I finally installed the new theme for Emacs Wiki. Feel free to leave comments on the Talk page. Bootstrap allows me to make all the changes at run-time, ie. add a few scripts including a script that changes the wiki’s HTML (emacs-bootstrap.js) and a new CSS file (bootstrap.css).
Since no changes to the script are necessary I can continue to provide the old theme for those that don’t feel like switching.
I just read a rant about Emacs Wiki and it’s alternative: The Wikemacs Experiment: 300 Days Later. Check out How Emacs Wiki Works for some context from my point of view. Anyway, the anonymous author says: “Maybe someone could work with Alex to add gist-style code snippets to Oddmuse, and make it so that code can be cited inline on Wiki pages, so that anyone visiting the page is automatically looking at the most up to date version of the code.”
(setq abg-elisp-external-dir (expand-file-name "external" abg-elisp-dir)) ; ... ; Add external projects to load path (dolist (project (directory-files abg-elisp-external-dir t "\\w+")) (when (file-directory-p project) (add-to-list 'load-path project)))
Actually, I added an Emacs Wiki feature using two lines of code that add support for fancy inclusion:
<include gist "https://gist.github.com/1236665">
It only works over there, however. See EmacsWiki:Gists.
Anyway, the same also works for Lisppaste:
<include text "http://paste.lisp.org/display/134703/raw">
;; Set XTERM resources as so ;; ;; metaSendsEscape: false ;; altSendsEscape: false ;; eightBitInput: true ;; Verify with cat > /dev/null command that pressing alt-a ;; alt-b and so on produces single >128bit char (will look ;; like a with a hat ;; once above is working in emacs do ;; Prevent pressing esc O from triggering binding (define-key (get-input-decode-map) "\eO" nil) ;; tell emacs Meta is 8th bit (cond ((fboundp 'set-input-meta-mode) (set-input-meta-mode t)) (t (set-input-mode t nil t)))
I don’t think there’s a nice way to include the colored version, unfortunately.
Update: I added support and minimal Lisp highlighting for the following:
<include lisppaste "http://paste.lisp.org/display/134703">
It only works over there, of course.
Write “Traveller:” followed by the UWP like this:
Traveller: Tu Akhra 0404 D0602B3-1 P As De Lo Lt R Susrael 0503 B0604A4-1 N As De Lt NI A Nova Genova 0607 B867686-1 N Ag Ga Lt NI Ri Hinia Oot 0705 E060200-1 As De Lo Lt A Monkey Island 0308 E064105-0 Lo Lt
And the result will be this:
Klick to switch to the map. There, you can click on the systems to get the wiki pages.
(TL;DR: People that don’t like the wiki as it is ought look at the official Emacs documentation instead. I wrote this so that I’d have something to link to in the future. This post was inspired by EmacsWiki:2012-03-20.)
Every year or so, I read about suggested changes to the Emacs Wiki. The complaints are the same, year after year.
The solutions invariably have nothing to do with the problem.
Why are these suggestions not helpful?
The first problem is the mistaken belief that technology can substitute for social change. Yes, the wiki is badly organized and many of the pages are outdated. Changing the wiki engine, the backend or the formatting rules will not change this, however.
The backend used by the wiki engine can influence performance and resource use, it can the software harder or easier to maintain and backup – but it will not induce somebody to edit a messy page and fix it.
The second problem is the mistaken belief that moderation can be commanded. You can complain about bad editing and a lack of moderation all day. But since nobody is paying people to do a boring job, we must rely on obsessive compulsive people to fix typos and tag pages.
Maybe we could attract more people by gamifying the experience—offer rewards, badges, scores. But Stack Overflow already does this. It’s the best social question answering machine currently known. The wiki doesn’t need to imitate something better. The wiki needs to do what it does best. We’ll come to that.
The third problem is the mistaken belief that quality control and volunteers go well together. Just compare Wikipedia and Citizendium and consider the animosity generated by Deletionism on Wikipedia. How will you encourage authors to contribute if you are telling them that their contributions are lacking the quality you are looking for instead of simply accepting their text and working on it?
You fight spam, you rework text occasionally, you encourage others, you welcome newbies, you lead by example. That’s how you lead.
An abrasive personality, radical change involving a lot of work—those are not the tools you are looking for.
Let me return to the issue of commanding change. Things people have said:
The critics can be unhappy about it all they want, and they can complain about it all they want—but in the end, one needs to understand the forces at work, here. There is no chain of command.
It works just like a free software project. If it doesn’t scratch someone’s itch, nobody is going to add it. I think it’s a fundamental issue with our business model: there is no pay for boring stuff. Plus, documentation is of no direct use for anything—unlike code. Thus, people are mostly motivated to keep their own code and its documentation up to date. I don’t think there is anything we can do about that. That’s why the Emacs Wiki Mission Statement does not mention organization and quality. It cannot be commanded.
Once we accept that this is the sand upon which we are building our house, we necessarily need to scale down our expectations. Personally, I think the wiki exists somewhere between the official documentation, Stack Overflow, the FAQ, the newsgroups, the mailing lists, and IRC. It’s certainly nowhere near the quality of organization and writing that the Emacs documentation has—and I don’t think this is the right medium to aim for this level of quality. I think the people willing to invest that amount of energy to write quality stuff ought to be writing the real Emacs documentation—and they probably are.
What remains are the people using Emacs Wiki for their own pet projects, questions asked, answers given, sometimes organized, sometimes rewritten, sometimes linked to the rest of the site.
Wikipedia works because of its universal appeal. When I added an image to an obscure Indian temple we visited when I was staying in Mysore, the photo was terrible. But it was a start, and enough people cared about the page and it grew, and it found people to tend it, and now it’s big and beautiful.
There just aren’t enough Emacs users and authors out there and the best of us will be contributing to the official Emacs documentation. The wiki exists somewhere between the official documentation and the mailing lists. Lower your expectations.
Given all that, why does the wiki exist at all?
When I started it, I had several reasons:
I think this last point bears consideration: I was creating pages or adding information to pages because it was pertinent on IRC. An index, linking to the page, categorization, returning to the page later and reworking it, all these quality related tasks were not pertinent on IRC. All I needed was a pastebin that I could go back to and rewrite if I felt like it. Often I did not—and I still don’t.
The wiki being on the web, updated every now and then, with pertinent answers to specialized questions, unorganized and raw, ended up being a good resource for the search engines out there. These search engines bring new people to the site. People that don’t understand how wikis work in general and how this wiki grew to be where it is in particular. They are shocked. So many pages outdated! Such a mess in style and quality!
I think those people are better served reading the official documentation. They don’t want this mess, they don’t benefit from it’s loose rules, they don’t understand how cool it is to have a site with no login required. They are better served elsewhere.
I’m sure that one day the Emacs Wiki will have become irrelevant. But just like the old newsgroups never disappeared entirely, so will the wiki transform into something else and remain part of our information landscape.
Perhaps one of the Emacs Wiki critics will one day set up an alternate site, pull all the pages (more than 8500 pages last time I checked), extract the quality content—or rewrite it from scratch—and produce something better. Perhaps they will build an organization that can keep the quality up, encourage new authors to join, provide more value to their readers. But I don’t think complaining about the existing Emacs Wiki is a step in the right direction. Build it, and they will come—elsewhere.
There’s more… There must be at least two short Burning Wheel campaigns on that site (Burning Six, Campaign:Krythos). And a Mongoose Traveller game that switched to Diaspora (Campaign:Kaylash). And a wiki I used for my DM notes when running the Kurobano campaign (Campaign:Attaxa). And a Forgotten Realms campaign using D&D 3.5 (Sohn des schwarzen Marlin). And another D&D 3.5 sandbox (Campaign:Grenzmarken).
I totally recommend keeping notes online!
(I run the Campaign Wiki site which explains why I’m so enthusiastic about it.)
Today I noticed an Italian speaking woman commenting on somebody else’s RPG related post on Google+. That got me thinking. Do Italian speaking gamers have a Campaign Wiki site?
I posted on Google+ that I’m interested in hosting a translation, but that I’d need help. I’ve translated the Campaign Wiki site to German, and a handful of people from the German Tanelorn forum picked it up and started using it. Awesome! My guess is that there are still enough people that need a wiki and that are willing to settle for a no-thrills version instead of using Obsidian Portal or Epic Words. I assume those two are English-only services?
Francesco Beltramini was kind enough to do a few translations. And it works!
Con questo sito vogliamo darvi l’opportunità di creare un wiki per le vostre compagne di gioco di ruolo.
Scrivi il nome della tua campagna nello spazio sottostante e fai una prova. Oppure dai un occhiata agli altri siti passando per la pagina Stato.
If you speak Italian, give it a look! It’s work in progress but I’ll be adding all the translations you send me.
There are various parts to such a translation effort:
The last point is particularly important for long term success. The French translation of Campaign Wiki, for example did not attract any users at all. None of the wikis (CW:Status) are French. Perhaps the French have their own sites that provide them with wikis or this is a cultural thing? I have no idea.
If you are a French gamer, please let me know!
Wenn ich mir die aktiven Wikis auf dem Campaign Wiki anschaue, scheint mir, dass die meisten Wikis Deutsch sind. Zuerst war ich überrascht. Liegt es an einer anderem ästhetischen Empfinden oder an einem fehlenden deutschsprachigen Angebot? Die Alternativen Obsidian Portal und Epic Words sehen beide besser aus und bieten mehr Funktionalitäten – sind aber entweder kostenpflichtig oder im Funktionsumfang reduziert, wenn ich mich recht erinnere.
Selbst wenn es nur die Tatsache wäre, dass Campaign Wiki auf Deutsch erhältlich ist, so gilt dennoch zu bedenken, wie viele Punkte es noch gibt, die nicht übersetzt wurden. Per Default gibt es im Menü beispielsweise eine “About” Seite; die Startseite ist nur auf Englisch vorhanden, überhaupt alle von dort direkt verlinkten Seiten wie “Status”, “Advanced”, “Setup” und “Migration” sind alle nur auf Englisch vorhanden – traurig aber wahr!
Da das wenige deutsche Material aber anscheinend ausreicht, habe ich mit Google Translate, LEO und Resten von Schulfranzösisch mich an die Übersetzung der französischen Hilfeseite gemacht. Zudem habe ich noch ein paar Texte für die französische Oddmuse-Übersetzung nachgetragen. Mal schauen ob es was nützt!
Wessen Schulfranzösisch besser ist als das meine, und wer einen altruistischen Impuls verspürt, den will ich gerne einladen, mir bei der Übersetzung zu helfen!
Schande über mich, bin ich doch halber Franzose und kann meine eigene Muttersprache nicht…
I use a campaign wiki for every single campaign I’m in. There are several solutions out there:
What are the benefits of using a wiki for your campaign?
Currently Wikileaks is doing the United States diplomatic cables leak. At the same time, Julian Assange was arrested on rape charges, and companies like Paypal, Mastercard, VISA, and Swiss Postfinance kicked out Wikileaks. Shame on them!
All of this seems to be the world adjusting to a coming Transparent Society. This is also a book by David Brin where he argues that currently those with lots of resources have the means to invade your privacy, that in the old days there was very little privacy, that therefore privacy was maybe a doomed concept, and what sort of alternative would we want. The transparent society is a society where privacy is lost in both directions. Not only can you spy on other people using public cameras – other people will also be able to see that you spied on them. Hopefully that would level the field somewhat.
I’m with Wikileaks.
I recently saw an essay by SamRose, linked to from Community:InformationOverload: Why you never see people complaining about “knowledge overload”…
It makes me want return to writing wiki pages on this site instead of blog pages (like this one). Start with a copy of a good blog page on a topic, copy it to a page without date prefix, and integrate other good pages instead of just appending to them (like the tag or category pages will).
On the topic of my RPG-related blogging, I have a few things that I keep returning to:
Define external redirect: LaunchPad