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I'm a student of information science, psychology and pedagogics located in Berlin, Germany. You can contact me at "eincarsten a gmx.net" or -sometimes- on AIM (as cassisberlin), irc or jabber (cassis). I live in CET and sleep at nights. To be more exact, I do if my little daughter is friendly with her dad.

Currently I'm writing my master thesis about "Wikis as collaborative authoring environments", with the techniques of knowledge organisation as special interest. I use models and scenarios for collaboratve authoring, hypertext production and Communities of Practice to collect general requirements for Wiki-Software. Using evaluation methods from usability engineering, I'll do a case study with three wikis to identify technical and social methods of organisation.

I evaluate MeatBall:MeatBall (that is why I don't write here) IAWiki:IAWiki and -if she agrees- Heather James' [Visual Design Tutorial Wiki].

Yes, they are all usemod wikis. I had to limit to wikis with the same software, it was getting too complex. I've heard that this problem seems to occur for some master students ;) But I will consider the patches.

Feel free to email me, but expect some delay until I manage to answer. Sorry for that.

Hey Carsten -- MattisManzel

Welcome Carsten, it's great to hear about your thesis. Wouldn't it be appropriate to include one of the German wiki communities? DseWiki, LinuxWiki, CoForum or GründerWiki, just to name some of them? Maybe even the use at wikis at some Schools e. g. pages [like this] might be of interest. -- HelmutLeitner

I considered including german-language wikis, read my english and you know why ;) But unfortunately, all wikis you mentioned are using other software (ProWiki mostly, right?), so they aren't comparable with appropriate effort.

LinuxWiki is MoinMoin, CoForum is a PhpWiki clone, the others are ProWiki. ProWiki derived from UseMod as a German fork adding 100+ user-requested features. It will be interesting for me to see, how your analysis of "not very well, but they work" correlates to our developments. Typically the TourBusMap should help you to find German UseMod wikis, but Cliff never cared for his tour #102 so it isn't a rich source. But I'm sure that there are some. -- HelmutLeitner

Welcome, Carsten. What is your research methodology? It's very hard to understand a wiki without participating in it, but I say this as I have a growing fascination with ethnomethodology. -- SunirShah

Yes, I realized that it's hard somewhere half-way in the thesis' work. Sigh. The methodology was a big problem which took a huge amount of time - too much, I'm in trouble with the deadline. Now, after collecting general requirements for "collaborative authoring systems in online communities of practice" from models in literature (Sharples, Miles, Haake, Lavé/Wenger, Preece, valid references later), I described wikis and how they fulfill these requirements. Not very well, but they work. Guessing some reasons for that.

Then I try to make the case studies from an observer's point of view, characterizing the wiki by knowledge domain, purpose, activity, size, etc. Characterizing the wiki community is the hard part, I use the models from Jenny Preece and Etienne Wenger. Maybe I will have to conduct mail-based interviews with some of the core people (be prepared ;) to identify core Members, I don't have the time to do a SocialNetworkAnalysis?, though this seems to be the appropriate method. Running TouchGraph on some HomePage is insightful, anyway.
I now did a more detailed TouchGraph inspection, but for my purposes, it's features are wrong way round. I'd need to limit the amount of nodes shown to those who have "at least" # of links or backlinks, not "at most". Using an actual textfile (2004-06-28, about 39000 links) makes things slow. Anyway, nice screenshots taken.

Once the wiki and Community is described, I collect methods of content organisation, divided into technical and social ones. Technical is software (RecentChanges, BackLinks, built-in indices etc.) and social means rules, common techniques, individual tweaks (Wiki:WikiBadge, Wiki:RoadMaps, DocumentMode, Heathers' second-level navbar, WikiSeeding?, etc.) applied by authors.

The last task ist trying to find dependencies between community characteristics, wiki purpose and organisation methods. Whew. If I find some, I'll formulate them as heuristics for evaluating WikiEngines.

I recommend Heather's excellent report on another, more participating method. It's available in her [Portfolio]



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