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Chaos as a problem
Wikis are said to be chaotic, as they often end up being. One reason this might be natural is because order (as a state of low entropy) needs an external force, while disorder develops without any other influences besides itself. However, visitors and readers find wikis hard to access - so it is desirable to increase order in a wiki in order to make it more valuable. Hence why this page exists - to collect knowledge about systems of order in wikis to find a better way to make wikis more accessable to wiki users across the globe.
Why there is so little order
There are many reasons why order on a wiki may be scarce. Order is work, which requires something to enforce that order. Order needs refactoring, which is hard, and when done incorrectly may lead to conflicts. Order needs knowledge, which may not exist. However, the more prevelant reason is that order in a wiki is also connected to a certain worldview or way of thinking, and thus creates problems in a NPOV open community. Even simple and neutral order systems, like e. g. categories, often create heated arguments.
Benifits of chaos
Order isn't entirely positive. A perfectly ordered system may be nice for readers but it sometimes repells participation. Missing links beg for a page to be created. Bad arguments need counter arguments. Open questions beckon for an answer. Chaotic pages demand refactoring. Therefore, imperfection may be needed for the community to live, and in the end a balance of order and chaos is probably desirable.
basic (generating) questions
- What order systems are available?
- What are the pros and cons of each order system?
- How can order systems be introduced?
- What problems exist and how can they be overcome?
elements of order at the page level
- dissertation -- before discussion, maybe start with introduction/motivation (DocumentMode)
- discussions -- entries flat or intented, inline answers, start new sections for new topics (ThreadMode)
- lists (of entries, paragraphs and sections) -- easy addition, easy reordering
- HomePage elements -- self-description, favorite links/pages and ...
- categories -- at end-of-page
- quality -- Wiki:GoodStyle, Wiki:PlainEnglish, CommunityWiki:PlainTalk, AbbreviationsAreEvil
- processes -- FairProcess, OpenProcess
elements of order at the wiki level
- special pages -- like frontpage (FrontPage), MissionStatement (e. g. MeatballMission), questions and FAQ , tour bus stop
- categories -- like homepages, books, authors, major topics
- page types --
- dissertation pages (optional discussions, ThreadMode) -- about a unified topic (DocumentMode)
- essay or article pages -- arbitrary title
- representation pages (e. g. homepages, books, communities, engines)
- definition or encyclopedia pages (usually only terms that aren't trivial) -- e. g. GlobalVillage
- FAQ (question and answer) pages -- e. g. QuestionsAndAnswers, WikiFaq
- "pattern language" pages (only certain wiki communities will use this) -- jargon words, mantras, core pages
- process pages -- currently rare (constitution, decisions, e. g. tour bus route building)
- roadmap pages -- starting points and background for major topics
- brainstorm pages -- (only some communities use it) to get some topic rolling (BrainstormMode, BrainStorming)
- roadmap pages -- starting points and background for major topics (duplicated intentionally)
- processes -- FairProcess, OpenProcess
elements of order at the inter wiki level
abstract elements of order (all levels)
- consistency -- identity of name and content, single topic
- paragraph and section level -- should contain a single idea or argument
- page level -- consistent naming
- wiki level -- on and off topic, clear identity
- summaries -- help readers, orientation, context for understanding
- edit summaries -- tell peers what your edit is about
- page title -- summary of content
- section header -- summary of content ("Title") or function ("But", "Discussion")
- commented list entry -- explain what the entry is about (like this)
- headed paragraph -- start with the idea or give a heading (maybe bold, like the first paragraphs of this page)
- symmetry -- striving for a balance of different existing aspects
- orthogonality -- elements fitting like puzzle stones, like tools in a tool-chest, low overlap or redundancy (LessRedundancy), striving for completeness
- pages -- as semantic building blocks of a wiki (SmallDocument)
- wikis -- as (canonical) parts of a global wiki community
- roles -- defining situation and expectations, distribution of rights and obligations (SuggestedWikiRoleModel)
- content patterns -- page types, interaction types, wiki types
- language patterns -- simple language, necessary jargon (JargonProblem), PatternLanguage
- process patterns -- habits, expectations, roles
- imitation -- repeat what you observe, repeat what works, symmetry, reciprocity (GoByCar)
- creation -- create new elements, learn by trial and error, hypotheses (BeBold?)
- refactoring -- improve the existing, loss-less transformations (OrderChaos)
- negation -- put it to the test, oppose, create symmetry, compare to reality (ColdBlanket)
- provocation -- enforce reactions, transformation into positive (CriticismIsFeedback)