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» Follow now! «Guild Wars Wiki Twitter

6th June 2010 The next update is live. Shining Blade bounties will now appear together with the Zaishen Challenge Quests. Also the first part of the RSS feed update is running; posts from the ArenaNet Blog will now appear as well. More to come soon.

27th May 2010 Moments ago, the first part of a series of updates to the Guild Wars Wiki Twitter account was made live. Featuring a completely rewritten core, the new version aims to allow easier extensibility and interchangeability with other modules. Because this update also introduces a new base for the whole family: the Wikichu v2 platform. This new term actually means a new level of coherence between each of Wikichu's modules, while introducing a lot new features that make everything easier and more efficient. You can expect more details on the platform here at a later point, for now I'll focus on the actual content of this update (which is probably the reason you got here :P).

So, what's new? The changes in this first release might not be that visible at the beginning, but actually everything was changed, both how tweets are shown to the outside as well as internally how the data is gathered and everything is put together. Read on for details.

  • Cycle based calculations. Before, when you got an update about the Zaishen Challenge Quests or Nicholas Sandford, this involved quite a bit effort. Wikichu would connect to the wiki, to check on updates of the respective pages, then would parse out the correct template call and compare it with the previously tweeted values. If it was different, a new tweet would be send. Back in the beginning, when we were not sure what the next value would be, this was the best way to do it. On the one side, it gave the wiki users the power to correctly set the data; on the other hand it offered a way to correct wrong tweets itself, because when a wrong tweet was sent and the information was changed on the wiki, Wikichu would just detect a change and send a new tweet fixing the previous one.
    However by now, we already know that all that is based on simple cycles. Plus, it's safe to assume, that the cycles won't change that soon again (we had 3 different ZQuest cycles in a bit over a year now). So the better option was to make use of the cycles directly and calculate the correct values offline. This does not only makes it possible to completely remove the checks with the wiki (making it independent from it), but also allows much faster updates. For example, it wasn't possible before to update ZQuests without somebody copying over the predictions to the actual site, resulting in huge delays sometimes. Now, Wikichu is able to tell you directly at 16:00 UTC what the new ZQuests are.
  • Predictions. Yay! Given that the data comes from known cycles, it's easy to “predict” what comes the next day. So starting now, you'll not only get information about the current state, but you'll also be informed what you can expect tomorrow to happen.
  • Intelligent processing. With the original Twitter script, it was important for me to prevent as much unnecessary load on both the wiki as well as on the server the script was running. Given that nearly all data was parsed off the wiki, I set the main execution points around the times when updates were to be expected (so mainly around 16:00 UTC because of ZQuests, at 7:00 UTC because of Nicholas Sandford and rarely in between). While this really removed unnecessary load, it had a huge drawback: Updates in the Twitter stream usually were delayed a lot. Given that there were no scheduled executions during the night (ANet's work time), especially game update notices suffered from this.
    With the new core, this will change. A lot data is processed offline, update routines and queries to the wiki are only made when really necessary. For example Wikichu won't check for updates of the Traveler during the week, but instead will focus when changes are to be expected. Using such ways of intelligent processing, it allows Wikichu to run more often, often without doing anything, resulting in more accurate and in-time updates.
  • No more shortened urls – at least for most of the tweets. Previously Twitter has forced people to use url shorteners for all urls; if you would try to send a normal url, they would just have shortened it for you. This was really annoying in the past, given how useless those urls look in contrast to the very informative wiki links. Now, Twitter seems to has changed this, and it's possible to send real urls. Given that this is what I wanted from the very beginning, of course this will be the route I'll be following – at least for most urls. In some cases short urls are helpful, so you'll sometimes spot them in the new tweets, but in general, I try to avoid them, especially when there is enough room to include the full url.

Is that all? What else is coming? As said in the beginning, this is only the start of a whole series of updates. The first step was just to keep the basic functionality of the previous version, while improving that functionally though. But also quite a few things in the background were changed to open the way to multiple improvements and new features, which you can expect within the following days:

  • “Wanted” bounties. Of course. I'm yet unsure how I'll manage this, but it's very likely that the Shining Blade bounties will be cycle based as well, similar as the Zaishen quests. So when the cycle is fully revelead or when I figure out another way to get the data off the wiki (whatever happens first), Wikichu will also provide information and predictions about this, along with the ZQuests (although I hoped they would have used a different time of the day for the change).
  • RSS feeds. With ArenaNet's recent “change” in terms of publishing news, the ArenaNet blog in particular, it makes sense to publish information about those as well. I already published some tweets in that style by hand lately, but this will be soon automatized as well.
  • Guild Wars 2 Wiki account. While being existent for quite a while, the @GuildWars2Wiki account didn't really publish any valuable information. However, and this will be coming very soon, the account will be activated, to separate the actual content more. Starting then, you'll no longer see any Guild Wars 2 related updates on @GuildWarsWiki (except generic posts from the blog for example). So if you are interested in Guild Wars 2, you should follow that account; if you are interested in both Guild Wars 1 and Guild Wars 2, follow both accounts (the duplicate content will be minimized as much as possible).
  • Game update previews. A thing that always bugged me with the game update tweets was that I had 140 possible characters filled with a simple and short “There is a new game update” and a link. Instead it would be a lot more interesting to actual show some content of the update in the tweets. Of course it's impossible to integrate everything, so I'm still thinking of a good way to filter important parts out of it, which will then be published along in the tweet – or even a series of multiple update related tweets.
  • Weekend events. While I cared enough before, to sometimes add a weekend event information tweet, the previous script simply didn't offer a good way to do it, so it was more of a hassle. In the future, I want to automatically publish such information when it's available. This will probably be related to some new wiki internal way to keep this information updated, so stay tuned.
  • IRC integration. Regular visitors of the #gww IRC channel already know that there is a Wikichu IRC bot. One very big core idea about the new Wikichu v2 platform is to integrate each module in a common core. So in a future update to the IRC version, users in the IRC channel will be given the ability to actually tweet updates from the chat.
    Of course this won't mean that you'll keep reading some junk from some random IRC guy on Twitter. Instead a complex security system will prevent exactly that, so that only privileged users can compose updates. In addition just being privileged won't mean that the tweet will be immediately pushed. The security system will instead ask for other privileged users to approve the publication of that tweet. That way only good tweets will be actually published and visible on Twitter.
    However, the basic benefit behind this is that you can expect quicker updates about unregular happenings in Guild Wars. For example with the previous viral marketing campaign about Guild Wars Beyond it was nearly impossible for me to keep people updated about everything. Not only because I missed a lot of things myself (and noticed them only a while later when it was old news anyway), but also because I'm simply not around the whole time (sorry, really :P). So having the ability for others to publish updates without me being around, makes it possible to push a lot more information via the Twitter account, and the IRC integration is one step to make that possible.
  • Your great suggestion. Of course it doesn't end here. I'm always open and grateful for suggestions; so if you have a good idea, please don't be afraid and suggest it!
Upcoming and finished tasks
  • Yes Multistep task. Archiving inactive guild pages as historical guild.
    • Bot ran on Thursday, 18th December 2008 21:46 – 22:16
      500 guild pages were moved to historical.
    • Bot ran on Thursday, 18th December 2008 22:47 – 23:14
      755 historical guild pages were fixed.
    • Bot ran on Friday, 19th December 2008 16:17 – 17:43 (due to wiki issues)
      500 guild pages were moved to historical.
    • Bot ran on Friday, 19th December 2008 18:18 – 18:37
      391 guild pages were moved to historical.
    • Bot ran on Sunday, 22nd February 2009 00:20 – 01:41
      499 guild pages were moved to historical.
    • Bot ran on Tuesday, 21st April 2009 16:25 – 17:46
      500 guild pages were moved to historical.
    • Bot ran on Monday, 1st June 2009 12:33 - 13:11
      290 guild pages were moved to historical.
    • Bot ran on Monday, 4th July 2009 22:58 - 23:59
      415 guild pages were moved to historical.
    • Bot ran on Friday, 28th August 2009 12:38 - 13:32
      347 guild pages were moved to historical.
    • Bot ran on Friday, 6th November 2009 17:10 – 18:12
      274 guild pages were moved to historical.
    • Bot ran on Sunday, 20th December 2009 16:17 – 17:15
      152 guild pages were moved to historical.
    • Bot ran on Wednesday, 23rd December 2009 11:24 – 12:11
      198 guild pages were moved to historical.
    • Bot ran on Monday, 3rd May 2010 16:52 – 18:44
      499 guild pages were moved to historical.
    • Bot ran on Monday, 3rd May 2010 19:52 – 20:29
      154 guild pages were moved to historical.
  • Yes Periodical task. Template substitution: {{unsigned}}, {{unsigned2}}, {{unsigned ip}}.
    • Bot ran on Wednesday, 12th November 2008 21:06 – 21:34
      516 pages were edited.