Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Wiki Patterns

I have been trying to get a good collaborative space set up for my company forever now. It just has never risen up high enough in the priority chain to really become a collaborative effort...although I have had some very good support from a couple of people that really get it.

Anyway, I happened across this link to Atlassian's wikipatterns site at Web Worker Daily. So far it's a pretty basic set of patterns, but I plan on adding a few of my notes.

Here are some random things that I think are decent ideas for a making a wiki well used with the audiences I have been dealing with.

1) WYSIWYG editing. Most people don't want to learn a markup langauage. It really lowers the barrier to creative usage.
2) Make it the authoritative source. No one wants to look at or update data that might be wrong, if there is another place where it is definitely right. If the wiki isn't the authoritative source, link the other content in, don't make copies that will get out of sync.
3) Fun stuff. It's absolutely worth having a few pages where people can post silly stuff when they feel frustrated.
4) RSS Feeds or change summaries. Crucial if you are using it for anything new-sy, as opposed to reference.

I have set up MediaWiki and many others. MediaWiki looks like a really ugly piece of code. I had problems with it on some customer networks with strange proxy behavior. Instiki and most of the Ruby on Rails wikis are missing crucial features- like security models. I actually like the Trac wiki for development projects, even though the wiki isn't really the crucial feature. I am extremely disappointed Google snapped up JotSpot right as they were about to release a self-hosted version. As convenient as Software as a Service things like Blogger are, I just would easily prefer hosting the app myself. JotSpot, while also being vastly more than a wiki, really benefits from being the engine behind dojo.js development. Dojo is a great ajax lib, and makes Jot cool.

I never thought the Atlassian Confluence stuff was worth the price, but the patterns site is a good idea. In fact, I suppose that was the origin of the wiki concept in the first place, Ward Cunningham's c2 wiki for the portland patterns group is still the canonical example. How far we haven't come: web 2.0 v. Web 1995.


Stewart said...

Thanks very much for linking to Wikipatterns.com! I appreciate that you’re helping to spread the word!
Stewart Mader
Wiki Evangelist, Atlassian