I’m unhappy with how WikiCreole is developing. It seems to me that requirements keep getting added. That’s bad FeatureKarma. I’m with David Clark (as cited by Tim Berners-Lee in his essay on The World Wide Web and the "Web of Life", or in FYI 17 also known as The Tao of IETF - A Novice's Guide to the Internet Engineering Task Force):
- We believe in rough consensus and running code.
I believe that it is a waste of time to lock twenty people into a workshop and let them talk for five hours. It certainly is a waste of my time. (See 2006-09-04 Wiki Creole.) I believe that when writing code, there is no way to solve all the problems on paper before you start coding. Only by writing and using the code will you discover the mistakes in your design. And that’s where the moment of truth arrives: Can you change your code quickly enough update it as you fix the design?
So I was stunned when I read the following:
- We really appreciate your enthusiasm, but it would make sense to wait until we at least have a finalized 0.1 spec before implementing anything.
Ouch. That hurts.
I really need to disengage from a process I do not like. Unfortunately, I realize now that I don’t have enough social skills to change the process.
RadomirDopieralski wrote a position statement on his WikiCreole personal page, and suggested that such a thing would be good for other contributors, too. I don’t want to post it on the Creole wiki, since I’d feel like poking a sore spot when I had promised to give it some rest. Then I wanted to post it here, but realized that this would be quite some work, duplicating a lot of stuff I said on the Creole wiki (spread over various Talk pages). And it wouldn’t help me to disengage.
So I’ll let it rest.
At WikiSym 2006 some developers got together and agreed on a common wiki markup standard called WikiCreole. To be honest, I agreed with the idea, got bored to tears during the workshop and left after half an hour, knowing that I’d implement their recommendations in less time than they needed to make a decision. Anyway, there is now an Oddmuse:Creole Markup Extension. I also left my implementation notes on the Wiki Creole wiki. As I implemented the various rules, I realized how underspecified some of the points were.
I also wrote lots of unit tests, of course, so I’m happy.
I’m a bit concerned about the process, however. I wasn’t at the workshop (my bad!) and so when I saw the wiki I thought that the things I saw had been decided, and I started implementing. As it turns out, however, several things are yet under discussion, and so I felt a bit “cheated” when things got changed after I had implemented them. I would have loved the feeling of “implementation done, see you next year!”
At WikiSym 2006, we talked about the future of wikis, and one thing I am really looking forward to is extending wiki ideas to SVG images. I use InkScape to produce SVG files for my diagrams on CommunityWiki. That gives me the ability to use some VisualLanguage.
I also upgraded to Inkscape 0.44.
I checked in what I had, and rewrote the documentation on Community:OddmuseToInkscape. It’s looking pretty good at the moment!
I also reworked the visual documentation that Lion had written. Check it out.
I think this is what we need to offer, based on my own experience:
- the maintenance scripts
- the crontab
- data files
- CGI scripts
- make sure the configuration files are easy to configure in a single location (paths, database logins)
- document how to use rsync, if possible
- document privacy issues (is more data available in the archive than via the interface?)
A danish university – teachers and instructors have a blog, there are wikis for courses. When the teachers move to a new job, can they take their data with them? It turns out that they keep their account, have access to the data, but there are no efforts underway (yet) to facilitate the export of data.
EmacsWiki – Alex has taken great pains to provide an archive of the files needed to run the site (and the site doesn’t need a database). He also has an archive of all the static HTML pages for emergencies. Setting up a copy of the site, however, requires manual intervention. So much, in fact, that nobody bothered to resurrect the site when only a short break was anticipated. Plus, the bandwidth used by the archives amounted to 20% of the site traffic, about 2G per month. This was solved by only allowing access to the archives to a small number of people. Another problem is that once the site is down, there is no simple way to find out who has backups and there is no plan for bringing the site back up.
Wikipedia – only lead administrators can make complete backups, because some of the information in the databases is only meant to be seen by administrators. The backup plans and the plans for getting the site back up elsewhere are not widely known, so we don’t know what they are.
A small wiki for about 100 users – no plans exist, adhoc backups are made, there is no license attached to the site, so the only implicit license is to modify and distribute them on the original site. There seems to be no right to fork (no free content).
See also: The same notes on the WikiSym wiki.
Angela Beesley talked about things that make WikiPedia work. Stuff I noticed.
- She also mentioned the importance of OffTopic: 75% of the articles are not articles: Talk pages, user pages, talk pages for user pages, help pages, etc.
- NeutralPointOfView doesn’t mean compromise or single point of view: It means multiple points of view + verifiable sources
- Wikipedia has a code of conduct
- Projects, portals, regional meetings
- Public & private watchlists; public watchlists are user editable
- Tagging pages as stubs, controversial, unverified, etc. Angela says that these are used both to warn visitors (I agree) and to allow editors to search for and fix these articles (I doubt this works as envisioned).
- Semi-protected pages: Prevent edits by unregistered users, prevent edits by new users (four days or less)
- BarnStars, IRC
- Planned feature: Stable versions (approved by certain people?) – reminds me of StableCopy
- Poll support might be interesting, as Wikipedia uses lots of (informal) polls, it seems
- Asking questions on a wiki are problematic for users unfamiliar to wikis – they expect a personal response, eg. mail. A bug tracking tool helps solve this issue.
Days #Pages 1000: 102 900: 128 800: 210 700: 189 600: 80 500: 251 400: 359 300: 264 200: 259 100: 466 0: 229
OpenSpace: Nobody was interested in my session, Integrating Language Minorities. I ended up listening in to a discussion about measurements.
Anrea Forte talks about learning, how students learn, how people are motivated (WikiPedia = authentic context). Are teachers required? Interesting questions:
- Classroom vs. wiki culture – no hierarchies
- Some structure needed – critical thinking about sources, faithful citations. Special pages for sources, where students can comment on sources, and with a user interface that makes it easy to pick sources
- How do we know learning when we see it – hard to do anyway
- Ethical implication of coerced publication – but I disagree with her, here: Society will have to adapt to RecordKeepers, adapt to the TransparentSociety.
Sheizaf Rafaeli talks about using a WikiBook. What is a book? Problems with text books: Expensive, unavailable, revenue goes not to the researches but to few writers, publishers motivated to issue new editions every semester, few non-English books. Motivation: Extrinsic, by providing a 3% grade bonus for five edits per semester, but the average is much higher. Statistically significant: High participation and better grades correlate.
He mentions WikiLiteracy.
Month Total Top Poster Edits 2001-05 289 AlexSchroeder 222 2001-06 457 AlexSchroeder 228 2001-07 293 AlexSchroeder 152 2001-08 182 AlexSchroeder 108 2001-09 246 AlexSchroeder 203 2001-10 381 AlexSchroeder 170 2001-11 387 AlexSchroeder 191 2001-12 225 AlexSchroeder 108 2002-01 415 AlexSchroeder 131 2002-02 302 AlexSchroeder 103 2002-03 279 AlexSchroeder 96 2002-04 367 AlexSchroeder 117 2002-05 431 AlexSchroeder 168 2002-06 513 AlexSchroeder 163 2002-07 338 AlexSchroeder 102 2002-08 424 AlexSchroeder 163 2002-09 530 AlexSchroeder 225 2002-10 507 AlexSchroeder 189 2002-11 337 AlexSchroeder 129 2002-12 414 AlexSchroeder 125 2003-01 795 DeepakGoel 181 2003-02 627 AlexSchroeder 185 2003-03 1222 AlexSchroeder 225 2003-04 684 AlexSchroeder 115 2003-05 682 AlexSchroeder 214 2003-06 765 AlexSchroeder 237 2003-07 485 AlexSchroeder 65 2003-08 480 AlexSchroeder 177 2003-09 695 AlexSchroeder 221 2003-10 705 AlexSchroeder 184 2003-11 745 AlexSchroeder 130 2003-12 369 AlexSchroeder 46 2004-01 417 AlexSchroeder 79 2004-02 388 AlexSchroeder 76 2004-03 970 AlexSchroeder 105 2004-04 1202 MarkusKnittig 165 2004-05 934 AlexSchroeder 140 2004-06 1049 AlexSchroeder 212 2004-07 750 AlexSchroeder 68 2004-08 1055 AlexSchroeder 289 2004-09 1132 AlexSchroeder 296 2004-10 768 DrewAdams 115 2004-11 1104 AlexSchroeder 210 2004-12 869 DrewAdams 184 2005-01 1008 DrewAdams 114 2005-02 722 AaronHawley 53 2005-03 1002 AlexSchroeder 166 2005-04 794 AlexSchroeder 137 2005-05 653 DrewAdams 124 2005-06 817 AlexSchroeder 109 2005-07 1660 AlexSchroeder 703 2005-08 947 AaronHawley 135 2005-09 809 AlexSchroeder 85 2005-10 2565 AlexSchroeder 1438 2005-11 971 DrewAdams 409 2005-12 1570 DrewAdams 377 2006-01 1248 DrewAdams 374 2006-02 827 DrewAdams 352 2006-03 1329 DrewAdams 543 2006-04 859 DrewAdams 149 2006-05 955 DrewAdams 211 2006-06 744 DrewAdams 179 2006-07 587 DrewAdams 133
You can also search Flickr for more WikiSym 2006 pictures.
I’m leaving for WikiSym 2006. Hope to see you there, if you’re interested in wikis. Hopefully I’ll be wearing my Oddmuse T-Shirt, so I should be easy to recognize if you want to talk to me.
Dinschrift is a one-man show at Gasmalerstrasse 5, Zürich.
Let me know if you’re coming, too. Or add your name to the Oddmuse wiki.