2021-03-26 The Bliki Spirit

A question for people that have been running their own personal wikis for a few years: do you publish it? If you do, has it devolved into a bliki, i.e. does it have “day pages” and therefore a temporal (blog) nature instead of the wiki now?

All I can say is that my wiki turned into a bliki and then turned into a blog... I wonder how one would push back against this, or whether it is unavoidable.

@zudn and @stvltvs wondered about the fit. I’d say it works quite well for me with the following tweaks:

Comments are optional, but just in case I offer comment pages with a form that allows easy appending of text.

To be more precises: the date is removed from titles on the feed to look more like a blog feed. The comment pages are regular pages that you can also edit (including editing the comments of other people, easy despamming, and so on). The image pages are simply regular pages that contain an image instead of text, that is they have a full revision history and aren’t treated as separate “attachments” to a page.

I guess my original point however is once you start doing that, and you do a lot of it, isn’t that just a blog? Where is the wiki nature in that? Perhaps the only thing that remains is “editing blog pages in public, maybe for a long time; page history and recent changes tell the full story”. That’s not bad. But it’s seems like very little wiki spirit.

Comments

I think refactoring and synthesis is at the crux of what makes good wikis wikis. If you’re primarily writing for yourself, it can be tough to motivate yourself to do this. I think it’s akin to documenting code. You might do it more carefully, if you know other folks are engaging with it.

I also wonder how big of a role latency plays. I use the Bear app for Mac as my personal wiki / blog, very similar to what you’re doing here, and I find myself refactoring often. I think it’s because it’s very fast compared to editing a wiki page, although it may also be because it’s private, so I don’t worry at all about it making sense to anyone else.

Eugene Eric Kim 2021-03-27 16:09 UTC


It’s an interesting question. I see the point about latency. My recent experiments with the Gemini protocol, markup, and dedicated clients (one of them being very well integrated into Emacs), also seem to show that lower latency is very appealing. Perhaps that is a general human tendency: to hate lag. I wonder whether that’s all to it, though.

Other element, beyond laziness and drag avoidance:

The mindset of a record keeper. When writing about a project, I like to maintain that sense of history. When did I think this, and when did I change my mind, and see how simple it was back then. I don’t think I want to overwrite this completely. The layers of history are a value in themselves.

The mindset of a publisher. As somebody who writes to be read, by readers and not by community members, I try to use short titles that work like titles of traditional publications, not as key phrases of smashed together words that I will reuse as a concept. Related: PatternLanguage, LinkLanguage, AccidentalLinking, WikiOrBlog.

I think that tag pages sometimes do this for me, in a very, very rudimentary way. I guess you could check out Wikis and find my current ideas by looking at the last ten blog posts. Not a very good solution, unfortunately. I could rework the page, though... But then I’m essentially limiting the “real wiki pages” on this site to the two dozen or so tags that I actually use (as opposed to the tags that I have used at least once).

Actually, now that I look at the tag cloud, I don’t think it has any merit at all. What would be the point of starting there… And even if you do, the links go to tag searches, not pages such as Wikis, Blogs, RPG, and so on (since capitalisation is important).

– Alex 2021-03-28


Coming back to this a day later, I wonder whether a lot of my thoughts on the wiki to blog transformation were driven by the perceived need for a feed, for non-community members.

The feed. This is important because it has a few properties that don’t match well with wikis: the feed item should tell it’s own story. So it’s not the diff for the wiki page; it’s the paragraphs you added, with some context. Essentially, a well crafted wiki edit would have to be rewritten as a well crafted micro blog post to make a good summary. And micro-blogging seems to be the right model, here: the text summary of a wiki edit has no markup, no paragraphs, a size limit. In short (hah!) it’s a lot of extra work.

Non-community members. I already mentioned the kind of wiki word magic in my previous comment, so I don’t want to dwell on that. There’s more to it, though: if your wiki is public and not written for it’s own community, then there are none of the usual shortcuts available. You cannot leverage jargon, context. Or perhaps you can, if you’re OK with your site being idiosyncratic in the way that some of them are, like Devine Lu Linvega’s site. I think it’s telling that his site has a Recent Changes page, but the public face for 100 Rabbits, and Rek & Devine, is a more traditional blog.

– Alex 2021-03-29 08:06 UTC


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