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A shallow wiki is a wiki that is little more than what its name or title already says. While the founding idea may be sufficient even for a deep wiki page, it is too shallow to accomplish the goals set out in its MissionStatement (whether that statement be explicit or not) or to grow or serve a community. It may be compared to a ShallowPage and the similarity in name is intentional. But there are also important differences. One might encourage or discourage people to create a ShallowWiki.
Advantages of a ShallowWiki:
- the founder is free to put his ideas there, he can create mission and style statements that fit his purpose.
- even if the founder fails, he may learn for future projects and more greatly appreciate the achievements of existing communities.
- other communities may see this as a chance to get rid of a troublemaker.
Disadvantages of a ShallowWiki:
- the founder is inexperienced and runs out of steam - creating a GhostTown.
- the ideas are buried in the necessary page infrastructure. Only few visitors will find, read or discuss them.
- there is no community (compared to ShallowPage) where one can even hope for a "warm" reaction.
- a shallow or dead wiki is a waste of energy.
Problems that the founder may face:
- overestimation of the value of his founding idea
- lack of knowledge about wiki and online community "mechanics"
- overestimation of the chance to become a GodKing in his own litte empire (large ego won't attract people)
- fear of becoming a GodKing (no assertiveness means no leadership means no community)
- underestimation of the energy needed to get a community going
Examples for ShallowWiki with a good but "low volume" idea:
- WikiNodesWiki -- the WikiNodeIdea is good, but won't need extensive ellaboration or discussion, so it doesn't need a wiki of its own.
Examples for ShallowWiki with a "deep" idea, but lack of commitment and credibility:
- It's not at all easy to look at a wiki and a founder and decide on its status. Let's be humble.
- Nature creates billions of seeds and eggs to create a much smaller number of plants and animals. Perhaps it's just natural.
- You can't identify a ShallowWiki by the mere fact that nobody is editing it (if it has accomplished its goal) or the mere fact that it seems to have no purpose and has only a very small community. SmallIsNotShallow?.
Compare PurposelessWiki (are they the same?)
ShallowWikis fly against the basic economic principle that ValueBegetsValue?, which is why they fail so rapidly in the furious face of the PowerLaw.
Once ChangeAggregators come into their own, it may be possible for the boundaries between wikis to erode a little more. Perhaps at that point wikis will frequently spin off topically related child wikis in order to keep subprojects from bothering everyone who is no longer interested in them. For those who are interested in the subproject, they will need only to add the child wiki to their ChangeAggregator's list, and then it will be as easy for them to see Changes on the child as on the parent.
In this sort of world, it may make more sense for an interested WikiSubcommunity to spin off a wiki which may be only a ShallowWiki rather than to risk bothering the other denizens of the parent wiki with their subproject.
(see also WikiNodesWiki)
I don't think that this will change the nature of the problem. There is an important difference between subcontent and subcommunity. To be able to follow changes doesn't make me a contributor or a member of the subcommunity. The "founder" will still have the need to advertise and draw interest to his pages by actions outside of his space, which others will dislike. -- HelmutLeitner
I was talking about the case in which there are contributors. The rate of contribution is infrequent and the amount of information on that wiki is small, but there are a few people who "follow" it by technological means. -- BayleShanks
- Nothing disrupts pluralism and fosters GroupThink more than the ability for minorities to be shoved into a dingy and cast into the sea. See the problems with EnlargeSpace.
Often a newly set up ParallelWiki becomes a ShallowWiki...
I have 'observed' that ChangeAggregator technologies are really making a difference in the way various groups I participate in, operate.
- In PhpWiki, which provides an RSS feed on each and every page, Subject pages have emerged that are dedicated to a specific topic a group is interested in.
- Inevitably, a few individuals emerge as the major contributors within each such Subject.
- Since PhpWiki also provides a convenient page hit sunnary, it is interesting to see how may hits there are by Subject and to infer how many individuals are 'lurking' as opposed to posting (which is evident from the recent changes).
- Some pages have spawned 'subscriber' subPages on which individuals declare both their interest and the frequency of their polling.
The effect of all this appears to be the creation of sub Groups, that share a common infrastruture, almost (I imagine, not having yet had time to explore it) like a FractalWiki.
My disagreements with this page are similar to those as stated on DeadWiki?: an infrequently edited wiki is not necessarily failure. On DeadWiki?, the case is discussed where the purpose of having a wiki was not to attract frequent edits. On this page I argue that if edits are infrequent because the amount of content is small, that is not necessarily failure either. -- BayleShanks
- A shallow wiki isn't necessarily a failure, otherwise there wouldn't be an "advantages" section on top of this page. Some people like to create shallow wikis. I would argue that a ShallowWiki is a waste of energy. Each wiki needs work to create (not so much with an WikiFarm - but then you have to be careful that the ShallowWiki isn't deleted because of inactivity) and care, if only for spam protection. Anything that can be done in a ShallowWiki could surely be done using less energy in a wiki with a larger scope where someone cares and appreciates the pages. -- HelmutLeitner