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The Ba Sing Se Times, Issue 47: 6 October

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avatar wiki's community newsletter

Discussion report
Announcements and discussion results:

Technical report (Courtesy of Thailog)

  • The background image was replaced to accommodate Wikia's recent layout changes. The old background image was a collage of two different shots, Omashu and Republic City, but the new gap presented between the Wikia header and the wiki navigation exposed the delimiter of the old background, thus yielding an unsightly and aesthetically unpleasant result. Therefore, we decided to replace it entirely with a background image from an establishing shot of Republic City, with a brown overlay and gradients to match our theme design.

User rights report

48px-5161988.png From the editor

Here it is, folks! Another edition of the Ba Sing Se Times, to quell the appetites of all our voracious readers this fortnight... Though this time, you won't be left half-filled, thanks to Minnichi's and Acer's fanon additions.

In this editorial, I have decided to discuss what will be on everyone's mind at the release of this issue: the bureaucrat elections. By now, voting will have begun, and a good many of you may be wondering who to vote for, as the candidates are all people who are trusted by the community, and are all suitable in their own rights to be bureaucrats.

All of them have their unique strengths and weaknesses, in terms of how their personalities would mesh with the post of bureaucrat, but in the end, it will be the voters in question to logically weigh which ones count and which ones cost. This analysis, however, should not extend purely to contributions and presence on the wiki; activity is important, but it is not the be-all and end-all. It is not a gauge of one's outlook and personality, as it won't be editing that allow us to differentiate between these candidates - it is already something every single one of them do to an excellent standard - it will be how they respond to their questions, who takes the initiative to do so first, and most importantly, their broad actions and interactions on the wiki.

As has been stressed in the last election, it will be imperative to provide solid reasoning behind votes, as it must be said that the nominations themselves are just another medium of serious discussion - albeit, this is one where you support people instead of policies. Though it may be thought of differently, it is not a trivial matter nor a popularity contest; it is to determine who will be best suited to carry out the duties of the post - whether they are impartial or skewed, decisive or consultative, open or prohibitive, friendly or distant.

With this in mind, I urge every single one of you to consider each of the candidates in turn before voting, and be as impartial as you wish for your new bureaucrat to be - because, in the long run, it is the community that reflects the traits of its administrators and bureaucrats, and vice versa. Remember, vote with your head and not your heart.

On this note, I wish good luck to all the nominees, and a congratulations to PSUAvatar14 on becoming our new administrator.

48px-2217546.png New Wikia skin update

Some of you may have noticed the recent change in the wiki’s background. This change was ushered in to coincide with an update released by Wikia on October 3rd which increased the full page width by 30 pixels. Most of the changes put in place by this update are a bit difficult to notice, however, because of the width increase, it requires most custom wiki backgrounds to be updated.

The width increase was distributed between a few points, including the left and right margins of the article and the wiki activity rail that is positioned to the right of content areas on pages. Basically what this has done is widened the wiki activity rail on all pages and made the wiki background more visible at the center top and bottom.

Several other adjustments have made to how we now see Wikia. The top and bottom toolbars now span the entire length of the screen, as opposed to spanning just the central part of the screen as it appeared before. The bottom toolbar is now capable of collapsing, as well. Another change, which will not affect us on Avatar Wiki, is that the expanded wiki navigation (which has been available since November of 2011) is now the default on all wikis.

Personally, I like this update; it makes things look nicer in general. I especially like the fact that the wiki’s background is more visible and that the toolbars now span the entire screen. As for the content of the new background, I couldn’t be happier with that, being such a fan of Republic City and all its buildings/bridges.

This is an update that Wikia has released that I am particularly happy with, as so far there haven’t been glitches that these tweaks have spawned that have affected me. It is just something simplistic that really doesn’t have any effect on how we contribute to the wiki. Recently Wikia has seemed to go for the more complicated, flashy, and huge changes, but this update is a bit different, and that is more pleasing than any other huge changes that Wikia has recently dished out.

48px-4772526.png Stop... Hammer Time!

The Joys of Editing

It took me a while to come up with an idea for what to write for my very first column. Maybe an in-depth look at some of the recent issues on the wiki, delving deep into the darkest depressions of despair. No, I'm scared of the dark. Maybe I could explore my own psyche, giving you guys a look at some of my day to day thought processes. Unfortunately, after a good rummage around in there, there wasn't a whole lot to write about.

Exasperated, and under threat of exile from Kettle if this column wasn't good enough, I decided to turn to the wiki for some inspiration. Well, not so much a turn, more a click on another tab; a metaphorical turn if you will. I had a browse through some of the wiki's pages, but alas, nothing inspired me.

Now thoroughly annoyed, I decided to kill some time by browsing the recent wiki activity. As I scrolled through the page, I realised that it was almost entirely comments and messages, with just one single, solitary, lonely edit on the list. Gadzooks, I said to my myself (honest to god, that is what I said), why aren’t there more edits on the page. Editing articles is always such a joyous occasion (you may have realised by now that I speak like an 19th century English gentleman. It's just how I roll). Suddenly, that sentence sparked something in my mind, a possible title for my new column. Editing Joyousness; nah, that's no good. The Edits of Joying; nearly, but not quite. The Joys of Editing; EUREKA, that's perfect.

After that rather crazy interesting opening, lets talk about a more serious issue. In his final editorial, 888 touched upon what is necessary for a wiki to retain long-term contributors. One of the issues that I think is very important is that to retain long-term contributors, a wiki should, irrespective of whatever else may be going on, ultimately exist as a place for people to edit and improve articles.

For this wiki, discussions on particular aspects of the show are of course an important part of everyday activity, but the issues and topics that are discussed are ever changing. Topics that seem important, and are debated and discussed at length, get replaced over time; discussion in the past was often dominated (and at times overwhelmed) by Kataang and Zutara, but those topics have been replaced by Makorra, Masami, and endless hatred of Mako (I'm sensing a theme here). Even just a few months ago, comments were dominated by "Who is Amon?" discussions, only to fade as Amon's true identity was revealed.

Discussions exist for only a short period of time, and as such, users that devote their time and energy into these discussions often drift with them. But, still standing after those discussions fade into the ether are the articles. A wiki which places too great an emphasis on comments cannot hope to retain long-term contributors. This is why it is so important that a wiki should ultimately exist as a place to edit and improve articles; a wiki which wishes to retain long-term contributors must focus on its more long-term aspects.

So why is this column called The Joys of Editing, and not An in-depth analysis using an idea that I sponged off of someone else. Well, rather than simply lecturing you on why you should edit more for the benefit of the wiki (as a university student, I know how boring lectures can be), I thought it would be better to look at what I consider to be the joys of editing articles on the wiki. An oft given excuse by users for not editing articles is that editing is boring; hopefully, this will change their minds.

Articles exist as the culmination of the hard and dedicated work of many users, each of whom bring their own knowledge and opinions, making every article a testament to the teamwork of the users on the wiki. Being a part of that effort, being able to see your own hard work displayed for everyone to see, is a very rewarding experience. Conversations and discussions will disappear over time, but the articles will stand ever tall. Even if another user comes along and changes what you wrote, they have still built upon the foundations you created. Nobody that edits an article could do so without standing upon the shoulders of those that came before them.

48px-5161988.png Urban Dictionary for Avatar Wiki

This week: more diseases that may be carried, by people you may know. Show sympathy.

noun A virus of surprising potency. Unable to be cured by conventional means, symptoms include thread stalking, rampaging forums, and memorizing the Manual of Style, word for word. "Woah! Did you just recite all of that from the top of your head?" "Of course." "You might want to get that checked out, mate... Also, stop stalking me!"
Ferret Fever
noun Contracting this particular disease nets you uncontrollable manic perfectionism, usually apparent through ridiculously flawless article wide revisions. Side symptoms include the urge to cool oneself down by forever drifting on Iar Sea, and loss of conscious finger control near a computer keyboard. Stay away from wild Fire Ferrets, kids.
Axiov syndrome
noun Another serious condition characterized by lethargy and the (somewhat nifty) ability to instantly disappear at random times of the week. Also manifests an irrational fear of the Iar Sea. "Hey, I need you to come on IRC." "I'llBeThereInFiveMinutesPleaseExcuseMe!" "Hey! Wait! You'd better not disappear like that last time!" "......" "...Why do I even bother?"
noun An unusual branch off of normal insomnia, linked to over-consumption of Iar Sea water. "You did what??" "Leave me alone! I just want to sleeeep..." "I'm really sorry about this, but you've got Mysterinsomnia."
When in doubt, check the discussion policy!
phrase Common sense, only followed by 0.1% of Avatar Wikians. Commonly overridden by the (generalized) old-school wiki phrase "Well, Thailog does it!".
Random rabies
noun Dubbed as powerful, dangerous, and absolutely horrific by various pundits, it results in an IRC addiction - the likes of which has never been seen before - and an unusual enjoyment of "The Sims" video game music. If you're trapped in an RR quarantine zone, tread with great care.
from the fanon portal
48px-5047861.png Fanon Advertising and a Friendly Competition

As we await the return of the renowned BlackMonkey, I'll fill you guys in on the current fanon promotions today. The advertisement rotation is still taking place, so don't hesitate to sign up an unnoticed fanon for your chance to be featured in this newsletter (as well as numerous other fanon pages)! And as always, there's kind of a competition going on, guys. Be sure to leave your commenary on promoted fanons if you like nifty userboxes or being glorified on the Advertisement page for all time.

On the note of glorification, our lucky user this time is Typhoonmaster, who offered great insight on Aang: Story of an Airbender during the most recent promotion. He shall be notified to receive his awesome userbox shortly before joining the hall of fame. But anyway, this story was supposed to be covered technically in the last BSST issue. However, seeing as there was no fanon news ("no fanon today?!"), I'll just redirect it here. Our newly-ended promotion was a well-deserved one by author RuleroftheBisons97, who took a closer look into the lifestyle of the Air Nomads and made his own unique version of Aang's life before the war. To quote my commentary from the Advertisement page...

I've had the pleasure of reviewing this fanon recently and know it thoroughly because I did. I'll just point out to readers that this fanon is a lot more complex than it appears at first, so stick to it if you start. I actually became upset at the insane treachery that took place (shows that the author's crafted it well!) and you can probably still see evidence via my raging comments in the chapters. If you're driven away solely by grammatical mistakes or comma issues, I honestly don't consider you a true fanon reader; it's called "Fanon," not "Glorious Grammar." This is not story you should pass for any reason!

Now onto the current fanon promotion, which starts today: Chi-Blocker by FireFerret...

Equalist attacking

What would you do to save a loved one?

Hey, I've reviewed this fanon as well! On my pride as an author, it's a story that I'd reccomend to anyone out there. ATFF goes very in-depth with the system of the Equalists and how they train themselves to be such formidable fighters. Her creativity speaks for itself, as she's thrown wildly new elements like lost Airbenders into the dark world of Republic City. The heroine of the tale is one such Airbender named Akari, who must infiltrate Equalist headquarters and become one of them in order to find out where they took her missing sister. Feeling the pressure already? Go read it! Don't forget to leave your thoughts in the advertising contest, too. (Glorification, guys - you know you can't resist.)

Speaking of pressure...oh, it is on! As a number of you may have heard, I started a little friendly writing competition and threw in a professional artist to make things more interesting. This is actually related to fanon advertisements, because face it - as much as I'd like to say that my writing is just that awesome, my fanon probably gets more than half its first viewers from its pretty main image. Writing quality will speak for itself in the end, but it certainly doesn't hurt have the aid of epic illustrations! So I started this contest to help others have that extra zing on their fanon pages. Nice pictures themselves are great advertisements - not to mention the winners have the glory of saying that they won them with their own writing skill. I've contacted an artist from who will draw ya something like this if you place in the Top 4. All you have to do is write the most epic of epic fight scenes, and it's up to you what the custom illustration will be. How about it?

48px-5047861.png How to Be a Good Author

Of course, the definition of a good author is different for everyone, so I’ll just put it this way: how do you become happy with where you stand in the fanon portal? Whether this means being wildly popular or just someone who doesn’t have zilch fan comments on their work, this’ll work for anyone.

Answer: Help others become good authors. It’s true, guys! Because what does a good author start with?


This is something that’s extremely hard to maintain on your own. You have to have courage to post a public story, but remember why it was posted in the first place: to be public! If we were writing just to write, why would we purposely throw it out in the middle of a fan-base? All authors here want feedback - and though each individual’s sensitivity is different on the matter, it will hurt nonetheless if no one comments. So to be specific…

Step 1) Let a person know that their fanon exists. Only the fans can do this. If you can’t be a supportive fan, how do you expect others to do the same for you?

  • What authors get from it: Acknowledgement that their writing actually is public, because someone noticed it was there. Leaving it barren is potentially killing the fanon. It’s not easy to post when you expect literally zero people to notice. Oftentimes just one person is all it takes: you! So get out there.
  • What you get from it: Exposure to a variety of ideas and approaches to writing. Isolated authors, just like those who practice a skill without learning from what’s around them, will generally be less successful. Reading lots of fanons and leaving feedback will have you thinking deeper about others’ writing, and your own style will eventually reflect the best of what you’ve seen. This is the key to filling in your weak areas – learning from others.

Step 2) Comment positively and be specific. Oh yes, I know that vague (or possibly hateful) commenting is fun and easy, but believe it or not, it hurts you as an author!

  • What authors get from it: The acknowledgement that at least some part of their writing is actually good. And don’t try to argue with me on this one, guys; ALL fanons have something good about them. So tell the author! Don’t ever skip the positive, even if you have something to criticize. This’ll do wonders for their confidence.
  • What you get from it: Since you can’t be vague, you have to actually think about the writing. And since you’re searching for something good, you start to develop the ability to define what makes good writing. Ergo, you start to discover how to make your own writing good. It pays off!

Step 3) If you’re going to comment constructively, you might as well go all the way. Start editing anything you see wrong on fanon pages (all users here have the right to, by the way). Whether it’s grammar issues or just a few typos, go for it! Do it anonymously, or join things like the Fanon Review Squad, Fanonbenders, FL&FA, etc…just anything to get you involved!

  • What authors get from it: Well, a better quality fanon with a more positive impact on readers! Who wouldn't want that?
  • What you get from it: Just continuing my point from earlier. The more effort you put into improving others’ work, the more you know about how writing works in general. You can start to pick up specific trends in both good and bad writing, and apply whatever you see fit to yourself. Paying attention to others’ work starts you off on the deep thinking that leads to the best quality work you can produce.

Step 4) Lastly…treat every fanon with the same care as your own. What’s important to them may not be important to you, but trust me – you never know how far your actions will go.

Once upon a time… Minnichi of came to Avatar Wiki to ask a certain Lady Lostris for clarification regarding the canon accuracy of her story. Though she didn't say it, Minnichi was very seriously thinking of trashing her whole fanon because that inaccuracy would ruin the entire foundation of her plot. She was a completely crazy nony but was so touched by the efforts to help her that she stuck around the Wiki from then on. And with Lostris's help, the fanon didn't die. The end!

  • What authors get from it: A possibly life-changing experience that you aren't even aware of.
  • What you get from it: A forever-grateful supporter (and hey, can’t be too bad for your reputation as an author!) Moral of this embarrassing story? Every little thing counts – because they might not be so little to someone else. If you help an author, do it sincerely.

So this win-win situation that comes from the steps above creates a successful – a content – author. You’re not only improving your own writing by being observant and thoughtful of what’s around you, but giving others the confidence to succeed as well. The final result is someone who's known around the fanon portal and who has the ability to write with great quality. You'll probably find these trends in any legendary author (oh hi, ARG!) on the Wiki. That’s all there is to it.

Now get out there and show all those under-appreciated fanons the care they deserve!

48px-2249220.png Fanon Bulletin
Acer Indonesia

Hey, my fanon-folks. Your AcenglishMaster, back for his inaugural fanon bulletin.

These days, our Fanon Portal reached a tough times; an argument between past Fanon Admins and fanon authors, for the re-creation of Fanon Admins. You can read them here. It's a nice argument between us, fanon authors, and fortunately Lostris solved the main problem by keep the argument in-line. However, if you have an idea, you can definitely message me and/or fanon editors! Whenever you have a question, don't be too shy by message us.

In middle of 2012, I noticed that fanonbending had grown back to its golden-age. However, I couldn't say it's back on top, without your helps, anyway. If you have a good fanon that you read, (not write) you can submit the nomination beneath the current votes.

And, these days, have you read any fanon-tips? If you're planning to create / write any fanon, start by looking them here, here, and wait for the next tips! You'll read 'em in my contributions on these two newsletters.

Lately, have you noticed about our newest User Group, Fanon Lost & Found Adviser? Many thanks to Ratava-san, who has created the group! FL&FA is a group of fanon authors who can help you to gain ideas, twists, and/or characters! Many of you may be infected with writing blocks, so why not ask your own request there? They should help you a lot.

Random polls

Has Gene Yang succeeded in creating a believable ATLA comic series with "The Promise" trilogy?

The poll was created at 13:21 on October 6, 2012, and so far 130 people voted.
What do you think about the design changes coming to Wikia?

The poll was created at 13:21 on October 6, 2012, and so far 104 people voted.
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