Tue Jan 12 16:01:49 EST 2010

creating an account on the SCP wiki is like pissing glass

The SCP Foundation is a collaborative writing project, concerning, essentially, "weird objects." These are called SCPs, and the general feel of the project is a cross between "Oul's Egg", "John Dies At The End" and Warehouse 13, except it doesn't suck nearly as much as Warehouse 13.

For a representative sample, read the executive summaries on SCP-200, SCP-296 and SCP-231. The site itself is alarmingly compelling. (I was linked to it from TV tropes, of course.) I burned four hours yesterday going through the first 209 SCP's, and, as is my wont, came to the conclusion that I rather wanted to write one myself. That requires an account, of course.

The site looks a lot like Wikipedia, and is in fact hosted on one of the wikihosts, but account creation is... different. Let me recount my adventures in trying to join.

  1. First, find the "join" form. From any one page, there are three links, all of which say variations on "How to join" and all of which point at different pages.
  2. Click on "Create account", which is at the top of the page, and thus most prominent, and seems like the highest level link. "You probably have to create a wikidot account before you can join the site, or they point to the same thing," I reason. This does nothing, confusingly.
  3. Click on "Join this site" in the frame at the top of the page. This also does nothing.
  4. Growing suspicious, I unfullscreen Firefox, and mouseover the Create Account link, which reveals a javascript anchor. Like 10 million other people, I use a netbook for light internet browsing. Since the screen is small, I run Firefox in full screen mode to hide useless interface chrome, and I run NoScript to keep useless scripting cruft from clogging up its underpowered processor.
  5. I allow wikidot.com, and wait for all the SCP tabs to reload. This takes a while.
  6. At long last, I'm allowed into the account creation form. I fill out all the fields, decipher the CAPTCHA, and hit submit.
  7. Oh, I have to verify my e-mail address. Of course. I navigate over to gmail, and click on the new e-mail, then click on the link inside that e-mail.
  8. Success! My account is created. I read this page.
  9. First of all: Read the How to Write an SCP page (this one) and the Big List of Overdone SCP Cliches. Now, in order to prove that you've read these two pages, post a reply on this article's discussion page with your name. That'll let us know who's taken the time out to learn the culture of the site and who hasn't. If you don't reply to that thread, you are very liable to just have any articles you write deleted, especially if they suck.
  10. Oh no! I don't want that to happen, so I better add my name to the discussion page.
  11. I can't find the edit button. I check to make sure the domain's added to NoScript. It still is.
  12. I poke around in the source, but nothing jumps out at me.
  13. I click on How to edit pages, which refers to an edit button at the bottom of the page. I see no edit button.
  14. Maybe the forum can help? I navigate over there. Ah ha! There is an introductions subforum. This is what the author of How To Write A SCP had to be referring to by "thread".
  15. I attempt to start one, only to be confronted by a permissions error. Apparently I have to be a member of the site?
  16. Of course! The "join this site" link. I guess it isn't the same as creating an account. I click on it.
  17. This opens a popup dialogue, which asks for an entry password, or allows you to request an invite. I don't have an entry password, so I ask for an invite.
  18. Well, that was annoying, but I seem to have made it as far as I can go. I close the popup, and close the tab that hosted it.
  19. Under that tab is an unread one I had opened while flailing around, looking for the edit button. How to join.
  20. As the Admin currently in charge of approving applications, I cannot stress this enough: You MUST complete all five steps in order to join the wiki. I am getting REALLY tired of people skipping either step 4 or 5.
  21. Skipping what steps? I read further.
  22. Step-3 -Read the Guide to Newbies, How to Write an SCP, Site Rules, Chat Guide, and The Big List of Overdone SCP Cliches. No, seriously, read them. Don't skim them, don't assume you know what they'll say, read them fully. Especially the bit in the Newbie Guide about Applications.

    Step-4 - Go fill out the application form here. If you have problems with the questions, please see the Newbie Guide. Don't be afraid to ask for help.

    Step-5 - Come back here and use the form below to actually apply to join this site. Put in whatever you feel will help you be approved, and then click apply. IF YOU DO NOT COMPLETE THIS STEP, YOU CANNOT BE APPROVED FOR MEMBERSHIP.
  23. I click on the application form. It's a moderately long Google document, consisting of trivia about the site, which you have to fill out and submit before you can apply to join.
  24. Minutes later, I get a new e-mail. My application was denied! Shocking.

Let's count the fuckups, here. There are no less than three different signup forms. Neither of the ones at the top of the page mention the application, and the third signup form is buried in the sidebar.

There are also three newbie guides. Two of them mention the application, only one explicitly mentions the order in which you have to create accounts, and the third, the one of most interest to people who want to contribute, assumes you're fully approved, and makes no mention of the application process.

Perhaps appropriate for a site about inexplicably hostile objects, the application process is a bitter, hateful machine, which will obliterate you at the slightest error. Attempting to comprehend its purpose will drive good men to utter insanity.

The "How to join" guide, the thing you should click first, is not bolded or highlighted in anyway. In fact, it's hidden halfway through a list of trivia that new users have no reason to care about. Between "Recent changes" and "Site manager" is not an obvious location.

There should be one "create account" link, not four. It should have the account creation and application form on it, and certainly not on a completely different domain.

This is not hard, guys! Every other site on the internet has a single account creation form. If you want to raise the bar, then you make the account creation more difficult, not bizarrely unintuitive. Come on!


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