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My name is Matt Brubeck. I am a ComputerScience student at Harvey Mudd College (http://www.hmc.edu/). I read and contribute to the original WikiWikiWeb.

I also run a small Wiki of my own, authored by myself and a group of friends. It's an experiment in using WikiWikiWeb as a social forum for non-technical discussion. So far it's been fairly successful.


2001-05-23 It's summer again and I'm back. I haven't kept up with MeatBall very regularly, though I check in occasionally on discussions that especially interest me, or when Sunir sends something to the MeatballMailingList.

Most readers probably won't recognize me -- I tend to Wiki:AvoidSignatures -- but anyways, I created a handful of the very first pages here. I wanted to hear opinions about community scaling and guided growth, so I tried to steer discussion that way by posing questions and creating a sort of discussion framework and terminology. I wrote the following pages and others offline, working on them in parallel. I posted them to the wiki en masse while the site was still young.

The first three worked out especially well. TechnologySolution and CommunitySolution are still essentially as I left them, plus some very good commentary by several others. Though they don't contain much dialogue on their own, they have been referenced far and wide. I was especially pleased to see SimonMichael link to them during the ZWiki:ShieldsUp ordeal. CommunityMayNotScale, on the other hand, started out as little more than a brief assertion and a vague question (still present at the top of the page). Now it's grown into a mature dialectic, with no effort at all on my part. I love this place.

These were also a success in terms of deliberately shaping the general discussion here. Based on that and on experiences running my own small wiki, I think I'll start a page (later) on ways to successfully GrowYourOwnWiki?.

Below is some year-old discussion, out of date but still interesting.

I'm a bit curious about the extensive use of signatures on MeatballWiki. In my experience, WikiWikiWeb has been most successful when it is used to author community documents, where people add new ideas and refine existing ones by editing the existing text. This takes more effort than simply appending comments, but it leads to a truly community-authored resource, and is what makes WikiWikiWeb different from other online forums.

Signatures are useful when sharing personal anecdotes, but elsewhere they seem to discourage true collaboration, turning the WikiWikiWeb into a weblog or newsgroup, and losing its unique strengths. But here it seems that many (most?) of the contributors sign even fairly trivial comments.

I know this has been the focus of some controversy on the original WikiWikiWeb. Rather than participate in that debate, I decided to speak with my actions, and simply continue editing and writing anonymously. I've added and edited quite a lot of content in all the wiki forums I participate in, almost all of it anonymously. I'd just like to encourage other contributors here to think about doing likewise.

I post anonymously unless I feel I should take responsibility for the comment. Credit is meaningless. Blame is more appropriate. When I write "definitions" and sign them, it's because I'm not confident enough in my definition to make it seem as if it was the One True definition. Anonymous comments sometimes seem like the Voice of Wiki and gain instant authority because of that. -- SunirShah

My likewise. I've also been posting stuff that could be construed as critical of the status quo, or otherwise provacative or stupid, and I didn't want it to appear as anonymous sniping.

Further, a few weeks back I wrote something to the effect that this Wiki seemed "dead" because it had no thread mode and hence no apparent controversy. Currently that is improved and I am now learning stuff here; I suspect the prevalance of signatures is related (although it may not be a cause).

Finally, we may be seeing just the early stages of the page lifecycle. First OpeningStatement, then discussion, then eventually consolidation and summary. We can hope that in 6 weeks most of the signed thread mode stuff will be deleted. The effect is exaggerated because this is a young wiki and few pages have yet achieved stability. -- DaveHarris

I also like the signatures, at least while this wiki is growing. Signatures give a bit more freedom to make controversial statements, since it is understood that one speaks only for oneself. I also like the "no signatures" idea, however. In "ViewPoint" I hope that to create a "no signatures" view where *all* signatures would be removed. (This would be an option, and all viewpoints could copy any content from any other viewpoint.)--CliffordAdams

this Wiki seemed "dead" ... Currently that is improved

I'm kind of proud of it, actually. It's still a bit quiet, but not too quiet. Of course, MeatballWiki is all CliffordAdams' fault. (I still owe him a beer.)

[Whatever happened to "taking responsibility"? Sunir is definitely an (unindicted?) co-conspirator... Also, you owe me "(at least) one round of beer" (emphasis added ;-). --CliffordAdams]

and I am now learning stuff here

Same here, even though I've been the busy bee seeding this wiki with things that I know. Lately, other people have been active, which is cool. I'll still keep writing, but I'm glad other people have found a place. -- SunirShah

I tried to do that too, and it contributed to the deadness because almost everything I read was either written by me, or could have been. -- DaveHarris

Because I've been busy and burnt out, I stopped writing, even stuff I promised to write. Was that better? Turns out it helped. shrug -- SunirShah

Hate to ask a slightly personal question on a Wiki Forum, but would you by any chance happen to be related to Dave Brubeck, jazz pianist? -- ChrisRiddoch (I wouldn't want to give away anything, so I'll just say no.)

Yes, distantly. -- MattBrubeck


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