Problem: Global resources like the PublicCommons? don't scale. Wiki:RecentChanges is an example of a "natural" resource shared by the whole community. Because of its global nature, any use affects all users. There are conflicts between people who want to use these global resources for differing purposes.
Solution: EnlargeSpace by allowing sub-communities to create local replacements for global resources. Leave the global resources free to use for issues that concern the whole community.
RecentChanges is the focus of Wiki in such a big way. Since all the regulars read RecentChanges to decide what to read, making any change to a page is likely to get the attention of all these regulars, which seems to mean that any little change/comment made anywhere is blasted at everybody over a load speaker, as are any follow-ons, etc and this is what drowns out the signal. When people complain about the signal to noise ratio, I think they are talking about the ratio on RecentChanges.
So what would happen if RecentChanges ceased to be? In good Wiki fashion we'd just have to implement its features by convention and manual labour. Perhaps when you make an edit that is significant, you make a note on a handwritten RecentChanges page. If you make an edit that is insignificant (fix some spelling, add a badge, ...) then you make no note, and people don't come flooding in to scrutinise your change - instead they just get the benefit of it next time they happen by the page you changed. Perhaps then people could stop by Wiki a few times a week to scan RecentChanges pages about patterns, or about programming, but ignore RecentChanges about MetaWiki if that was their taste.
Wiki isn't scaling because it's turned into identity vs. identity. The focus now is on personality and individuality and not on community works or "BarnRaising." People are attempting to establish some sort of useless PeckingOrder. -- SunirShah
An automatic solution to your suggestion, Luke, can be found in CategoryFilteredRecentChanges.
AdvoGato has a very clear separation between global and local space. Users can publish in two areas: Each user has a public "diary," which appears on a personal home page and which only that user can edit. And there is the front page, where any trusted user can publish articles which are then highly visible to the entire community.
One problem with AdvoGato's model is that it provides no simple way for users to respond to each others' diary entries or reference other diaries. Many users are already doing this by manually linking to other users' diaries, but there has been some demand for the technology to facilitate this in some way. That would make it easier for users to collaborate in loosely-knit groups on AdvoGato.
Advogato publishes which diaries changed most recently on the front page as well. However, having different levels of notification is important, just like in real life. You can have anything from word of mouth to flyers to "the eleven o'clock news" to the emergency broadcast system to make annoucements. On a wiki, you are limited to only two methods: RecentChanges and edit text. -- SunirShah
OnlineCommunities like SlashDot, which provide only a global forum, run into problems quickly if they become too popular. SlashDot has tried to use various TechnologySolutions to fix its problems, but many of them are simply inevitable given its current size and structure.
Recent Changes: CLiki has no auto-updating Recent Changes. Primarily this is because I'm lazy and haven't written it yet, but I intend to use the arguments here as rationalization for its lack. In the meantime, contributors can edit http://ww.telent.net/cliki/Recent+Changes by hand.
I wonder if we can borrow from the experience of free software projects, which make a distinction between cvs logs/Changelogs and NEWS files: the former has every last detail and really tends not to be that interesting, whereas the latter is a `summary' view that the ordinary user would actually want to read. -- DanBarlow