Forum:Portals review

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This thread was archived on 2 February 2012 by Liquidhelium.

Our portals are not being used very much. Let me share some stats with you:

  • According to the Sitemeter tracker found on all of the content portals, the portals average 4,000 to 5,000 page views per day, good for about 0.5% of our overall page views. This is a very high (and good) number.
  • Also according to the Sitemeter, the click-through rate on potrals is approximately 12 percent. This means that once someone visits a portal, they have a 12% chance of clicking one of the links on that portal. Considering that the portals exist mainly as a "hub" for links about a topic, 12% is an extraordinarily bad number. (Note: If anyone wants access to the private Sitemeter information, ask me)

Intrigued by these numbers and thinking that the CTR reported might be glitched, I added individual polls to each of the portals, asking whether they were useful. The results can be found here (please don't vote on them on that page). As of today, after four days of polling, we've gotten about 350 responses, but on average only 15% said that yes, the portal was useful. Given that the polls are at the bottom of the page, the real percentage may actually be even lower. It has a relatively small sample size and the polling is not perfect, but the approval is so very low that I think we should do something about it. Even our worst features (calculators, money making guides) usually get around 60% positive.

What I get out of these stats is that the problem with portals is not that we don't link to them enough. It's that the content on the portals is not remotely useful to our audience. We should be focusing on making them better and useful, not stuffing links to them everywhere we can. There are certain things we could do to make them more useful; the slider and featured image, for example, have very little content, but they are at the top of the page and take up all of most visitors' screens. We could remove them or shift it lower on the page. We could brainstorm some good things to put on the portals, whether that's tips or a featured article, topical polls or meshing with the GEMW pages. Point is, our portals are big on looking pretty but they don't help people find things. Other wikis like Wikipedia or WoWWiki tend to have more content on the portals and less unnecessary pictures.

The other option would be to shut down the portals entirely. This is my personal preference because I don't really think the portals will ever get to a point where the information and utility they have will justify all the linking we do for them. Even if by some miracle the portals improve drastically, I don't think they will gain traction within our readers. In a topical wiki like this, most people know what they're looking for, and they find it. While our search engine is not the greatest thing in the world dealing with typos, it does a pretty good job getting you to the right page. One might also make the argument that the portals are there to be a primer for a skill or another topic, but my belief is that the skill articles tend to be much better at doing this than the portals ever could. Compare [[Portal:Ranged]] with Ranged and tell me that the portal is better. The portal is aesthetically nice-looking, but lacks any real depth. I don't think we will be able to change that. The portals are trying to fill a niche that apparently doesn't exist.

What harm do the portals really cause the wiki? Two things, really:

  • We are replacing links to articles with links to portals, both in the navigation and on the main page. This is problematic because the articles contain heaps more information than the portals ever will, and people clicking on those links get diverted to portals they know nothing about and don't need.
  • By linking to the portals at the top of topic pages and in portalboxes, we create an expectation that there will be something helpful there. When they click it and see a cheesy page with some nice visuals and not much else, it not only discourages them from clicking portals in the future, but it also makes it less likely they'll click on anything similar in the future. We're wasting their time.

I don't feel strongly that the portals need to be removed, but I don't have that much confidence in our ability to come together and make sweeping changes that in my opinion are necessary for portals to be viable. The current state and format of the portals is unacceptable to me, so if we don't have the commitment to do this, we should save ourselves a lot of trouble and close them.

Thanks,

ʞooɔ 23:09, January 24, 2012 (UTC)

Discussion

Support removing links, neutral removing portals - Removing the links to portals on high traffic pages is a necessity. I don't know if completely getting rid of the portals is necessary as there may be some users out there who actually find them useful. However, links to the portals need to be replaced with links to pages with actual content. Suppa chuppa Talk 23:31, January 24, 2012 (UTC)

Wouldn't removing the links make them more useless/harder to find..? I don't understand your stance on this. sssSp7p.pngIjLCqFF.png 01:29, January 25, 2012 (UTC)

Comment - Genuinely never even realised they were there. If I was to search for something like that I would think to search the component parts rather than have it occur to me that someone had the foresight to put it all in one place. cqm talk 23:35, January 24, 2012 (UTC)

Support removing links, weak support removing portals - Per suppa on the links. The portals though are actually rather useless, and we could probably use templates such as {{main}} on the main article page to link to it, such as putting {{main|bow}} on the Ranged article rather than have a section of the Ranged portal for that, as the page has a lot more content and is far more likely to be kept up to date What I've done Ciphrius Kane Talk 23:37, January 24, 2012 (UTC)

Support removal. Removing links doesn't fix Google directing people to them; they may as well go. ajr 00:02, January 25, 2012 (UTC)

Comment - You mention Wowwiki has some measure of success with portals, and I'd argue they're very much a topical wiki as well; I imagine most users who go there generally know what they're looking for. We could emulate whatever it is they do to get successful portals, but, as you said, it might just be easier deleting them altogether. --Sαcrε (edit my sig) | (edit my user page) 00:05, January 25, 2012 (UTC)

WoWWiki's portals are much more dependent on text and structure than ours. They have very few pictures on their portals. For a game that is admittedly much more complex than RuneScape, they only have 8 content portals to our 42. ʞooɔ 00:13, January 25, 2012 (UTC)
Maybe that's a part of the problem then. If it pleases the court, I could start working on a proposed Portal restructure later this evening. --Sαcrε (edit my sig) | (edit my user page) 00:36, January 25, 2012 (UTC)
If you want to restructure them perhaps base them on the interface tabs that have large content on them such as quests, combat and tasks. Bearing in mind, I have no idea what is there at the mo'. cqm talk 01:36, January 25, 2012 (UTC)

STRONG KEEL NAO - Seriously, how many times have I supported the deletion of portals? How many times are we going to go through this discussion again? The amount of negative feedback we've received from them is embarrassing. Portals don't work. They're useless. Let's stop wasting our time and get rid of them once and for all. sssSp7p.pngIjLCqFF.png 01:29, January 25, 2012 (UTC)

Weak support removing portals - It pains me to support this, as I know how much work has been put into them already, but given the feedback that we've received, I have serious doubts about the long-term solvency of portals. There are times when it's better to cut your losses early, and this might be one of those. --LiquidTalk 01:53, January 25, 2012 (UTC)

Comment - A lot of the topics we have portals on simply don't work with portals. For example, a portal on a skill is useless as we have the skill's own page which is a lot more useful. The only portals I see a use in keeping are quests, money-making and new updates, if it was actually up-to-date. While I find those 3 portals could be useful, they can still be changed a little, even this is slightly better than [[Portal:Quests|the current portal]].

But even so, is having 3 portals worth it at all? Sure it's questionable having just 3 pages in a namespace, but I'd say it is worth it, if we can get the 3 portals I mentioned to become useful. Hunter cape (t).png Sentra246Blue hallowe'en mask.png 02:12, January 25, 2012 (UTC)

Oh, and the community portal can stay, since that was pre portals anyway. Hunter cape (t).png Sentra246Blue hallowe'en mask.png 02:13, January 25, 2012 (UTC)
If we were to keep them at all, you're right. There are very few topics that are big enough that a single page wouldn't be better, and small enough that a list or category wouldn't be better. Even in the few cases where the portal could be considered better (Quests, Money-making) that's more a failing of the mainspace page than the portal being great. If all we have is three portals, though, we're much better off just transferring the useful stuff from the portals into the mainspace page. ʞooɔ 02:31, January 25, 2012 (UTC)

Delete the portals unless people are willing to do something other than stand on the sidelines complaining about them - The amount of assistance I've received to create these things was simply pathetic. The only time people ever speak of the portals are in these types of the threads. This lead to a poorer quality product because I can't spend 2 years working on something when there are other things to get on with in the wiki. Unless editors, especially the ones who spent a good part of a year demanding their deletion, spend some time working on the portals, they are simply a useless namespace which could have, but didn't achieve its full potential. 222 talk 02:23, January 25, 2012 (UTC)

If they spent a good part of a year demanding their deletion, why would they spend more time trying to maintain them? o.o Ronan Talk 16:18, January 25, 2012 (UTC)

Support removal - Well, we tried. I honestly hoped they would work out, especially once people actually learned about them, but that's apparently not the case. We simply don't have enough pages of meaning for portals to be worthwhile and the pages that would make the best out of a "link collection" like portals were supposed to inspire already have articles that do the same (List of Quests and Music/track list). Thus, despite having defended portals for the duration of their creation and early implementation, I say delete them all.

If this thread passes, as it obviously seems it will, I'll help delete the portalboxes. I know the categories used to find articles containing them, and a touch of regex will nuke the template. Your proposal doesn't mention it, but I presume we'll be keeping Portal:Community, though change its name back to Community portal. I do not think we should try and have just a couple of portals, as the only things that would really benefit have articles linking them already (previously mentioned quests and music tracks) and the rest just won't benefit enough from the mess. Hofmic Talk 19:38, January 25, 2012 (UTC)

Community Portal was here long before the others, it won't be removed. Ronan Talk 19:58, January 25, 2012 (UTC)
I agree with you, Hofmic. There are a few interrelated pages like all of the different lists of quests by release date or experience or requirements, but there's not enough of these to justify having a portal as a hub for them. Even then I don't think that having a single namespace with 2-3 pages would be at all worth while. At any rate we could integrate these pages a little bit better with the mainspace pages like Quests. And yeah, I'd think we would just move the community portal back to RS:CP. ʞooɔ 21:40, January 25, 2012 (UTC)

Oppose deleting - Come on guys, just because you think they are crap doesn't mean we should remove them. What we do, is, obviously help them. The links to portals on other pages I must say is awful placement. Maybe possibly placing them in the Infobox would be good? My opinion on the portals at the moment: Good. They have a nice layout and I love the image sliding thing. They just have to be noticed all. Also, although I doubt this will happen, portals I think would be better than categories. HaidroH rune.pngEagle feather 3.pngCandle (blood red).png 1XqyDNM.png Crystal triskelion fragment 3.pngHazelmere's signet ring.png 21:48, January 25, 2012 (UTC) I have change my verdict to Delete Portals. I think that now they are kind of useless and not needed. HaidroH rune.pngEagle feather 3.pngCandle (blood red).png 1XqyDNM.png Crystal triskelion fragment 3.pngHazelmere's signet ring.png 01:53, January 28, 2012 (UTC)

The problem is demonstrably not with the placement of links to the portals. As the statistics I posted show, they are getting plenty of visits. What's on the portals themselves is what's the problem. They have very little content and are not the glorious link hubs that we envisioned they would be. I don't see how you can even slightly attempt to replace the categories with portals, for a bunch of logistical and organizational reasons that I don't have time right now to get into. If you have any suggestions about how to improve the portals themselves I would love to hear them, but wasting our time with links to them isn't the answer. ʞooɔ 22:30, January 25, 2012 (UTC)
Yeah, I did that. The Armour & Weapons portal was linked from all the common weaponry and armour, so links were not an issue for it, the portals just simply don't do there job. The 4000-5000 visits a day is something, but the 12% click through is terrible, especially since portals purpose was to provide links to related articles. Sure, the slider is pretty, but it doesn't really serve any real purpose besides eye candy, and technically could be added to regular articles, but we don't, as it's (as mentioned) not practical. Hofmic Talk 22:47, January 25, 2012 (UTC)

Weak support - I'm going to have to agree with the people above me. Matt (t) 03:57, January 28, 2012 (UTC)

Neutral - How did Wikipedia's portals become so successful? --Jt 17:31, January 28, 2012 (UTC)

Wikipedia's portals are much longer than ours and are almost entirely text. Matt (t) 00:18, January 29, 2012 (UTC)
Wikipedia also seems to appeal to a different demographic. Most of their users are happy to wander around at their own pace learning about interesting topics, which the portals can lead them to. Our demographic is primarily made up of users who have one question and want it answered NOW! ie, how to make money, how to get through the Underground Pass, etc. The lore and history of the Underground Pass seems to only appeal to a small niche of viewers. Chicken7 >talk 05:56, January 29, 2012 (UTC)

Closed - Given that attempts to reinvent portals have failed, even after users were notified of their situation by this thread, and the support that has been garnered for deleting portals, the Portal project will be deleted. Wikia staff will be contacted to remove the Portal namespace. Links to portals will be removed from articles. --LiquidTalk 01:37, February 2, 2012 (UTC)