History:Don's WikiDocs Concept

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Status: This Page is Glorious History!

The content of this page either is bit-rotted, or has lost its reason to exist due to some new features having been implemented in MusicBrainz, or maybe just described something that never made it in (or made it in a different way), or possibly is meant to store information and memories about our Glorious Past. We still keep this page to honor the brave editors who, during the prehistoric times (prehistoric for you, newcomer!), struggled hard to build a better present and dreamed of an even better future. We also keep it for archival purposes because possibly it still contains crazy thoughts and ideas that may be reused someday. If you're not into looking at either the past or the future, you should just disregard entirely this page content and look for an up to date documentation page elsewhere.

A WikiDocs Concept by DonRedman

Status: This page is superseded by the WikiDocsConcept. There might be some good ideas left in here. The rest is just a first (now historical) draft

This is a WikiDocsConcept, that tries to keep this wiki alive and not destroy anything here.


What is bad about this wiki?

  • The wiki is confusing to newcomers, because it is a network of pages which are all on the same level. Theadds only some slight sense of categorization, but not of hierarchy. People who are not accustomed to wikis can easily feel lost.
  • People can never be 100% sure that what they are reading is official. (They can, however, be 99% sure that it is correct).
  • Simple descriptions for MusicBrainz' features is mixed with detailed documentation and (even worse) discussion of these features. For unexperienced users this is too much.
  • There is a slight spamming problem.

What is good about this wiki?

  • It has a strong and responsible community that takes good care of the content. While you cannot be sure that the content is official, you can be very sure that it is correct. The docs on the MainSite, however, are only maintained by very few people, these are currently mostly outdated.
  • The content of the wiki follows closely the discussions on the MailingList. My impression is, that a culture is forming, where:
    • users look for information on the wiki,
    • if they cannot find it there, they ask on the MailingList,
    • then they add the answer to the wiki, where they would have looked for it.

My intention is to design a WikiDocs system that does not break with the good things but is a remedy to the bad ones.

The concept

I split this concept into a "sociological" and a "technical" part. I am very determined about the sociological part. I am not about the technical details of implementation.

Policy and Intended Dynamics

First, in order not to destroy the wiki dynamics, the wiki must remain intact. Removing pages from the wiki or even moving the most active WikiZens to be active in the WikiDocs can seriously destroy all the good things we currently have. Therefore, WikiDocs must be an add-on to the wiki not a replacement.

The add-on must be: official, structured, simple, and oriented to the needs of the unexperienced user.

I propose to have a set of pages on the MainSite, that is strictly hierarchical. A good starting point for such a hierarchy is the ProposedSiteMenu from jinxie's (?) SiteMenuArrangement. These pages should provide simple answers to the most important questions about MusicBrainz:

  • What is MusicBrainz? = About
  • What is currently going on? = News
  • What can I do with MusicBrainz? approx: Prpoducts/Tagger
  • Can I have information about <artist/album/track>? = Search / Browse Data
  • How can I add/edit/correct data? approx. Edit the Data
  • Uh, WTF? = Help

This can go into a bit more detail (e.g. second level in ProposedSiteMenu), but as soon as a certain level of detail is reached, the WikiDocs provide links to the wiki. IMO these links should still point to an uneditable mirror of the current wiki, not to the wiki itself. Somewhere this can say that you can edit the wiki, but not too prominently.

Most importantly, the pages on the main site do not replace wiki pages. This would take responsibility for keeping the info on MusicBrainz up to date from the wiki community. This must not happen, because it would destroy the dynamics of the wiki.

Instead the WikiDocs on the MainSite can be some kind of structured and simplified mirror or portal of the wiki. If the wiki community is aware that this mirroring is going on, then the WikiZens can point at information that should move over to the WikiDocs (e.g. by a WikiName like ThisShouldBeMadeOfficial). This way the only thing the WikiDocs editors need to do, is to review such proposed changes and move them over to the WikiDocs. For this to work nicely, both wikis need to use the same system (either both UseMod or both MoinMoin).

Technical Detals

Back End for WikiDocs

A wiki is never hierarchical. I am not sure how we can have a hierarchy in the WikiDocs but still use a wiki at the back-end. Apparently someone has already programmed a solution for this. At least the SiteMenu follows navigation on the MainSite.

The editors of WikiDocs must be very conscious to create and maintain an artificial hierarchy. There can be paths at the top and bottom of the pages like "home > about > history" (with links of course).

Thinking about it, I am not so sure, that a wiki is the best back-end for the system I proposed. Probably a simple and plain content management system is better suited for this purpose.

Dealing with Spam

OK, spam is a problem. But if content is moved to a closed Wiki because we fear spam, then we throw out the baby with the bath water. There are some discussions going on about WikiSpam. see chongqed.org and WikiSpamSolutions The Wiki (C2) for a start. There seem to be a few good solutions: