Festipedia:About

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Festipedia is dedicated to the history of the Festiniog Railway from the 19th Century to the present day. It also includes information on a range of related subjects. Anyone can contribute to Festipedia. It is constantly being updated and is generally more up to date than printed sources. However, as with any wiki, pages can be subject to vandalism or may contain inaccuracies. You are welcome to contribute to Festipedia in order to help improve its content. You don't need to worry about damaging the wiki. If you do make a mistake, it is easy to undo it. With your help, we hope to make Festipedia the definitive source of information on the Festiniog Railway.

Festipedia is operated by the FR Heritage Group. They pay for hosting Festipedia, maintain the wiki and provide a level of oversight. They do not formally review contributions to Festipedia or take any responsibility for the accuracy of information posted herein. See the disclaimers for further information.

History

The April 2005 issue of the FR Magazine included a letter from David Goaby suggesting that one of the FR websites should include a wiki. This was seen by Adrian Gray, Secretary of the FR Heritage Group, who promptly suggested to Jim Hewett, Heritage Group chairman, and Peter Harrison, vice chairman and webmaster, that this would be a good idea for the Heritage Group website. This was rapidly agreed and Harrison set about finding some suitable software. He rapidly settled on UseMod as the most likely candidate as it was free, had a good reputation and used technologies that were supported by the Heritage Group's web hosts.

Harrison believed that some modifications to the UseMod software were required before the wiki was launched in order to improve the usability of the site. Unfortunately, despite 30 years experience as a software developer, he had never programmed in Perl, the language used by UseMod. However, one of his friends at work, Andi Goodinson, did have some experience and was willing to assist. Over the next few months she produced the required modifications and the software was tested, with some limited content being produced.

The wiki was launched in the July 2005 issue of the FR Magazine by a letter from Harrison. Unfortunately this edition of the magazine came out in late June, a few days before the software was ready. The wiki formally went live on Sunday 3rd July 2005 and was immediately announced to the FR EGroup by Harrison. At this stage the wiki included just 9 articles, including the home page.

Growth of Festipedia (initially known as the Heritage Group Wiki) was rapid, with over 780 articles added in the first year of operation. During this time, Goodinson emigrated to Australia (we are assured that this was not related to her experience working on the wiki software!) and Harrison made a few small improvements to the software. These were limited to documenting features which previously had been undocumented and applying some patches which were available on the UseMod website.

By November 2006, Harrison had found some spare time to learn Perl and felt ready to make some more serious modifications to the software. That month, he made some small changes to the configuration and implemented a few small improvements to the software. This whetted his appetite for a more major change. Initially his intention was to improve the look and feel of the wiki (which was fairly basic) and add a few minor facilities. The changes were to be modelled on MediaWiki which, as the engine used by Wikipedia, is probably the best known and most used wiki software available. As is often the way with software projects, this one grew. Harrison kept finding additional features within MediaWiki that would be easy to implement and/or potentially useful for Festipedia. He also ended up implementing many of the features he had initially discounted as too difficult. The resulting software came close to duplicating MediaWiki functionality. This took a little over 3 months. The resulting software retained very little UseMod code and was therefore renamed FestWiki.

Changes in hosting arrangements for the Heritage Group website meant that it eventually became practical to use MediaWiki itself instead of merely emulating it, so on 1st August 2010 the contents of Festipedia were migrated to MediaWiki 1.16.0.

We hope you find Festipedia to be a valuable resource.