Something about those super heroes in this picture? Oh, yeah. Also, there's merchandise out, and RRabbit42 dedicates his latest Hands On With The Merchandise to Mission Marvel, debuting on August 16th at 8 PM ET/PT on Disney Channel. Mouseinphilly also pulls out the Retro Review for a look at the boys' superheroic persona.
Sometimes I feel like I'm applying for membership in the Procrastinators Society but I just can't quite get around to doing so. Once again I have to offer an apology for how late this newsletter is, but as you'll read below, I think it's reached the point where I finally have the motivation to get back on track. I've seen where this road leads.
Another way of getting back on track is getting our pages cleaned up. We had plans a while back to change all of the "this needs to be fixed" notices into the Improve template. And right now, there are several pages that have gone overboard with adding links. The Manual of Style describes how we want pages to look, but the Links section says that one link to a different page is usually enough.
That part was added over four years ago just after this wiki's first anniversary. But it didn't take into account that our wiki would grow. Our pages are much longer and more thorough now. One example of a very long page is Candace's, which takes up 18 screens.
On a page like this, it can be useful to include one or two "reminder links". The idea is that on very long pages, a link could be repeated at about half-way or two-thirds of the way down the page. That way, if someone is interested in going to the page being referenced, they don't have to scroll all the way back up and search for where the first (and only) link is.
Using Candace's page as an example again, the natural place to start including reminder links would be the Background Information section, even though that's about three-fourths of the way down on the page. The Relationships section occupies the "sweet spot" that we'd normally use as the starting point.
Changing this part of our Manual of Style will benefit our wiki and help fix this proble. I am probably just going to put it into place and if it doesn't work out, we can change it. That will be quicker than going through the normal formal vote process.
Disney has been done fairly well with their "Chapter books" for the Phineas and Ferb episodes. There's a few changes made that help translate an animated episode into written story form, but they're a very faithful transcript of the episode.
They are not, however, on a rapid release schedule. Less than two dozen have been published, and if Disney keeps the same pace, the Phineas and Ferb will have been ended for several years before they adapt the last episode into a book. It won't get to that point because Disney will cancel the book series before completing them. Why keep making merchandise for a show that's off the air?
On this wiki, each episode has a transcript that shows what each character said and provides descriptions of what happened. How that is written hasn't been standardized yet. But that's going to change.
KinHikari has started a forum where we can discuss picking one transcript format, which we can then use to make a Manual of Style for them.
I have encouraged people in the past to work on these transcripts and the main reason is what I said above. Unless Disney starts releasing a new Chapter book every 1 or 2 weeks, they're never going to finish. So it's up to us to do what we know Disney won't.
The ghost town
Our chat room has been empty for quite a while now. Some of this may be due to people feeling uncomfortable there or not enjoying it as much as they used to. For others, it may be a natural result of the fact that it's summer and people are taking vacations or doing other things.
Let's try having a fresh start with the chat room. Some wikis have chat parties to mark special occasions. We have one of those occasions coming up on August 16th and the 25th when "Mission Marvel" premieres on the two Disney channels.
I will try to be in there right after work, but since I'm in the Pacific time zone, "Mission Marvel" won't be on for me until a couple hours later. So, try to keep the spoilers to a minimum, please. I usually don't mind hearing them, but others might.
With Mission Marvel forthcoming, and the return of the boys' superhero alter egos within this episode, it's only apt that we pull out the old Retro Review machine and look at the episode that debuted with "The Phineas and Ferb edge-of-insanity, kiss-your-butt-goodbye, gravity's-a-stone-cold-sucker nightmare rail skate track obstacle course of doom". And the one way that you would save your own life from something like this: create a exoskeleton suit with Bulgarian folk dancing elements.
Of course, we are are looking at The Beak, which parodied the whole comic book/superhero genre in one fell swoop. Spider-Man-esque theme and plot? Check. Iron Man-type suit? We've got that. Female ingenue (Isabella) working as a reporter who doesn't know her beau is the resident hero? Crossed off the list. Evil villain who's misunderstood? Double check. Even a "Jumping the shark" visual reference on the old ramp? Yup, we have that one, too. Throw in Ben Stiller and his real-life missus Christine Taylor as the voices of Mr. and Mrs. Khaka Peü Peü (insert laughter here, thank you very much) and we have enough stuff to throw more chairs at every cliche in the comic book genre than possible.
Of course, we haven't forgotten the usual subplots with Doofenshmirtz taking over as Mayor of Danville from Roger (actually a plot that will make Heinz take any fall for an law that his brother forgot to make which would turn into a coffee coaster) and Candace as the Dangeraffe (a reference to her own gawking neck) with Stacy as her sidekick The Dangerbil who refuses to hench when asked (later lampshaded when KPP explains why she was with him as his henchman) and gets $20 from her own mom instead of stealing it. Obviously, I think she went to see a Disney movie with the cash. And I'm pretty sure it wasn't The Lone Ranger, either.
It's no secret I haven't been here a lot lately. Some of it is because of work, but some of it is because I have been helping to clean up other wikis. These are wikis that don't have a group of active editors and the administrators have left. I usually wind up there because a vandal hits a wiki I'm more active on and I find out where else they've been.
One of those wikis, the Despicable Me Wiki, was ready to be revived this year since the second movie was about to be released. It just needed to be looked after until someone stepped forward to adopt the wiki. On another, a person announced that they were going to adopt it, but then they kind of lost interest, and so there's vandalism that can't be cleaned up completely right now because there's no admin around. On a third wiki, the lone admin stopped editing about five months after the TV series ended. And on a couple of wikis, I have seen what happens when admins get mad and become vandals themselves. If they don't get attacked by vandals, wikis like this can become the subject of edit wars as users squabble over minor points.
Previously, Topher208, SuperFlash101 and myself took it slow and careful to make sure the wiki didn't grow faster than we could handle. Part of that was to establish criteria for electing an administrator. It's helped identify who has the dedication to be an administrator and weed out the new users who show up and immediately ask to become an admin, and then usually leave right after asking if they don't get an immediate response and never come back, which shows they weren't dedicated to begin with. It also helped prevent people from nominating themselves that we knew were vandals and only wanted admin rights to block everyone and cause more vandalism.
But just like how the Links section in our Manual of Style didn't anticipate our wiki growing, our admin nomination criteria doesn't take into account two factors:
Administrators don't stay administrators forever.
What happens when a person is qualified to become and administrator, but just doesn't happen to be nominated by someone else?
Whether it's due to changing interests, or the TV show or movie has ended and they just don't feel as enthusiastic about that subject any more, or burnout from having to do so much to keep a wiki working, administrators will come and go throughout the life of a wiki. And without at least one administrator keeping things maintained, eventually the regular editors dift away, leaving a wiki open to attack.
One of the ways to keep a wiki active and encourage the admins to stay is to stay in contact and coordinate the growth of the wiki. We haven't had a discussion in a long time between the admins about what needs to be changed, what special events we want to have, reviewing policies, is it time to redesign the main page, and the like. We do have a group of active members who are maintaining the wiki and keeping things in line, but we can do more and that requires the admins to be in a better position to lead and make sure we're working together and avoid stepping on each others' feet.
I think we're past the point where we have to be careful about having too many administrators like what happened on another wiki. It had about 10% of the users we do, but about 20 admins. Admin rights were given and taken away so frequently that I couldn't figure out who made each change and there was no reason why they were changed.
Our admin nomination process says you can't nominate yourself to prevent the abuses described above. But it doesn't take into account long time dedicated users who could be an admin if someone would nominate them, but no one does.
To correct that, I think nominating yourself would be okay after a little more time, such as 9 months/750 edits or 1 year/1000 edits.
This is something I can easily change for the nomination requirements, but normally should go through a formal discussion and voting process. Since I'm announcing it ahead of time in this newsletter and explaining why the change will be made, I hope that will suffice. If it doesn't, tell me quick and we'll go through the regular "here's an update, any corrections?, okay now vote on it" procedure instead.
Hands On With The New Merchandise, Part 63: Mission Marvel
As promised, it's time to check out the merchandise connected to Mission Marvel, which premieres in just over a week. I wanted to make the header a little more alliterative but couldn't come up with anything clever, so what you see is what you get.
Many issues ago, we got to take a look at a set of "Vinylmation" figures from the Disney Store and the theme parks. For those who joined our wiki after that review or haven't heard of them before, a Vinlymation figure is a small figure that's 1.5", 3" or 9" tall and is based on Mickey Mouse's shape, complete with his mouse ears. The challenge for the artist (or yourself if you buy one of the blank figures) is to translate a Disney character's normal 2D or 3D appearance onto this standardized surface.
For Agent P in his Mission attire, he forsakes his fedora, but sports a cape and clear Mickey ears so you just see his mask. Perry's beak is drawn from a side view, yet still looks like it's sticking out above the surface of the figure. You can get this at the Disney Store for $12.95.
Next are two boys T-shirts. The first is the standard promotional image of the four superheroes standing in the doorway, but minus the doorway and plus Agent P in his superhero outfit. $19.95 at the Disney Store.
If you're looking to be a bit more adventurous, the Disney Store has another shirt for the same $19.95 that just has Agent P in his costume, but has an attached cape.
It's kind of a shame that neither one is available in adult sizes. There are times where it's just plain fun to wear a shirt like this regardless of what other people think. ("Aren't you a little old to be wearing a t-shirt like that?" "Yes, yes I am, and proud of it!")
And that leads us back to familiar territory, a complaint I've voiced before. Hey, Disney. I'm sure girls and women would love to have shirts that feature more than just Perry the Platypus. As loveable as he is, Candace, Isabella, Linda, Stacy and the Fireside Girls are great candidates for your next designs.
Now we get to the biggest item in the group, a 13" plush toy of Agent P in his costume. Like all of the others I've bought, they use a very soft polyester for the fabric. But this one also has a plastic belt sewn onto it for his jet belt.
I notice that the cape on the back doesn't have the "circle P" logo on it like the shirt plus cape does. The Vinylmation figure doesn't either, so I guess I have to wait until the special actually airs before I can see if that logo is supposed to be there or not.
This doesn't have the Teal of Approval logo on it, but it does have the "Genuine, Original, Authentic" Disney Store logo on the bottom of his foot. Unlike the picture, he's not posable and he's not going to stand up on his own.
It looks well constructed, so it should survive pretty well if you want to fly Agent P around the room and reinact your own version of the special.
This plush toy is available on Amazon in two different listings by companies reselling it, but right now, you can get it for $12.00 instead of the regular $19.95 price at the Disney Store. For that price, I think I might buy another one so I can take it along with me on vacation like I have been with my original transforming Perry plush.
Later this year, the DVD for Mission Marvel will be released. Obviously I can't review that right now, but I can say that I wasn't aware that there would be three posters included at random, and it's not mentioned on the Amazon or Barnes & Noble page right now. Our wiki is one of the first places to make that bit of news available.