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schwern (1528)

schwern
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Schwern can destroy CPAN at his whim.

Journal of schwern (1528)

Tuesday July 10, 2007
04:07 AM

Why this wiki will work

[ #33765 ]

Randal's been asking why this Perl 5 Wiki will be successful when all the others weren't. If you're asking "I never knew about any other Perl wikis" -- yeah, exactly. I wrote up a response in private and he encouraged I share it.

---------

This wiki will work when others have failed, not because this
might be the Perl 5 wiki. Its because this *IS* *THE* Perl 5 wiki. The flag has
been planted on the high ground. We've got a visible domain name. Its backed by someone (me) with a mouth loud
enough to let everyone know and the force of personality and credibility to
sustain this fiat until it truly is so. And I know a lot of people want it to be so.

A wiki lives and dies by its contributors and content. In the early stages there is no content so the wiki is not useful. You have to whip up contributors to contribute to something which *in the future* will be useful. They have to be convinced the work is worthwhile and useful.

Now if there is doubt, maybe this wiki isn't the right place to put stuff.
Maybe the wiki will fail. Maybe someone else will start a competing wiki.
Then the early contributors will hesitate. Some will wait until there's some
content. If enough do there never will be content and it surely will collapse.

I intend to jump-start the content by hosting a wikithon at OSCON. Have a
bunch of people start off as many topics as they can, begin tracks of
discussion and content so that others can have a trail to follow and easy
tasks to do. Creating these pre-existing tracks eases new user's entry into
editing a visible, public wiki. I encourage local PM groups to do the same.

The wiki is hitching a ride on the "we need a list of recommended CPAN modules"
grumbling, which is always at a dull roar. It flamed up at YAPC this year. By
providing a place to put it the wiki can turn that discontent into positive
action and more contributions to the wiki.

About PerlNet. I looked at PerlNet. It has steady contributors and a lot of
content. I mulled simply crowning it the Perl 5 wiki, but its really the
Australian/NZ wiki and decided to leave it be. I'm talking with them now and
we're mulling what to do. One possibility is for the Perl 5 Wiki to absorb
all PerlNet's general Perl pages and have PerlNet just cross-link back to the
Perl 5 Wiki. Then PerlNet can focus on local content. Not sure what's going
to happen but rest assured they're involved and they seem quite happy that
someone's planted the Perl 5 Wiki flag.

The Perl 5 Wiki is only "my" wiki because I'm the one who finally got off
their ass and created it (or asked Kirsten to make it -- btw Kirsten is doing all the real work behind the scenes). After that the
playing field is level. Its a wiki, you have about as much control as I do.
Make it your wiki. Make it work.

The Fine Print: The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. We are not responsible for them in any way.
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  • That's fine, great. But... there's already a forum to gather and dispense Perl knowledge, perlmonks [perlmonks.org], which has a really good community. I don't see the advantage of a wiki over that, especially since wikis tend to anonymize the content. The strongest point of Perl for me is its community.
    • Perlmonks is a different beastie from a wiki and they are complimentary. David Nicol made a similar comment on p5p. Here's my response:
      http://www.nntp.perl.org/group/perl.perl5.porters/2007/07/msg126579.html [perl.org]

      -----------------------------

      Perlmonks has a nature similar to a mailing list. Its nice for asking
      questions and having active discussions, but information scrolls off the top
      of the screen and is forgotten. It is not set up to be browsed or for any
      sort of permanence. Even if you link to a posting you
      • "Perlmonks has a nature similar to a mailing list. Its nice for asking questions and having active discussions, but information scrolls off the top of the screen and is forgotten."

        I agree with this 100%. You have to be an addicted fiend to really keep track of what goes on there even with the Newest Nodes [perlmonks.org] and Recently Active Threads [perlmonks.org] sections.

        "It is not set up to be browsed or for any sort of permanence."

        Here is where I begin to disagree with you. Some of the sections are intended to be like describe

      • So you think your wiki will complement perlmonks. Maybe so.

        But you missed an opportunity to help that to happen.

        If you stand around and say, "I think that my wiki will complement perlmoonks", then people from perlmonks will look at your wiki, say "that's useless, I'll think about it later", and continue on posting on perlmonks. As they go they'll continue to refer to useful [perlmonks.org] nodes [perlmonks.org] from [perlmonks.org] perlmonks [perlmonks.org],

        The end result is that perlmonks will continue to gain useful content faster than your wiki, and nobody on perlm
        • i disgree.

          perlmonks mostly is a forum. it is hard to track what is going on. there are too many nodes and many replies. information is fly by quickly and you usually get a piece of it here and there. sure, there is the tutorial section which help in some degree. but it has no comparison to what wiki offers.

          with wiki, it is easy to start a page and get people contribute it. infomation is easier to categoried and be found.

          take the 'recommended modules' for example, how do you do it in perlmonks? i can see wit
          • I agree with you on the characteristics of a wiki versus perlmonks. However anyone who is active on perlmonks has learned to find their way to lots of useful information there. (They keep it in home nodes, they remember titles, use search, etc.) And in answering questions, time and time again you'll find answers where they post links to that useful information.

            The result is that there is a lot more useful content to refer people to on perlmonks than on this wiki. And for people who are experienced on per
        • You're right, if Perlmonks starts cross-linking to the wiki that'll be a huge boost.

          I'm not the person to do it, as I gag on web forums. Maybe I can con Ovid into doing it.
  • So what do you want and what would you not want on that wiki? There has been a recent effort to get the DBI faq up-to-date as well as get the DBD authors to do the same. Should something like that go on the Perl5 wiki or a page there with link backs to the actual faq?
    • I've been trying to blaze lots of paths in the wiki for people to follow to avoid the "blank page" problem. Right now if you're not sure go ahead and post it. I've added some more general guidelines to the front page.

      As for using the wiki to edit man pages, its not quite the place for it. Two reasons: One, the format. We write documentation in POD. ST uses something else. We could write the pages in POD, but then they wouldn't display correctly thus taking away one of the advantages of a wiki. We co
      • I am not sure why you mentioned POD as I did not. DBI is using another wiki (tiddywiki) to get the FAQ up-to-date and help to encourage the DBD authors as well. If this would be a better thing to put on yours so be it.

        PodWiki seems pretty cool and easy. I wonder why it isn't used more?
        • Oh, I just assumed that the DBI faq was in POD. My bad. In that case, if you think it'll help get the FAQ worked on, bring it on over.

          As for PodWiki, like many cool things out there many people just don't know about it.
  • Thanks for posting this. I think the question did deserve a serious response.
    --
    rjbs
  • I'm the founder and one of the admins of PerlNet. For what it's worth, my thoughts on PerlNet and the Perl 5 Wiki can be found in my use.perl journal [perl.org].

    Executive summary: The Perl 5 Wiki has my support.

  • Schwern wrote:

    I intend to jump-start the content by hosting a wikithon at OSCON. Have a bunch of people start off as many topics as they can, begin tracks of discussion and content so that others can have a trail to follow and easy tasks to do. Creating these pre-existing tracks eases new user's entry into editing a visible, public wiki.

    We "seeded" the wiki for Hackathon Toronto in April 2007 and it proved useful. I recommend that for both permanent wikis like the Perl 5 wiki as well as event-based