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Wiki: Wiki input

<JK date=19/05/2003> The usefullness of Wiki as an information channel is somewhat limited for these reasons:

You cannot adequately keep track of changes: you go to the RecentChanges page and see that AlphaTcl has changed --- great, so what has changed? You are supposed to read the entire page to find out...

Do people just append to the bottom? or prepend to the top? Anyway, they seem rarely to be clear about delimiting their contribution from the previously existing text...

It would be nice to have some sort of diff utility: you could compare the present version with the previous --- or better still: specify a date and only see what has been added since that date... Clearly there is no easy way to provide such facilities... Could you get an email notification when something changes on your favourite specified page? Well, then it would be almost as useful as a mailing list --- another interesting form of collaborative editing...

I think wiki would be much more useful if people signed and dated their contributions. The date tag would be very useful for the above reasons. The signature would be very useful to judge the relevance of the content --- and so would the date! For example: you read somewhere that Alpha can't yet do this-or-that --- you read this on AlphaTcl Wiki, the official site of Alpha! --- without knowing if this was written in 1999 or in 2003. You read somewhere that Alpha7.5 is the only stable version for MacOSX... It would be sort of nice to know if this is a statement made by someone in the Cabal, or by someone else, etc.

Of course it severely cripples your freedom to do what your want that others can see what you are doing, but I am convinced that the value of AlphaTcl Wiki as an information channel would increase immensely with some author tags.

Do as you please, but if you judge your contribution of any importance I urge you to sign it in some way... </JK>

<cbu date=19/05/2003>

I agree with some of the above -- particularly when some of the information is likely to be dated (use of the term 'currently' comes to mind here) it is useful to put that sort of comment in context. In many cases, the 'Last Saved' date that appears at the bottom of the page provides enough of a clue for you, and in general you can assume that all of the information was current as of that date. If anything seems questionable, feel free to add a paranthetical comment asking if this content does indeed reflect the most current information, or ask on one of the mailing lists if the wiki page with the url is up to date or not.

Wiki pages, or at least those on this site, seem to fall into the following categories:

  1. basic information/terminology
  2. preliminary/auxiliary help files
  3. collections of links to additional resources
  4. discussion forums

For example the AlphaTcl page is in the first category, and while it might be updated on occasion it doesn't really matter who is doing what or when. Something like the NotesForMacOSXUsers is in the second category. We could include this information in an installed help file, but since it concerns items that are in development and will change as bugs are reported and/or fixed, anything of this nature distributed with Alpha will be guaranteed to be out of date within two days of its release.

I see the need for annotating comments mostly in pages related to category (4), and there does seem to be some sort of loose convention for this, as in [Electric Menu Ideas] and [Contextual Menu Items and Ideas].

I would suggest adding some sort of editing 'etiquette' section to the WelcomeVisitors page, with suggestions for including names/acronyms to discussion pages.

As far as the 'diff' utilities are concerned, that is really a matter of the particular wiki installation in place. Yes, I agree that it would be useful at times, but I'm not sure that it is necessary to address your concerns.

At the moment, you really just need to bookmark the RecentChanges page and check it once every week or so to see if something has changed, as e-mail notification is currently not implemented. (I'm assuming here that is mainly pages in category (4) that you would be most interested in, and I agree that those should include names and dates for new discussion entries, making it easier to see what the new content is.) If you know of some other wiki sites that do implement some of these suggestions, you could include links to them here and perhaps our wiki maintainers could take a look at them to see if some of those features could be applied here.

btw, all of the initial content in the NotesForMacOSXUsers page was created by me. Most of it is just factual information concerning some of the problems that have been reported by users in the mailing lists and in bugzilla. The conclusion that Alpha 7.5 is the only known stable version is my opinion, drawn from the preceding comments. Note that I was pretty careful in my use of the term stable -- all of the other products are usable, but come with their own peculiar set of limitations. The level of risk that a user is willing to take is a personal matter, and I created that page to help them make a more informed decision.


das 22/05/03: as far as diff goes, we currently have a comparison available to the last editied version, via the date/time link in the Updated on ... line of every page footer. More sophisticated versioning is available in more recent versions of wikit, I'm planning to upgrade at some point but haven't found the time so far.

Signing: I have been signing wiki pages that I've started & edited from the get go with das time at the bottom, and indeed others should do the same if they start new pages/edit other people's pages, this is also the convention adopted on the tcl'ers wiki.


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