Turning deletion into a good faith process

I’d like to explore the idea of turning deletion into a good faith process – I’ve made a few notes in my Wikipedia userspace already. I thought I’d flag this now before I do serious work on it, in case I’m reinventing the wheel.

Inspired by SJ Klein of OLPC.

I should add – the Appropedia community has been much more good-faith than my experience of Wikipedia. But then, Appropedia is still a fraction of the size of Wikipedia. Maintaining a civil community as we grow will be a challenge, but a critical one. We’ll be paying very close attention to large yet supportive communities such as wikiHow.

A community-owned wiki

We’ve been talking* about how to make Appropedia something that the community as a whole takes greater ownership of. Here’s some ideas:

  • This post reveals that what we call admins are known as librarians on the Spanish Wikipedia. I love it! It loses much of the connotations of power and control which are contrary to the spirit of a wiki, and it describes the role much better, I believe. A big part of explaining what a community wiki is about is explaining that noone owns it, and this could help.
  • A broad wiki is easier for people to get involved in. You want something on the wiki? Great, do it! Appropedia has always been deliberately very broad, but I wonder if we can communicate this better.
  • As many communication channels as possible (like OLPC’s many channels):
  • Communicating with Mailing lists. So obvious, but for a long time I operated on the assumption that we could get talk pages and some kind of forums to meet the needs for communication. But of course, many of us emailed each other constantly… and by nature that’s closed communication. A mailing list lets anyone in who’s interested, and puts our ideas out there for all who might be interested.
  • Communicating with talk pages on the wiki. We could making the talk pages work much better, and this is where we need geek help. A way of making a more finely controllable recent pages page, that could give us all changes to the various talk pages. This would help keen people track conversations more easily, and give people answers more quickly.
  • Communicating with an easy-to-use chatroom. I like OLPC’s chatroom, in that it’s geek-friendly (IRC!) but accessible by normal humans via the web.

That’s by no means a complete list. How does it sound? What else can we do?

* prompted in part by comments by SJ from OLPC.

Originally posted at Pablo Garuda.

Welcome to the Appropedia blog

This is the blog to accompany Appropedia, the wiki for solutions in the challenge of building rich, sustainable lives.

Follow our blog to understand how things work, and how we’re dealing with the challenges of a growing wiki expanding into new areas. Your contributions are very welcome – you can start contributing, let us know your questions (commenting here is one way). You can also keep watching here as we talk about how things work in this wiki world, and figure out where you fit in. (But we’d still love it if you dropped us a line.)

This was posted when we were still playing with the Drupal blog, before we switched to WordPress. So we’ll need to make another welcome, soon. – Chriswaterguy 23 Sep 2008

Original works on a wiki

Received an email from the founder of a fairly prominent UK organization, devoted to real-world action for sustainability. The query was whether Appropedia was a suitable place to work collaboratively on a book, which would later be published.

While we’d love to have this content, there are some reasons it may not be an acceptable solution for them. At the very least, contributors need to know what they are committing to when pasting on a wiki, and using a free license.

Rather than just explain this in an email, I thought it was a good question to answer on the wiki: See Original content FAQ.

Note that I’m starting to wonder if our old policy of using the “Original:” namespace is a good idea after all, as it requires a set of gatekeepers for what content is worthy to be placed in this namespace. And yet… an original document by a respected appropriate technology organization, for example, may deserve to be readily available. Or perhaps a link to a “diff,” showing the text of the original, with all the changes that have been made since the original document was first placed on the wiki – that will confuse the eye of the average non-wikiholic however.

Tricky issues. Feedback welcome!

Originally posted, by the same author, at Pablo Garuda.

Original works on a wiki

Received an email from the founder of a fairly prominent UK organization, devoted to real-world action for sustainability. The query was whether Appropedia was a suitable place to work collaboratively on a book, which would later be published.

While we’d love to have this content, there are some reasons it may not be an acceptable solution for them. At the very least, contributors need to know what they are committing to when pasting on a wiki, and using a free license.

Rather than just explain this in an email, I thought it was a good question to answer on the wiki: See Original content FAQ.

Note that I’m starting to wonder if our old policy of using the “Original:” namespace is a good idea after all, as it requires a set of gatekeepers for what content is worthy to be placed in this namespace. And yet… an original document by a respected appropriate technology organization, for example, may deserve to be readily available. Or perhaps a link to a “diff,” showing the text of the original, with all the changes that have been made since the original document was first placed on the wiki – that will confuse the eye of the average non-wikiholic however.

Tricky issues. Feedback welcome!

Originally posted, by the same author, at Pablo Garuda.

How free is free?

I like the Creative Commons By Attribution license – it’s more free, letting people mix the content more easily and use it how they want, even mixing it with non-free content – as long as they give attribution.

The challenge is, if we decide to switch Appropedia to this license, much of our content will have to be clearly marked as being under a different license. (I’m thinking a template top and bottom, and some kind of box for content on pages where the content is from mixed licenses – we’ll need to use a bot to put the notices on every page, to start with.)

We’ll want to contact as many editors as possible and ask them to release all their past contributions under the new less restrictive license, and begin a process of identifying which old content can have the “GFDL” mark removed, to bring it over to the new license.

I believe it will be worth the pain, and we’re starting to discuss it within Appropedia now.

See
Which free license should you use?

Note: Since originally posting this, responses have made me rethink and soften my position. At the very least, the use of CC-BY is a concern to some wiki contributors, and this alone is a good argument for using CC-BY-SA. See the Which free license should you use? page for more detail.

Originally posted, by the same author, at Pablo Garuda.

Open social networking and wikis

“If you want to find out what tools your staff are finding most useful at the moment, just go and see what your IT department is blocking.” – Quoted in CIO magazine on Enterprise 2.0

A lot of Web 2.0 is time-wasting in my view, but it’s clearly meeting people’s needs or wants. (Though I suspect it’s also triggering some deep-seated addictive behavior, the way television hooks us by triggering our orienting response.)

My prediction: The next generation of social networking tools will be much less intrusive, more integrated into our web experience, and enable us to find people we want to connect with, and stay connected. That well be good for our social lives, good for whatever projects we’re involved in – and it will be good for business,

What about wikis? So far there are not a lot of shiny social networking tools for wikis. There’s the wiki itself of course, people interacting on talk pages and user pages in the process of building a resource. But in terms of additional tools, the best examples I’ve seen are at Wikia, starting with their gaming and entertainment sites such as Halopedia. The use of structured pages such as a Social Profile (automatically linked from the user page) has a lot of potential. Kudos to Wikia for open-sourcing the code.

There are other tools for building better connections within a wiki: a window into a community conversation is possible on standard MediaWiki, and the newest pages feeds on the Appropedia homepage are possible with an extension; I’d also like to see new ways of aggregating discussions, so I see on a single page the discussions I’m following.

But the developments I’m looking forward to are those freeing us from having to visit a specific site. Being able to add our maps, twitter feeds, blog feeds and custom searches to the site or sites of our choice gives us much more freedom. We already can do all of those things at Appropedia now, thanks in large part to work done on Wiki Widgets at Hexten. I suspect there’s much more on the way, like a bookshelf that I can share between my profiles on different sites, with my reviews.

But when there’s a vampire application, a la Facebook, I’ll let it pass.

This post originally appeared at Pablo Garuda