[Several suggestions to improve the difference ("diff") functions were moved to DifferenceSuggestions.]
A lower S/N ratio would be bad, but that's something to work to overcome when it happens. Usernames might help prepare for that sort of thing, but I don't really see anything beyond that being useful/necessary. If you're going to need it later, do it later (we need the protection from attacks that usernames provide right now... but there's no reason to require a username to post if we're not under attack).
[Context from OnWikisAndSecurity, near the bottom.] Communities which are rude to newcomers really bother me. I'm a subscriber to email@example.com, and the members of that list are incredibly rude to people with basic questions. It embarasses me to be on the same list with them (and I regularly send apologies to people by private email as a result). Being rude to people is a good way to weed out a lot of newcomers and limit population growth, but the people it leaves behind tend to be exceptionally rude and intolerant - not the sort I like to hang around with.
In any case, I think that Cliff and Sunir own MeatBall. It's theirs. There is no need for normal users to be able to "rewrite the constitution". It's democratic enough that we can all download the code to UseModWiki and create our own wiki (I'm sure Cliff wouldn't object :-). --ErikDeBill
In any case, I think that Cliff and Sunir own MeatBall. It's theirs. There is no need for normal users to be able to "rewrite the constitution".
[Technically, I own MeatBall and MeatBall owns the page graph. Cliff owns the MeatballWiki software and server. Content is owned by its respective owners. Is that confusing? Figures; we kept passing the buck. "No, you own it." "No, you own it."]
I disagree that normal users don't need to be involved. First, FairProcess suggests they must be involved. Second, I'm too stupid to do it on my own. Third, it's not exactly my community--I just have some uber-responsibilities. The community owns itself. I think that if you made an emotional investment into the community, you should want to have a say in how it progresses. And I certainly intend to push for more universal involvement. -- SunirShah
FairProcess states that it is OK to have someone call the shots, as long as they are open to other people's input, and explain why they made the decisions they did. I don't think it's right that a person should ever be able to say "I/we care about this. You have to do what I/we say." You can't let others just declare that they have a say in something. Listening to people's input, and taking into account the wants of a community is good, but it should be just that. Nothing binding. No promises to change things to match community desires. You don't need those, and it's an open invitation for a situation where the community heads in one direction, you want the other, and the whole site ends up languishing. Democracy is good, but a well run BenevolentDictatorship? is better (the beauty of the web is that a not so benevolent dictatorship is not anywhere near as harmful as they are in real life - another site will pop up to replace it, unlike real world nations). --ErikDeBill
Kudos all around for good discussion, on this page and OnWikisAndSecurity. I like especially the elaboration of the fact that wikis are an entirely new way of looking at things. Just like my experience with functional programming, it took me a bit to wrap my mind around them, but now that I have I've fallen deeply in love with them.
I find myself siding with Sunir when it comes to HardSecurity vs. SoftSecurity. Quite odd, since two months ago I would have been a HardSecurity nut. I'm still acclimating myself to this whole wiki thing. It's had as profound an impact on my thinking as my database concepts class (after which I tried to model every problem with databases ;-) and my math modeling class (which opened my eyes to the wonder and beauty of inter-disciplinary mathematics).
It seems to me that one important factor in security decisions arises when a wiki is used for personal (or personalized) information. If all the information belongs to the community, then SoftSecurity generally suffices. Once personal information is stored, security concerns begin to come into play.
For example, Sunir currently uses MeatBall to store his to-do list, but if it were to get any more extensive than that (lists of project ideas, birthday reminders, temporary notes, etc.), he'd probably set up his own personal wiki. I might even do that myself just to provide me a universally accessible scratchpad.
Beyond personal information that someone wants to somehow restrict (keep it hidden, write-protect it, etc.) is the personal meta-information that Cliff is slowly moving towards incorporating into the categories system. UseModWiki already retains a small amount of meta-information (cf. the Preferences page). It is for this reason that there is currently a logon discussion taking place in MeatballWikiSuggestions; SoftSecurity is fine (or so I think ;-) for the community, but individual users want certain degrees of protection for their own property. Even if things like PersonalCategories were subject to PeerReview, there would be far too much activity for the community to adequately police it.
I still agree with Erik in that it should be as unobtrusive and hassle-proof as absolutely possible. Easy enough to do so that it only adds a few seconds onto my initial visit experience. And idiot-proof enough so that when I go to visit the site three weeks later from home, I don't have to waste hours trying to figure out what password I picked way back when. ;-) HardSecurity should not mar the beauty of SoftSecurity. ;-)
I would be overjoyed if MeatBall were to grow by an order of magnitude or two! Should that happen, however, I would want much better tools to filter content. Something along the lines of Tavi:TaviCategories, or PersonalCategories (more powerful than the former; AndStuff may transition in that direction someday) would be great. And progress would definitely need to be made in differencing tools. I'm confident that such a system could handle a heavier load and broader variety of topics than even WardsWiki.
[Difference suggestions and link to example site extracted to DifferenceSuggestions.]
I think that, while we owe it to newcomers to help them transition as best we can, newcomers can also have a very positive impact in making MeatBall more accessible for future visitors. Even if it only amounts to tweaking some text on MeatballWiki, QuestionsAndAnswers, or AboutThisSite, others can benefit from the mistakes (and successes) of their own learning curve. (Yes, I need to probably pursue this a little, given that I'm a two-month-old baby when it comes to wiki.) I see it as more of a gradual improvement of the newcomer experience, rather than setting forth once and for all that we'll treat newcomers in such and such a manner.
Perhaps we should look to put together a "shepherding" e-mail to be sent by Cliff or Sunir to anyone who shows up at our door and proves to be a little too ignorant of the Wiki:WikiWay. Or maybe a small set of such e-mails, depending on the particular behavior they exhibit.
This assumption (which I've also seen elsewhere) that newcomers need to be shepherded or otherwise controlled is deeply insulting to those of us who try to behave ourselves and not dribble on the furniture. Whatever happened to AssumeGoodFaith?
And newcomers should feel free to contribute to everything, even the charter! I think of JohnAbbe's recent changes to MeatBall and MeatballMission, which seem to have been well accepted by the community (I question that they were made as minor edits, but that's a nit). -- anon.
I was thinking about this in terms of ConflictResolution strategies. More there.