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Page for sharing recent experience at WardsWiki. I am hoping that will lead to a better structured Wiki:SocialDynamics there, and people will no longer have to resort to GaveUpOnGardening.

For anyone who cares. Wiki:WhatHappened since last edit of this page in Apr05.

We have had very useful contribution from HelmutLeitner at Ctwo in Apr05. I hope he comes around for visit (staying there is too much to ask) from time to time.

Wiki:CtwoForMeatBallPeople is available for the others who have time to visit, make contributions (signed ones so much better). And generally promote the Wiki:MakeRoomForAllViewpoints guideline. -- DavidLiu

Good stuff hope to see repeated: Wiki:WikiWikiStory

Subtopics here:

Hard to deal with cases on C2 examples in 2005

Wiki:FloridaWaterMgmtDistrict type incidents.



n - past few days seen several attempts by the person signing as HerbBryant wanting to delete his HomePage frustrated by other people (more than 1?) wanting to know why he wants that. In one case I tried to comply with the wish to delete, but it was reversed -- dl 20Apr

Hmm, apparently I got you and Pete confused -- sorry!

Confirmed person did want to mind wipe. Kept some information for future analysis so we can minimize lose-lose encounters. See http://grault.net/auxiliary/index.cgi?action=history&id=DavidLiu/LoseLoseExampleHB

Second example

Wiki:SildaBeDiscussions <-- no interest by other people since creation in early Apr05

Third example Wiki:LargeProblemsAreCommunityProblems

Recently RA pages on C2 were changed unnecessarily, I think. I just (11 Apr) discovered someone deleted his homepage. And I made a revert there, and added my comments at the top which I thought were fair.

It is hard to know now. But I cannot help thinking maybe next time someone like RA comes to C2, maybe a milder response would have left less ill will on both sides. Life is too short to be focussed on intense emotions which we have participated as well. I made a page Wiki:LargeProblemsAreCommunityProblems (ref version 19Mar05) specifically to "hint" at our own collective responsibility of getting things out of hand in that instance. -- dl

Fourth example - Cross talk

The following actually happened on MeatBall, but is a "pattern" on C2 too. So I replayed here.

[A to B] Why did you suggest delete homepages on C2 as a "simplest thing" solution?

[B to A] It's the simplest solution to eliminate the ongoing problem of updating homepages in the face of the edit codeword. Shed liabilities.

[C to ?A, or ?B, or ?both, or ?everyone] I found it hard to take your comment seriously. The simplest solution would obviously be to turn off the wiki, which is reductio ad absurdum; being simplest is not necessarily relevant. In any case, homepages are actually not the primary c2 issue by any means.

The Simplest solution

[continued from cross talk in example above]

Actually, yes, a viable alternative is to shut down the wiki entirely. But presuming it is FishBowled permanently, then delete the homepages.

That mischaracterizes; it's not "a viable alternative", it's an absolute last resort, "cutting your nose to spite your face". Nor has Ward shown indication that FishBowling is one of his top contending solutions. So this is all just silliness, if you ask me. Ward is moving towards solutions, he's just doing so at a pace that many find glacial. :-)

Again, homepages are not the real c2 issue, they are merely the issue that DL has proactively volunteered to help people with. If c2 were FishBowled, then some of the homepages actually should be preserved, due to valuable content -- as one of a number of straightforward critiques.

So I say again, Sunir, your off-the-cuff comment about the simplest solution for c2 really seems more silly, than a serious suggestion; I suspect it reflects your impatience with the long-term c2 situation. -- Doug

It's not silliness. It's a basic business planning step. The null hypothesis is always to close the business down. This must always be considered when major changes are needed. It leads to important questions like, "Is this still valuable?" "Is it costing too much?" Businesses that don't consider this option often end up down the wrong path. -- SunirShah

I'm with Sunir here. Ward should be weighing whether any of his options are indeed worse than simply shutting c2 down. It's not death, execution, or some apocalypse, merely a shutdown of a website where a community sprung up once and where some yet remains. There are worse things that happen, even online. --ChuckAdams

I strongly agree that investors in a business should always keep that option open, and I imagine that Ward has indeed considered whether he should simply shut it down. And yes, there are worse things.

We're in violent agreement on everything, except my sole point: it's not the "simplest" option, although it certainly is an option. Same thing with shutting down a business to avoid losing further money: it may be wisest sometimes, but it is rarely the simplest decision; laying off 30% of staff is complicated, laying off 100% is more complicated. Closing 1 division is complicated, closing 7 divisions is more complicated.

In Ward's case, adopting existing solutions such as those used by Meatball, Wikipedia, or other sites, is probably the simplest solution. Ward's aesthetics are such that he is still, right to this day, loathe to do that.

That doesn't then make shutting the whole wiki down "simplest", unless you consider only the trivial aspects: "Walk over to machine. Pull power plug from wall. Drop it. Walk away and never go back." In that sense, it certainly would be simplest, but that's unrealistic in not considering all of the impacts. Once all impacts are considered, then it is far from simplest.

For instance, I rather think that everyone, including Ward, would then consider his wiki and his approach to wikis to have ended as a failure, at least arguably, and that would have repercussions that I believe Ward would find quite unpleasant for a long time to come. Who wants their brainchild to die? One can't ignore this kind of impact, and visualize merely the physical pulling of the plug. -- Doug

[Another person - one started people talking]

I think Shut down (or) remove homepages are too simplistic. There are lots of pages from outside that link to Wiki pages. If Wiki is shut down it does not reflect well even for WikiPedia. Unless the truth is indeed Wiki is "not suitable for OPEN collaboration."

A lesser problem exists if Wiki becomes a FishBowl. People can still get impressed with the information that got created, but that also communicates a message that wikis cannot be operated without strong governanace. In my opinion, people using homepages solely as a "business card" add net value to the wiki, unless there are lots of "spam" stuff in the homepage. -- dl

The mere exisistence of a wiki does not preclude regarding it as a failure -- only a continuing one instead of having ended as one. From my personal perspective, c2 is already ended ... or at least I'm through with c2, having deleted it from my bookmarks after seeing the "codeword" disappear once again. The shoddy implementation of the codeword really offended me on some deep techie-aesthetic level, which didn't help. So to continue to wax acerbic, will the last gnome to leave c2 please turn out the lights? --ChuckAdams

Your acerbism and other harsh personal feelings are your business, but are utterly irrelevant to the discussion at hand, and I wish you would be more careful of the distinction. "De gustibus non est disputandem" -- but neither do I care.

Your reply is of concern to you, but was wildly off-topic to the discussion.

You might also consider that DL and I (among others) have not given up on c2, so your tangent about your personal tastes/reaction is practically asking for an argument just based on personal preferences -- which, note, I am not offering.

Oh, and btw, you and I haven't talked before, have we? I would like to keep this nicely calm, polite, and intellectual, but I note that DL is tireless in championing community and low-key emotional reactions on c2 (in other words, you don't know me, but I'm no newbie -- and I feel compelled to warn you precisely because you wandered away from the line of conversation and into subjective issues). -- DougMerritt

<5 minutes later> The latter may sound a bit harsh. The background is that, within the last week or so, I was flamed on c2 by multiple people (all anonymous, probably not coincidentally) over matters of personal taste and point of view and such, and I did not flame back. I perceived no positive result from my restraint on those recent occasions, although obviously it is generally a virtue. I am therefore a bit jumpy at the moment. If you in fact are not about to flame me on the basis of your personal tastes, then I apologize. If you do flame me...well, but hopefully that's not going to happen. Regards -- Doug

The questions you raised about whether or not Ward wants the wiki to survive are the precise ones that Ward needs to ask himself. If, as you surmise, Ward does not want it to fail for personal reasons (what's wrong with personal reasons?), it would be a good kick in the can to get him going. This is why we always present the null hypothesis in hard situations, in business or otherwise, even if it is not remotely the right choice. Failure is a good motivator for success. -- SunirShah

I agree with your thinking (and nothing is wrong with personal reasons, I think they should be taken into account). My objection has always been concerning characterizing your thought with the word "simplest". I don't think I'm hairsplitting over terminology, I think "simplest" is a true mischaracterization. Otherwise, we seem to more or less agree. (P.S. Ward is in fact finally taking the bull by the horns, so until we see the results, this is all fairly academic.)

Ahhh....I see. You're thinking that this particular null hypothesis is "simplest" just by Occam's Razor. I don't agree, as outlined above. -- DougMerritt

The argument over what is simplest is always complex. -- SunirShah


A new name will hopefully promote serenity, in the new generation at the least

Outsider view: Quick analysis but sharp ones too

During the last week I wrote a few contributions at WardsWiki. Now I want to describe my observations and impressions.

My situation: I was asked by DavidLiu to comment on some pages regarding the state and future direction of WardsWiki. Although I was once very active at WardsWiki, especially during 2001, and felt as a member then (it is a natural home for me as a software developer), I now feel as an OccasionalContributor who must be careful not to interfere too much with internal affairs.

The situation at WardsWiki seems complicated. There is a long-term crisis that may have many reasons. It can hardly be analyzed without speculations or accusations, but the crisis itself seems to be a fact because you can find no-one who is happy with the current situation. The codeword feature has relaxed the spam problem and driven away a number of users at the same time.

Going there I found that people work side by side, without talking to each other. Many prefer not to stand out as persons, most users don't enter a username and many don't sign their contributions. One can assume that this habit has formed to avoid becoming a target of conflict. Few are interested in talking about WardsWiki, maybe for the same reasons.

Anyway PeerReview using Wiki:RecentChanges is hard work. You usually don't see who changed the page. You have no direct access to (diff+page). There is no hiding of MinorEdits (feature existed in 2001, obviously turned off). Most contributions are unsigned. There is no summary feature. No page history.

There is a lot of noise, pages are created and deleted. People come, unwelcomed. People go without having had personal contacts or relationships. It's obviously hard to get attention for anything.

The feeling of WardsWiki is not that of a wiki community or society. People work side by side silently, whispering, like in a university library. There is no goal, no process, just a place to be and a lot of information to access. Some regulars are obviously working, but you don't know their goals or intentions.

-- HelmutLeitner

Socially, WardsWiki has been severely damaged by script/bot-driven EditWars and disruptive individuals, so, yes, of course. As for wiki features, just so you know:

Ward prefers minimal features as an issue of his personal aesthetics, and even those simplistic posts/history features are there sort of against his primary preferences since he wanted to help WikiGnome?s do their jobs in EditWars?. He of course is aware of the many technical features that have been added to many other wikis, and just doesn't want to go there. YAGNI, DoTheSimplestThingThatCouldPossiblyWork? -- he strongly believes in such principles, strongly enough to have a reduced view of "possibly works" relative to many. :-)

I personally tend to have wishlists of features to add to software, but his spartan philosophy has its attractions, too. I hate bloated software, and almost all software is bloated in this day and age (did you know Unix used to support 30 simultaneous users with only 128K of RAM and 300M of disk?) Despite the general opinion climate, bloat is not unavoidable, it's just that hardly anyone cares. So WardsWiki is an interesting contrary trend. So are "smallest wiki" contests, which tend to be around 100 lines of code before tricks are used to make them smaller, with extremes like FlyWiki?, coming in at something like 150 characters of Perl, IIRC. Amazing that such can be done. Refreshing.

-- DougMerritt

Doug, thank you for the helpful insider information. I knew about the diff, it just isn't as accessable as in other wikis. I know its only a scroll-to-eop and a click but it matters if you want to read everything. -- HelmutLeitner < Doug remove when read>


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