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Here on MeatballWiki, we prefer pages that are tight, well written, well considered, and nearly balanced when first written. This usually means writing a Pattern or an interesting review or an interesting article on a subject. However, it takes a lot of mental organization to write a readable essay on the first draft. Not everybody has this "zen painter" style. Moreover, not everyone has a well-rounded perspective of a subject to write a well balanced article or essay.

Many people prefer a more piecemeal approach to writing. They write small ideas, little snippets in point form, in any order that it comes to them. This is really brainstorming. After accumulating many such ideas, they try to organize these ideas into coherent thoughts. They may continue to brainstorm, inspired by this reorganization, iterating until they feel they have a complete enough understanding of a subject to write a meaningful paper.

Of course, naturally, brainstorming works best in groups. PostNow suggests placing a half-formed idea online in the hopes that someone else may complete it later. This is one of the great benefits of wiki in fact, the ability for collaborative thinking. While you may not be able to see the whole picture yourself, collectively all the participants contribute the differing perspectives necessary to come to a conclusion.

However, the ColdBlanket on PostNow discourages this style of writing for the fear of the spurious generation of ShallowPages and ThreadMess that no one will ever clean up. While for the long term health of the corpus, this may be a valuable approach, it does stunt growth and interesting ideas from accumulating. After all, brainstorming is a valuable approach.

The contrasting solution is to create slough pages to dump your thoughts, such as EricScheidRandomThoughts. Many people use their namepages as places to form their thoughts, including their OnlineDiaries. However, these spaces are highly personal FrontLawns, and there remain taboos against second parties from modifying them on most wikis. Even here on MeatballWiki where we have tried to encourage people to edit other people's namepages and FrontLawns--an ideal(?) we haven't achieved--this is still an inefficient approach. Content should be organized by concept, and concepts should have their own pages.

Therefore, create a page for brainstorming. Pick a title you think will provide focus to the discussion, even if the probability that it will be renamed may be high. At the top of the page, mark it as deleted by writing "DeletedPage" (no quotes). Start the page with a brief PromptingStatement? to start the discussion, clearly indicating the page is in BrainstormMode. Begin the brainstorming session, writing down any thoughts or half thoughts you have. With hope, you will be able to encourage others to brainstorm with you. At the very least, you now have a space to try to form a coherent thought. If no such thought forms, after two weeks of inactivity, the page will automatically be deleted.

Also, don't be afraid to rename the page after you better understand the problem.

But, do not create a ForestFire! Do not move the discussion onto separate pages. Brainstorming loses its efficacy once there is too much information to be understood at once. As soon as you feel that the discussion is getting out of control, perhaps as late as (but hopefully earlier) when you feel the need to create new pages to brainstorm, rework the page back into digestibility. You may have enough content to finish an initial exegesis which might serve as building blocks to future brainstorming.




I have an idea to create a wiki driven by direct mind control. I believe psychotropic drugs, tinfoil, and a flux capacitor are all the operator needs in order to join a universal HiveMind with me at the helm. Anyone else thinking in similar ways? Of course you do! I'm controlling your mind right now.



BrainstormMode - DeletedPage when finished

With a sufficiently advanced ArtificialIntelligence, a wiki could use mind control on you!

This is slightly more forgiving of the odd bit of forgetfulness, as there's no danger of accidental deletion. On the other hand, it may increase the amount of housekeeping work.

But, do not make just any page a DeletedPage. Only if you seriously intend it to be a shortterm scratch pad. Otherwise, just label it with BrainstormMode at the very least, and someone will come around later and delete it if it doesn't go anywhere.


If you have related thoughts with no obvious trunk, you only have one thought. Only create pages when you have to. Learning when you have to is an aspect of learning how to write. If you feel you have multiple disjoint thoughts, only write about one at a time. Don't split focus. We can only handle a handful of conversations at once here anyway, so don't crowd out other people's genius by writing so much at one time. That's actualy an critical lesson to ensuring people remain contributors, or they keep listening to you. Don't crowd the limelight.

Even if people adhered to your GuidePost, how does it hijack RecentChanges less if you do 100 edits to your namepage versus 100 edits to another page? Plus it's a lot clearer to have a separate page for your idea so it's clear when someone leaves you WikiMail. That is, if someone edits your namepage to leave you a message, it is obvious if that is the only edit to your namepage, but you are likely to miss it if there are 100 edits to the page a day. It's critical to have this CommunicationChannel open especially during an intense editing session. Otherwise, there would be no BackChannel? to organize meta-discussion. -- SunirShah

Blush. I'm one of those people who often prefer a more piecemeal approach. Sometimes because I'm just not good enough. But most of the time it is meant as an invitation ("Does anyone like to create this page with me as a real common work" - like playing a ball game - action for fun and community). It may be a bit egoistic, but it usually works out within a few days (for those that want an orderly approach) and I also think it is a chance to avoid an early subjective viewpoint on the topic. -- HelmutLeitner

to avoid an early subjective viewpoint
That can happen with only one sentence. Yes, even with just giving the name of the page.


I'm not sure when you asked the question, so perhaps this positive response is too late. If not, however, I'd be honoured to try to create a few pages jointly. Thinking about this, I'm not sure what an initial Subject should be. Did you have any in mind?

-- HansWobbe

If someone wanted to do a lot of brainstorming, would the community frown on that person creating a category for their efforts? Doing so would cluster all the relevant pages together, making them easier to find and clean up if necessary, but would avoid overwhelming the person's namepage. Or would that approach be viewed as an attempt to create a WalledGarden? -- KatherineDerbyshire

I do not know the answer to your question, which is probably why I would like to suggest we start a small experiemnt along the lines you suggest. After all, the worst that I can see happening is that we might need to do a bit of a cleanup if it starts to get out of control in people's opinions.

Let's let this page 'cook' for a few days, just in case one of the veterans can tell us why we shouldn't do a small initial test. After that, I'm game to try, especially since, done properly, we might learn a bit about how to build a community or at least add a bit of spirit to one. -- HansWobbe

I started to think that we could pull it off index as to not clutter RecentChanges but then I though that would be counterproductive to trying to collaboratively brainstorm. How many pages are you thinking of starting? HansWobbe, I like your idea of tring to think what might work. I do remember a person who did a bunch of MarkDilleyIdeaGenerator?, MarkDilleyBrainstormPage?, etc. etc. pages. My concern back then was that the person was in the initial stages of WOW wiki and wouldn't use the pages in a year. (I did a quick search and couldn't find them...) So that would be a similar concern now. I am interested in the cooking! Best, MarkDilley (still waiting for a veter'n ;-) ( BrainStorm?<<foo>> could be the prefix)

Hi Mark:

I've just had a moment to consider your idea of taking brainStorming pages 'off index' and have a couple of quick points.

First, I am assuming that 'pull it off index as to not clutter RecentChanges' was even possible, much less desireable. (I know that software can be made to do anything, but I'm not a fan of forcing things.) If this assumption is wrong, please re-direct my thoughts.

Second, from what little I've seen so far, I don't think we would be overwhelming the RecentChanges log, and certainly not to the extent that this concern exists at Wiki:WardsWiki (One of the aspects of meatball that appeals to me is it is a bit more 'quiet' and seems to be a bit more thoughtful. At least the 'signal to noise' ratio is much better.) In any event, Sunir's suggestion at the start of this page that a new page be marked 'DeletedPage' implies that it would be automatically cleaned out if there was no furthger activity for a couple of weeks. (I am not familiar with this methodology and suspect it may well be documented here, somewhere, and I just haven't found it yet.) This seems to have some merit in reducing any problems too.

I don't really have any idea of how many pages, at least not at this early time. Besides, I think it depends a lot on what the members of the community feel they want to do. After all, it is not possible to force collaboration in a community such as this. Instead, if an appealing Idea appears, I would expect more active participation and I really don't know what the limits to that could be.

Finaly, would it not make sense to just use the CategoryBrainstorm? convention that is relatively common in the WikiDomain? to index such pages?

Regards, Hans

Removed to BrainStorming (in an attempt to start doing a bit of load balancing. I agree with Kathleen that we will need to spread out a bit. Perhaps even having a page for each of the Issues.) -- HansWobbe

CategoryJargon CategoryWikiConventions


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