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Large Scale Collaborative Editing 218

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the now-this-is-gettign-interesting dept.
An anonymous reader writes "3D17.org is a website designed to allow large-scale collaborative document editing. Unlike tools like Wiki, any changes made to a 3D17 document must go-through a moderation-like voting process to see which should be applied to the document. Possible applications include allowing a large community to draft letters, emails, and faxes in a way that everyone can contribute. 3D17 even eats its own dogfood - its FAQ can be user-modified just like any other document."
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Large Scale Collaborative Editing

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  • 3D17? (Score:3, Funny)

    by PissingInTheWind (573929) on Thursday October 30, 2003 @03:41PM (#7350785)
    Wow, what a 31337 name.

    /sarcasm
  • Slashdot (Score:3, Funny)

    by hkg4r7h (468346) on Thursday October 30, 2003 @03:41PM (#7350795)
    Could this be used on /. to fix spelling mistakes and other obvious errors? :)
    • Re:Slashdot (Score:5, Funny)

      by Threni (635302) on Thursday October 30, 2003 @03:43PM (#7350825)
      "Could this be used on /. to fix spelling mistakes and other obvious errors? :) "

      No, for that you'd need a spelling checker, which is beyond our puny 2003 tech. It's the stuff of madmen's dreams.

      Same goes for dupes. Just too hard to fix. Well, apart from going a quick keyword search on the new headline and all the headlines from the last 3 weeks.
      • Well, apart from going a quick keyword search on the new headline and all the headlines from the last 3 weeks.

        Obviously you've never actually tried to use Slashdot's search feature to find anything...

        You can be fairly certain that whatever it returns is not what you are actually seeking.

        There's nothing quick about searching Slashdot.

        Blockwars [blockwars.com]: a free, multiplayer head to head game.

    • Could this [3D17]be used on /. to fix spelling mistakes and other obvious errors? :)

      Maybe, but please, not before the weaknesses of 3D17 have been fixed. (Like, how did somebody manage to plug the famous g**ts*** image into a version of the 3D17 FAQ?)
  • Low Abusability (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Doesn't_Comment_Code (692510) on Thursday October 30, 2003 @03:42PM (#7350814)
    This ought to be much more useful than wiki and similar systems.

    There is neverending abuse of new technology, mainly spammers who innovate to ruin the next up and coming trend (usenet,google,blogs). The one thing these spoilers can't outsmart is people. As long as there is a dedicated community behind these projects, this strategy should not only provide documents everyone can agree on, but trim down the abuse as well.
    • by snoopyjd (665929)
      But if the spammer makes several accounts on the system they could approve their own changes. Then again they would have to have a few different email addresses to pull this off, and they probabily don't know how to set that up.
      • But if the spammer makes several accounts on the system they could approve their own changes. Then again they would have to have a few different email addresses to pull this off, and they probabily don't know how to set that up.

        The days of spammers being idiots with mail programs is long gone. Now they're rich enough idiots that they can higher smart people to outsmart the screens. It's kind of like a virus brededing ground, they fiddle with local copies of Bayesian Filters and what not until they're sli
        • > It's kind of like a virus brededing ground, they fiddle with local copies of Bayesian Filters and what not until they're slime oozes through, and is hopefully not completely unreadable.

          Although I've seen some really tortured english -- not quite broken english, just "weird" -- that may have been employed to bust a bayesian filter, fiddling with local copies simply doesn't work. If you're a spammer doing this, you end up training your filter on your own spam, then retraining it with the new version of
      • But what if the participants had to be verified by the controlling author first? This could even be done with semi-technical means, where the participant provides a mailing address, and the author snail-mails them a password that the participant then plugs into the collaboration environment before they can fully participate. Or this could all be bypassed if the author knows and trusts the participant already.

    • The irony of having to scroll through so much tripe before reaching this post should not be lost on anyone....
    • Riiiiight. So, that's why if you visit the FAQ link [3d17.org] you're currently greeted by an image of the goatse.cx guy spreading his anus? Because surely the trolls could never figure out how to just vote for that change enough times to get it accepted.
    • Some Wikis, e.g. TWiki (http://twiki.org) already have authentication and full version control, so it's easy to reverse any abuse. TWiki also has forms, so it's possible to build whatever workflow you want without writing Perl code, just by creating forms etc.

      In fact, most Wikis just use human intelligence to do this and that works pretty well.

  • by CrypticSpawn (719164) * on Thursday October 30, 2003 @03:43PM (#7350815)
    Whats the difference from that and these?

    NASA System [nasa.gov]
    Diracian [diracian.com]

    • Warning: mysql_connect(): Can't connect to MySQL server on 'nexus' (113) in /home/sites/public_html/diracian.com/system/databa ses/mysql.class.php on line 108

      Cannnot connect to DB server


      Between PHP and mySQL, I don't much like this one.
    • Whats the difference from that and these?
      NASA System [nasa.gov]

      Well, Postdoc is like requiring your shaver to be interfaced to your toaster while the TV is on channel 2 just so the frying pan works so you can make breakfast- but only if you use organic brown eggs. Seriously, did you read the about-Postdoc page and see how literally cobbled together it is? I was personally amazed there wasn't any duct tape mentioned.

      Diracian [diracian.com]

      It actually works, instead of giving a MySQL error?

  • by Wills (242929)
    Has anyone tried the open-source collaborative editing/annotation tool called AnnotateIT [freshmeat.net]?
    • There is also a system devised by the people at the Foresight Institute for marking up web pages called Crit. [crit.org]

      Damn, after looking it appears they have let the domain expire. It was a great idea, don't know what happened to it, perhaps there's an explanation at the Foresight [foresight.org] site.

    • What about taking the basics of the W3C Amaya project [w3.org] and turbocharging it?

      This tool looks at it from the other side - you keep your own local annotations - or you can save public annotations that others can see.

      The neat thing about this tool is it keeps all the meta data seperate from the document itself - which remains pristine - so you could annotate any web page or file on any system you can touch.

      The tool as it stands now is very crude. I could see somthing like this becoming the basis for personal
  • interesting (Score:4, Informative)

    by stonebeat.org (562495) on Thursday October 30, 2003 @03:43PM (#7350833) Homepage
    A wiki with Workflow and authentication wrapped around it.
    The only thing missing is WebDAV [webdav.org] support. With WebDAV support people could collaboratively edit the documents (spreadsheet etc) attached to the webpages.
    • Re:interesting (Score:3, Informative)

      WebDav is not the ideal solution, because it completely undermines the check-in/check-out process. It's like having a workorder system but no CVS for your code.

      Better to simply post each new revision through an upload form.

      • WebDav is not the ideal solution, because it completely undermines the check-in/check-out process. It's like having a workorder system but no CVS for your code.

        Just so you know, the DAV part of WebDAV stands for ``Distributed Authoring and Versioning.''

        • Well I've only seen it implemented as "map your file system through port 80".
    • eRooms (non-free) allows the collaborative editing of documents. Zope has wikis and webDAV, workflow, email notification, through-the-web editing, but I don't believe it is trivial to allow editing of Microsoft formats. I'm sure there are more examples.
  • by October_30th (531777) on Thursday October 30, 2003 @03:46PM (#7350863) Homepage Journal
    Great.

    A perfect tool for producing ediocre text.

    • Does the committee get to correct spelling, punctuation, and grammar?

      [correction] mediocre text.[/correction]

      Uh oh, am I part of your committee now? Or are you a part of mine? Er, or were you just shortcutting to an example of their possible output?

      8-PP
      • [excerpt]Does the committee get to correct spelling, punctuation, and grammar?[/excerpt][replace]This committee does get to correct spelling, punctuation and grammer[/replace]

        [correction]mediocre text.[/correction]

        [excerpt]Uh oh, am I part of your committee now? Or are you part of mine? Er, or were you just shortcutting to an example of their possible output?[/excerpt][replace]All your base are now belong to us.[/replace]

    • No, we have eople for that! :-p

  • by sphealey (2855) * on Thursday October 30, 2003 @03:50PM (#7350911)
    A serious question (as opposed to a modest proposal): has anyone ever seen a document emerge from a collaboration / groupware system better than one produced by a single knowledgable person?

    I have seen a lot of computerized collaboration systems tried over the last 25 years, and I have never seen them produce a better (or even usable) product. Typically the single dedicated person with a quill pen does a better job than 50 people with $$$ of computers. Anyone else have a different experience?

    sPh

    • howabout linux?

      you did say "computerized collaboration systems" ;-P
      • I know you're just trying to be cute, but he asked if anyone had seen a document created this way, not an OS kernel.

        Still, I'd probably mod you as Funny if I had points today.
      • OK, OK, but I did also say "document". My comment was intended to apply to works of literature, rhetoric, exposition, etc., or even corporate memos, not to engineering documents such as source code. Although come to think of it I have seen some industrial construction specifications that were works of art...

        sPh

      • Unless you print out the source code, bind it together, and read it in bed before going to sleep... I don't think that applies.
        • Unless you print out the source code, bind it together, and read it in bed before going to sleep... I don't think that applies.
          That was Knuth's Literate Programming [literateprogramming.com], but it never caught on. I do read Tom Kyte's Oracle books before bed - does that count?

          sph

          • I always thought literate programming never caught on because it was just like regular programming, except you had to write reams of comments for every little function.
        • Unless you print out the source code, bind it together, and read it in bed before going to sleep... I don't think that applies.

          This is, in my opinion, one of the major challenges for online collaborative document systems. If, for example, one want to extract what e.g. Wikipedia contains about complexity theory, and put it into a (treeware) form that can be read in the absence of an internet connection, possibly in the absence of any form of computer (in paticular, read it in bed before going to sleep,)

    • by revividus (643168) <<moc.liamg> <ta> <namssirc.lihp>> on Thursday October 30, 2003 @04:01PM (#7351040) Homepage
      I believe that Bruce Eckel [mindview.net] wrote Thinking in Java in a sort of middle-ground between 3D17 and your suggestion; that is he wrote it, posted it online [mindview.net], allowed anyone to comment on the text, and wound up incorporating many hundreds of corrections and suggestions into the final text. In a sense, it was something like 3D17, but he was the moderator of the suggestions/corrections that came in. He talks a bit about it here [mindview.net].

      Also, I suppose a /. thread viewed at a threshold of 3 or 4 or higher would qualify as a collaborative commentary on whatever article is being discussed.

      Of course, I realize that neither of these examples are exactly what 3D17 is suggesting, but they share elements.

      • ...a sort of middle-ground between 3D17 and your suggestion

        This alludes to what is really needed, that is, a tiered editing system. The first step is a single author (or small intimate group) coming up with a first draft. Secondly, the draft is posted to the collaborative weblication to accept comments from various interested parties, but they can't vote on them for inclusion--only the authors can decide what they incorporate. Last, a close-to-final refined document is posted to go through what 3d17.o

    • by dr_canak (593415) on Thursday October 30, 2003 @04:06PM (#7351100)
      Sure,

      but perhaps on a much smaller scale. My dissertation was a constant collaboration between myself, my advisor, and the two research assistants who helped with the project. We used the "Track Changes" component of MS Word which worked pretty well, but was nevertheless kind of clunky.

      And we used the same MS Word "Track Changes" when we put together a couple substantial ($1,000,000+) grant proposals that involved contributions from a variety of researchers that would later go on to form the research team.

      There is no question that in both cases above, the group product was vastly superior to what the key individual could do on their own. "Track Changes" was an adequate solution for our needs, but I would have been/always am happy to try new collaborative tools like this.

      jeff
    • Isn't the document being formed on Slashdot in this very discussion a prime example of the benefits of combining the thoughts of many people on an issue? Yes, there may be useless comments in any group discussion, but the sum total of all comments almost always includes some real gems of insight.
      • True, and I find such discussions valuable, but they typically do not form a large-scale, coherent whole on the order of Massy's Dreadnaught, for example. Or even a well-written corporate research paper.

        sPh

        • To be fair, you didn't originally define what you meant by "better" in the context of one document being considered better than another. I do not think there is a universally acceptable definition of "better" in this context. "Better" may also have more than one component or dimension. Also, how should a "better" metric be used? Should it be applied to the inputs (each author's contribution), the output (the final collaborative document), or some combination of both? I agree coherency can probably only be
    • No, but I've seen libraries of better documents produced by multiple knowledgeable people, compared to all the works by just a single, knowledgeable author.
    • A serious question (as opposed to a modest proposal): has anyone ever seen a document emerge from a collaboration / groupware system better than one produced by a single knowledgable person?

      I think the real purpose of these types of systems are for draft-edits. As I have seen them used, each section has a single author, and the collaboration system is used to revise the draft.
    • by SIGPrez (229837)
      I have been in consulting for around 15 years, and I believe that in most instances the answer is a resounding 'NO'.

      I think the only way for a better document to be created by a group is to have an exceptional moderator/coordinator at the helm, who values the solution that is in the middle of the table, rather from one of the involved parties, including himself.

      Very rare indeed.
    • > Anyone else have a different experience?

      Yes. Complex systems modified by lots of sane people, each trusted and mature enough to annotate their own changes, none of whom will enjoy doing the same for other people's changes, become way easier to document with a decent collaboration tool. Could be a wiki, could be shared folders, could be cvs commit comments, don't care.

    • by at_18 (224304) on Thursday October 30, 2003 @04:30PM (#7351367) Journal
      has anyone ever seen a document emerge from a collaboration / groupware system better than one produced by a single knowledgable person?

      Check out Wikipedia [wikipedia.org]. It is a wiki encyclopedia, with more than 100,000 articles on lots of subjects. And growing at breakneck speed. A simple look to the Recent Changes [wikipedia.org] page gets my head spinning. Maybe it's not a "document", but maybe it's even better.
    • I'd be happy with a single-user compiler for english...

      I'm writing a thesis, and it would be great to be able to automatically detect undefined terms, or that your english description becomes obsolete when you modify the greek in the figure.

      Unfortunately, The middle ground between so-hard-to-use-it's-worthless and so-weak-it's-pointless depends on powerful NLP, and that sort of voodoo is not yet easily availible.
    • The php documentation at php.net is kind of half and half. There is the regular documentation of functions and then it allows for user added comments at the bottom. Most of the user comments account for special situations and undocument changes and are extremely helpful.

      In general entire collaborated doc's don't make sense, but allowing a large group of people to submit changes and updates works well.

      In my mind wiki and the like are stupid because people will end up changing valid information just becau
      • "
        In my mind wiki and the like are stupid because people will end up changing valid information just because they don't like the wording or something and so it will move back and forth without ever changing.
        " That sounds an awful like "Constant Refactoring After Programming". It really really depends on the team involved in the "refactoring".
    • I think the different editing mechanism doesn't have to imply that every document is written by several people. You could have a collection of documents where each is maintained by one person, but they're all grouped together in a single collaborative system because it's just easier that way. Or have documents mostly written by one person with others adding a few tweaks and corrections occasionally.

      Even if you are the only author of a document, some groupware system may be easier than traditional web pub
  • People Lie... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by reallocate (142797) on Thursday October 30, 2003 @03:50PM (#7350912)
    Why should I trust a "user-modified" FAW?
  • by 4of12 (97621)

    I don't think this is the first time this concept has appeared in the market [1 [filesanywhere.com],2 [creativepro.com]].

    Frankly, I'm holding out for something with more public, standard, interoperable interfaces, based on WebDAV [webdav.org].

  • Tried it. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Godeke (32895) * on Thursday October 30, 2003 @03:54PM (#7350962)
    While I admit is is an early version, it appears pretty clunky. All proposed edits are simply placed in a vote list... this means that votes have to be taken quickly to prevent different useful edits from being unable to merge.

    Something more like CVS would be useful, where you can have different edits on different areas going at the same time, and the vote process could merge them together. Then again, perhaps for text that isn't as useful as code. But without such a feature, it's hard to call this "massive" collaborative documents, as the pending change list could easily spiral out of control.

    • All proposed edits are simply placed in a vote list... this means that votes have to be taken quickly to prevent different useful edits from being unable to merge.
      Only overlapping edits are mutually-exclusive.
  • What a waste! (Score:2, Informative)

    by i_r_sensitive (697893)
    I direct the developers of this particular piece of software to:

    The Art of Unix Programming [catb.org]

    Specifically, rcs systems provide the same functionality, and several allready exist. So why not spend your devlopment time on an interface for Joe Six-pack, rather than re-inventing the wheel.

    Especially since we'll probably find out this wheel has a remarkably squarish shape...

  • Someone send the URL to the UN! A new world order is born! Anyone could submit amendments to laws!

    Seriously, though, other that losing time and getting in endless arguments, my experience tells me that after a certain size, group production of text turns into a mess. Remember those reports that had to be produced in group in high school? One or two individuals ended up doing all the work, while being unncessarly bothered by the rest of the group.

    Now, if this 37D-24-36 (oops wrong thread) would incorporate
  • I'm glad to see that Goatsex is in the running for possible inclusion in their FAQ. I've often asked questions that can really only be answered by that damned picture. So many questions.

    Anyway, I'd suggest you all register and vote for it. We'll see how long any community based organization will last when it's members choose to elevate horrible horrible smut... will the autonomy of the users be inviolate? Or will it be reduced?
    • Re:Goatse (Score:3, Informative)

      Well it happened. I clicked on the link for the FAQ and BAM! There was that damned Goatse picture on the page. So here's your warning. Don't go to the FAQ!
  • **YAWN** (Score:4, Informative)

    by terrified (89447) <efarris.yahoo@com> on Thursday October 30, 2003 @04:17PM (#7351207) Homepage
    Drupal [drupal.org].
  • by avalys (221114)
    Click the FAQ link.

    I think that's the first time a Slashdot story has included a link to goatse.cx.
  • On sites such as Everything2, each writer is given copyright ownership (and responsibility) over their own contributions. Editors can modify content, but only do so in unusual circumstances; typically a writeup is either modified by the author or deleted entirely.

    So how would a 3D17-type site handle ownership of documents? If anyone can submit modifications to my writings and have them approved, I no longer have exclusive copyright ownership over the final document. Creatively speaking, then, I'm less like
  • Ok, this could very easily backfire when exposed to "Concentrated" (for lack of a better word) groups like slashdot. No longer would you need mirrors because the article is unavailable, you would now need mirrors because the article in unrecognisable in its current form.
    It's title is now: "In Soviet Russia your new slashdot overlords welcome YOU!"
    and its body reads
    Woot! first paragraph! 1: Slashdot article
    2. ????
    3. Profit

    There i've gotten all the jokes out of my system, and still posted somet
  • Offhand, I see this weblication as a good approach for:

    1. Code review/inspection
    2. Development of rules, charters, etc. for a dispersed organization.
    3. Development of measures to be passed by a "citizen legislature" (coming from the direct democrat in me)
  • in Plone [plone.org] there is already very elegant, secure and simple workflow [plone.org] mechanism for collaborative content authoring:

    Workflow is the process used to manage objects in a website. An example is a company's press release: an employee writes a press release and submits it to an editor for review before it is published on the website. This review process is called a workflow and is used by site managers to ensure that site content is correct. Plone has a very powerful and flexible default workflow system that is b

    • Forget to mention (when saying about firther workflow extensibility in Plone):

      There is a Zope product, called CMFOpenflow [reflab.it], which is now also known as 'Reflow' Activity based workflow with strong integration with Content Management. Reflow is used already for issue tracking and task management, but can be used in many other workflow management cases.

  • I'm working with a group of people trying to put a colaborative plant database together. Draft Version [ibiblio.org]. The idea is to put together a large dataset of plants together.

    Wiki's seem good, but they miss one important aspect, structure to the documents. Details about plants neetly fall in to a number of catagories Latin/Botanical name, Common name, growing habit, etc. What I'd like to do is take wiki type concept but add more structure to the data. This could help with searching. Also some fields such as heigh

  • Is the code open source?
    As we are still exploring commercial possibilities with 3D17 we would rather not rule anything out by releasing the code at this time


    That's fine and dandy, but I wonder if anybody realizes that even if they don't release the source, that they will immediately face competition from software that is built on the collaboration principle that makes this project work -- Open Source. It seems like that cat's out of the bag now, so it may be a little too late to explore those options a
  • Large Scale Collaborative Editing sounds a lot like the million monkeys million keyboards idea. I suppose it would work out well if a majority of the people involved were significantly knowledgeable, but otherwise I can't imagine it working too great.
  • Wiki wins because what moderation it has is post-facto and as easy to undo as the change it reverts. Moderation is also comparatively difficult, requiring one to manually edit the wiki-syntax of the page. So, a culture of responsible editing emerges.

    Preemptive, unaccountable, vote based moderation will lead to a groupthink culture like Slashdot can often be, where unpopular ideas get voted into oblivion rather than being challenged with logic.

    Think of it as the difference between political and discursive
  • Drupal has had a book module in the core distribution for atleast a year. In drupal terms, this allows you to author any node (blog entry, forum post, image , story etc.) and attach it in relation to the book. (based on taxonomy). Each of these pages has revision control and can optionally go into the submission queue. It is possible to set it up even more extensively ... whereby you can use the groups module to give certain users different rights depending on which topic they are editing etc.

    Some Example

  • There are many open source (under varying licenses) collaborative systems, each with different principles of operation and rules about what can and can't be done.

    What is needed, and this goes back in part to the problem of documentation in the open source/free software arena, is a review of what has been done, advantages, disadvantages, etc. of the various systems. What is also needed is a review of what people want these systems to do. This, together with the requisite organisation to get things done, w

An Ada exception is when a routine gets in trouble and says 'Beam me up, Scotty'.

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