|8 Nov 2004|
I really don't know what's wrong with wikis. They provide a set of pages and both the content and the links can be edited by those with permision.
Yes, of course, they may be too open to vandals, wikispam, irrelevant content, and lack of one or more dedicated mantainers. But if there are enough users, and if those users have the necessary skills and use those skills, then they can keep the garden tidy and useful.
What do people want when they "grow a wiki"?
You may be very much centered around content, as in wikipedia. Of course, that content is written by many different people, and you want them all to contribute to the communal blackboard as easily as possible. It may be an encyclopedia (btw, cyclops had but one eye - shouldn't we have en-bi-cyclopedias?), or it may be information that has to be kept up to date. But in any case it's the content that matters.
You may be centered around creating new ideas and growing them. In that case, you probably want ways to explore the ideas, qualify them somehow, add comments to the ideas. You want to go from the problems in one specific idea to solutions to that problem. You want to have many solutions to one problem. You want to describe the problem diferently, and link to data to help people know what the problem is about, as exactly as possible. You need to be able to summarise, possibly having the wiki as one big page so that you can copy and paste relevant bits to the "new entry" window - or maybe you can just open many tabs in your browser.
In both cases, you may want the mantainer(s) to be able to edit the structure itself. That's a big thing to do. Relinking pages, joining and dividing content - things you do with good old outliners - but now with wikis.
You may also be centered around growing a community of people. In that case you may want to have two circles: an outer circle of people who contribute annonymously, and an inner circle of people who join in to lend both hands. The second group may be annonymous or not - it should be their choice. And they should have ways to engage in one-on-one conversations (instant messaging) that would, if they want to, in all o in part, be piped into the main discourse.
I guess I'll have to get into just one project and see how it works. But it would have to be a "content" project: one that is concerned with the information inside it. Rick Nelson and Franz Nahrada have one wiki each, I believe. I'll go and have a look ... Ok: Franz's and Rick's.