What? Not another wiki-theorist?!?

Not really.
Mostly these are notes I am thinking about, or would like to reference again as I discuss why wikis are useful or interesting.


hey, I like wikis -- otherwise I wouldn’t be using one as my CMS. Is that a perversion?



Truth, what is that? or Holmes and Aaron in conversation

‘Yes, look at Wikipedia,’ I say. ‘Wikipedia was founded by an Objectivist and its policies are explicitly anti-truth.’ ‘Anti-truth? Wikipedia’s policy is truth through process.’ ‘The Wikipedia npov policy page explicitly says that it doesn’t matter whether something is true or not — it can only be put on a Wikipedia page if it’s popular. And that makes some sense from a certain perspective, but it’s certainly not political. In a messed-up society like ours, neutral policies don’t have neutral effects. The process will just reinforce the status quo.’



To what extent can wiki be gossip?


“unregulated networks of communication”


gossip (definition) from merriam-webster


Wikipedia starts out pretty uncharitably:


Gossip is idle talk or rumor about the personal or private affairs of others. It is one of the oldest and most common means of sharing facts, views and slander. This term is used pejoratively by its reputation for the introduction of errors and variations into the information transmitted, and it also describes idle chat, a rumor of personal, or trivial nature.

Wikipedia:Gossip on 2013.05.13



Gossip has been researched in terms of its evolutionary psychology origins. This has found gossip to be an important means by which people can monitor cooperative reputations and so maintain widespread indirect reciprocity. Indirect reciprocity is defined here as “I help you and somebody else helps me.” Gossip has also been identified by Robin Dunbar, an evolutionary biologist, as aiding social bonding in large groups. With the advent of the internet gossip is now widespread on an instant basis, from one place in the world to another what used to take a long time to filter through is now instant.

Wikipedia:Gossip on 2013.05.13



Siva Vaidhyanathan’s The Anarchist in the Library touches on gossip as (verbal?) communication outside the approved channels of discourse (“unregulated networks of communication”), and highlights how important gossip was to the French Revolution


In fact, the power of gossip, the power of unmediated, irresponsible communication is central to the story because it helps to explain how the French Revolution went so horribly wrong. The fact is that ordinary citizens in France before the revolution were adept at evading the surveillance of the state. It was an almost necessary daily habit. They used to gather throughout public places in Paris and elsewhere and exchange gossip–unflattering, probably untrue stories about life in the royal court.


This practice helped undermine faith in the French monarchy and it certainly helped spread the fertile soil of revolution. By the time France was ready to erupt, everyday people had long since abandoned any pretension of respect for the crown. What we learn from this is that anarchistic gossip has huge consequences. Peer-to-peer communication in that unmediated, uncensorable sense has always been with us.




Thoughts on Markup

Jeff Atwood’s 2008 post Is HTML a Humane Markup Language? - Spoiler Alert: YES for a subset of HTML


HTML itself is not a sufficient markup in many cases - it’s big and bulky. The allure of wikitext is that it’s simplified - it’s Quick (wiki = fast) and provides advanced functionality that stock HTML doesn’t - the thing is, HTML isn’t intended nor was it designed for this type of functionality. You don’t want to force users to choose between no advanced format tweaking (wikitext) or having to know HTML.


This is not a simple decision to make. Considering the widespread use - beyond technology people - of Wikipedia, I’d say that WikiText is not a hindrance to regular users. A knee-jerk reaction to kill it might actually kill the usefulness of the Wiki platform.



Meatball:WysiwygWiki discusses visual editing


http://c2.com/cgi/wiki/wiki?WhyDoesntWikiDoHtml - includes a note on safely enabling javascript






Also known as a bliki

The virtues of combining wiki and weblog functionality in your own software (which means very easy, high-density linking between both types of entry, and consistency of managing the address, full ownership etc.) outweigh any qualms about the difference of addressing philosophies.



I’ve looked into blog-enhancements for pmwiki, but never felt as comfortable with them as wordpress.
I have a wordpress blog, and a wiki, and I can’t resolve what content should be placed where.
I started on a wordpress plugin to use the wiki-engine for rendering markup -- which also allows wiki-includes -- but it’s not complete, and the style-differences and lack of js-portability between the two is a big PITA.



small random bits

How to Use Wikipedia as a Teaching Tool: Adrianne Wadewitz
EmacsWiki vs WikEmacs or [S]tewarding documentation projects and nurturing a healthy community around them is much harder than writing software.


BoingBoingBoing: What Wikipedia’s new flagged revisions system actually means (2009)





Wiki trouble, the trouble with wiki, etc.

Making Light has regular run-ins with wikipedia.
The first I remember reading was http://nielsenhayden.com/makinglight/archives/009274.html from August 13, 2007
There’s something I’m looking for, where (I think it’s Making Light) where somebody ‘splains that the person who wins edit wars is the one with the most perseverance. Who is usually an asshole.


I haven’t found that back yet (if it even exists). But just found this new comment:


One of Wikipedia’s problems is that, while their editing pool is large, it’s small by comparison to the number of articles.


Thus, provided the article you’re editing is not one on a popular topic, you can edit largely unopposed in many cases. Thus, the advantages of crowdsourcing are neutralized; there may be only one person working on an article, and it reflects their biases.


I served on Wikipedia’s Arbitration Committee for three years. The fact is, the more obsessive someone is, the more persistent, the greater the odds that they can wear down their opposition by sheer persistence.


People received credible death threats for their Wikipedia work. And not just on what one might think are controversial subjects.


On the other hand, the more one works on Wikipedia, the more one realizes that conventional sources are also highly biased, inaccurate, out-of date and fundamentally awful. NO single source is good. Major newspapers publish absolute howlers. So do scientific journals. So do reputable publishers.


Don’t trust anything. Use, but don’t trust.



Many, if not most, of the links below are specific to Wikipedia. There’s general theory to be gained from them. But once that’s done (or possibly before?) they should be moved to a generic page on WikiPedia.


Link dump follows:


Gaming Wikipedia (2007.07.24)
Grep that spool -- mine the xref links
Lost clarity
Scholarly works to avoid citing at all costs
Shadow Boxing (2010.05.09)


Crowdsourcing doesn’t inoculate against corruption (2013.05.17) which leads us to Revenge, ego and the corruption of Wikipedia


Wikipedia Culture

Deletionism and inclusionism are opposing philosophies that largely developed and came to public notice within the context of the community of editors of the online encyclopedia Wikipedia. The terms are connected to views on the appropriate scope of the encyclopedia, and the appropriate point for a topic to be allowed to “include” an encyclopedia article (i.e., “inclusion”) or “delete” the article (i.e., “deletion”). Inclusionism and deletionism are broad terms falling within a spectrum of views. The concepts are closely related to the concept of notability, with deletionists and inclusionists taking a strong or relaxed stance on “notability” accordingly. Many users do not identify strongly with either position.


“Deletionists” are proponents of selective coverage and removal of articles seen as unnecessary or highly substandard. Deletionist viewpoints are commonly motivated by a desire that Wikipedia be focused on and cover significant topics – along with the desire to place a firm cap upon proliferation of promotional use (seen as abuse of the website), trivia, and articles which are of no general interest, lack suitable source material for high quality coverage, or are too short or otherwise unacceptably poor in quality.


“Inclusionists” are proponents of broad retention, including retention of “harmless” articles and articles otherwise deemed substandard to allow for future improvement. Inclusionist viewpoints are commonly motivated by a desire to keep Wikipedia broad in coverage with a much lower entry barrier for topics covered – along with the belief in that it is impossible to tell what knowledge might be “useful” or productive, that content often starts poor and is improved if time is allowed, that there is effectively no incremental cost of coverage, that arbitrary lines in the sand are unhelpful and may prove divisive, and that goodwill requires avoiding arbitrary deletion of others’ work. Some extend this to include allowing a wider range of sources such as notable blogs and other websites.



Coding horror on Wikipedia: Inclusionists vs. Deletionists (2006)
blog entry on debate - including a reference to two opposing associations: Association of Inclusionist Wikipedians (AIW) (which has some interesting inter-related illustrations) and Association of Deletionist Wikipedians (ADW) (which has some interesting, but disparate, illustrations). Judging by design sense alone, the Inclusionists win this debate, as the deletionists appear to have no sense of style. The proposed logos for the ADW are cluttered, verbose, busy -- and seemingly promote the opposite of a deletionist spirit; conversely, the AIW logo is simple, calm, and serene. Almost as though, by not worrying about what should be thrown out, they have reached a zen point of being able to find what they need, focusing on information, and not curation.








wiki blobbing or WikiLog or WikiWebLog ot Bliki or BliKi (or whatEVer)




See Also

Wiki - notes on specific Wiki platforms, books, etc.
DeletionismVsInclusionism (most relevant chunk included above as Wikipedia Culture)
http://wikipediocracy.com/ - We exist to shine the light of scrutiny into the dark crevices of Wikipedia and its related projects; to examine the corruption there, along with its structural flaws; and to inoculate the unsuspecting public against the torrent of misinformation, defamation, and general nonsense that issues forth from one of the world’s most frequently visited websites, the “encyclopedia that anyone can edit.”



Category tags

Programming wikis



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