Wikia Labs, a new feature introduced by Wikia last week, was one of the most exciting features I designed during my time with the company. If you’re familiar with Gmail Labs you’ll understand how it works. Users (specifically admins) on Wikia can turn features on and off – the set consists of Top Ten Lists, Gallery Exhibitions, and Article Comments. This new ability gives administrators a greater level of control over their own wiki. Additional it provides a limited environment for Wikia to launch new features and gather feedback from users. For Wikia’s devoted user base, change can often be scary and invoke a backlash from the most passionate users comfortable with infrastructure currently in place. Wikia Labs serves as a bridge to acclimate users to new tools and gather feedback to ensure the the company is delivering features that are needed and wanted by the community.
As an aside, this was one of the last two features I designed at Wikia before I departed the company at the end of January. My time there was great as I was given the opportunity to design for hundreds of thousands of users, learn a lot, and work with amazing people who I’ll stay in touch with. My decision to leave had everything to do with a new project I’ve been plugging away at over the past month. It’s still too early to give out any details, but you’ll hear about it soon enough.