What about extending the wiki...?

Jeroen Coumans jeroen at linuxfromscratch.org
Sat Mar 13 07:02:12 PST 2004

Bill Maltby, LFS Organizational said the following on 03/13/04 14:18:
> Lest my POV be misunderstood:
>  1) I support your proposal to investigate use of wiki at as the home
>     page and any and all places you see it as a good "fit"; I will, as
>     always, do what I can to help you investigate and develop the
>     concept.
>  2) I object to allowing unfettered update to all areas, regardless of
>     commitment to the community, by any and all who wish to change any
>     area;
>  3) I support your effort to shift the burden of mundane content update
>     to the originators of that content, freeing you to do more creative
>     things and making the overall process more efficient;
>  4) As you believe, I also believe the current wiki is under-utilized;
>     that is a failing of organization, IMO;
>  5) I would have liked to seen the results of your and Anderson's
>     efforts on Drupal. From what I gleened from following your public
>     posts, it seemed to have a lot of capability and seemed to transefer
>     the burden; regardless, if restricted update capability is what will
>     result in the end, administration would be required.

Except for point 2, which is a bit black/white, I agree with all of the 

Let me add that I *have* experience with Wiki's, although not as long as 
I would like. I am impressed with the level of control it offers to 
users, and I am similarly impressed with the *minimal* abuse that this 
control has put forth in other communities much more hostile then this 
one (eg. heavily opiniated university students)

Based on the above statements, it seems that you agree with my plan so 
far, with the exception that you don't want everyone to edit content. 
The four phases which I've outlined provide IMHO enough time & planning 
to build in any user authentication which *might* be required.

It is not my intention to put any more burden on the project leaders 
through verification, and I think you have a valid point if we would 
require everyone to regularly verify the correctness of their pages. But 
I *do* want to test at least a fair amount of time what the benefits 
would be if we let our users improve the content of our website. By 
requiring them to sign in before they can edit, we have at least a (low) 
barrier (even more because I don't want editing controls to show up 
*unless* someone is signed in, thus casual visitors aren't even aware 
that the site is actually a Wiki). And because we always have backups & 
revision control, *anyone* can fix a page if someone vandalizes/abuses it.

I'm not sure if you've read <http://c2.com/cgi/wiki?WhyWikiWorks>, but 
it's these principles that I think would work well in our community. 
Also, the Wiki system is not a system that is fundamentally flawed; it 
has worked for many years, producing great content such as 
<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Main_Page>. Even 
http://www.freedesktop.org/ uses it as their main website, which is more 
high-profile and has a lot more zealots then LFS.

I'm not interested in *content* management, I'm interested in giving our 
community the opportunity to *create* and *edit* content, with the ideal 
goal that we will all learn more from eachother and will fix eachothers 
mistakes. I think the great majority of people who are attracted by LFS 
are intelligent and enthousiastic Linux-geeks, coming to learn and 
eventually contribute. They do not come with bad intentions or to 
destroy the community. That may be naive or optimistic, but if this 
isn't the view of most people in the LFS community, we wouldn't care so 
much about it.

Just one more clarification: somewhere I got the impression that you 
thought I proposed we put *all* LFS products under a Wiki-wrapper. Let 
me assure you that I do *not* intend such a model and would be strongly 
opposed. The only things I want to put under a Wiki at this point is the 
website and the FAQ. Should this prove succesful (and there are lots of 
arguments and examples that it has a very real chance of becoming 
succesful) we can consider replacing/moving the hints and perhaps even 
the patches to the Wiki, which is IMHO only a natural step, but also not 
my decision to make.

Also, to lessen your concerns, let me assure you that we can always, no 
matter how far in the process we are, lock pages or impose user 
restrictions on the Wiki. But I don't want to lock pages before we have 
at least tried it. Remember, I lose the most if the Wiki fails, because 
not only will my efforts so far be useless, I also have to invest a fair 
amount of time in Drupal or the static pages. But the way I see it, 
there is not much to lose because of the built-in revision control & 

Jeroen Coumans (jeroen at linuxfromscratch.org)
FAQ and Website Maintainer

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