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Are we Headed for a Wiki World? 397

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the only-if-wiki-stops-sucking dept.
Wikipedian writes "BusinessWeek asks are we headed for a Wiki World?. With US-based SocialText using their wiki to leverage just $600K in capital, and European competitor Team Notepad, not to mention freeware alternatives like TWiki and MoinMoin is the whole world going to be using wikis instead of the proprietary dinosaurs like Lotus Notes?"
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Are we Headed for a Wiki World?

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  • [I]s the whole world going to be using wikis instead of the proprietary dinosaurs like Lotus Notes?

    God, I hope so. Lotus Notes is a beast. It stops working whenever it feels like it, and occasionally corrupts the database just to make your day.

    OTOH, I don't know if TWiki is the answer. Something like it perhaps, but TWiki itself tends to be unwieldily, visually confusing, and ugly. PHPWiki solved many of the problems by taking the KISS (Keep It Simple Stupid!) path, but lost a lot of functionality along the way. MediaWiki (the Wiki that runs Wikipedia) is probably the best compromise, but it lacks some of the security features that make TWiki viable in a corporate environment.

    If I had to choose, I'd probably say that extending MediaWiki would result in the best option. MediaWiki is clean, easy to use, and (always important) extremely feature rich. The advantage is that it got that way through several rewrites and careful coding by its maintainers. The disadvantage is that another rewrite might leave you stranded with a difficult upgrade path.

    One way or another, a Wiki design is definitely the right idea for corporate "document" databases.
    • Try Instiki (Score:5, Informative)

      by Colonel Panic (15235) on Thursday October 28, 2004 @05:05PM (#10657664)
      Instiki [instiki.org] is by far the easiest wiki to setup and configure that I've tried. It would only take you a few minutes to try it out. It's especially easy to install on OSX and after doing so it will show up on your toolbar. And it has pdf and TeX output.
      • Re:Try Instiki (Score:5, Informative)

        by Kris_J (10111) * on Thursday October 28, 2004 @06:34PM (#10658422) Journal
        I setup mediawiki on a server already running mysql and php for phpBB and it took only a few minutes. That's hard to beat.
      • Re:Try Instiki (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Xerp (768138) on Thursday October 28, 2004 @06:55PM (#10658589) Journal
        I tried getting people to use a wiki (TikiWiki) at our place, but it soon got killed off.

        1.) It was classified as over complicated - it had more than 4 options, a login requirement (for security and personalisation).

        2.) The example styles included did not have a grey option.

        3.) Thirdly, and perhaps more importantly not only was it Open Source, but I had it implemented in under a day whereas all the other (more important) people had spent several months trying to get something implemented and used.

        4.) Nearly forgot - the name.

        PHB: "What the f*** is a Wiki? We can't have something called that."

        Sometimes it really sucks to know Dilbert is real...
    • by pohl (872) on Thursday October 28, 2004 @05:15PM (#10657774) Homepage
      If I had to choose, I'd probably say that extending MediaWiki would result in the best option. MediaWiki is clean, easy to use, and (always important) extremely feature rich.

      I second this wholeheartedly. It can't be emphasized enough that the default style is so easy to read that people will actually use it. We've had a tough time getting people to maintain our internal twiki installation because the default style makes it unreadable. It doesn't help that the tagging language sucks too. MediaWiki is much better in both respects. I'd like to see it support different database back ends, though.

    • by SlashDread (38969) on Thursday October 28, 2004 @05:20PM (#10657813)
      "Lotus Notes is a beast. It stops working whenever it feels like it, and occasionally corrupts the database just to make your day."

      Sounds a lot like "Microsoft Echange"

      "/Dread"
    • by MasterOfUniverse (812371) on Thursday October 28, 2004 @05:35PM (#10657950)
      umm..pardon my ignorance...but how exactly wiki can replace lotus notes??? please care to explain..
      • by kgbspy (696931) on Thursday October 28, 2004 @06:38PM (#10658453)
        I had a conversation with one of the top IBM Australia execs at the "open source" section of IBM Forum in Melbourne earlier on this year, and I asked him what was stopping IBM from using Linux on more desktops within their organisation (from memory he said that the desktop spread at IBM is something like 95% Windows, 5% Linux). His response was that it was only Lotus Notes that was holding them back.

        Andrew Tridgell [samba.org] (Samba), who at the time was doing some work for IBM in Canberra and had just completed a panel discussion on the use of open source software, joined in the conversation and started fervently campaigning for IBM to ditch Notes in favour of the use of a wiki. The other IBM bigwigs who were floating around after the session gravitated over to the conversation and seemed genuinely interested in any technology that would free them from having to use Lotus Notes!

        I'd wager that given IBM's newfound interest in OSS, a shift in trend from Notes to using a wiki would be something that is taken very seriously indeed.
      • Many companies use Notes as "knowledge repositories" or similar. Trouble is, it's not a relational database (Lotus calls them "databases" but they're not, really), and any linking between content is purely manual - and very easy to break.

        Replication of data and a lack of common sense almost seems to be encouraged by these Notes setups. At least from my perspective as a user. I just got through with an exercise w/ one Notes database. Every person associated with a system needed to be put on the form for
    • The disadvantage is that another rewrite might leave you stranded with a difficult upgrade path.

      I find it somewhat reasurring that MediaWiki is used to run Wikipedia. Since they already have a huge amount of preexisting content, it's in their best interests to make migration from one version to the next as easy as possible.

      Of the wikis I've used, I like mediawiki the best in terms of simple interface (most CMSs have a cluttered interface that bombards the user with way too many buttons). Setting it up

  • by The_Rippa (181699) * on Thursday October 28, 2004 @04:42PM (#10657445)
    If Lotus Notes was a character on Kill Bill, it would go something like this...

    Lotus Notes: Larry, there ain't no mail out there!
    Larry Gomez : There ain't no mail out there... Larry... What's your point? That you're not needed here?
    Lotus Notes: My point is, I'm the groupware... and there ain't no mail out there to deliver!
    Larry Gomez : You're saying that the reason... that you're not doing the job... that I'm... paying you to do... is, that you don't have a job to do? Is that what you're saying? What are you trying to convince me of, exactly? That you're as useless as an asshole right here? Well guess what, Lotus Notes. I think, you just fucking convinced me!

    Really, I have to use Lotus at my current job and have had to use it at previous ones too. I never thought I'd say it, but I miss MS Exchange Server. Who needs Lotus when you have pop3 and a text file every can edit...at least it would work most of the time. Never before have I used such a frustrating, stupid, ugly, ineffective product. Give me a ham sandwich over Lotus Notes.

    Also of interest, an in-depth analysis of Lotus Notes on the User Interface Hall of Shame.

    http://digilander.libero.it/chiediloapippo/Enginee ring/iarchitect/lotus.htm [libero.it]

    • So - you're saying that you don't like Lotus Notes then?
    • That's the biggest strike against Lotus. It makes Exchange look like a work of fucking art by comparison.
    • Also of interest, an in-depth analysis of Lotus Notes on the User Interface Hall of Shame.

      Bless you! For as long as I've been forced to use Lotus Notes, I've wondered if there was a way to get it to open URLs in an external browser. Thanks to that page, I've learned that that option is changed with the obvious command File-Mobile-Edit Current Location! Of course!

      As someone else said, it's a pretty grim piece of software that makes you think longingly of Outlook.

    • Dude, get with the current program - that UI Hall of Shame thing is based on a version of Notes that was three major versions ago (about to be four) and like five years old at this point. WHy don't you mention more recent reviews/articles (like all the awards the latest version of Notes has won) instead of recycling some tired, old hack job.
    • by scottme (584888) on Thursday October 28, 2004 @05:21PM (#10657818)
      That UI Hall of Shame link is just so old - look for yourself, it says

      Last updated 28-July-1999

      Notes has had three - count 'em, 3 - major releases since that stuff was put up there, and many, if not all of the points it makes have been addressed. Notes is still one of the best platforms around for collaboration, for development of ad-hoc applications involving sharing information among teams and for publishing to the web. Notes/Domino continues to have just as much market share as Outlook/Exchange - and in fact you can even use Outlook as a client to a Domino back-end server.

      Also, it continues to evolve - the next release, number 7, is in beta now. Customers' investment in applications developed under previous releases is preserved as well as ever (not something Microsoft can claim to do), and there's a roadmap that takes it towards a bright new future in the shape of the IBM Workplace [ibm.com].

      • Yeah, right! I have given up submitting documents via one of our Lotus Notes databases because IT DOESN'T ATTACH THE DOCUMENT when it sends out the notice that a new doc is available! (I know it's supposed to do this because I get responses from some customers that it worked fine, and others that it didn't!) Now how useful is that? No rhyme or reason for it either. Lotus Notes, while more secure than Outlook, is a beastly hog of an app that does little to make me actually more productive. The calendar syste
  • It's a problem (Score:3, Interesting)

    by SunPin (596554) <slashspam@[ ]erista.com ['cyb' in gap]> on Thursday October 28, 2004 @04:45PM (#10657474) Homepage
    This is good for internal use as far as corporations are concerned but public use makes it a tool for misinformation and disinformation.
    • by kaan (88626) on Thursday October 28, 2004 @05:07PM (#10657685)
      I totally agree with the parent post - wiki is good for internal use, maybe sharing company information, etc. But as soon as you turn it to the global audience with the intention of being a general information source, it becomes a worse information reference than any random web page out there. In fact, it might be worse, because random web pages that talk about things like "astronauts never walked on the moon", etc., aren't culled together and presented as fact the way that wiki presents all information. It's been shown repeatedly that there is little to no validation of real-world wiki information. I've read several stories (some here on /.) about people making totally bogus wiki entries that other people support.

      Don't get me wrong, I think wiki has it's place, but experience indicates that it should not serve as a generic information source for the general population. At least, not in it's current form. If they hired a squadron of editors and fact checkers, things might be better, but that's not how wiki is supposed to work...
      • by commodoresloat (172735) on Thursday October 28, 2004 @05:16PM (#10657777)
        If they hired a squadron of editors and fact checkers, things might be better, but that's not how wiki is supposed to work...

        Actually, I don't think hiring people to keep wiki honest would go against the spirit of wiki any more than getting paid to work on free software would go against the spirit of free software. I think the open source model works best if people have a stake in keeping the project progressing -- which includes deleting junk material in wiki entries just like you would delete junk code from an open source project. If Wikipedia had the funding to pay people to delete vandalism and other crap, it would be much more consistently reliable. As it is it is much more reliable than I ever would have expected most of the time. I contribute a reasonable amount to wiki, so I notice how quickly vandalism gets noticed and removed, at least on popular pages. Subtle misinformation is more difficult -- entries have to be reviewed by someone familiar with the issues -- but I think if it was someone's full time job to do this, a lot less would slip through.

      • Well, I've been considering implementing my website as a wiki. Basically, the wikiengine that I use would have to be simple, run on Freeshell with an ARPA account (preferably a USER account, so I don't have to pay up), and allow access control. I might end up getting an offline wikiengine for now...
  • Web Collaborator (Score:3, Informative)

    by cardmagic (224509) on Thursday October 28, 2004 @04:45PM (#10657479) Homepage
    http://webcollaborator.com/

    This website creates a new free and easy way to collaborate. Before Web Collaborator, to collaborate on a project meant passing papers back and forth, hours of painstaking corrections, hundreds of wasted pieces of paper, headaches, and plenty of coffee. Web Collaborator coordinates collaborations automatically, keeping backups of every revision ever made to the project, letting you see who made the changes, and allowing you to focus on the work instead of managing the work. Better yet, it is absolutely free for all uses.

    Each project has three components.

    The discussion

    This is where you can plan your project and discuss which parts of the project that need improvement. This allows you to have a clear vision for the future of your project.

    The project

    This is your actual project, be it a paper, a poem, a story, a grant or a proposal. Any collaborative writing can be done in this area. A Fog index is embedded within the project to gauge the level of writing. At any time, you can download it as a PDF document to archive or print for a hard copy. You can also protect the project with government standard Rijandel 256 bit encryption so that even a malicious hacker would never be able to get a hold of it.

    The history

    This section keeps a backup of every revision. You can see word for word, letter for letter what was changed at any point during the project.
    • Re:Web Collaborator (Score:3, Informative)

      by Belial6 (794905)
      Comments like this show how well people respond to MS FUD. Several years ago MS tried to bill Exchange as a Notes killer. They started calling it "Groupware". It wasn't even close, and they eventually gave up because Exchange was never going to be a real competitor to Notes/Domino.

      Now anything that lets multi-user posting is called "Groupware". Notes/Domino is an environment to write applications. If you just want it for email and a blog, it is still a fine tool, but it is so much more. I am current
  • freeware?!?! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Gandalfar (599790) on Thursday October 28, 2004 @04:46PM (#10657484)
    Freeware ?!?!?!?

    It's even better then that. It's GPL! [gnu.org]. How can slashdot write about GPL'ed software that it's freeware?
  • You mean that robot from Buck Rogers who had Dr. Theopolis hanging around his neck? Wasn't his name Wiki?
  • For businesses, they run the risk of any Joe Shmoe putting libelous or illegal material on company wikis. Browse thru Wikipedia's Slashdot page history to see various defacements.
  • Unequivocally "YES" (Score:5, Interesting)

    by YetAnotherName (168064) on Thursday October 28, 2004 @04:48PM (#10657515) Homepage
    But not just because proprietary, expensive behemoths like Lotus Notes are proprietary or expensive, but because the web and HTTP are the current application delivery mechanisms. If you can't view it or use it from a browser, then it may as well not exist.

    The next hurdle that wiki-type systems will face, though, is metadata. Even if Google got into the wiki business and provded stellar searching technology for wikis, there's only so far you can go before you face the metadata problem. As the project, team, organization, and inter-organization relationships grow, so does the need for metadata to manage it all. This is where RDF and Berners-Lee's semantic web can certainly help out. RDF-enabled wikis would be just amazing.
    • I agree with your first note... but I'm not sure what you mean about the metadata issue. Are you referring to standards to help enable those relationships (project, team, org...)?
    • Metadata (Score:5, Informative)

      by Saucepan (12098) on Thursday October 28, 2004 @05:59PM (#10658146)
      The metadata situation may not be that bad off. Since at least this summer MediaWiki [mediawiki.org] has had the ability to tag documents with multiple categories [wikipedia.org], which themselves can be tagged with multiple categories. And I thought every modern wiki kept a rich revision history [wikipedia.org] of who changed what, when.

      What other kinds of metadata do you have in mind?

  • by RealAlaskan (576404) on Thursday October 28, 2004 @04:48PM (#10657518) Homepage Journal
    It seems to me that what the article is really about is how today's dot-coms are not squandering money: few employees, low overhead, low capital needs, and so on.

    If that's a Wiki World, that's where we came from and that's where we're headed.

    If Wiki World means that everyone will be using wiki's for everything, well, maybe not.

    • If Wiki World means that everyone will be using wiki's for everything, well, maybe not.

      Sure it does - add a couple of functions and they'll be good for spreadsheets. Add a couple more and you can use it to run your accounting system. Add some user interface parts, and it can fix your sink and vaccuum your livingroom! It's a Wiki World!

    • The president of my company said pretty much exactly that today, just with different words:

      "The problem with Venture Capital is that it's like giving your teenager a credit card."

  • by a_hofmann (253827) on Thursday October 28, 2004 @04:48PM (#10657519) Homepage
    IMHO the Wiki concept is a revolution that's not comparable to any other development since the invention of the Web itself by Sir Lee... Think of Wikipedia [wikipedia.org] or the original c2.com wiki [c2.com], both examples of the success of this idea. These sites are driven by the users themselves, and are able to gather astonishing amounts of high quality information.

    The beautiful thing about Wikis is that they scale to any size. I use Wiki for personal information management. My company uses Wiki as a kind of rapid CMS (which effectively replaced Lotus Notes in that function btw), as do the big sites I've mentioned with millions of users.

    Some custom extensions can turn Wiki into tech unbeatable by any commercial product - because the concept just works (tm)...
    • by tetrode (32267)
      Yes, indeed, the concept just works. And besides - it is fun. Just enter your information in a somehow formatted way and your cow-orkers will correct it, amend it, modify it and (in my case, TWiki) I am notified of changes - so I can immediately review their changes.

      It is fun, it works, it is addictive, building a general knowledge base around products, problems, clients, projects.

      It is a way of communicating within a group without everyone being on line, with having the possibility to weed out the noise.
  • by arose (644256)
    Even my homepage is a wiki!
  • by theMerovingian (722983) on Thursday October 28, 2004 @04:50PM (#10657537) Journal

    I will personally endorse this 'productivity' software for my company on one condition...

    they give me the ability to anonymously moderate coworkers as trolls!

  • by Tackhead (54550) on Thursday October 28, 2004 @04:52PM (#10657551)
    Wikis are dead. No, I'm not going to make a Netcraft joke. Wikis fail because disorganized documentation that makes no sense to the author should also make no sense to the reader. If it was hard to write, anyone should be able to jump in and correct it, even if it leads to the occasional non sequitur. If the user doesn't like it, that's their problem, they should be reading the source code, not the documentation. Yeah, because they should be thankful anyone bothers to write code in the first place. If they can't change the code, fuck them!

    And that's why we're going to live in a Wiki World. Because collaboration is the solution to everything. Having lots of voices ensures diversity of opinion, which reminds me -- if you support this software project, don't forget to show it by voting for Dean in the primaries!

    Which is precisely why Wikis will never catch on. Documentation, like code, was meant to be written and edited by small teams at best - too many cooks spoil the broth (But Dean was cool, so I'm leaving your endorsement in!). For instance, the last time I tried to learn something about a subject by using Wikis, I found they were as twisty as a mass of spaghetti in an Infocom game and John Kerry, and I read blogs!

    • by PhillC (84728) on Thursday October 28, 2004 @05:50PM (#10658068) Homepage Journal
      I don't think Wikis should be used for important business documentation. However, for displaying the location of that document they are a great tool!

      You're right in that business critical documentation should be owned and edited by only a small team. Making this documentation available to a wider audience is where a Wiki comes to the fore.

      I've been running a Wiki in our department at work now for a couple of months. It was slow to start with, but people are starting to catch on now. Find a better way to do something? Add it to the Wiki. Know where all the spare printer paper is kept? Add it to the Wiki. Know the location on the network drive where the crucial licence agreements are kept? Add it to the Wiki. The list just keeps going on.

      Wikis are great for sharing knowledge. Like any knowledge sharing initiative they require a knowledge champion to oversee new additions, assist users having problems and generally tidying up. They are a great collaborative tool when you have everyone's buy in. A real leveller in the workplace too. The newest temp can correct the managing director - anonymously if needs be.

  • wiki confusing (Score:4, Insightful)

    by yohan1701 (779792) on Thursday October 28, 2004 @04:52PM (#10657554) Homepage
    Maybe it is me but evertime I see a site the has wiki for an FAQ I cringe. I can't seem to find anything on a wiki. ... of course I can't find an example at the moment. Usually though there doesn't seem to be any content.
    • Re:wiki confusing (Score:5, Interesting)

      by dmeranda (120061) on Thursday October 28, 2004 @05:21PM (#10657824) Homepage
      And everytime I see a site that has a FAQ that's not a Wiki I cringe. Most sites might as well call it a NFAQ (not-frequently asked questions). Exactly who's questions do they typically answer (not mine), and how many times do I have to ask a question before it becomes frequent? Or for that matter, how do I even ask a question? For 95% of the FAQs out there those are hard to answer questions.

      The advantage of a Wiki is that the users can guide the content, rather than some marketing droid making up questions he wished users asked.

      [Sure, I do know there are supposed FAQ applications which allow users to post questions, but nobody seems to use those either. A Wiki makes it immediate.]
    • Wiki is great but it isn't the best tool for everything. Technical FAQs are perhaps better maintained by a small group of people who know what needs to be covered because they are the ones who answer those questions all the time. Wiki probably isn't the tool you need for a FAQ. I remember the linux-ppc faq-o-matic, which was sort of wiki-ish, and while there were some incredibly useful pages, it was very hard to find specific information you might want. FAQ's are better handled through a more straightfo
  • by Psychic Burrito (611532) on Thursday October 28, 2004 @04:55PM (#10657581)
    I can only speak for myself, but I work at a startup, and we use a Wiki everyday. Since we've got no IT department (yet), we have outsourced the Wiki to somebody like SocialText and it works great.

    One word of caution, though: If you value your Wiki information anything (and you should, often it's a big value of your company), make sure that you make backups to some machines not in the hand of the provider regularly: a provider might go out of business, in which case you don't want to loose all your data.

    And even more importantly: Make sure you choose a provider that supports an open standard, where you can find another provider to switch over just in case.

    We considered many different wikis, but we found only one standard to be already so big that it's very likely that it will still be there in 5 years - and that the mediawiki standard, of wikipedia fame.
    • That's why I'm in favor of wikis that use plain HTML as their format (while preserving the ability to specify links in square brackets). We've recently started using a wiki internally and it really only took off when we avoided the need for people to learn some new wiki syntax. Instead we embedded the WYSIWYG HTML editor [ephox.com] into the wiki so that people didn't have to worry about syntax and could just enter their data like they can with Word, Frontpage etc.

      The results have been superb - the entire company h

  • by poopie (35416) on Thursday October 28, 2004 @05:04PM (#10657654) Journal
    As much as I like wikis, in corporate environments, I'd say they're frowned upon as being cluttered, messy, and chaotic.

    Some people would call the features of a wiki a disavantage...

    "you mean anyone can deface the website?"

    "who approved this content?"

    "all these links are confusing to everyone - can we have less content?"

    "the site needs to look like this other site - we have corporate website standards"
    • by Baki (72515) on Thursday October 28, 2004 @05:31PM (#10657905)
      There are wiki's that deal with this. We use JSPWiki [jspwiki.org] on our intranet; it is a std. servlet webapp. The next version should support authorization, but even without it: I put the webapp behind a mandatory browser client certificate authentication (you can only access it through https, and everyone on the intranet has a certificate). Then with a one-line modification the Edit.jsp is only accessible to people that have a certain role (i.e. a small group of people responsible for the content), but everyone can read.

      Versions are tracked in RCS, so any mistakes can be reversed. Also the client IP addresses are logged, and internally it is known who has which IP address. So any of your questions can be answered satisfactorily.

      Also it has templates [jspwiki.org] to apply some corporate style. Your mission critical internal product/project, in a large bank, uses it for all important documentation.
  • Notes vs. Wiki (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Zebra_X (13249) on Thursday October 28, 2004 @05:04PM (#10657655)
    I'm a little confused - how are wiki's and notes even remotely similar? One is a groupware application for scheduling, contacts, and mail. It is also a development platform for forms and workflow. I didn't think that it was generally used for content management or information management. I mean, I don't like notes or anything but I'm just not sure if that's an accurate comparison. Correct me if I'm wrong.
    • Re:Notes vs. Wiki (Score:5, Informative)

      by Lew Pitcher (68631) on Thursday October 28, 2004 @05:24PM (#10657844) Homepage

      You're wrong. A bit.

      While you are correct that Lotus Notes provides scheduling, contacts and mail, and acts as a development (and production) platform for forms and workflow, it is also a gigantic 'database'.

      My employer uses Notes for everything you mentioned, plus storing and relating project and business documents.

      Domino (the server engine behind Lotus Notes) can 'webify' Notes documents, and since Notes documents can be linked one-to-another, the links become hyperlinks viewable in a web browser.

      Think of Notes and Domino in the same relationship as IE and Apache. Notes provides the presentation front end, and Domino provides the data and relationship backend. In this case, Notes (Domino) documents become documents in their own right, served up as pages of information to a Notes client or web browser.

      The drawback to Notes/Domino is the tight control that this coupling requires. We've found that there are too many unknowns and roadblocks to use Notes/Domino as a method of widely distributing information that needs to be maintained by those other than the authors. An author needs to know that a Domino database exists, then s/he needs to gain permission to access that database, and further permission to add data to the database. A reader needs to know that the database exists, and needs to gain permission to access the database, and further permission to read the database. That's a lot of control that interferes with the flow of information. Frequently, the reader needs to become an editor or author, in order to correct mistakes in the document, or add more information. This means more administrivia to conquer, just to correct an error.

      This is where a Wiki has it's advantage. It can be built and configured in such a way as to provide the audit trail that corporations need, and even to impose editor/author restrictions based on authenticated userid, but doesn't carry the administrative or implementation weight of Domino and Notes.

      So that's the basis of the comparison. We use Notes as a very restricted Wiki.

      • Re:Notes vs. Wiki (Score:3, Informative)

        by Zebra_X (13249)
        So I am right - becuase notes and wiki only overlap on a small portion of functionality, and to say that Wiki will replace notes will never be an accurate statement. Unless of course one uses Notes *exclusivly* for information management, which is not the case.

        Wiki could replace the document management features of Notes but would never compete on the aforementioned purposes.

        Sounds like wiki would do a good job in competing with some knowledge management solutions.
  • Wiki (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Nom du Keyboard (633989) on Thursday October 28, 2004 @05:04PM (#10657661)
    Wiki...

    ...The future of /.?

  • by thpr (786837) on Thursday October 28, 2004 @05:04PM (#10657662)
    Let's face it: Notes has warts. What doesn't? However, I don't think the Wiki will kill Notes. A Wiki is a point solution to particular problems, and while it is probably the best adapted solution there, it can't kill off Notes. Will it take part of Notes business? sure! But there are reasons Notes will survive:

    (1) The wiki does not provide business process automation. Notes can be used to automatically forward items on to the "next responsible party" - it's a controlled, push mechanism. Can't be matched by a wiki.

    (2) The wiki does not provide e-mail or calendaring functions.

    (3) The wiki does not provide off-line capability. Notes provides an off-line capability that allows you to replicate data back into the database once you connect

    (4) Notes gives me the capability to set up my own private area (database) where I propose the security list, that resides on a server, without the intervention of an administrator or anyone technologically savvy. (Ours is called Database-oh-matic).

    Net: Notes lives!

  • I can only hope so! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ashp (2042) on Thursday October 28, 2004 @05:05PM (#10657672)
    I've recently started a new job, at a managed services company. I've started my own wiki, initially MoinMoin but now MediaWiki, and it's the most useful thing I've ever had for work.

    I've put into it everything I've discovered in the two months I've been there, and so has a coworker. Previously there was a lot of formal documentation, but it's hard to leverage in a rush.

    The wiki gets right to the heart of what we have to do on a daily basis, and is updated almost constantly to reflect a deeper understanding of the system and when things change, whereas formal documentation seems to be missed and skipped over.

    Thank god for Wikis.
  • Yuck (Score:5, Insightful)

    by blamanj (253811) on Thursday October 28, 2004 @05:07PM (#10657692)
    While replacing Notes with a standards-based environment is a step in the right direction, mark up in Wikiland really sucks.

    IMHO, the way to go is to combine the writableness of wikis with a reasonable WYSIWYG editor. The "do I use three brackets here or only two" issues with wikis are just too annoying.
    • Re:Yuck (Score:3, Insightful)

      by danila (69889)
      I don't understand why there still no way to edit Wikis in a frontend. It would be a perfect project for a Firefox extension - an integrated "RTF-like" editor that would allow you to click anywhere on the page (or ctrl+click, or press a hotkey and click) and start typing (of course, only on wikiservers. The frontend would then take care of actually generating the diff and sending it to the server for integration, as well as for locking, conflict resolution, etc. This would have a nice side effect of making
      • by Per Bothner (19354) <per@bothner.com> on Thursday October 28, 2004 @08:35PM (#10659251) Homepage
        In a world with lots of nice user-friendly WYSIWYG HTML editors, the idea of special "easy-to-use" Wiki markup is an anachronism. A Wiki page should be XHTML, and editing it should mean editing the XHTML. For most users, that editing would be done by a GUI HTML editor.

        The file format should be XHTML. Using XHTML rather than HTML allows using XML tools and easier "data mining". Using HTML/XHTML as the native file format means that you can view a snapshot of the actual source in any browser without a server, and edit it with any HTML editor.

        What is missing is nice integration of the tools: When I click Edit that should bring up my favorite HTML editor - which might be Emacs! When I save the HTML, the resulting HTML should be copied back to the server, which should validate it, convert the HTML to XHTML if needed, and then check the result into a version control system.

        When a server presents a page, it could do a little trivial munging, perhaps embedding the <body> inside a frame or add some CSS hooks, plus adjusting the <head> and top-level <html> to match site conventions.

    • Re:Yuck (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Polo (30659) *
      There's a Mac OS X wiki that does just that.

      It's called VoodooPad and information can be found:

      http://flyingmeat.com/voodoopad.html [flyingmeat.com]
  • by guidryp (702488) on Thursday October 28, 2004 @05:09PM (#10657705)
    I fought to get us onto wiki largely because we had no real source of work info that was easily accessible. So I started a wiki using Twiki. We use Twiki and I love it. Sure it could be better. But it does the job and fills a huge void for us.

    I started the Wiki in mid August it had 237 views. 1600 views in September and will probably crack 2000 views this month. Not bad for an internal work site that only 90 people know about.

    Wiki Rocks. I consider it Agile documentation.
    • And even better if your wiki have installed some way to put online editable diagrams, sometime a picture is better than 1000 words. I think exist that feature for i.e. TWiki. The wiki i use, Tikiwiki [tikiwiki.org], surely supports them, and gives collaboration to the diagrams level too.
  • Does Notes provide better CoverYourAss?
  • Wikis are fantastic for collaboratively building documents, and their potential in professional applications is great. But a wiki in isolation isn't enough, and building your collaborative system solely on a wiki is going to be an unpleasant experience, at least in points.

    Wikis are rotten for threaded conversations - stuff gets overwritten, moved around, refactored, deleted, and it can be horrible to follow a thread (essentially everyone has to follow a layout which indicated the thread structure). This

  • Wikis and life (Score:3, Interesting)

    by lpangelrob2 (721920) on Thursday October 28, 2004 @05:25PM (#10657850) Journal
    I've finally decided that Wikis, Message Boards, and static webpages all have a place, and have implemented it as such on my youth group's site.

    Wiki -- Anyone can edit it, the momentum of a site is increased because people come back and stuff to it. Not good for important, unchangeable stuff. MediaWiki allows protection on pages, but that's a lengthy process by design. Wiki syntax is confusing to newbies / people with "internet and e-mail" experience.

    Message Board -- The person posting is responsible for their own words. Admins can still delete content. People come back and participate in flamewars. :-) Not good for important, continuous topics (something that needs prescience over everything else) or if I want to refer someone to a certain topic -- you'll always have to hunt for it, instead of it being upfront like on a wiki or webpage.

    Webpage -- Static, I'm responsible for content (muhahaha). Simple. Wikis get confusing QUICKLY. Reliable, good for reference information that never changes. Boring unless you start using dynamic content, which is what wikis and forums are for.

  • by waldoj (8229) <waldo@jaquith.oELIOTrg minus poet> on Thursday October 28, 2004 @05:26PM (#10657868) Homepage Journal
    I've been blogging since '96. A website developer since '93. Developed LAMP websites since '99. A Linux user since '94. I'm no dope. My Slashdot UID is so low, people have offered to pay me for it.

    My geekdom established, I just don't get Wikis. Anybody can edit documents, the Wiki tracks changes, but somebody's in charge and can approve or roll back changes. Some sites use them for FAQs, and they suck. What else is there? What am I missing? What makes these things so damned special?

    I'm not agitating here -- I really don't get it, and I'm certain that I must just not be in possession of all the facts. Can somebody enlighten me?

    -Waldo Jaquith
    • I didn't used to "understand" wikis either.. but then we set one up in my dev group just to try to have some sort of collaborative place where we could all go and change/update/add and such to features, what is/isn't done yet... It is a pretty powerful tool for us that has helped us a ton organize and express our thoughts/ideas for the project we are working on.

      I'd never use one as a FAQ, or anything else like that, but as a collaboration tool they absolutely rock.
    • by lpangelrob2 (721920) on Thursday October 28, 2004 @06:15PM (#10658268) Journal
      So far I've used it to update a webpage when I only had browser access. I kind of like that. ;-)

      Theoretically, wikis are best used when everyone has a different piece of the pie and you're trying to put it all together. I know something about implementing module X; maybe another department knows something about implementing module Y; now we have to get X to talk to Y, here's what we know about both. It's meant to be a common repository, best used for things that change in a hurry. ("hurry" is entirely subjective -- three times a week might be fast)

      A message board works for this purpose, except it's chronological, which has its advantages and disadvantages. A regular website is too static and would be messier than a wiki.

      Of course, you can get creative with wikis... so far I'm trying to introduce it as an open-ended creative game, and a community journal that's admin-monitored.

      The wikipedia doesn't necessarily change all that much, but it benefits from all internet users being theoretically able to add their knowledge into the repository.

    • My Slashdot UID is so low, people have offered to pay me for it.


      Who are these people and can they pay via PayPal?
    • by Anonymous Coward
      "My Slashdot UID is so low, people have offered to pay me for it."

      My Karma is low, but nobody has offered me anything.

      Perhaps Slashdot should randomly reassign ID's so we don't have people trying to brag about how early in their career they started wasting time here.
  • by Elwood P Dowd (16933) <judgmentalist@gmail.com> on Thursday October 28, 2004 @05:33PM (#10657931) Journal
    MediaWiki rules over all wikis in terms of feature set. Well, MediaWiki & TWiki.

    They won't fly on Windows. Well, with Apache & Cygwin maybe. Just because you can do something doesn't mean you should.

    So we're left with, what, FlexWiki and OpenWiki. FlexWiki is exceedingly new & lacking in features, while OpenWiki is exceedingly old and lacking in attention.

    If FlexWiki ever gets 0.5% of the feature set of MediaWiki, then yes, Wikis may very well take over the world. 'Till then it'll just be for you Lunix hippies. I am so jealous.
  • Tomboy (Score:3, Interesting)

    by AT (21754) on Thursday October 28, 2004 @05:34PM (#10657935)
    Another interesting wiki-like application is Tomboy [beatniksoftware.com], which is essentially a personal wiki that runs locally.
  • by themoodykid (261964) on Thursday October 28, 2004 @05:35PM (#10657948) Journal

    Seriously, if you use Emacs and like to keep notes on variou things, such as work, do yourself a favour and grab Emacs Wiki Mode [emacswiki.org].

    It lets you set up a private Wiki, with each entry just a regular old text file. Honestly, I've spent a lot of time in the last decade coming up with my own record-keeping and note-taking tools and after I found out about Wiki, and especially Emacs Mode Wiki, I've never gone back to older techniques.

  • by shimmin (469139) on Thursday October 28, 2004 @05:59PM (#10658142) Journal
    In Soviet Russia, any wiki can freely edit you!
  • by shimmin (469139) on Thursday October 28, 2004 @06:12PM (#10658243) Journal
    Quickly developing documentation in an environment where a large number of users collectively know everything that needs to be known, but it is not exactly clear who knows what, and no single user knows exactly where to begin with documenting what they know. The wiki helps in this situation by (1) being a central depository of knowledge (2) directing creativity: you don't know what other people might find useful of your store of knowledge, but then someone else starts writing about it. (3) killing self-consciousness over style: the wiki is inherently inconsistent in style, without a clear starting point or index. This has its drawbacks, but also has the advantage that new contributions can be written without regard to the grand scheme of things. I think the wiki model is great in the size range where the user community is too large to efficiently shout across to the next cubicle to the answer for your question, but too small to cost-effectively document everything in some formal fashion.
  • 2 faces of wiki (Score:3, Informative)

    by dankelley (573611) on Thursday October 28, 2004 @06:38PM (#10658456)
    Multiple-pen Wiki. I once set up a wiki for colleagues to help me write a document. Seven colleagues, seven PhDs in science. Not one of them bothered trying to edit the text. Was it too difficult? Probably. I switched to a word-processor for similar documents, and now I can get revisions from my colleagues without difficulty. I left it the wiki up for a while as an experiment. When I looked again, someone had changed it into a porn site.

    Single-pen Wiki. Now I use a (media)wiki for taking notes on a course I'm developing. I want colleagues to be able to see the work, but I know they won't contribute, and I don't want the site spammed. Therefore, the site is password protected and I permit only registered users to edit, AND I protect most pages so that only I can edit them. The wiki is no more than a convenient interface that lets me edit the webpage easily. This system works very well.

    It may be that, in some cases, the most-discussed feature of wikis, the multiple-author ability, is not the most desirable feature.

    This thought takes nothing away from the wonderful wiki-based communities. WikiPedia, for example, is wonderful, a true demonstration of a new way of collaborating. This is a nail well-suited to the newly invented hammer.

  • Dammit! (Score:3, Funny)

    by eno2001 (527078) on Thursday October 28, 2004 @08:37PM (#10659265) Homepage Journal
    First you make me say "wiki". Then you make me say "Business Week" and all that comes out is "Business Wiki". Maybe you're right. Maybe we are headed for a Wiki world... ;P

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