We’ve had the whole team up in Portland, ME, getting to know each other, brainstorming, planning and working on projects. We chose two projects to work on all together. We wanted something that could engage the talents of the whole team.
The first release is WikiThing*, a full-featured wiki for LibraryThing. A wiki is, of course, “a collaborative website which can be directly edited by anyone.” You can use them for lots of things. Wikipedia is an encyclopedia. DiscourseDB tracks published opinion pieces. So what’s WikiThing for?
We’re not sure! But we’re kicking it off with:
- FAQ. We’ve put our static Frequently Asked Questions pages up on the wiki, where everyone (including us) can edit them. If it works out, we’ll get rid of the static pages, or reduce them to a few questions, and link to WikiThing.
- Help. We’ve got a few Help pages that aren’t FAQ pages.
- Bug tracking. This was a tough one. We do not want to move all bug conversations to the wiki. Bug tracking can seem like a simple record, but it is generally a conversation, with questions and answers back and forth. Feature requests are even more so. At the same time, a simple list of bugs, with links to Talk posts, could be a big help for everyone.
What do you want to do with it? Leave a note here or on the Talk: New Features post about ThingWiki.
How do I do it? Editing is super easy. Just go to a wiki page and click the “edit” link at the top, or one of the “edit” links by a section.
WikiThing is based on the MediaWiki engine, the same software that runs Wikipedia. So, if you know how to edit Wikipedia, you know how to edit WikiThing. If you don’t, it’s easy to learn. Mostly you just type. If you need to do something fancy, like insert a link, we have a Wiki help. If you screw up, don’t worry. Someone else will come along and fix it.
What about a “content” wiki? We thought long and hard about having a “content wiki.” A content wiki would have wiki pages for all works, authors and so forth. It would cover often-requested fields, like the year of original publication for a work and series information, and hitherto unrequested ones, like the name of the acquiring/literary editor. Members would be able to edit them and the edits would get picked up and put on work and author pages.
After a lot of thought and experimentation we decided that MediaWiki wasn’t the right tool for the job**. We needed a true “fielded wiki.” We looked at options like Aaron Swartz‘s Python-based Infogami, which also runs Open Library.****
In the end, we decided to do it ourself, and it turned out easier than we thought.
We’ve got one more day together, and plan to make the most of it. Whether we can finish it up today or now, we should get it out this week.
*I was overuled on the name. I wanted ThingWiki, in keeping with ThingISBN, ThingTitle and so forth. Casey and Chris** were against it.
**The individual formerly known as “Christopher” (ConceptDawg) shall henceforth be known as “Chris.” Although friends call him Chris, we were calling him Christopher because we also had a Chris (Chris Gann), but Chris Gann is long gone, and Chris—the Christopher Chris—wants his name back! Who’s on first?
***We also decided that tools like Semantic MediaWiki and WikiForms weren’t there yet.
****Since Infogami runs ThingDB—yes, he used the name first—we were thinking of calling our product ThingGami!