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L3DT Release 2.4

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Postby JavaJones » Fri Jul 07, 2006 4:00 am

Yes, I am not arguing the change at all for you, more for others who may be adding stuff. But I'm not sure anyone is at this point. As a coder you are probably very comfortable with Wiki syntax so if it's just you then no need to change.

What I find ironic about Wiki's though is that they're ostensibly focused on wide scale collaboration, but only people who know or are willing to learn the syntax can really collaborate. This came up recently in an interesting discussion I was having about Wikipedia and its accuracy, vulnerability to corruption. etc. One thing I have seldom heard talked about is the automatic narrowing of contributors due simply to the Wiki editing quirks and syntax itself. Most anyone can make a forum post but it is far from immediately obvious how to even add a new page on a Wiki (of course once you know it's ridiculously easy and pretty cool, but who would really guess it would be that simple and try it?). So you automatically get fewer contributors (and thus fewer experts) on Wikipedia than you could with a more WYSIWYG system. I don't see such a system being incompatible with the other benefits of Wiki's either - versioning, easy page creation, etc.

In fact there has to be a WYSIWYG Wiki out there, no? You've done some research into this, did you find anything?

- Oshyan
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Postby Aaron » Fri Jul 07, 2006 1:28 pm

Hi Oshyan,

I agree with you there; I found wiki syntax to be damn weird at first. However, most (including dokuwiki) have a formatting toolbar, so if you can't remember that ** denotes bold text, you can highlight the text with the mouse and click on the bold button. Just like in Word.

Creating pages is certainly quite odd. Some wikis have a 'create new page' button, and there is an extension for DokuWiki that does just this (though I haven't installed it yet).

I didn't look carefully into WYSIWYG wikis, but a quick google shows up Wiwi, the Wordpress wiki, and no doubt a few others. I haven't tried them.

As for Wikipedia, improving the editor might attract a few more experts, but would it not also make it easier for the n00bs to contribute, and thereby dilute the former’s work? No, I think the problem with Wikipedia’s accuracy is more fundamental than just the interface. We can reasonably expect that editors of Britannica check their facts with authoritative sources. That's why they’re paid, and if they were inaccurate, they’d be fired. However, with Wikipedia we have no idea whether the editor actually knows what they're talking about. They're not accountable for their accuracy, and nor are they vetted for their knowledge or writing ability. If they were, Wikipedia would be more Britannica - fewer editors writing fewer articles, but with greater accuracy and correct grammar. I don't want that - Wikipedia is useful because it's so broad, because anyone who knows anything about a subject (or thinks they do) can write an article. If this means it's probably inaccurate, then so be it. If it’s important I'll get a book (with paid editors) to check the facts.

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Aaron.
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Postby JavaJones » Fri Jul 07, 2006 7:43 pm

I wasn't suggesting the sole problem of Wikipedia is the difficulty in editing, not by any means. I'd say it's a much more minor problem than the general lack of accountability, as you said. But I too value Wikipedia for the same reasons you state. Interestingly those same reasons are exactly why an easier editing system would be good. To quote you

...Wikipedia is useful because it's so broad, because anyone who knows anything about a subject (or thinks they do) can write an article...


Of course that is not strictly true because it is further limited to those who know or can learn Wiki syntax and, perhaps more importantly, Wiki's somewhat odd organizational structure and methodology. Yes this weeds out "n00bs" who might screw things up, but I think we have plenty of non-n00bs screwing things up as it is so it's not really useful to see this as a *valuable* deterrant. I would postulate that the number of real experts who were more encouraged to contribute with an easier editor and more automated structure would at least equal the increase in "n00bs".

- Oshyan
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