Forum OpenACS Q&A: Response to What is a WIKI

Posted by Jerry Asher on
Thanks Ben,

I don't want a wiki.  I want a solution.  I don't understand why people keep asking me for configuration files for nsvhr/nsunix.  I've put that information five gazillion times into the bboards here, at aD, at AOLserver, and in my own howto.  But all I can do is put it into bboards, and my howto, and pray to Google.  Why can't they find it?  Why can't they find what other folks have said about it?  As David Eison points out, I want any users to have an edit-this-page ability to create new content and help out.  I want a way to take that content and reuse it (David, the jargon word for that is repurpose) and to promote it in different ways.

All those folks struggling right now to figure out new ways to document the ACS?  I'd like them to have the ability to just go off and do it.  On this site. With a CMS/CVS/Wiki store behind them.

I don't want to have to ask you for permission, nor do I want to have to wait for your help.  I approve of policies.  I approve of saying no.  I approve of 24x7 development strategies that reach beyond one individual administrator.  I like capturing energy.  I don't like opaque policy decisions coming from folks that are admittedly overloaded.

I don't believe that all links must be forever links. I don't believe in six 9s reliability for a learning site.

loop {I don't like the loop collect into friction returning friction}

I do like discussions.  But I also like closure.  I don't like personal attacks on anyone.  I don't like overloading anyone.

I do like having a committee that meets with intention, that listens, that can designate resources, that can offload resources, that can openly create policies and make policies open, that presents a face to complain to as opposed to people to complain about, that I can participate in, or just make comments to, and that can represent us to outside entities: press companies, etc. much as the Apache Software Foundation represents Apache.

Do I think that OpenACS is the place to experiment with a wiki?  Yes I do.  I certainly understand that you disagree, and that that makes it basically a noop.  As I've said, I think it's okay to have a showcase/testbed that goes down on occasion in the name of learning.  Learn.  Discuss.  Act.  break loop;

But I understand that you disagree.

Why doing it myself isn't a win.  Dossy Shiobara has an AOLserver wiki.  I've used it.  It's useful.  He keeps it up.  Regrettably, and very unfortunately, having a random X buried in a random location, doesn't generate the network effect we need to learn about X or to turn X into a resource.  A week or two ago, I put up a site-wide-search interface on my site that indexes the OpenACS.  It's gotten about three dozen hits that are not my own.  I've received absolutely no feedback about it, except for some scary reason, folks believe I am now the search engine expert.  Yet gosh, all I've done is to implement htDig within the ACS, and that's something Aaron did a bazillion years ago I guess.

Right now there are three implementations of XML-RPC for tcl/ACS.  There's Steve Ball's, there's Aaron's/Dave Bauer's, and there's Hafeez Bana's.  Regrettably, not a one of them has written any documentation on how to use their package.  They all apparently encourage others to use their package and document it.  Today, I'm staring at all three packages trying to determine which is most apropos for my work.

I wish, I just wish, there was some way I could get them all collaborating and discussing in a focused manner in their own section of this site.  They are far smarter than I.  They know alot more about how to put these packages together and how to turn XML-RPC into SOAP than I.  And I would like to participate in that project.  But I wish that project could have come about naturally on its own back in February when Dave and Hafeez apparently started simultaneous projects not knowing the other existed.  I wish they could have mentioned it in one message, agreed in another, and then visited, without having to ask you for approval or asking you for your time.

So I'm not sanguine about the outcome of my putting up a wiki at my site.  Not enough traffic to test or convince or learn, and just not enough reasons for folks to try it out.  And for gosh sakes, I'm at the tail end of a DSL Line in PG&E's block 14, and that's better than many developers here, who have no machines on the net, just a dial up line and an interest in participating.  I gave one of those guys some space on my machine.  He may not know it, but he took my machine down once or twice.  But he won a(d) prize, and he's touring Boston.

Plus the time and resources issue.  I'd like to see what happens with a wiki, and I know I'm not the only one around here to do so.  But I am frying other fish, and I'd love the ability for any of us to suggest something and let others run with it in a supported fashion, on this site.

Jakarta.  I'd like jakarta.  I'd like the reputation of jakarta.  I'd like the experimentation of jakarta.  I'd like the functionality of jakarta.  I'd like the network effects of jakarta.

Oh. Damn. Moments before clicking on confirm, you send me an email graciously asking me to try and resolve the issues.  So what do I do with this?

Well, I don't have the answers.  I really and truly believe that now is the time to cons a steering committee, to cons up a process.  It's not a lose, it's really a win.