HRWiki:A History

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Our proud heritage

The history of the Homestar Runner Wiki.


[edit] Overview

[edit] The beginnings and early days

In November 2002, a mutual friend emailed Joey Day and Stu Wilde a link to Strong Bad email #51, website, knowing they would enjoy it since they are both web-design hobbyists. This was the first time they had experienced Homestar Runner, and both of them were immediately hooked.

Nearly a year later in September 2003, Joey stumbled across Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. He immediately fell in love with the concept and decided to start a wiki of his own. After researching the various wiki platforms available at the time, he settled on one called WikkiTikkiTavi because it used a MySQL database and produced valid XHTML markup. He hadn't given much thought to scalability at the time, preferring something light and snappy over the larger and more stable platforms like Twiki, Moin Moin, or MediaWiki.

After installing the software on 7 October 2003, Joey decided he needed a topic. It didn't take him long to decide it should be a Homestar Runner knowledge base. After Googling to make sure no one had already set up such a thing, he promptly called his wiki the Homestar Runner Wiki.

In the first couple weeks Joey transcribed a few emails, starting with mile, but then life crept in and he was unable to do much more. It took nearly two months for anyone else to discover the wiki, but slowly and surely people began shuffling in. hawk and Maz were the first users to create UserSpaces, and when Stu heard there were people on the wiki he decided to set up his own UserSpace. JamesGecko was the first user to contribute significant content.

"I remember when there was nothing here but a transcript for the Strong Bad Email Mile, done by none other than yours truly. I about fell off my chair when I opened up StrongBadEmail one day to find that every email had been listed with a link to its own page. I about fell off my chair again when I opened it up a month later to discover that every email had been transcribed!" — Joey Day (WikiChat/OldTimersClub).

STUB'D! This section of the page is incomplete. You can help the Homestar Runner Wiki by expanding it.

[edit] Important additions

[edit] STUFF

STUB'D! This section of the page is incomplete. You can help the Homestar Runner Wiki by expanding it.

[edit] First attempt

The Strong Bad Email virus was extremely popular, and fun facts started appearing left and right. In order to make sure the fun facts on that and other pages were valid, the HRWiki:Select The Usable Fun Facts (STUFF) page was created. Users with potential Fun Facts posted them on the page, and other users voted on whether to accept them.

[edit] Overhaul

As the page grew in size and scope, it became overrun with personal attacks and chatter. After much discussion and refactoring, the page was relaunched in mid-June of 2005, officially shortening the name to HRWiki:STUFF. The new format used a much more structured layout in order to eliminate the problems of the old format.

[edit] Decommission

STUFF started to be ignored as debates over fun facts grew tamer, and discussion began to grow towards debate and consensus rather than a vote. STUFF was downgraded to a "last resort" status, in case consensus could not be reached. HRWiki:Open Discussions, a bulletin board for any kind of dispute, had recently been created. After discussion, it was almost unanimously decided that STUFF wasn't needed anymore and that Open Discussions could fill in its role. STUFF was officially decommissioned on 12 August 2008.

[edit] Featured articles

Since the Main Page reformat on 23 May 2005, featured articles had been updated weekly. The premiere featured article was HRWiki:Featured article for 2005, week 21, about Homestar Runner itself. Featured articles were nominated by any user willing to voice his or her opinion, with the final decision resting on one of the sysops or responsible users. Featured articles were automatically changed at midnight (00:00) Coordinated Universal Time (UTC) on Monday. In July 2010, the format for featuring articles changed. In 2011 and 2012, several featured articles were re-featured. Featured articles were retired in January 2013, with the last featured article being HRWiki:Featured article for 2012, week 52 about A Death-Defying Decemberween.

By the time featured articles had been retired, 434 of the Wiki's 2,980 articles had been featured.

[edit] Da Basement

HRWiki:Da Basement is a place for administrators to congregate and discuss important issues that involve the wiki. These discussions range from new page ideas to formatting and template changes to the content of the wiki. Although Da Basement is intended for sysops, anyone is allowed to contribute.

The page was originally started by Joey Day on 15 June 2005 with the name "Sysop water-cooler". Several users posted ideas for new titles. The title Da Basement, posted by FireBird, became the new name. This originated from Arcade Game.

[edit] The Stick

Since May 2005, HRWiki:The Stick has been the community center of the wiki. It has links to all the committees, the community projects, and more; and it's the best place to go if one wants to help the wiki; provide input on Projects, Cleanup, and Open Discussion; and so on.

[edit] Recent changes patrol

The Recent changes patrol is a HRWiki committee created on 3 May 2005 that searches Recent Changes for red exclamation points (!). This crew patrols the wiki every time an edit has been made. This patrol is the Wiki's first line of defense. If anyone were to make an edit that is false, misspelled, or malicious, a user from the Recent Changes Patrol will revert or correct that edit. Although any logged-in user is allowed to patrol, they are encouraged to join the committee if they do.

[edit] Welcoming committee

The Welcoming committee is a group of users who welcome new users to the wiki. These messages are added to the new user's talk page. These messages are meant not only to help the new user out as they get started, but to also make them feel more at home. Generally, welcome messages tend to include links to several helpful articles and pages, including the "Help" section and the MediaWiki user's guide. Anyone is allowed to join the committee.

The Welcoming committee was created on 7 October 2004 by FireBird after a brief discussion with Tom.

In May of 2007, a growing number of users were welcoming new users with nothing more than a template. Some were users were racing to get more "welcomes" than others. It was decided that welcoming new users should be more personal, so the First Time Here? bot was created soon after.

[edit] Subtitles

The Subtitles project provides subtitles for Homestar Runner Flash toons. The aim is to make the magic of Homestar more accessible to people with hearing problems or people who do not speak English well. The subtitles are also being translated into several different languages such as Finnish, French, and German.

The project was kickstarted by Elcool, Phlip, and Loafing, with Phlip and Loafing implementing the subtitles viewer. The project was first announced 24 August 2006, and by 12 December, 100% of all available toons had been subtitled in English.

[edit] Important upgrades

[edit] MediaWiki 1.3

Around June 2004, it was becoming apparent that 'Tavi would no longer be able to handle the amount of traffic the wiki was experiencing, and the admin team began researching alternatives. On 16 July 2004, MediaWiki 1.3 was installed on the server at It was secretly developed under the name "Experimental Wiki" for nearly two months and released in late August 2004. For some time, while MediaWiki was getting set up, WikkiTikkiTavi was closed down to ease the burden on the server.

STUB'D! This section of the page is incomplete. You can help the Homestar Runner Wiki by expanding it.

[edit] MediaWiki 1.4

The wiki was upgraded to MediaWiki 1.4 on 3 April 2005.

The fanstuff wiki was upgraded first on 22 March 2005. Some users perceived that it did not go over smoothly, though only a few problems actually arose. The site layout was altered, and image uploading was down for about twelve days. Additionally, the history on some pages from mid-January to mid-March was lost. When the layout and uploading were fixed, the knowledge-base wiki was upgraded without a hitch.

[edit] MediaWiki 1.5

On 9 October 2005, the wiki upgraded to MediaWiki 1.5. This added many new options to the wiki, not the least of which was the Move Log, which lists all the pages that have been moved. This addition was particularly useful for combating the page-move vandal Willy on Wheels.

However, the 1.5 upgrade also had a few bugs in it. One disabled all usernames starting with a lowercase initial. Such users then had to change their name formally to continue editing the wiki. This issue has not been resolved, and according to the MediaWiki developers, this was an intentional change and will not be addressed in the future. Another bug was one that did not properly clear the talk page notification for users who had spaces in their names, thus causing a permanent stay of the "new messages" alert unless they manually cycled the watchlist. This has since been fixed. A notable change in the way the software works makes it so that a user's talk page cannot be added to his or her own watchlist except automatically when receiving a message. This seems to be an intentional feature change.

[edit] Back to WikkiTikkiTavi for April Fool's Day

On April Fool's Day, the entire site was changed to a 'Tavi format at 12:00 Eastern Time on 1 April 2006. A message on the Main Page read:

The MediaWiki software was getting too complicated and difficult to maintain, so we have reverted to using WikkiTikkiTavi. We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause.

The WikkiTikkiTavi format was created in the days leading up to April Fool's Day by developing a skin called "tavistyle" and setting it in the default. Phlip set up the CSS styles and formatted the main page, and It's dot com wrote all the behind-the-scenes coding so that the entire site would have the 'Tavi look and feel while retaining the functionality of MediaWiki. Tom put up notices a few minutes before midnight announcing that the wiki was going to be "regraded" (as opposed to upgraded). This was a sanctioned prank, with Joey Day himself providing the "explanations" for the reasons we were supposedly switching software. A notable side effect of changing the default skin file was that all skins (excluding tavistyle and classic, that had more of a Mediawiki approach) were temporarily unusable. While still in the WikkiTikkiTavi environment, users who tried to switch to these disabled skins ended up receiving an unfixable internal error, and thus could not edit in their respective usernames. While countless users got the joke and played along, others really were fooled, and actually threatened to leave the wiki over the sudden change. Still other users realized it was a prank but were intent to point out exactly why and how it was a joke. At 12:00 Eastern Time, exactly a day after it had started, It's dot com put the server files back to normal and Phlip reverted the main page with the edit summary "April Fool'd!".

[edit] Further reading

[edit] MediaWiki 1.6

The Homestar Runner Wiki was upgraded on 21 June 2006. Prior to this, our custom extensions (like autocolumn and captcha) were tested with the new software. Nevertheless, there were a couple of glitches discovered when the fanstuff Wiki was upgraded the week before. Several issues were related to the fact that the MediaWiki software had been changed at the last minute in some key areas, and so some of our customizations interacted with it in unexpected ways. For example, on Wikipedia, they have a policy that all signatures must be subst'd, and so the MediaWiki developers rewrote the software to force the subst tag to appear when anyone would type the standard ~~~~, which, in turn, showed all of the code in every signature wherever it was placed. This made editing very hard, and it crowded up the page. Soon after this new "feature" was discovered, It's dot com added some new code in order to disable it, as well as smoothed out the other glitches. Thus, the knowledge base transition was almost seamless.

[edit] MediaWiki 1.8

The Homestar Runner Wiki was upgraded to MediaWiki 1.8 on 24 October 2006, bypassing 1.7 entirely.

STUB'D! This section of the page is incomplete. You can help the Homestar Runner Wiki by expanding it.

[edit] MediaWiki 1.9

The Homestar Runner Wiki was further upgraded to MediaWiki 1.9 on 23 April 2007. At the same time, the autopipe/autoredirect feature was enabled (designed custom for this wiki), allowing for pages like Goats to be linked to with a lowercase or singular word (e.g. goat).

STUB'D! This section of the page is incomplete. You can help the Homestar Runner Wiki by expanding it.

[edit] Mediawiki 1.11

The Homestar Runner Wiki was upgraded again on 15 November 2007 to to MediaWiki 1.11, skipping 1.10. New features included having a specific border around image thumbnails, including none at all; block users from using Special:Emailuser; Special:Uncategorizedtemplates; and allowing HTML on <gallery>.

[edit] Mediawiki 1.12

The Homestar Runner Wiki was upgraded again on 31 May 2008 to to MediaWiki 1.12.

STUB'D! This section of the page is incomplete. You can help the Homestar Runner Wiki by expanding it.

[edit] Mediawiki 1.15

The Homestar Runner Wiki was upgraded again on 13 June 2009, to to MediaWiki 1.15, skipping versions 1.13 and 1.14. At the same time, /wiki/-style URLs were finally implemented.

STUB'D! This section of the page is incomplete. You can help the Homestar Runner Wiki by expanding it.

[edit] Administration and maintenance

[edit] Early administration

The 'Tavi software didn't have much in the way of administrative features. There was password-protected admin area that allowed a user to lock and unlock pages and block and unblock IPs. At first JoeyDay was the only one with access to that page, but Stu was given access sometime in late 2003. Before the wiki was upgraded to MediaWiki, Tom, JamesGecko, InterruptorJones, and Gemini were also given administrator access.

When the wiki was upgraded to MediaWiki 1.3 on 16 July 2004, the original group of bureaucrats/sysops consisted of InterruptorJones, JoeyDay, Stu, and Tom. The wiki continued to grow, and on (or just before) 21 December 2004, AgentSeethroo, who had contributed greatly to the migration, was given bureaucrat/sysop privileges.

On 5 February 2005, the decision was made to begin utilizing the tiered permissions system of the MediaWiki software. On that date, Drhaggis and FortyTwo were given sysop privileges, but they weren't given bureaucrat privileges or made part of the Admin Team.

[edit] April 2005 sysop nominations

In April 2005, the wiki held its first sysop nominations. The nomination process was simple: once a nomination was made, several users posted their thoughts on who would be the best choice, though all the final decisions were made by the Admin Team. On 25 April 2005, the following users were accepted and given sysop privileges: FireBird, Furrykef, Jay, Kilroy, and Thunderbird L17. Additionally, Homestar Coder became a sysop on April 27 and The Paper on April 29.

[edit] Later additions

On September 9, 2005, during the second server move of the current wiki, two other sysops were added: BazookaJoe and It's dot com. On November 21 of the same year, It's dot com was made a bureaucrat/developer and a part of the Admin Team. On 8 March 2006, another round of promotions took place, with Elcool, Heimstern Läufer, Phlip, Rogue Leader, and Some HSR themed username given sysop status. A day later, AbdiViklas and Lapper were given sysop status as well. Yet another round took place on September 22, 2006, promoting DorianGray and Loafing. Trey56 was promoted on 10 March 2007.

[edit] Standards

On September 21, 2004, InterruptorJones added the Standards page. By this our editing and etiquette standards were put into writing. These guidelines brought more uniformity to the wiki and helped curb reverting wars where certain rules of style had been previously vague. Between 24 December 2005 and 15 January 2006 an effort was made to upgrade these standards to clarify guidelines of signatures and image usage. Guidelines for a user's signature length and size were established. Prior to this, the length or style of a signature was suggestion but not precisely defined. Images underwent a massive overhaul at this same time, and each image was examined to ensure copyright compliance. Each image was tagged to identify the image's origin, type, and in some cases the user who uploaded it. Around this time the personal image policy was also changed. This new policy allowed users to have two personal images whereas previously only one had been allowed (although this was sparsely enforced). Also, each user was now allowed one smaller image to use in their signature.

[edit] Guestbooks

A guestbook is a list of people that have signed a list stating that they have visited a user's page. The first guestbook appeared on the user page of IPADDRESSMAN on the old wiki, although after the move to MediaWiki, they reappeared on July 24th, 2005 at Smileyface11945's page. The original intent of a guestbook was to allow users to see who had read and liked their user page. After time, more and more users saw these guestbooks and added their own. By late November of 2005, the guestbooks started getting out of hand. Some users were no longer using them responsibly, or for their original purpose. The practice of guestbook races became common, whereas certain users tried to get the most signatures by a certain date. This caused some people to search the wiki for guestbooks and sign multiple guestbooks in a single minute. On 14 January 2006 the administration opened a public debate to discuss the existence of these guestbooks. Notices of this debate were posted on the log-in success page, recent changes, and users' watchlists. Over the course of the next two weeks, the wiki community fiercely debated the existence of guestbooks. The discussion not only covered the merits and perils of guestbooks but also if action were to be taken, what form would that take.

On 29 January 2006 the discussion was brought to a close. The overwhelming consensus was to do away with guestbooks completely. Again, notices were posted advising the wiki community of this.

[edit] Logo

The original logo
The redesigned logo

Since the beginning of the Homestar Runner wiki, the logo has been an image of Homestar Runner standing in front of a background that resembles Intro. This background has come to be called the kamikaze background because of its basic resemblance to the WWII version of the Japanese flag. The logo remained unchanged until December 2006, when it was updated. A few alternate logos were proposed on 22 March 2005. They were met with enthusiasm and praise; however, the conversation was short-lived and the discussion all but stopped a few months later. This logo design was later not supported due to its resemblance to the official Homestar Runner Logo.

In October of 2006, a new discussion on the wiki logo began. This rekindled the discussion in that it called for a more modern looking Homestar. This quickly mutated in to an open invitation to submit completely new logos along with updated versions of the then current logo. Many suggested designs were proposed, many of which were created by Bleed0range. After much discussion of the submitted entries, the floor was closed for new logo ideas on Wednesday, 15 November 2006. These submissions were debated until Friday, 1 December 2006, when the ideas were summarized and narrowed by It's dot com. The less favored ideas were now no longer in consideration and the basic options were to (a) leave the logo as is, (b) modernize the logo, or (c) change to a world style logo (the only surviving new logo). Then, after more discussion, the world logo was dropped from consideration, and it was clear that many users wanted an updated version of the logo. The question then went into more detail about what kind of variation of the updated logo to use. Issues such as blur vs. no blur, blinking vs. no blinking, open vs closed mouth, and alternating vs. static, were endlessly hashed out until a group consensus could be reached.

After much discussion, both the open-mouthed and closed-mouth version of the blinking, non-blurred Homestar Runner logo were implemented on a temporary basis, alternating between the two logos every sixty minutes. During this time, users had the chance to see the two logo finalists in the context of their everyday use of the wiki. On 16 December 2006, there was a final call asking if there was anyone that strongly preferred the closed-mouthed version and could not live with the open-mouthed version. As subsequent preferences were stated, the consensus of the logo discussion gravitated toward the open-mouthed logo as a permanent choice. The final version is an open-mouthed Homestar Runner, blinking every twenty-five seconds in front a non-blurred Intro-style background, which remains the current logo to this day.

Since December 2010, the logo has been in Flash format.

[edit] Infamous vandals

[edit] Willy on Wheels

Willy on Wheels, or WoW for short, is an infamous wiki vandal. He began attacking the English Wikipedia, and then moved on to most of the other languages, as well as other wikis. The vast majority of his efforts center on Wikipedia and, to a lesser extent, the Wikimedia sister projects. Reportedly, the only non-Wikimedia wikis that WoW has ever attacked are Wikicities, Travel Wiki, Uncyclopedia, Wiki Info, Super Mario Wiki, and the heaviest hit, the HRWiki. His tactics are not similar to those of most other trolls and vandals, in that he uses only high-speed page move vandalism as his weapon. He first attacked the HRWiki in the summer of 2005, and popped up somewhat frequently for a stretch of time after that. His method involved registering a username, opening random pages in several tabbed browsers, setting them up to move (usually by adding "ON WHEELS!" to the titles of articles), and then rapidly executing the moves before the username was blocked. It is likely that WoW is not the responsibility of just one person, because the original vandal's mode of operation is easy to copy. HRWiki's WoW seemed to originate with an AOL account. His vandalism was serious but was eclipsed by an even larger vandal called NSMC.

[edit] NSMC

NSMC is a vandalbot that has caused widespread damage to several wikis. Its method of operation exploits various access points available to anonymous users. As a result, these access points were temporarily disabled. In its first attack, it anonymously and randomly vandalized by replacing their contents with "N— stole my bike" and later "N— stole my cow". To avoid being blocked, the bot uses a vast amount of Internet proxies so that it can appear to originate from hundreds of IP addresses. The number of pages affected was in such a small amount of time that it created a denial of service. Later, when anonymous editing had been disabled, the bot created 755 random usernames with "NSMC" plus a number, each with one edit, so new-user registration was taken offline. After the knowledge base was hit, then it moved to the fanstuff wiki, where it created 4971 random usernames. The usernames eventually became just random numbers approximately 20 characters in length, and the content of the vandalism changed from something static that we could search for to various bits of actual content. In the latest attack, the "email new password" feature of the user login page was abused, sending thousands of emails to various users. Eventually, NSMC was stopped when a CAPTCHA system was implemented. However, the identity of the vandal is not currently known, nor is the motive.

[edit] Spinoffs

[edit] Forum

The Homestar Runner Wiki Forum logo

The Homestar Runner Wiki Forum was set up in May 2004 as a companion to the Homestar Runner Wiki. It was originally meant as a place for wiki-related discussions to take place, but has now developed into a full-fledged Homestar Runner fan forum with over 3,700 registered users as of July 2007. More than two years later, the forum gained more than 1,300 users, passing the 5,000 mark.

[edit] Fanstuff

The Homestar Runner Fanstuff Wiki logo

The Homestar Runner Fanstuff Wiki was created on 24 November 2004. Originally, when the old wiki was still around, the fanstuff articles and the knowledge base articles were kept on the same wiki. As the wiki grew, however, it became obvious that the fanstuff needed its own space.

The fanstuff wiki was for storing fan fiction users had created. They could write Other Character Emails, provide links to fanstuff animations they'd done, or even write adventure stories about the characters.

The fanstuff wiki, unlike the knowledge base, let people create new pages, as long as they were related to Homestar Runner somehow. Naturally, seeing as the star's the limit, the fanstuff has many more articles than the knowledge base, amassing at 17,500 articles on 13 August 2007.

After a purge lasting from August 2008 to 31 January 2010, it was closed to new content on 1 June 2010.

[edit] IRC channel

The HRWiki Internet Relay Chat channel was created on 18 May 2005 by Tom Preuss, as nickname Tom39. Although its name, #hrwiki, and parent wiki both suggest that the topic would be kept strictly to Homestar related material, the atmosphere is calm and friendly. Language is kept at a PG level and personal attacks are not tolerated to keep the chat channel this way. Currently, this channel is kept in check by five of the six members of the Admin Team: JoeyDay, Tom, Stu, InterruptorJones, and It's dot com. On 7 September 2005, the fanstuff wiki IRC channel, #hrwiki-fanstuff, was founded. This is a slightly looser and less constructed atmosphere for those who choose it, just as its parent wiki.

The IRC channel is a faster, more group-oriented, yet still anonymous way to communicate with fellow wiki users, as opposed to using talk pages.

[edit] Frappr group

The Homestar Runner Wiki Frappr group logo

The HRWiki Frappr group was created on 21 March 2006 by Elcool to allow Homestar Runner fans and wiki users show where they live and give the site more of an international feel. The Frappr group allows users to post shoutouts, upload pictures representing themselves and see where other fans live. Joey Day also added the place where the wiki's server is located on 2 April 2006. Frappr has been defunct since early 2010.

[edit] Further Reading

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