What Wiki Works For

I think I wrote the lead-in to WhyWikiWorks some time in 1997. Indeed I keep hoping someone will do me the favor of scrubbing some of my old stuff out - that whole slab of Y2K material, say. Not because it's embarrassing - though it is - but because it's written in an old voice. ArthurCeeClarke observed that most people die about once every 10 years - that 10 years is long enough to change just about everything about a person. I'm 41. When I think about where I was at 31, and at 21, and 11, and 1 - well, I have to concede the point. So I kind of worry that living in the WikiNow will stunt my growth.

Happily I get deleted about as often as anyone else. I discovered around the time of the RK wars that my stuff gets deleted more often when I don't sign it. So these days I sign as little as possible. --PeterMerel, who wonders what the hell the title of this page could mean.


I agree with Peter about the stability of useful Wiki content. To add some evidence, I'll mention one of my pet pages, which is NewUserPages. In a way, I started NewUserPages with similar intentions to WikiInterface?: to flatten the learning curve for newcomers, and to make Wiki a little bit more usable. I think in the future we can only expect to see more people like RA, in the sense that he represents 'mainstream', if for no other reason than the mainstream brutally outnumbers the innovators.

Another thing I'd like to point out is the parallels to WikiPedia and its growth. WikiPedia has a very different flavour to it, and it is much friendlier to newcomers. Undoubtedly because its target audience is the mainstream.

As to the claim that Wiki does not work. Clearly this is false, from our perspective. Wiki is one of the oldest and most stable sites on the internet, and consistently provides useful information to its audience. However, RA's claim is more that Wiki doesn't work for the mainstream audience. Perhaps that's true. I'm still ruminating on this one. As Wiki grows, I wonder whether we should accept the oncoming mainstream, or build some fortifications to keep them at bay. We're certainly not a WikiPedia, and I don't think we should try to be. Not sure.

-- RobHarwood

We're a programming site for programmers, by definition not the mainstream. We should cater to programmers, not to mainstream web surfers. Mainstream web surfers can go elsewhere to other wiki's. If WikiPedia is so great then let them have it. As a programmer, I like WardsWiki as is. If anything, let's make it more difficult for non programmers as this would help eliminate non programming contributors (and their fluff) and restore a nice signal to noise ratio and keep us on topic!

See HowWikiWorks, WikiAsAnarchy?


The title sounds like a question, but for the life of me I can't find an answer here.


That's because a preposition is a terrible thing to end a sentence with. Oh, and as long as we're pondering questions and in thread mode, what does the ancient egyptian sun god have to do with Wiki? Are the RK wars an interesting or useful part of Wiki history?

I'm not sure I qualify as mainstream (more FancyPantsElitist?), nor am I a programmer. In fact, I'm setting up a WikiClone for a small community project and stopped by to answer some WikiNewbie questions. And worse, to ask them. You don't need to build fortifications unless you're expecting a hostile force. This is intended as thought provoking criticism, not hostility. I may be part of your problem (encroaching mainstream), yet I'm also part of the solution (setting up a small community WikiClone elsewhere). I have mainstream, non-programming questions like "Why do WikiWords link to FreeLink style page titles?" and "Since the WikiWords get parsed into FreeLink style titles, couldn't you just go whole hog and parse the whole page and convert WikiWords into FreeLinks?" The FreeLinks could always get parsed back into WikiWords in the edit field.

Would a more positive way to look at "mainstream web surfers" be the audience, possibly part of the HiddenAudience?

-- GeorgeHarnish?


CategoryWiki

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