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Is wiki simple

In one sense, I think the whole concept of a wiki has this kind of wonderfully simple purity. There's this page, like the one you're looking at right now, and you can change anything on it and make it connect to other pages that might or might not already exist. When you look at the basic restraints placed on the web browser, and how hard it is to really change its basic nature past a certain point, this might be the best way there is for a lot of people to edit the web.

In terms of implementation I think there might be some things missing, or for that matter some things present which don't need to be. I can see doing work to fix those - it'd be a non-trivial project for me, but I think I could do it eventually - but I wonder a little more about the basic concept. Are there things that should change? What would make the real mechanics of using a wiki just enough easier that, say, my little sister or my mom could contribute?


<Saalon>I really think that the flaw in Wiki is that you need to know what it is and how it works '''before''' you can do anything with it. It's really not clear that you can or should edit the page yourself, nor is the concept of it similar to anything most random users have played with. I think that two things are needed to make Wiki new-user friendly. First, editing of pages needs to be really in your face, somehow. People need to be told on each page "ADD SHIT! NOW! YEAH YOU!" without being nagged. Also, wikis need some sort of built-in index of some sort. Front page should list all recent updates, and you should be able to see how things connect with a little more ease. So speaks Sipple.

:<Brennen> I think this is pretty much right on the money. The front page thing is the simplest, most ways - RecentChanges is probably the most useful page on any wiki, especially on a low-traffic one that's serving message board and weblog functions. Making that information obvious to new visitors and more accessible for regulars both are good ideas and shouldn't be hard. A better index is a little harder, but not much. It's that first point I'm not really sure how to deal with - and it brings up kind of a corollary question: Is part of what sustains wiki usability despite its openness those same few entry barriers?

<Saalon> Oh and thanks for the cheerleading...that gave me warm fuzzies. And unnatural prose? Well...yeah...but it's like I keep telling you: I might be a consistent storyteller, but you're the wordsmith out of us. Insert envy here, or something. Also, thanks again. Very appreciated words of praise...and very surprising.

:<Saalon> Upon rereading, this post says something different than what I meant to say. I made it sound like "well, yeah, why the fuck are you complaining?" when what I meant to have it sound like was "Yeah...I agree...and here's why..." This clarification is probably not needed, but I cringed upon reading this so...yeah...

::<Brennen> Dude, don't sweat it. I didn't take it that way.

:<Brennen> I don't know if I'd even say unnatural, come down to that. Just I guess there's always going to be people it seems to flow more easily for. Guy Kay or Neal Stephenson we ain't. You're gettin' better. And hey, you're welcome.

<Brent> Heh. Now that this wiki is based on the Wala engine, it satisfies both the criteria that Saalon mentions above.

<Brennen> That it does. Imperfectly, perhaps, but wiki seems to be about imperfect but simple.

<lumix> uh, where is that recipe for for marmalade at? ...sorry, wrong place. Anyways, Hello everyone.

<Brennen> Hey lum! Howsitgoin'?

<lumix> Not bad Brennen, just keeping busy. And believe me it's easy when one puts in 12 hour days. When are you coming to visit us?

<Brennen> How about mid-April or so? I'm guessing I'll be at loose ends again by then.

<lumix> that would be great, I would check with saalon first though, otherwise he might detonate the cranial bomb he implanted in me...

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last edited July 21, 2005