the way it tied into the universe. Newfolk would judge everything based on the first time they saw it, and only by the way it was written to them.

They had a lot of questions and tried to raise a lot of discussion, such as talks on object classes, where the Foundation originated from, and how technologically advanced the Foundation was. This frustrated a lot of older members, who wished to keep the old canon the way it was, and not let the newbies change things.

The clashes between older and newer wiki members created a divide. Some older members despised the new users for changing site standards, and bringing down older articles they were fond of. They would pounce on newfolk whenever they could, nitpicking and being rude. On the other hand, new users often had limited and poor understanding of site culture, and how SCPs were written. Many of them believed that LOLFoundation was still in use, and that all articles had to be scary.

It wasn't just new people coming to the Foundation. On May 24th, 2011, DrGears returned after an extended absence. He'd been unable to reach the wiki due to mounting financial and personal difficulties. He was only able to access the wiki via a cellphone, which made it difficult for him to communicate. Gears's activity for the remainder of the year would be extremely sparse, and he was unable to access the IRC.

On June 13th, 2011, Light took a leave of absence from the Wiki. She had been experiencing difficulties in staying connected with wiki affairs, and decided that a temporary leave would be good for everyone. Her leave was among several that happened around the same time, with TheRaven leaving afterwards.

This created a greater demand for new staff members, and so Bright promoted EchoFourDelta to senior staff. This was not a promotion based on a vote by all staff members, but a decision by Bright to fiat his promotion. The next month would bring about more democratic promotions, but this got the ball rolling. It was the last time a staff member was promoted in this way. Sabitsuki was promoted to senior staff on July 11th.

On July 29th, the first real effort to clean up the tagging system began. Page tags had always been a sort of grey, loosely defined area. People had basically tagged their pages however they wanted, and there were a lot of tags that were inaccurate, only used for one article, or contradictory. In short, the system was a mess. Staff recognized this, and put TroyL on to begin cleaning it up.

I've started the first phase of the tag update, which includes tagging all author pages, creepypasta, guides, and Foundation Tales (the latter of which I have defined broadly as anything written by a member of the site and posted here that is not an SCP, guide of some sort, or author page).

The rest will be done much more slowly, but I'm trying to get this part done in one, large chunk, since no new files have been posted in a little bit. I posted (and stickied) a thread on the forum which explains what I'm doing and the current process, as well as how to filter the tag updates out of recent changes. I should be done with this part of the tagging sometime tonight or early tomorrow morning. - TroyL

However, the tag update would be a mixed success, initially. The amount of articles needing to be retagged, or which had been tagged incorrectly, was overwhelming. Tales and creepypastas were tagged fairly quickly, but the process of actually moving in and clearing the tags was extremely difficult. Eventually, the project would be set aside to focus on other issues.

There was also some staff opposition to the changing of page tags at all. DrBright did not like the tag system, and stated that people should be able to tag pages in whatever way they liked. This opposition is another reason why the project was set aside.

There had long been discussion on D-Class personnel and their use in the Foundation. There was issue of whether they were actually obtained from death row, or if they were terminated at the end of the month. This culminated in several extended discussions on the chat, and an eventual forum post by DrGears:

After several discussions on this topic, I felt it best to present my personal view on the subject…

People, after examining the Class D system, invariably ask the question: "where do they all come from?". It then normally evolves in to a rejection of the presented policy, and requests to edit/review how the Class D are handled. However, this skips over what i feel is a rather large point.

Examine this: The Class D are very bad people, who get used against even worse things. They may die, but they are all horrible rapists, murderers, and child molesters, so it's hard to feel too bad about it. Then, at the end of the month, we clean out all the scum we have left, and bring in a new batch, all for the greater good of Humanity.

Does this sound like Foundation policy, or something to help people deal?

How many actual conversations are held with the Class D, besides post-test interviews? Has anyone actually seen the end-of-month terminations? Who can actually confirm with 100% certainty that they are all scum-of-the-earth inmates?

Someone once measured out the total amount of Class-D needed per-month, and it was pretty damn high. However…how many people vanish in a month? I mean just drop off the planet, never to be seen again? How many people die in accidents so bad, they can't be identified by family, or have closed-casket funerals? How many homeless or "off the grid" people are there in the world, who could vanish with little/no notice?

Who to say that unused Class D are not shuffled around between sites? Who knows what they are being told? Who is to say that the whole system isn't set up to help maintain emotional detachment: "This is horrible, but they were going to die anyway, so it's ok."

I think the actual mechanism behind the Class D is something that is found out only after long time employment. Once you've gotten deep enough that a little thing like a shard of the truth won't hurt as much…

Or, it's just a cheap trick to try and bump up the horror of entries, and the bad people get used on bad things for the greater Good.
Whatever helps you sleep nights.
- DrGears

But these small issues would be overshadowed by the demotion of a widely liked site user, over an issue that set the precedent for plagiarism bans and staff conduct.

Sabitsuki was a member of senior staff briefly, with an unfortunately undocumented tenure. During the research for this essay, very few posts made by Sabitsuki were found, with the ones that were located and subsequently identified consisting primarily of chat snippets or replies to people referring to her. She seems to have been promoted primarily for likability and affability in IRC. Three tales and one SCP article created by her still exist, with a high quality of writing (one of her stories has been featured on the front page of the wiki).

In August of 2011, pooryoric called her out for claiming she had created artwork belonging to a different artist. Sabitsuki confessed, and subsequently deleted her WikiDot account. It was agreed that she would be immediately removed from senior staff, the first time a staff member was removed for reasons not relating directly to the wiki. Due to the fact that she had committed plagiarism, it was decided that leaving her as staff would set a poor example.

The reactions displayed by members of senior staff varied. Some were extremely angry that someone would plagiarize work like that, while others sympathized with her and advocated for leniency. The eventual decision was that she would be allowed into the wiki, while being watched to ensure no further instances of this behavior occurred. Sabitsuki left the community permanently shortly after the demotion.

At the beginning of October, staff members were going through the maxim of "cross-linking is bad" and trying to decide official policy on the issue. Was there to be no cross-linking, a limited amount, or anyone being free to do anything they wished?

Most staff seemed to approve of the cross-links, as long as they were done with appropriate context. They also agreed that most cross-linking done on the wiki was not done in an appropriate way. Most linked to articles like SCP-682 or 914, trying to piggyback on their popularity of the higher rated articles on the wiki.

Inspired by the discussion on cross-links, the next subject to be tackled was merchandising the wiki. Unfortunately, this discussion was decidedly less civil. There was an ugly split between the staff members who did support merchandise, and those who thought it would destroy the wiki. Questions raised by this discussion, such as incorporation of the wiki, who would hold the money, and what it would be used for, are still being debated.

On October 11th, Photosynthetic was promoted from senior staff to moderation. Coincidentally, on the same day, the main SCP list (numbers 001-999) became full. We'd filled every one of the original slots, and there was now only one slot left. Seeing an opportunity, site administration started a contest: Write a mythological creature as an SCP, with one winner being given the coveted SCP-1000 slot. There were numerous entries, including the current SCP-1337 ("The Hitchhiker"), SCP-1013 ("Cockatrice") and SCP-1111 ("The White Dog").

The winning entry was SCP-1000 ("Bigfoot"), created by TheDeadlyMoose. Their entry received the most votes by far, ending at 46, with the runner up (SCP-1111) receiving 39 votes. After the contest ended, SCP-1000 was created and everyone began to fill in the new entries to the SCP Series 2.

On the 18th, it was discovered that a thread had been deleted from 05command. The thread in question was a disciplinary action for a user whose initials were "FC". After some investigation, it was discovered that FC had complained to WikiDot: because she had the same username on multiple websites, she felt that a thread which discussed disciplinary action against her, and which mentioned her username, constituted harassment; in response, the WikiDot admins deleted the thread. This caused a big fuss, as many members of administration were miffed that WikiDot would go into their forum and delete a thread outright.

Bright attempted to open communications with the WikiDot team, while the rest of staff discussed the issue. FC herself claimed that she had been bullied, and that staff had violated WikiDot's terms of service agreement. Although these claims are dubious at best, moderator pooryoric was extremely torqued by the proceedings. He made several posts in the thread that made it difficult for staff to argue their point, being very personal and angry remarks.

This incident marked the beginning of staff distrust in WikiDot. Before this, all experiences with them had been positive, such as the Master Admin switchover and with Pro accounts. After this, staff members would start making attempts to move off WikiDot, and to an environment where they would have greater control of wiki affairs. There was also a thought of branching out what the wiki could do.

November brought a new effort to put Foundation writers into the realm of published fiction. DrGears proposed the Electronic Shadows Project, made to bring creepypasta and non-Foundation-exclusive writings into an ebook format, and sell it through Amazon. There was a lot of excitement for the project, and many writers offered to post their works. Even the long-lurking far2 posted in the discussion thread, offering to assist with the management of the project.

However, despite several stories being posted, Electronic Shadows didn't get off the ground. There wasn't enough organization among the organizers, and there was conflict with whether we could even legally sell an ebook, or make one at all. In the end, these questions, and the lack of coordination, would doom Electronic Shadows before December.

On November 19th, Gnosis made a post on 05command asking if the word "faggotry" should be allowed in #site19, since some people could be offended by it. Waxx, the chat owner, made it clear that it would be allowed, and any OP who disagreed could tender their resignation if it bothered them to that degree.

Staff members like Metaphorphosis and Quikngruvn argued that this amounted to censorship, and that a writing community advocating censorship was not a very clever idea. This eventually spiraled into several very, very long posts made by Mann, pooryoric, Nusquam, Metaphorposis and Quikngruvn. This was eventually settled with the agreement that it would only be punished if it was used in the context of a slur, and not in an inoffensive context.

In late November, Gnosis left the wiki, taking with him his chatbot, Grapewhistle. Grape had been the chatbot used in #site19 for most of the year, and had replaced other bots such as Magic_8_Ball and Nala. With the departure of Grape, Nala 2.0 was brought in by Raven Mackenzie to replace it. At this time of writing, Nala is still the bot in use.

The start of December, specifically December 3rd, was marked by yet another round of promotions. TheDeadlyMoose was promoted to senior staff. They were noted as having a definite drive to improve the site and giving good feedback. Adam Smascher was promoted at the same time, also to senior staff. The next week, on December 13th, Dexanote was promoted to moderation.

In mid-December, there was a small issue of returning author rights. User DayDreamin', who had written SCP-213 ("Anti-Matter Parasite"), came out of the woodwork and began editing it under a different account. Staff noticed this and didn't initially realize who he was. However, when the explanation came out, he was allowed to continue and the edits stood. This was one of the first new cases of "old author coming back" an issue that would dog the wiki in the coming year.

As the year wound down, there was one last major issue to discuss. Dr_Kens and Quikngruvn began serious work on a new Foundation website, away from WikiDot. We wanted to leave WikiDot for a number of reasons, most prominent being the FC deletion incident. Having control of the wiki just displayed that arbitrarily shook staff trust in the WikiDot team, and was the primary catalyst for change. Originally, the project was proposed by Mann, with discussion on the project starting on November 26th, and being primarily discussed near the end of the year.

The first issue brought over about the site was how things would be transferred. How would the SCP articles and tales be moved over? Would it be in order, or in the order of the highest to lowest rated?

No. I'm highly against anything that involves having to choose articles to move. Either we move the whole site or none of it. - TheRaven

We would be moving it all, but prioritizing the higher rated stuff first. - Adam Smascher/Nusquam

Nope. I say if we're determining priority like that, we shouldn't be moving. If you need a way to order transfers, do it numerically by page. - TheRaven

There was also the issue of how discussion pages would be transferred over. Due to the limitations of WikiDot, there was no easy way to move things such as the forums, discussion pages, or even page ratings to the new site. This caused some tension between staff members, and sparked some long posts by pooryoric.

I'm not sure moving the forum will ever be doable… Page transfers are easy; it's just tedium that makes that step slow. A team of three or four of us could probably have all page content copied within a week or so if we kept at it. The forums, though, I'm afraid would be a write off; the options that spring to mind are screen shots of the pages as they stand or simply copying every individual post, neither of which seem worth the effort required at all.

Normally, I would agree with bright, in that the forums and discussion threads are a fairly important if not integral part of the site community. However, the issue with wikidot unilaterally deleting f.c's[sic] discussion thread has me antsy. The ability for users to go over our heads like that is not a weapon I like the idea of some of our less responsible users having, particularly in light of all the trolling we've had recently. Personally, I'd really like to get us off of wikidot as soon as we're able, especially since mann is willing to hold the URL for us; and if that means losing the forums, it's an acceptable loss in order to make sure no offended new user starts having our content removed under false pretenses.

Now.

Theraven, making declarations like "If X that makes me unhappy is considered, we should avoid this ENTIRE LINE OF THINKING" is unnecessarily hyperbolic, and starts stupid arguments that bog us down far more than they help. At no point did anyone ever say "we're going to move a few articles, and ditch the rest". What's being discussed is whether or not we should prioritize getting certain articles up first to ensure that readers migrate to the new location as we go, instead of just dumping a whole new site on everyone and losing readers due to the jarring transition. See, no matter what we do, we're going to have to move pages one at a time, unless someone's invented a 'copy website' button while no one was looking. When you do things one at a time, you have to pick an order to do them in. If, as you say, no article is a higher priority than any other, then it doesn't matter what order we do them in, does it? We may as well start with the high rated ones. If you must be too close minded to even consider that option, please simply suggest an alternate method of transfer rather than exaggeratedly shit on the whole plan just to make a point. Making suggestions to replace points you disagree with is helpful; declaring you're too cool to play with the group is not. - pooryoric

The format of the new site was one of many other points of contention. There was an idea to create a "showcase" site, which would be designed to show articles in a more immersive format. If you weren't logged in, there would be no discussion page, rating, nothing that wasn't in-universe. This was also where the first discussion of slush piles appeared, as a way of filtering stories on the showcase site. Stories of a certain rating were to be submitted to senior staff, who would vote on them, and if the vote passed it would be added to the site.

The idea of making a showcase style site was more to kind of block things out design-wise and start getting the URL out there while we get the wiki solution (as well as helping to ensure that as many articles as possible are already preserved in case something happens before we're ready). It's not intended as a permanent solution.

And we're going to lose the forum and the discussion pages. We're going to lose the current ratings. We'll probably have to learn new wiki mark-up for a lot of the things we do, and we may not have modules for the things we depend on, like ratings (though it may be possible to build our own). That's unfortunate, but there's no way that I've been able to find to let us keep that. But as Yoric said, the alternative is losing the entire site down the line.

Wikidot's software would be ideal, but unfortunately, they killed the project for making their software freely distributed. There's a version available, but it's an earlier release, and it may have security issues and lack features we use.

Kens/GX-67 is currently project lead, insofar as he's been putting in work to figure out what we need in terms of hosting. Quik, if you can find decent wiki software that'll suit our purposes, that would be awesome. - DrEverettMann

There would be more debate on how a new host for the SCP Wiki could be found, but these would be less pronounced in the beginning of the coming year. There was a storm brewing, and it was about to breach the floodgates.

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