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Re: Bricolage: Impressive

From: Josh Berkus <josh(at)agliodbs(dot)com>
To: "Dave Page" <dpage(at)vale-housing(dot)co(dot)uk>
Cc: "PostgreSQL Web Development Mailing List" <pgsql-www(at)postgresql(dot)org>
Subject: Re: Bricolage: Impressive
Date: 2004-01-19 17:40:31
Message-ID: 200401190940.31209.josh@agliodbs.com (view raw or flat)
Thread:
Lists: pgsql-www
Dave,

> I'm fascinated by the current trend towards Wikis - what do they achieve
> that user comments don't other than potentially allowing a malicious
> user to cause havoc and potentially open the site to all sorts of legal
> problems should something libelous be posted - something I kindof
> expected you .usians to be particularly wary of?

Paranoia doesn't pay.  Really.   Despite Wiki's potential for abuse, the Wikis 
out there have been remarkably grafitti-free.  For example, I don't know that 
Wikipedia.org has been defaced once in the last season despite its public 
profile, and more technical wikis like the madwifi wiki (http://
madwifiwiki.thewebhost.de/wiki/FrontPage) have gone their whole lifetimes 
free of interference.    So that's *not* a consideration -- especially as any 
good wiki includes version rollback.

What is a consideration is:
Pro-Wiki:
1) Provides an easy way for new users to contribute toward HOWTOs, etc., 
without requiring them to wait for passwords, authorization, and reading 
extensive instructions.  This immediacy increases the likelyhood that someone 
will contribute what they've learned.*
2) Offers a childishly easy editing system, also supporting the above 
immediacy.
3) allows site administrators to move away from using e-mail to manage site 
submissions from new authors ("Just put it up on the Wiki and I'll review it  
later")

Anti-Wiki:
1) Content has to be dynamically rebuilt with each submission, making 
mirroring difficult to impossible, especially as few Wikis have a "preview" 
screen.
2) Tend to contribute to byzantine site structures that require an admin to 
straighten out and re-link.
3) Formatting, graphical elements, and linking are severly limited by security 
constraints, forcing most "articles" into formatted-text-only.
4) Difficult to search or TOC effectively.
5) Few, if any, Wikis allow setting permissions on pages which need 
constrained editing rights.

Given these considerations, I feel that it would be a good thing to have a 
wiki as a *corner* of the PostgreSQL.org and Techdocs Sites, but not as the 
whole thing.  The GUI page (http://techdocs.postgresql.org/guides/GUITools) 
has been a success for the existing Techdocs Wiki, except that nobody can 
find it on their own.

(*Seriously.   I spent a portion of last week troubleshooting the madwifi 
drivers for the IBM a/b/g wireless card; since madwifi had a wiki, I wrote up 
my experiences *immediately* and they are now on the web for others to learn 
from.  If I'd had to wait for a user_id and password and read 3 pages of 
instructions on how to submit -- or gods forbid use CVS -- I would have 
procrastinated indefinitely on posting)

-- 
-Josh Berkus
 Aglio Database Solutions
 San Francisco


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