User Tools

Site Tools


previousconnecting useful knowledgenext

Some quick points on wiki development for knowledge commons


This is no more than a quick placeholder, recapping the two most essential points on which wikis are crying out for development, in order to serve for distributed knowledge commons.

For both the following points, develop a set of requirements, as a living standard, alongside implementing them for one particular kind of wiki software. This will mean that other wiki developments have a clear specification for upgrading their own software to play nicely with the others. Developing a reference implementation ensures that the requirements are able to be met without undue difficulty.

  1. Provide a dual editing window, as in HackMD and some other Markdown editors, to allow people to see both the (lightweight) markup and the final appearance at the same time. This is essential to help non-technical people easily edit pages. More recent MediaWiki installations allow WYSIWYG editing as well as wikitext, but these ideally should be presented in parallel. If this is not done, the “commons” would be restricted to the technically more competent, which is highly undesirable. This requirement is relevant to any wiki software, not just distributed ones. It can be done equally with any lightweight markup language or even directly with a subset of HTML.
  2. Perhaps the greatest other challenge is to provide easy linking and backlinking across different domains or installations. Essential features of wikis include:
    • the ease of linking to other wiki pages, in several wikis done with double square brackets enclosing the name of the page to be linked to;
    • the visual indication, done in several wikis by red coloured links, of pages that are wanted but not yet written;
    • the ability for immediate viewing of which other pages link to the current one — this proves vital when maintaining a wiki to avoid broken or misleading links when pages are changed, moved or deleted.

This last point, of showing backlinks from other places, is already implemented in some wordpress sites, so it cannot be too difficult to implement, in principle.

Each wiki installation will have a list of the other trusted wikis, with namespace links to the other ones. In this way, backlinks will be viewable in much the same way as for single installations.

As a result of these developments, the various different agencies or specialist groups will be able to create and govern their own wikis. The web already appears in a way to readers as a unified interrelated whole, but this development will allow that functional integration to appear for editors as well. This will immediately reduce any temptation to copy material, as it will be so easy to link to instead, and this in turn will reduce version control problems, that usually occur when one version of a resource is edited while the other ones are not updated to match. We need to give readers one authoritative version of any particular piece of knowledge, maintained by the people who are the best authorities in that particular field.

see also


d/2024-05-27.txt · Last modified: 2024-06-29 09:48 by simongrant