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Nathan

Is the Wiki dead?

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Is there any kind of consensus on what's going on or what the plan is going forward?

 

The 'wiki' seems to be stagnant and honestly the 'articles' feature provided by the forum software seems visually subpar. What's the point of having either if neither is useful or getting contributed to? I'm willing to be there is a lot of at least nominally useful information that's either buried in forum threads or only out there in print form or on some random, and really anicent, website that may nor may not continue to exist.

 

 

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I think there's a topic/additions thread where "notes" are taken about what might be added.

 

Cory has mentioned the UX/UI as a project, as well as a couple of other features.

 

But I also know that the admin team is pretty busy at the moment and probably will be moreso as Q4 of 2019 wraps up. This isnt their FT job AFAIK, and I dont think any of us have an insider's perspective really, as to how time is spent.

 

What I'm trying to gently get at is we shouldn't be too hard on them, though I agree that the wiki is due for some spit'n polish.

 

I wonder if there's any avenue for willing and skilled members to contribute on that front? 

 

I'm a designer by day, but am a lousy coder, otherwise I would myself volunteer.

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The wiki is not dead.

 

There are a handful of issues, and to be honest this is something wthww and I need to just sit down and decide and do, but both of us have very busy lives already, so the wiki falls by the wayside.

 

The first is that MediaWiki has very poor user management, and that I don't want to integrate Mediawiki with Invision, for sign-ons, which we did in the distant past when we had PHPbb2. This is mostly because I'm not skilled at modern webapp/linux security or PHP tools in general and I want maintenance to be as simple as it can be.

 

The second is that, because of that, user management is currently totally manual. This is to prevent defacement and things like those bots that used to run around and create pages on random wikis they found online, alternatingly for storage and for advertisement/google algorithm gaming.

 

The third is that we got the new CMS/Forum and I wanted to use it, but as mentioned, there are some shortfalls with invision that make that difficult. I last reviewed the forum's articles functionality on a fresh local dev install in 2017, so it's worth looking again. I believe there's been a couple new feature releases since then and so it might be much better now than it was back then.

 

The other thing is that maintaining a wiki is less about programming and more about culture. The software itself is more or less in good standing, other than having a "dated" visual design (fine, TBH, it's there to house information, not to look pretty) and the person who built out most of the pages left a couple years ago.

 

I've been toying with a local copy of dokuwiki on one of my computers at home and part of what I was thinking about there was "what would make a good macdex" - thinking about how the editorial style of Low End Mac might be useful for containing relevant information or links to relevant information on a page, but keeping the formatting pretty consistent, and ideally also combining families of machines on a single page. (So there's a single "6100" page, not 12 unique pages for all the different configurations plus performa  and WGS variations.)

 

The thread with article ideas is here:

 

Much of what I've put in this thread is stuff that we already have in stickies, or information that was sourced elsewhere as part of regular proceedings around the forum. jt put a handful of things in about architectures, for example. This isn't itself a comprehensive list of what needs to be done, but, more like a to-do list.

 

We're now entering the worst part of the year for me in terms of forum/wiki work, because I'm a local organizer for nanowrimo, and in november I'll be doing that and writing a novel, so I'm likely to cut back on forum time a lot.

 

So, overall:

  • The wiki is in a technically sound state
  • Protecting MediaWiki from vandalism amounts to either constantly reverting changes and deleting spam pages, or manually managing users
  • User management in mediawiki is bad. I would argue it's outright broken.
  • We need to see if Invision has gotten better enough
  • The issue isn't programming or programmers per se, but rather: people willing to author, edit, source, and organize content, plus deciding what projects we as a community want to handle. For example, is it worth our time building or maintaining a "macdex" when there are already so many of them out there?
  • If we move to a new system, we will likely need/want people to review the existing content and re-author it for the new system. As part of that process, we should probably give consideration to what articles can be removed.

Again, other than deciding what to do and then doing it, the most important thing, the thing we'll need the most hands involved in, is going to be migrating and/or writing content, most of which will involve transcribing forum posts.

 

The long game is to build interest in the wiki as a community project, and not just as "so-and-so's" project. The gotcha here has always been scenarios where people wanted complete control over a particular page, or just failure in general to get people interested in the idea of a wiki, especially from back before we had to cut down on post editing. *(Most of our stickied posts are from when all users had indefinite edit capabilities, for example.)

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By the way:

 

The above probably sounds like I'm laying some or all of the blame for the wiki's inactivity on the community itself. There's a kernel of truth in there, because ultimately  wthww can't author everything ourselves, but I want overall to express that I'm very happy with where the community is at large. I think if it was something I'd had the time and energy to work on, things would be different, and getting the wiki into better shape is something I want  to do.

 

I do want to reiterate that we don't need design or programming, largely, beyond the "decide what to even do" phase, the things we need to do will involve writing, copying, and organizing.

 

I'm open to ideas if people think there's better ways to do these things - i.e. if a switch to dokuwiki or MS SharePoint or whatever would serve the community better, just be aware that that kind of switch is going to result in an audit of the articles and a content migration, and we might not be able to automate it.

 

The biggest technical problem with mediawiki as it stands is the user management and spam control problem. Our previous wiki activist community member had been given sysop privs and was doing the user management there for us.  THat's kind of a sunk cost regardless, because switching to a new wiki tool doesn't remove the need to do that, even if it makes it easier.

 

The things in the first post above are very "low hanging fruit" kinds of article. Some (many, even) of them are already written, it's just a matter of adapting  a stickied forum post for wiki consumption and then as an admin action, possibly finding and replacing links to that thread to the actual wiki article.

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As a follow-up to this:

 

I'm pretty sure that the path forward I would like to take is to build out a new wiki using DokuWiki. I have been trying out running a local instance on a flash drive for a few weeks, and wthww, our site's technical administrator is intimately familiar with it for work purposes.

 

It looks simple to deploy and easy to get started with.

 

I can spin up a test instance on my server at home under a URL like "testwiki dot 68kmla dot org" which should allow for some initial content migration and then we can copy the entire thing over to the 68kMLA's real hosting (or: continue hosting it at my house, to be honest) and start building out some content.

 

I think that blindly copying everything we have is the wrong strategy, and I think part of building buy-in will involve the community deciding how things should be presented. In a big sense, this means things like deciding how to structure pages of the MacDex (which I've nicknamed the test section on my own install, but to be honest, I think it's a good name in general) and what things are relevant.

 

There will be work involved in copying and organization, and I am going to ask the community at large for help doing it.

 

There's some discussions we'll have to have at the leadership level on what we want our policies and procedures for the wiki to be, so I can't gaurantee anything right now, but I think it'll meet our needs and solve some of the problems I mentioned above that we have with MediaWiki.

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Got encryption up:

 

https://dokutest.68kmla.org/doku.php

 

There's some Conversations(TM) to be had, and I don't 100% know where yet, about some different things.

 

The first and most obvious one is what namespaces to use: https://dokutest.68kmla.org/doku.php?id=thinking_about_namespaces 

 

I made some sample pages for a hypothetical way the "MacDex" could be organized on an internal Doku installation I've got, I'll put some of that up at some point. My thought there was to combine model families into a single page. For example, all 6100 variants on one page, all 6200 variants on one page, and so on, and then enumerate the as-shipped differences between them using a table.

 

Each of those things should probably become its own page though.

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The server I'm hosting this on turns itself off sometimes, I'm going to move this and my other doku install to something else.

 

I have yet to configure a mail host for PHP so for the moment registrations aren't working, which is a bummer. I'll get that going and move these two to a different web server as soon as I can.

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