Author Topic: Reviving the Wiki  (Read 11787 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Offline rick.ca

  • Global Moderator
  • *****
  • Posts: 3241
  • "I'm willing to shoot you!"
    • View Profile
Re: Reviving the Wiki
« Reply #20 on: September 04, 2010, 08:28:37 pm »
Quote
I think nostra looked at it when the wiki was first proposed and decided the time investment it would take him to move the forum to a platform which supported a wiki would be too demanding on his time. So the wiki was hosted on different software, by a PVD supportive user. (Actually there were separate English and Russian wiki if I remember correctly which were then combined into one.) If this was to be reconsidered I have no idea what software would be used as the forum in tiki wiki looks inferior to what is currently used here.

This is not an accurate characterization of the history of the wiki. I strongly suggest reading PVD Wiki is now online! There's also important information there that is being overlooked in this discussion and in the changes being made or contemplated.

Quote
A way of making the wiki appear to be part of http://www.videodb.info would be to make the home pages identical.

A similar look and feel would be desirable, but making them appear identical is not feasible, necessary or desirable. The wiki theme can easily be changed, but the theme has to support the unique and fully-integrated feature set of TikiWiki. Having multiple links back to PVD is silly, remember? Generally, having "one way in and one way out" has to be the cleanest and least confusing approach. Any link that goes directly a specific section of this site should only be used in a specific context where it will be understood and helpful. For example, "If you require further assistance, please ask in the Support forum." But even this has to be considered carefully, as it assumes the reader is already registered here, or would be able to figure out how to do so. This is just one of countless examples where successfully pretending to be the same site will only cause problems.

I've already recommended using a TOC as the homepage for the wiki. This is what users expect to see when using the wiki link here. A similar look and feel would be nice, but there's no advantage to making it look identical. It's a completely different system on a different site—and the user has to understand that.

Please bear in mind that whatever "structural" changes you make compel Russian users to do the same (which may just be translating your work), or doing it their own way (I don't know—it might be easy for them just to keep their existing version). I think you should at least give them a heads-up about any significant changes you plan to make. You should be able to seem from the logs who you should be communicating with.

Quote
Nostra would then be able to later move new useful functionality back here later if he thought some new features had merit.

As I've suggested, you should probably let nostra speak for himself on such things. I suspect he'd strongly prefer a user-managed solution that didn't require his attention or time. That might rule-out hosting TikiWiki here. Using anything else—including a properly integrated SMF solution—probably means only the existing wiki content would survive. And speaking of a properly integrated SMF solution, we should be looking at what might be possible with the soon-to-be-released SMF 2.0. If the much simpler solution I proposed is unacceptable, this is probably the next best thing.

Offline patch

  • Power User
  • ****
  • Posts: 250
    • View Profile
Re: Reviving the Wiki
« Reply #21 on: September 05, 2010, 05:11:12 am »
look and feel should be technical feasible.
Was thinking mainly in terms of adding a Wiki site header with tabs on it similar to http://www.videodb.info and linking to locations here such as Download, forum, Donations.
This should remove the need for a whole pile of links which imply the user is at the wrong site.

Would be good to have a search box there to.

We would need to label the login as "Wiki Login" so as not to confuse it with the forum login here.
Similarly the title should be something like "Personal Video Database Wiki"

Quote
for me content, in a an accessible, logical format comes first - bells and whistles second.
+ there is the learning curve of making it happen.

I think what i have done so far is a good start and should make it a bit easier for users to find stuff.

I would really like to get toc / structure functionality working. That way displaying parts of the toc become trivial and ultimately easier to maintain.
The page ranking suggests that other users have found this format useful too.

I can see the structures OK. The PVD-Manual Structure is also visible apparently in edit mode, but I can not work out how to add any new pages.
I wonder if it is a protection problem as edit structure rights are probably off by default for wiki users.

Would be worth trying to run the clean structure comand at some time to see if it fixes the numbering problem cwdean was having.
« Last Edit: September 05, 2010, 05:13:15 am by patch »

Offline CAD

  • Power User
  • ****
  • Posts: 167
  • I've got my eye on you!
    • View Profile
Re: Reviving the Wiki
« Reply #22 on: September 05, 2010, 05:21:58 am »
Quote
I would really like to get toc / structure functionality working
the TOC can be added at any time. what makes a toc work is a logical structure first.
Get the content in. lay it out so it makes sense and is easy to find. Build TOC.
any new content then gets added logically and TOC.

Search is good - i guess that will come as i come to grips with new wiki.
sphider is a good open source search engine.
three fingered salutation

Offline rick.ca

  • Global Moderator
  • *****
  • Posts: 3241
  • "I'm willing to shoot you!"
    • View Profile
Re: Reviving the Wiki
« Reply #23 on: September 05, 2010, 05:30:13 am »
Was thinking mainly in terms of adding a Wiki site header with tabs on it similar to http://www.videodb.info and linking to locations here such as Download, forum, Donations.

Don't do this. It's a bad idea—for the reasons I've already stated.

Offline nostra

  • Administrator
  • *****
  • Posts: 2852
    • View Profile
    • Personal Video Database
Re: Reviving the Wiki
« Reply #24 on: September 06, 2010, 04:56:57 pm »
I do not see much difference between forum and wiki in regard of providing help to the users. Both can be configured to provide similar functionality and it is equally easy to implement links to any of those in the application.

Rick has a good point: providing help topics in the forum is definitely less work to do. At the current state of things I would tend to use forum, but naturally, if some has time to provide a well structured wiki page I could reconsider this.

I do not have time to study different wiki engines and such, so maybe I just do not see some kind of easy solution thou. Also, if someone has a step by step instruction of adding wiki functionality to the existing forum engine, then it could be of great help.
Gentlemen, you can’t fight in here! This is the War Room!

Offline rick.ca

  • Global Moderator
  • *****
  • Posts: 3241
  • "I'm willing to shoot you!"
    • View Profile
Re: Reviving the Wiki
« Reply #25 on: September 06, 2010, 09:30:09 pm »
Quote
I do not have time to study different wiki engines and such, so maybe I just do not see some kind of easy solution thou. Also, if someone has a step by step instruction of adding wiki functionality to the existing forum engine, then it could be of great help.

No solution involving separate wiki software is going to be "easy." Some might be "worth the effort"—if the creation, maintenance and administration effort is supplied by users. This is somewhat of a catch-22, as not many users will be willing and able to help unless the solution is easy to use. This was the main reason for my Integrated Help Forum suggestion. It's not particularly elegant, but it's easy to implement and offers virtually no impediment to user participation.

A better solution would be wiki functionality fully integrated with the forum software. That is possible using the WikiStyle SMF theme—which is illustrated rather effectively by the SMF Online Manual. I suppose this would be little more than a polished version of the "Help" forum I suggested—"...topics are 'documents' and replies are 'comments'." The ability to sort topics means they can be presented in any form of TOC, and it seems this should be much easier to do than it is with TikiWiki. You'll also recognize integrating such help documentation with the program is as simple as linking the topic URL's via an HTML help file.

Others here, for reasons I can't fathom, have a strong objection to a solution that allows users to comment on and discuss help topics. It's commonly used elsewhere, and it seems to me a very effective way to engage the user community in the creation and maintenance of effective help documentation.

Offline patch

  • Power User
  • ****
  • Posts: 250
    • View Profile
Re: Reviving the Wiki
« Reply #26 on: September 07, 2010, 01:47:35 am »
I do not see much difference between forum and wiki in regard of providing help to the users. Both can be configured to provide similar functionality and it is equally easy to implement links to any of those in the application.
The useful wiki feature for online manual maintenance as I see it are
1) Good page version control tracking who has made changes and easy reversion of changes. This enables liberal delegation of edit rights, encouraging all users to contribute to documentation maintenance. In contrast to a forum where topic header edit rights require administrator privileges which are sensibly only granted to a small fraction of trusted users. The inability to directly fix the documentation without believing knowledge justifies being a moderator and existing administrators agreeing will not increase volunteers to maintain forum documentation.

2) Structures, providing efficient generation of lists / contents. The information content is language independent so only needs to be done once across multiple language versions of the manual

3) Language translation and tracking support is more refined, consistent with the wiki focus on maintaining a reference document vs the forum focus on tracking and storing conversations.

The end result is maintenance of a document in a forum is clearly possible. However it will end up being done by the moderators and in multiple languages. Not a problem for an organisation with a document writer. Also not a problem if nostra, rick and reset are comfortable writing and maintaining it. Or perhaps you are happy with the current level of documentation, noob users support, in which case moving in to the forum environment is probably not to onerous.

Quote
Rick has a good point: providing help topics in the forum is definitely less work to do.

Agree administering one site is going to be easier than 2

Quote
At the current state of things I would tend to use forum, but naturally, if some has time to provide a well structured wiki page I could reconsider this.
This maybe happening at the moment imo but that is open for debate.

Quote
I do not have time to study different wiki engines and such, so maybe I just do not see some kind of easy solution thou. Also, if someone has a step by step instruction of adding wiki functionality to the existing forum engine, then it could be of great help.
From what I have see software tends to do a forum well or do a wiki well but not both (imo). So doing both well would require the user logging into the forum and wiki independently if they wanted to write in either. (And yes I have looked at WikiStyle SMF theme. Similarly SMF Online Manual is OK as a manual and reads as if it was written by a documentation writer with the comments mostly asking for support and being referred to the forum, not suggesting updates to the help pages. This is a perfectly reasonable approach if if one person wants control of the documentation, it is just different to a collaborative document. Interestingly they run two copies of the forum software and require a separate login for each)
« Last Edit: September 07, 2010, 11:32:18 am by patch »

Offline rick.ca

  • Global Moderator
  • *****
  • Posts: 3241
  • "I'm willing to shoot you!"
    • View Profile
Re: Reviving the Wiki
« Reply #27 on: September 07, 2010, 04:19:26 am »
Quote
From what I have see software tends to do a forum well or do a wiki well but not both (imo).

Your basis for trashing my proposal and most of your reasoning for supporting a separate wiki all seem to be based on this—your opinion. You still haven't presented any concrete reasoning why this should be so.

Yes, wiki software is designed for maintaining wikis, so it does offer unique features that might be useful in that regard. But do we need these features? Do we need them enough to justify sacrificing ease-of-use, accessibility and forum integration?

1) Page version control is a nice feature, but are we really going to have many users fighting over how to modify one page? I don't think so. If we have a concern about people making changes others don't approve of, we can adopt a rule that no changes other than simple edits or additions may be done without first archiving the previous version.

2) Structures are nice for complex environment, but for our needs it just makes things more difficult. In a forum board, the same can be done directly via a topic number.

3) Our only apparent need for multilingual support is the existence of English and Russian user groups. I'm quite sure each group would be just as happy maintaining their own help documentation, and not have to worry about whether it's a mirror image of the other group's documentation. If we want to, we can read each other's documentation using Google Translate, and copy any content we want.

Quote
However it will end up being done by the moderators and in multiple languages. Not a problem for an organisation with a document writer. Also not a problem if nostra, rick and reset are comfortable writing and maintaining it. Or perhaps you are happy with the current level of documentation, noob users support, in which case moving in to the forum environment is probably not to onerous.

I really don't understand what you're trying to say here. It sounds like a description of the problems we're having now relying on an external wiki. But from you said immediately before, I suppose it's repetition of the spurious arguments you've made in previous posts. And to which I've repeatedly explained...

Maintaining documentation in the forum would make it much more accessible to all—not just those needing the help, but anyone inclined to help maintain the documentation. My personal interest in what I proposed is I don't have time to do it, so I would like to see a mechanism that makes it easier for others to participate. I suggested anyone who asks should be given moderator privileges for the Help board. At the same time, it would make the task of helping users in the Support board much easier because posts can be easily moved and linked between the two boards. I'm sure there would be a similar synergy between feature suggestion and beta testing discussions.

Quote
So doing both well would require the user logging into the forum and wiki independently if they wanted to write in either.

Again, I'm not sure what you're trying to say. This, obviously, it one of the significant problems with using an external wiki. It's one I would hope can be resolved by using the forum. I'm not in a position to test and verify this, but from what I can gather from SMF documentation this should be possible. A theme can be applied at the board level of a forum. So the WikiStyle theme could be applied to a Help board, and that board would take on the look and feel of a wiki.

So it would seem perfect integration may not only be feasible, but very easy to implement. A huge advantage to this integration—in addition to the ability to move and cross-reference material between the boards—is the Help board would be searched using the existing (rather good) search facility. This means that one search would return results from the help documentation as well as items from any other board included in the search. That might be so effective, we could scrap the idea of an HTML help file entirely. Instead, program help would simply run a search. This can be done now with a Web search like...

http://www.videodb.info/forum_en/index.php?action=search;advanced;search=help  8)

The more I think about it, the more it seems we've been held back by the existence of the wiki. And the unfounded assumption a wiki must always be best for help documentation.

Offline patch

  • Power User
  • ****
  • Posts: 250
    • View Profile
Re: Reviving the Wiki
« Reply #28 on: September 07, 2010, 11:15:41 am »
Unfortunately it seems like many users have difficulties when starting using PVD.

It's been a useful experiment, but the unavoidable conclusion is that no wiki is going to work very well in our circumstances.
Hits PVD Wiki Home :- English: 27432 Russian: 6802
Page Ranking English:
--PVD-Manual ie table of contants (11047) (Which was not easy to find in the old wiki)
--Launching-PVD-for-the-First-Time (4734)
Page Ranking Russian
--Руководство по PVD ie table of contents (2823)
--Запуск PVD в первый раз ie Launching-PVD-for-the-First-Time (2092)

You still haven't presented any concrete reasoning why this should be so.
Quote
we could scrap the idea of an HTML help file entirely. Instead, program help would simply run a search. This can be done now with a Web search like...

http://www.videodb.info/forum_en/index.php?action=search;advanced;search=help

Sorry rick I do not believe it is possible for me to explain the issues to you.
« Last Edit: September 07, 2010, 01:04:56 pm by patch »

Offline CAD

  • Power User
  • ****
  • Posts: 167
  • I've got my eye on you!
    • View Profile
Re: Reviving the Wiki
« Reply #29 on: September 07, 2010, 12:34:20 pm »
The argument over which is better, wiki or forum is nonsensical. They perform different functions.
The forum is place to discuss PVD. The wiki is a place to store documentaion about PVD.
One is relatively dynamic, the other relatively static.

Version 2 of SMF appears to be forum software with CMS built in.
It is no different from what exists now except it is in one integrated software package.
It could just as easily be achieved with a WIKI or other form of CMS and using SMF APIs to achieve integration.

From what i can see - the wiki was created to create place where new users go to get help on how to use PVD. It was created as a way of creating a manual for PVD. This was done extremely well. The content is fantastic. The changes i have made with the wiki have been minimal and mostly around re-organising where pages live make access to them seem to be more of a manual.

Creating and maintaining documentation is always going to be difficult, no matter what system is used. It usually requires one or two people to own it.

I think documentation helps/how to etc needs to be separated from the forum otherwise they get lost amongst the discussion. New users are not going to wade through pages of discussion to get to the "how to content" and i can't see moderators moving the "good stuff" from the discussion to the top of the forum entry, so it is instantly accessible to those interested.

Here's how i think it should (and probably does) work. New users find PVD. Download and install, and then try and figure out how to use it.
They go to the wiki have a bit of a look around and then start asking questions in the forums if they can't work it out. Once they have a handle on the program they probably never go back to the wiki. Experience users come straight to the forum.

Given the power and with that , complexity, of PVD, I fear many users try PVD and drop it because it is too difficult. A decent manual (in whatever form) that is geared towards new users would go a long way to resolving this.

I can't see that the wiki is a failure given the no of hits it has received. I do see it as a failure in that it fails -"To provide assistance to new users" easily.

The wiki or any other CMS system is never going to replace the forums because they provide different functions.
The advantage of the forums is that they provide dynamic exchange of ideas. The advantage of the wiki (or other CMS) is it provides static and structured (and hopefully easy to find) content.

The way i see it, the wiki stores the content and the forums are where the content is created.

Quote
Your basis for trashing my proposal
Rick - This is harsh. No one has trashed your idea. we have discussed its merits and potential pitfalls. This is what a forum is for.

Quote
and most of your reasoning for supporting a separate wiki all seem to be based on this—your opinion.
It is more than opinion. I have extensive experience in operating a wiki. I researched and trialed many. The advantages of wiki style CMS, is that content can be easily restructured and reused, there are geared towards CMSs rather than forums, with the advantages highlighted above and they have a wide array of plugins to provide additional functions.

As i said before the two ideas / formats can coexist. For example - The forum method for creating and developing "how tos" and dynamic content and when they are stable copy and paste into the manual so "noobs" have easy access
 
 
« Last Edit: September 07, 2010, 12:43:33 pm by CAD »
three fingered salutation

Offline rick.ca

  • Global Moderator
  • *****
  • Posts: 3241
  • "I'm willing to shoot you!"
    • View Profile
Re: Reviving the Wiki
« Reply #30 on: September 07, 2010, 07:21:06 pm »
Hits PVD Wiki Home...

How many of these hits are from bots? If you believe they're all from people, how do you explain the relatively tiny number of logins and page edits?

Quote
Sorry rick I do not believe it is possible for me to explain the issues to you.

That's okay. I don't need the issues explained to me. ::)

The argument over which is better, wiki or forum is nonsensical. They perform different functions...

The fact we're having an argument (rather than a debate) is nonsensical. The idea that something designed primarily for one purpose can't be used for another purpose is nonsensical. Have you never manipulated a large table or a small flat database in Excel, even though those are functions that are supposed to be in the realm of Word and Access respectively?

Quote
Version 2 of SMF appears to be forum software with CMS built in...

You are mistaken. Version 2 is no different than version 1 in this regard. The same theme that makes a board look and feel like a wiki works in both versions. The same level of integration cannot possibly be achieved using other software. While some degree of integration is theoretically possible, it would be a huge amount of work and an ongoing maintenance headache—for an inferior result.

Quote
From what i can see - the wiki was created to create place where new users go to get help on how to use PVD.

So what? That's why this forum was created too. So why are we trying to use two different tools at two different sites to serve the same purpose? Seems a bit nonsensical to me.

Quote
I think documentation helps/how to etc needs to be separated from the forum otherwise they get lost amongst the discussion.

The reasoning here remains as circular as was when it was first used. Your argument that the needed information will be lost is based on your assumption users will not maintain the topic. This is ludicrous. If no one can be bothered updating a topic at the head of a discussion thread they're participating in, obviously they're not going to go the a different site, log into a software system they're not familiar with, and enter the content there.

Quote
Here's how i think it should (and probably does) work.

Still circular. Because you think it should work this way, it should work this way. What is your objection to new users getting exactly the same content right here? If they have any question about the content, they can ask right in the applicable topic. If they want additional information, they might find valuable insights in other users' comments on the topic.

Quote
The wiki or any other CMS system is never going to replace the forums because they provide different functions.

Repetition of a false premise is not helping your argument. It's only making obvious that it's build on a false premise.

Quote
Rick - This is harsh. No one has trashed your idea. we have discussed its merits and potential pitfalls. This is what a forum is for.

It's not the least bit harsh. You made no attempt to address the merits (or lack thereof) of my proposal. You only argued that a wiki is designed for maintaining documentation and therefore must be a superior solution. Even after I repeatedly explained the merits (and, to be fair, even some of disadvantages and limitations) of the proposal, you refused to even acknowledge these points. The purpose of a forum is to discuss issues. To debate them, if necessary. You did not do this. You hijacked a topic, apparently because you believed the idea presented was one that would threaten the wiki. This is not particularly rational, as the wiki already faces real threats to its continued existence. This was one of the reasons for me making the proposal—we may very well need an alternative.

But, I suppose this argument—as negative as it has been—has still served a useful purpose. It's now clear any objective analysis of all the pros and cons of both alternatives can only come to one conclusion: Integrating the help documentation here is by far the most practical, efficient and useful solution. If you wish to discuss this further, I suggest we focus on those pros and cons, rather than endless arguments based on circular reasoning and unfounded opinion. Or...

Quote
As i said before the two ideas / formats can coexist. For example - The forum method for creating and developing "how tos" and dynamic content and when they are stable copy and paste into the manual so "noobs" have easy access

...maybe this is what we should do. But I see no reason to arbitrarily restrict the forum help to so-called "how-tos." It would make more sense to duplicate the entire contents of the wiki, and let users decide which one is more convenient and useful.
« Last Edit: September 07, 2010, 08:32:50 pm by rick.ca »

Offline CAD

  • Power User
  • ****
  • Posts: 167
  • I've got my eye on you!
    • View Profile
Re: Reviving the Wiki
« Reply #31 on: September 08, 2010, 03:30:37 am »
Quote
how do you explain the relatively tiny number of logins and page edits?
People don't need to login and edit to read a manual. I would expect new users would not login as they would have no reason to.They would merely be reading content not participating.
Robots would hit the home page not sub pages. Stats indicate most hits are for the manual.

Quote
The same theme that makes a board look and feel like a wiki works in both versions. The same level of integration cannot possibly be achieved using other software.
I have done it.

Quote
If no one can be bothered updating a topic at the head of a discussion thread they're participating in, obviously they're not going to go the a different site
This is exactly point. They are not going to update the forum or the wiki someone needs to take ownership and do it.
This is why there is little activity on the wiki. People are lazy and want the answers given to them.

Quote
What is your objection to new users getting exactly the same content right here?
The fact that they have to search and then wade through multiple threads to find the information they are looking for, or as more often the case, they post and ask the same questions that has been asked many times before. You usually point them to the relevant thread in the forum, where they have to wade through it to get the answers they require. I have had to do this when I was starting out and found it to be very frustrating. Having common answers in a manual would have been much easier.

Some examples of concerns with your idea:
[redundant material deleted]


If they are "new users learning about..." then they're users, aren't they?
If they are "new users" who can't get help they will leave!

Quote
Quote
From what i can see - the wiki was created to create place where new users go to get help on how to use PVD.
So what? That's why this forum was created too. So why are we trying to use two different tools at two different sites to serve the same purpose? Seems a bit nonsensical to me.
The forum is used to get clarification ask questions etc when something is unclear. The wiki is the starting point, the manual. It is like buying a tv. If you can't figure something out, The first thing you do is read the manual. You don't call the help line or start searching/posting on forums.

Quote
So why are we trying to use two different tools at two different sites to serve the same purpose
They are different purposes. as already stated. "The wiki is the manual The forum is the help line."
 
Quote
You only argued that a wiki is designed for maintaining documentation and therefore must be a superior solution
This is incorrect, I argued that the content of the wiki should be separated from the forum. For the reasons outlined above. I do not particularly care where it is stored. I do believe it should be formatted in a way that geared towards people who have never used PVD before and are looking for starting point.  

Quote
Still circular. Because you think it should work this way, it should work this way. What is your objection to new users getting exactly the same content right here? If they have any question about the content, they can ask right in the applicable topic. If they want additional information, they might find valuable insights in other users' comments on the topic.
The wiki or any other CMS system is never going to replace the forums because they provide different functions.

Quote
Repetition of a false premise is not helping your argument. It's only making obvious that it's build on a false premise.
You keep repeating this, but don't offer reasons why is it based on false premises other than it is your opinion that it is a false premise.

Quote
Even after I repeatedly explained the merits (and, to be fair, even some of disadvantages and limitations) of the proposal, you refused to even acknowledge these points. The purpose of a forum is to discuss issues. To debate them, if necessary. You did not do this. You hijacked a topic,
??? - You posted your idea, presumably because you wanted comment on it, and now you are unhappy because people have commented on it and its not to your liking. You didn't address any of the concerns raised and proceeded to attack anyone who disagreed with you. You even moved the thread to a different topic - How can this be hijacking??

Quote
Your argument that the needed information will be lost is based on your assumption users will not maintain the topic.
Please explain how it would work?
Would anyone be able to edit change the top level/Help topic?

Quote
as the wiki already faces real threats to its continued existence. This was one of the reasons for me making the proposal—we may very well need an alternative.
This is a real concern, it would be a shame to loose such valuable content.
The data should be backed up so it can be reused in whatever medium Nostra decides to make use of.

« Last Edit: September 08, 2010, 04:48:37 am by rick.ca »
three fingered salutation

Offline rick.ca

  • Global Moderator
  • *****
  • Posts: 3241
  • "I'm willing to shoot you!"
    • View Profile
Re: Reviving the Wiki
« Reply #32 on: September 08, 2010, 05:27:03 am »
This discussion is no longer serving any purpose and will now end. If on nothing else, we seem to agree the two methods of maintaining documentation can co-exist. You're free to do what you like with the wiki. I have the right to advocate something I believe will greatly improve the effectiveness and user experience of this forum. I suggest we just leave it at that.