A new web authoring wiki?

Discussion in 'HTML' started by Stewart Gordon, May 22, 2006.

  1. Now that it seems decided that AllMyFaqs isn't going to be revived as a
    wiki, has anybody undertaken to start a new web authoring wiki? Or is
    anybody else thinking about it?

    We might be able to start something on Wikia (fka Wikicities) or a
    similar service. For that matter, I found this

    http://html.wikia.com

    however,
    - it seems abandoned
    - it seems intended to be an HTML reference, rather than an
    advice-sharing wiki as AMF was
    - it seems to be specifically an HTML wiki (except for an instance of
    somebody thinking CSS is HTML), while I'm envisioning something that
    could potentially cover all web languages and technologies, not to
    mention web design

    What I'm thinking of is something similar to AMF. Of course, we
    probably don't need such things as the Usenetiquette articles that were
    in AMF - while Usenetiquette is an important concept, it's off topic to
    the field of web authoring and design.

    What do people think?

    Stewart.
    Stewart Gordon, May 22, 2006
    #1
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  2. Stewart Gordon

    Toby Inkster Guest

    Stewart Gordon wrote:

    > Now that it seems decided that AllMyFaqs isn't going to be revived as a
    > wiki, has anybody undertaken to start a new web authoring wiki?


    http://allmyfaqs.net/

    (Read-only though.)

    > Of course, we probably don't need such things as the Usenetiquette
    > articles that were in AMF - while Usenetiquette is an important concept,
    > it's off topic to the field of web authoring and design.


    But it's arguably useless as a FAQ unless such topics are covered.

    --
    Toby A Inkster BSc (Hons) ARCS
    Contact Me ~ http://tobyinkster.co.uk/contact
    Toby Inkster, May 22, 2006
    #2
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  3. Stewart Gordon

    Toby Inkster Guest

    Stewart Gordon wrote:

    > We might be able to start something on Wikia (fka Wikicities) or a
    > similar service.


    After the lesson of AMF, I think we need to go better than a service
    hosted by some company somewhere which coule wind up at any time.

    We need to register a domain name, host it with an established company.
    Three or four people whould share the costs and each have a set of
    login details to give them access to make updates, take backups, etc.

    The host should be aware of this arrangement lest any one of the
    caretakers try to gain full control of the site. Any of the caretakers can
    choose to drop out of the arrangement at any time, in which case there
    could be a vote on alt.html for who would replace them, with each existing
    caretaker having one veto.

    The site could have some minimalist advertising (e.g. Google Adwords) to
    help cover its costs and reduce the financial burden on the caretakers.

    Whatsmore it might make sense to share the site with some of our cousins
    in comp.infosystems.www.authoring.*, comp.lang.php, alt.www.webmaster,
    etc, many of which are also lacking FAQs.

    --
    Toby A Inkster BSc (Hons) ARCS
    Contact Me ~ http://tobyinkster.co.uk/contact
    Toby Inkster, May 22, 2006
    #3
  4. Toby Inkster <> scripsit:

    > After the lesson of AMF, I think we need to go better than a service
    > hosted by some company somewhere which coule wind up at any time.


    After the lessons of Tom Boutell's web authoring FAQ (which was once the
    Great One, though mainly because it was the only one, then became very dusty
    before it was decently buried), WDG's web authoring FAQ (which became almost
    abandoned), and now AMF, I'm rather pessimistic about web authoring FAQs.
    Oh, I had some experience with irt.org's FAQs too, though mainly only with
    the JavaScript FAQ there, and irt.org seems to be virtually frozen now -
    they still have a huge number of questions and answers, though largely due
    to duplication, and often with _wrong_ (or outdated) answers.

    New FAQs are born, they grow and then degrade, since people who created them
    have to take some day job, or take their day job seriously, or they find
    other issues more interesting. In particular, when new people get the idea
    of contributing to the community via FAQs, they regularly start building a
    new one, instead of giving help to something that exist, or volunteering to
    take responsibility for them. (The wiki approach gives the illusion of
    shared responsibility, but as we know, shared responsibility means that
    nobody takes responsibility.)

    So I guess my advice is: if you wish to work on FAQs, find one that has
    chances of survival and reasonable existing content, and try to help with
    it. Building yet another one would probably result in something that becomes
    almost as good as some of the current dusty FAQs before you lose interest in
    it.
    Jukka K. Korpela, May 23, 2006
    #4
  5. Toby Inkster wrote:
    > Stewart Gordon wrote:
    >
    >> Now that it seems decided that AllMyFaqs isn't going to be revived as a
    >> wiki, has anybody undertaken to start a new web authoring wiki?

    >
    > http://allmyfaqs.net/
    >
    > (Read-only though.)


    What are you talking about?

    Do you have even a remote idea of the meaning of the word "wiki"?

    >> Of course, we probably don't need such things as the Usenetiquette
    >> articles that were in AMF - while Usenetiquette is an important concept,
    >> it's off topic to the field of web authoring and design.

    >
    > But it's arguably useless as a FAQ unless such topics are covered.


    Thinking about giving it FAQ status is a bridge that we can cross when
    we get a little nearer to it.

    Stewart.
    Stewart Gordon, May 23, 2006
    #5
  6. Jukka K. Korpela wrote:
    > Toby Inkster <> scripsit:
    >
    >> After the lesson of AMF, I think we need to go better than a service
    >> hosted by some company somewhere which coule wind up at any time.


    AIUI it was Jerry, rather than the hosting company, that wound up.
    Moreover, I'm inclined to think that a wiki hosted on an established
    wiki service is likely to survive longer than something privately hosted
    that may die any time if the creator abandons it.

    > After the lessons of Tom Boutell's web authoring FAQ (which was once the
    > Great One, though mainly because it was the only one, then became very
    > dusty before it was decently buried), WDG's web authoring FAQ (which
    > became almost abandoned), and now AMF, I'm rather pessimistic about web
    > authoring FAQs. Oh, I had some experience with irt.org's FAQs too,
    > though mainly only with the JavaScript FAQ there, and irt.org seems to
    > be virtually frozen now - they still have a huge number of questions and
    > answers, though largely due to duplication, and often with _wrong_ (or
    > outdated) answers.


    This thread is about wikis, rather than FAQs....

    OK, so it might have some of the essence of a FAQ. But it could just as
    well double as a FFTAQ (frequently forgotten-to-ask questions).

    > New FAQs are born, they grow and then degrade, since people who created
    > them have to take some day job, or take their day job seriously, or they
    > find other issues more interesting. In particular, when new people get
    > the idea of contributing to the community via FAQs, they regularly start
    > building a new one, instead of giving help to something that exist, or
    > volunteering to take responsibility for them.


    Good point. I guess one of the reasons that people start their own is
    that they want something that they have control of, rather than some
    site maintained by someone else which may or may not be still actively
    maintained, and to which their contributions may be rejected anyway. A
    wiki would suit some of these people, if they would like to contribute
    to a joint effort. Even if some of the time it has only one or two
    people actively maintaining it, which may change from time to time, then
    it's still better than a ghost site.

    > (The wiki approach gives
    > the illusion of shared responsibility, but as we know, shared
    > responsibility means that nobody takes responsibility.)


    Good point there. But just because nobody is taking responsibility
    doesn't mean that nobody is doing a good job of improving the content.

    > So I guess my advice is: if you wish to work on FAQs, find one that has
    > chances of survival and reasonable existing content, and try to help
    > with it.


    Having such a thing in wiki form would make doing this very easy indeed.

    > Building yet another one would probably result in something
    > that becomes almost as good as some of the current dusty FAQs before you
    > lose interest in it.


    That's true of privately maintained FAQs. Speaking of which, I set up

    http://smjg.port5.com/faqs/web/

    some time ago, and while it's indeed stale, I haven't given up on it - I
    just haven't dedicated much time to it over my other assorted projects.

    Indeed, a wiki could even bring together content from assorted dusty
    FAQs. Copyright permission permitting, of course.

    Stewart.
    Stewart Gordon, May 23, 2006
    #6
  7. Stewart Gordon

    David Segall Guest

    Stewart Gordon <> wrote:

    >Now that it seems decided that AllMyFaqs isn't going to be revived as a
    >wiki, has anybody undertaken to start a new web authoring wiki?

    I think that this would be tremendous waste of the time and talents of
    the major contributors to this group. There is more than enough
    information on the web and in text books about the routine aspects of
    web authoring. If someone posts here because they don't know what to
    look for or they are too lazy to look then another web authoring site
    won't help them. A beginner or a casual HTML user like me can usually
    answer their question.

    The experts should be encouraged to write essays on "xxx is harmful"
    such as <http://www.cs.tut.fi/~jkorpela/www/click.html> or some
    specialist aspect of the craft that interests them like
    <http://nrkn.com/backgroundWidth/>. The latter is extremely helpful if
    you need it and unlikely to appear in a general authoring Wiki.

    Unfortunately, the most frequently asked question in this group cannot
    be answered by a static web site. We need a site to which I could
    submit a document and it would tell me why it renders "correctly" in
    Internet Explorer but not in Firefox or Opera.
    David Segall, May 23, 2006
    #7
  8. Stewart Gordon <> scripsit:

    > This thread is about wikis, rather than FAQs....


    Well, this is Usenet. You ask a question, we write something related or
    unrelated. If it happens to answer your question, that's coincidental.

    FAQs would be important if they were real FAQs with right answers. There
    days, people don't read instructions, still less manuals. When they
    encounter a problem, they want problem-oriented information - and a list of
    frequently asked questions with correct answers, preferable organized in
    some user-friendly structure and a search function, is what people would
    like to use and would benefit from.

    Whatever you mean by wiki (some people think wiki is an encyclopedia, some
    think it's a discussion forum, etc.), it's something different. But since
    you mentioned the AllMyFAQs wiki, it was natural to expect that you had a
    FAQ-like wiki, or even a FAQ implemented as a wiki, in your mind. Such an
    approach sounds easy but it doesn't produce a real FAQ.

    > OK, so it might have some of the essence of a FAQ. But it could just
    > as well double as a FFTAQ (frequently forgotten-to-ask questions).


    It would undoubtedly become that too - just as many "FAQ pages" or even "FAQ
    sections" on web pages are just collections of biased answers to questions
    that the site owner would like his visitors to ask. Why would anyone read an
    FFTAQ? If you know you need to _study_ things, you read a tutorial, or a
    manual, or a book.

    >> Building yet another one would probably result in something
    >> that becomes almost as good as some of the current dusty FAQs before
    >> you lose interest in it.

    >
    > That's true of privately maintained FAQs.


    I have even less faith on unmaintained FAQs, which is what a wiki FAQ would
    be as far as you follow the original wiki principle "anyone can modify at
    will".

    --
    Yucca, http://www.cs.tut.fi/~jkorpela/
    Jukka K. Korpela, May 23, 2006
    #8
  9. David Segall wrote:
    > Stewart Gordon <> wrote:
    >
    >> Now that it seems decided that AllMyFaqs isn't going to be revived
    >> as a wiki, has anybody undertaken to start a new web authoring
    >> wiki?

    >
    > I think that this would be tremendous waste of the time and talents
    > of the major contributors to this group. There is more than enough
    > information on the web and in text books about the routine aspects of
    > web authoring. If someone posts here because they don't know what to
    > look for or they are too lazy to look then another web authoring
    > site won't help them. A beginner or a casual HTML user like me can
    > usually answer their question.


    http://allmyfaqs.net/

    AllMyFAQs is not:
    * a replacement for newsgroups

    Yet you seem to think that any new wiki would have to be a replacement
    for newsgroups and nothing more.

    Take a look at

    http://webtips.dan.info/

    Only a small handful of the pages deal with answering the kinds of
    questions that people might ask in a web authoring newsgroup. And it
    also goes into depth beyond that of the average HTML tutorial.

    OK, so that isn't a wiki, but there's no reason that people can't write
    articles for a wiki that are conceptually similar to these pieces. And
    wikis have been used many times over for a lot more than answering
    questions that are often asked on newsgroups. For some successful (so
    far) examples, see

    http://www.wikipedia.org/
    http://www.prowiki.org/wiki4d/wiki.cgi

    > The experts should be encouraged to write essays on "xxx is harmful"
    > such as <http://www.cs.tut.fi/~jkorpela/www/click.html> or some
    > specialist aspect of the craft that interests them like
    > <http://nrkn.com/backgroundWidth/>. The latter is extremely helpful
    > if you need it and unlikely to appear in a general authoring Wiki.


    Unless somebody adds it.

    > Unfortunately, the most frequently asked question in this group
    > cannot be answered by a static web site. We need a site to which I
    > could submit a document and it would tell me why it renders
    > "correctly" in Internet Explorer but not in Firefox or Opera.


    How about

    http://validator.w3.org/

    ? :)

    Stewart.
    Stewart Gordon, May 24, 2006
    #9
  10. Stewart Gordon

    David Segall Guest

    Stewart Gordon <> wrote:

    >David Segall wrote:
    >> Stewart Gordon <> wrote:
    >>
    >>> Now that it seems decided that AllMyFaqs isn't going to be revived
    >>> as a wiki, has anybody undertaken to start a new web authoring
    >>> wiki?

    >>
    >> I think that this would be tremendous waste of the time and talents
    >> of the major contributors to this group. There is more than enough
    >> information on the web and in text books about the routine aspects of
    >> web authoring. If someone posts here because they don't know what to
    >> look for or they are too lazy to look then another web authoring
    >> site won't help them. A beginner or a casual HTML user like me can
    >> usually answer their question.

    >
    >http://allmyfaqs.net/
    >
    >AllMyFAQs is not:
    >* a replacement for newsgroups
    >
    >Yet you seem to think that any new wiki would have to be a replacement
    >for newsgroups and nothing more.

    I did not intend to argue that. I feared that the extremely useful
    posters in this group might be distracted into writing yet another web
    site devoted to web authoring. As a consequence they might not be
    available to answer my questions :) or they might not produce a web
    page of their own that illuminates a tiny corner of the subject area
    that would otherwise remain in the dark.
    >Take a look at
    >
    >http://webtips.dan.info/
    >
    >Only a small handful of the pages deal with answering the kinds of
    >questions that people might ask in a web authoring newsgroup. And it
    >also goes into depth beyond that of the average HTML tutorial.

    Exactly. Almost all the information needed about web authoring is
    already available. Google does an adequate job of making the
    information accessible so there is no need for another web site on the
    subject.
    >
    >
    >> Unfortunately, the most frequently asked question in this group
    >> cannot be answered by a static web site. We need a site to which I
    >> could submit a document and it would tell me why it renders
    >> "correctly" in Internet Explorer but not in Firefox or Opera.

    >
    >How about
    >
    >http://validator.w3.org/
    >
    >? :)

    A necessary start but it would not solve the problem for most posters.
    David Segall, May 24, 2006
    #10
  11. David Segall wrote:
    > Stewart Gordon <> wrote:

    <snip>
    >> AllMyFAQs is not:
    >> * a replacement for newsgroups
    >>
    >> Yet you seem to think that any new wiki would have to be a replacement
    >> for newsgroups and nothing more.

    >
    > I did not intend to argue that. I feared that the extremely useful
    > posters in this group might be distracted into writing yet another web
    > site devoted to web authoring.


    In AMF's heyday, was this 'group really quiet? Not AFAICR.

    > As a consequence they might not be
    > available to answer my questions :) or they might not produce a web
    > page of their own that illuminates a tiny corner of the subject area
    > that would otherwise remain in the dark.


    How is the latter a consequence of having a wiki? Do you feel that
    private ownership of such a page is necessary for it to work? Why?

    >> Take a look at
    >>
    >> http://webtips.dan.info/
    >>
    >> Only a small handful of the pages deal with answering the kinds of
    >> questions that people might ask in a web authoring newsgroup. And it
    >> also goes into depth beyond that of the average HTML tutorial.

    >
    > Exactly. Almost all the information needed about web authoring is
    > already available. Google does an adequate job of making the
    > information accessible so there is no need for another web site on the
    > subject.

    <snip>

    You appear to be arguing on both sides on the fence. One one side
    you're claiming this, and on the other you seem to think that
    individuals should just continue to create their own websites about web
    authoring.

    Indeed, IMO a wiki could _reduce_ the number of new web authoring
    websites people create.

    Case in point: If the wiki idea goes ahead, then I may well migrate the
    web authoring section of my Unofficial FAQs site into it.

    Stewart.
    Stewart Gordon, May 25, 2006
    #11
  12. Stewart Gordon

    David Segall Guest

    Stewart Gordon <> wrote:

    >David Segall wrote:


    >> they might not produce a web
    >> page of their own that illuminates a tiny corner of the subject area
    >> that would otherwise remain in the dark.

    >
    >How is the latter a consequence of having a wiki? Do you feel that
    >private ownership of such a page is necessary for it to work? Why?

    Because people are willing to publish some unfinished or arcane
    information on their own web site. They would not submit it to a
    "public" site because that would imply that the author thought the
    work was polished and/or generally useful. I would still be waiting
    for Nick Coughlin to put the final touches to a page that I found
    extremely useful <http://nrkn.com/backgroundWidth/>. He quickly
    constructed the page in response a question I asked in this group. The
    world would never see a page on my web site
    <http://profectus.com.au/ee_cloudscape.html>. Don't bother to look at
    it; you _really_ won't be interested.
    >> Almost all the information needed about web authoring is
    >> already available. Google does an adequate job of making the
    >> information accessible so there is no need for another web site on the
    >> subject.

    >
    >You appear to be arguing on both sides on the fence. One one side
    >you're claiming this, and on the other you seem to think that
    >individuals should just continue to create their own websites about web
    >authoring.

    You asked contributors to this group to work on a new web site that I
    believe will merely replicate information that is already widely
    available. I think we are better served if they stick to writing the
    pages that they feel strongly about.
    >Indeed, IMO a wiki could _reduce_ the number of new web authoring
    >websites people create.
    >
    >Case in point: If the wiki idea goes ahead, then I may well migrate the
    >web authoring section of my Unofficial FAQs site into it.

    I resile. You have the idea, you have some content and a server so why
    not start it? My _only_ objection was to your desire to recruit some
    contributors from this group that I thought would be better employed
    elsewhere.
    David Segall, May 26, 2006
    #12
  13. David Segall wrote:
    > Stewart Gordon <> wrote:
    >
    >> David Segall wrote:

    >
    >>> they might not produce a web
    >>> page of their own that illuminates a tiny corner of the subject area
    >>> that would otherwise remain in the dark.

    >>
    >> How is the latter a consequence of having a wiki? Do you feel that
    >> private ownership of such a page is necessary for it to work? Why?

    >
    > Because people are willing to publish some unfinished or arcane
    > information on their own web site. They would not submit it to a
    > "public" site because that would imply that the author thought the
    > work was polished and/or generally useful.

    <snip>

    I'm not sure how you work that out. IMX, wikis attract a lot of
    under-construction or otherwise unpolished pages. Just look at
    Wikipedia, especially

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Special:Newpages

    for example.

    >>> Almost all the information needed about web authoring is
    >>> already available. Google does an adequate job of making the
    >>> information accessible so there is no need for another web site on the
    >>> subject.

    >> You appear to be arguing on both sides on the fence. One one side
    >> you're claiming this, and on the other you seem to think that
    >> individuals should just continue to create their own websites about web
    >> authoring.

    > You asked contributors to this group to work on a new web site that I
    > believe will merely replicate information that is already widely
    > available.


    I don't believe so.

    Firstly, look at

    http://smjg.port5.com/faqs/web/design/thisisthewww.html

    I have more ideas for this page. And I'll probably rewrite the first
    section of it soon. But anyway, can you find

    Secondly, as I started to say before, it might help to bring it
    together. That's a little more than replicating it.

    > I think we are better served if they stick to writing the
    > pages that they feel strongly about.


    If people want to write pages that they feel strongly about for the
    wiki, then all the better.

    <snip>
    > I resile. You have the idea, you have some content and a server so why
    > not start it? My _only_ objection was to your desire to recruit some
    > contributors from this group that I thought would be better employed
    > elsewhere.


    Where do you think I should look for contributors?

    Stewart.
    Stewart Gordon, May 30, 2006
    #13
  14. David Segall wrote:
    > Stewart Gordon <> wrote:
    >
    >> David Segall wrote:

    >
    >>> they might not produce a web
    >>> page of their own that illuminates a tiny corner of the subject area
    >>> that would otherwise remain in the dark.

    >>
    >> How is the latter a consequence of having a wiki? Do you feel that
    >> private ownership of such a page is necessary for it to work? Why?

    >
    > Because people are willing to publish some unfinished or arcane
    > information on their own web site. They would not submit it to a
    > "public" site because that would imply that the author thought the
    > work was polished and/or generally useful.

    <snip>

    I'm not sure how you work that out. IMX, wikis attract a lot of
    under-construction or otherwise unpolished pages. Just look at
    Wikipedia, especially

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Special:Newpages

    for example.

    >>> Almost all the information needed about web authoring is
    >>> already available. Google does an adequate job of making the
    >>> information accessible so there is no need for another web site on the
    >>> subject.

    >> You appear to be arguing on both sides on the fence. One one side
    >> you're claiming this, and on the other you seem to think that
    >> individuals should just continue to create their own websites about web
    >> authoring.

    > You asked contributors to this group to work on a new web site that I
    > believe will merely replicate information that is already widely
    > available.


    I don't believe so.

    Firstly, look at

    http://smjg.port5.com/faqs/web/design/thisisthewww.html

    I have more ideas for this page. And I'll probably rewrite the first
    section of it soon. But anyway, can you find a better source on the
    topic that this covers?

    Secondly, as I started to say before, it might help to bring it
    together. That's a little more than replicating it.

    > I think we are better served if they stick to writing the
    > pages that they feel strongly about.


    If people want to write pages that they feel strongly about for the
    wiki, then all the better.

    <snip>
    > I resile. You have the idea, you have some content and a server so why
    > not start it? My _only_ objection was to your desire to recruit some
    > contributors from this group that I thought would be better employed
    > elsewhere.


    Where do you think I should look for contributors?

    Stewart.
    Stewart Gordon, May 30, 2006
    #14
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