- wiki provides a core knowledge of information that is uncensored by powerful commercial or governmental organizations. Wiki participants are intelligent people who will verify the information they are receiving. People who distrust wikis have not thought through the consequences. For every saboteur bullshit artist, there are two angels who would repair the damage.
- Any and all information can be deleted by anyone. Wiki pages represent nothing but discussion and consensus because it's much easier to delete flames, spam and trivia than to indulge them. What remains is naturally and mostly meaningful.
- wiki is not wysiwyg. It's an intelligence test of sorts to be able to edit a wiki page. It's not rocket science, but it doesn't appeal to the TV watchers. If it doesn't appeal, they don't participate, which leaves those of us who read and write to get on with rational discourse.
- wiki is far from real time. Folks have time to think, often days or weeks, before they follow up some wiki page. So what people write is often well-considered.
- wiki participants are, by nature, a pedantic, ornery, and unreasonable bunch. So there's a camaraderie here we seldom see outside of our professional contacts.
See http://www.c2.com/cgi/wiki?WhyWikiWorks for more.
Certainly, these arguments, if they can be so called, do seem a bit hostile - I might even call them elitist. I am an enthusiastic wiki advocate, but certainly there is no need to confuse such enthusiasm with a vehement denunciation of those who feel less secure, or perhaps feel more paranoid, about the security of factual information. Certainly we can simply say, "Yes, if you're worried for the safety of information, you really should verify it yourself -- Heck, if you're that worried, why not just post a disclaimer at the top of the page expressing that concern!" Wiki's work because nobody, not even the cranks, are left out, and because most of the people most of the time are competent enough to notice and correct the cranks' malfeasance. (It might also be noted that this is why non-computerized life keeps "working" most of the time). --c.b.e.o'k
So that's it - insecure, indiscriminate, user-hostile, slow, and full of difficult, nit-picking people. Any other online community would count each of these strengths as a terrible flaw. Perhaps wiki works because the other online communities don't. --PeterMerel
I think Wiki is weird and prone to sabotage. It presently works, because it's not well known and no one really cares. But try implementing Wiki on a Yahoo-level site--it would be total chaos! (anonymous Wiki opponent). Then again, look at Wikipedia ... it's bigger than Yahoo in my opinion, and it's working well ...
I don't think it's slow.. maybe some of the complex ones which run off databases and try to do too much? --LarsOlson
Your change was 4 minutes old when I saw it. If it had been real sabotage, I would have removed it. -- ThomasWaldmann 2002-03-22 09:56:53
When you said "Yahoo-level site"... you mean like the Wikipedia? It seems to me to run smooth...
I agree with anonymous, if I wished, I could have deleted this whole page. Perhaps a user base system with logins would make more sense.
Anonymous -- how much traffic do you suppose wikipedia.org gets on a daily basis? It maybe not be quite yahoo level, but it's certainly not chaos either. But yes, some pages have been locked after repeated vandalism. Having an administration team is still nice on a wiki. Also, if you did delete the whole page I could look at the history, and reload a version before you erased the text. -- Bob/Paul
I've had things like the Thinki FrontPage wiped out in the middle of summer, and then restored to its old self by some anonymous friend. So far, I deny access to a handful of ip-addresses, because they have deliberately messed things up. That seems to work. The amount of useful additions outweigh the work to fix vandalism. And the fact that it's easy to contribute is important.
With MoinMoin it is ok. Some versions like OpenWiki and Ward's Wiki only keep a couple of recent versions and then recovering stuff is very hard. I am still trying to recover some of the syndicate lists on the former overwritten with spam. You need a pretty plugged in community if you depend on them to recover rapidly-- AndrewCates
What if Wiki software added the following capability - kept track of changes by ip, and if it found that changes by someone from a certain ip were reversed on a regular basis by multiple other ip address users, it would end up automatically black listing the ip user who gets reversed a lot - this would also seem to fit in the wiki spirit
Before I turned on text captchas on my wiki, I had to revert a lot of spam manually. It was the rare exception, not the norm, for spam to come from the same IP address twice. More often, similar-looking spam came from several very different IP addresses, about once every hour or two, overwriting the same page. IP blocking would have done nothing, although I did block some IPs at the firewall level if they fell into the "rare exception" category. -- greycat, http://wooledge.org/mywiki/
If you click on the "info" icon, you can access any old revision of this page. So even wiping a page does no permanent damage as one can easily restore an undamaged older revision. -- ThomasWaldmann 2002-05-12 10:19:54
- There's a Denial Of Service waiting to happen. Just keep submitting changes to a page and one of two terrible things may happen: disk fills up, or revision depth is exceeded and original work is lost.
You will quite likely end up on a IP or content blacklist before the disk fills up. BTW, there is no such thing as a revision depth, so nothing will get lost. -- ThomasWaldmann 2005-05-10 20:39:40
'Quite Likely'? ~ Not definitley. This is a valid method of attack and very simple to execute. Hoping the perpetrator is automagically caught doesn't leave me feeling very secure. - A Wiki Administrator
We use Wiki on an internal site at work that is for documentation - the precise qualities of Wiki make it very well suited for this purpose - it's editable by anyone, at any time, for any reason. There is a revision history of all of the pages in the web. As for the concept of user accountability - we require login to edit, but logins are open to anyone..... - JonStanley
Firstly, Wiki is not meant for Yahoo! level sites. It is just for people to put in their thoughts. Somebody wants to delete the whole site, that is his thought. - general_failure
Maybe but the defences at Wikipedia (which is more than one million pages) seem to work well on vandalism and spam. Defences against claptrap are another matter --AndrewCates
Which brings me to my particular interest. As an educator there are some exciting applications for WIKI. However, shortcomings obvious to adults might be difficult for students to recognize. The "trolls and boneheaded idiots" can come off as the "experts" to a young mind....middle school teacher
My english teacher told us that we could not use any thing that comes from wikipeida as a referance. Claiming we needed more Reliable Sources. - r00m23
That's what the Big problem with public wiki's is, for me at least - people are very trusting. It's a natural tendency of most people to be quite trusting of authoratative sounding statements - even when they are made without any evidence or are actually someone's opinion stated as a fact. This is not a problem with popular/well known subjects - someone will come along to add the other point of view - but with more specilist and less well known areas, anyone can become an instant expert and not have anyone to contradict them.
I'd like to say that was just a matter of educating people to not take things at face value all the time, but that's just people
In many ways, wikipedia is like a Centralized Version Control System, open for anyone... its problems are easily deductible from there. Its a mess and of very low quality in many/most articles. I you don't beleive, try editing stuff in heated articles. Trolls and boneheaded idiots with plenty of time available abound and they get particularly passionate and irrational about their beliefs. To me the soulution is making it a Descentralized version Control System, and the WIKIPEDIA repo being democratically managed (it encourages cooperation for those who can cooperate, because the most comprehensive article would probably be selected, and it encourages addressing criticism and sharp edges because in other versions they might be pointed out and thus will make your article look stupid unneededly, like "why it is important to address holocaust denial besides silencing it"). Maybe developing mechanisms for users polling on a per article basis to implement this mode, with regular polling for new versions (or opening up again) would be the way to push change where needed, when needed, and as non disruptively as possible.--Anonymous User
The shortcomings of Usenet are obvious, and thereby the need for a new collaboration paradigm is equally obvious.. but we still need hierarchal-like organization (or perhaps something better?), and rather than the ridiculous prospect that any idiot can come by and destroy stuff for kicks (be it reversible or not) what is needed is a simple authentication method, not blocking IP?s or Browsers, but user accounts, and if the user has the motivation necessary to create a new account so that s/he can destroy something again, then s/he?ll be blocked again. What?s important is that the process cannot be automated; people who get their kicks from doing stupid crap like that wouldn?t think it was fun if they had to come-up with a new username/password every time they did it.
I think that if you really believe what is just above then you missed (almost) the whole point (I know this is provocative but read this):
- it's written: "but we still need hierarchal-like organization", I don't see any argument here, for me this is just cultural background.
- it's written: "the ridiculous prospect that any idiot can come by and destroy stuff for kicks", once more, this is just a mind view, this is what we (all ?) believed at the beginning of wiki, but what we (almost) never see. Experience is sometimes different than "theory" :o)
- it's written: "what is needed is a simple authentication method", any authentication method can be broken, one of the best solution (like in wikipedia) is: login if you want. But I don't think this is really important as soon as you can get someone else's identity, there is a risk. If someone blocks my account, I will create a new one or take someone's account. Just because people who should be banned are not banned and respected, there is a cultural training. For me the process described above of "new account / block again" is the tragic initial mistake of the repression model. The consequences are more often new sabotage than comprehension. And the last sentence is really wrong, the more you ban someone, the more the will he'll have to come back and create more important damages.
- I agree that login does not solve everything. (I keep seeing wiki compared to a "yahoo size"...so here we go.) I have this one program(thier are many like it.) that can automate the new account making process. I can do about one every 30 sec. It is that slow only becouse yahoo requires you to enter in some letters and numbers that show up in a picture. Many accounts are needed to do such things as kicking other users out of the system by sending them hundereds of msgs. I have made over 300 accounts(called bots.). Creating an account maker is not hard and can be done for almost any website. - R00m23
- . IP banning has been proven to help in some cases. (As seen here in this wiki, but also in many places online.)However, its not flawless. When Im working in a yahoo system I will go through proxys and assume thier IP address as mine. If I get block, just switch to a differant proxy. Also consider that thier are many publicly accessed internet connections were the users IP address does not follow them. This could be a problem to a user who is denied access simple becouse some one else(could even be a hacker) did the worng thing.- R00m23
But anyway this is very instructive. The most powerful "proof" for me is what is written at the beginning by someone: "I agree with anonymous, if I wished, I could have deleted this whole page." but this never happened (except for an experiment like you can read later on that page) :o) For me the wiki power is the freedom power. If you give someone more freedom, there is a big chance that he will appreciate it and be thankful. If you give someone less freedom, there is a big chance that he will try to get more freedom by all means (usually by infringing "laws").
- Interesting... this is 2006, and some of these same issues are still not resolved. But, Wikis continue to grow stronger... Jan 20, 2006
- In regards to the shortcommings of Usenet, I believe that Wiki has these as well, which is lack of connection (or investment, call it what you want). My experience of Wikis today is similar to my experience of Usenet in its early days. The signal / noise ratio was very high, just as on Wikis today. When a person with some special charter and _lack of connection_ to the Wiki come around, he may use that "media space" to press his charter, whatever that is. Something which those connected to the wiki will perceive as noise (it's got nothing to do with what's discussed).
As long as there are more active signal suppliers than noise suppliers, we will see the wonderful results we see here today. However, when todays mail and usenet spammers become aware of the "media space" and audience available on wikis, there will be tools for automatically introducing noise on wikis all over the web, and people actively promoting something other than what a particular wiki was intended for.
Until then we will have fun. After that, we'll probably manage to come up with something that gives us the ability to have some more fun.
Personally, I believe that the distributed key signing architechture of PGP/GnuPG will be a tight fit for this task. A page change that is unsigned will be anonymous, and will be "accepted" by someone who reads it and signs it. If you want your changes to stand for them selves, you will have to get your key signed by someone who is accepted. If your key is signed by someone who is misusing their privilege (signing spammers keys repeatedly), they will become "untrusted", and you will have to get your key signed by others in the community. In short, a formalization of trust.
While browsing the wiki, you will have the option to read only the latest signed revision of a page.
Regards, Per Gunnar Hansø.
- I guess a constant supervising is very needed in any Wiki site... If not, I think a Wiki site would kill itself pretty easily... Brrrrrlbllb.... I don't know..... - ceefour
I think that the Wiki is a good forum and given the way in which the page is changed, people are inclined to change it in ways that are non-destructive -Jason
"Opponents" to Wiki's always amaze me. It's the greatest example of fear of freedom. "You mean, anyone can do whatever they want!? NO, I'm opposed to it!" Fear of the unknown. Fear that an unsupervised, uncontrolled system can actually work. Fear of loss of control. Reminds me of the cries we are hearing from the RIAA with regard to sharing.
Your note reminds me so much of Monty Python's "Life of Brian":
(Brian)-"You are all individuals!" (crowd)-"We are all individuals!" (Brian)-"You have to be different!" (crowd)-"Yes, we are all different!" (loner)-"I'm not."
(This is my first encounter of Wiki, and within a minutes of reading this page, I edited some grammar, snuck in a couple of winks, and gave the above comment. BTW, found about wiki via the comedi project...) IamSil
- Don't forget my favorite... Brian: You have to work it out for yourselves! Crowd: Yes, we have to work it out for ourselves... Tell us more!
They're not saying they're opposed--only that they think such attempts are doomed to failure. I'm fascinated by the concept of anarchism, and the idea of a wiki, but looking at a site like Metababy--an HTML wiki, with a bug that allows one to completely delete pages--gives me pause.
Yuck! I had a look at Metababy, and really regretted the experience. Looks like wiki could become just another way for sickos to get their kicks.
Wasn't it de Tocqueville who said something like, "America is great because its people are good. If its people cease to be good, it will cease to be great"? A community prospers or fails by the acts of its constituents. If a wiki can be sabotaged by one bad actor, what chance can it have?
I can't help but add that wikis are doomed to fail at some point. The philosophy they use is anarchy. In a anarchy society there are no balances or checks, so the system continues to grow in whatever direction those that steal power more than others choose, as in every system someone always has more power than another, and someone always finds a way to steal it for themselves. On wikipedia these are admins, in our society these are governments and corporations, as you must remember our own society developed from anarchy, and those of power will always promote anarchy, using the word freedom, but real freedom can only be defended and faught for someone else, not yourself. This is what gives it its power, as convincing a man to trade his freedom for something else is easy, but convincing every man to trade his morals, ethics, character, honor, respect, duty, and loyality, is like trying to buy the earth. Just try voicing your truth, as all truth is relative, on wikipedia, if admins don't agree, your voice is no longer heard, all under a supposition/deception of rules, laws, or policy. There is descrimination, towards those that differ from status quo of those in power, identical to actual society, yet not recompence or due process protects those that fall victim. This will soon come to a head with all wikis becoming facist, authoritative, bully mongering systems, that are to large to replace. This is why the GPL and is philosophy is will turn out to be true and righteous, as it enforces each others user's rights, with a system in place to protect those rights, in perpetuity. --Anonymous--
A Deliberate Sabotage
This page deliberately sabotaged... with the best of intentions.
On the original version of the page an opponent of Wiki claimed if I wished I could have deleted this whole page. However Wikis survive such things because, I suppose, people who care about a page restore them. Since there are old established Wikis out there, and they dont get trashed, I assume it works.
So I have deleted the whole of the WhyWikiWorks page and replaced it with this test. My guess is that the old page will be restored reasonably promptly. If not I will restore the old page myself in a day or two. Either way I will report on whether the test worked.
NickHollingsworth 08 Jul 2002.
I have restored the original content of this page on the same day on which it was sabotaged. I had never used a Wiki before, I was just curious about this concept and wanted to know WhyWikiWorks. The challenge above immediately made me want to prove that such a sabotage would not succeed. I quickly learned how to view a diff and how to restore the page's previous content. However, I do not know how I would have reacted had I been confronted with a real, malicious sabotage. Perhaps I would not have looked further into Wiki, convinced on my first visit that it does not work.
FelixBreuer 08 Jul 2002
- A different result from the one that I expected! I had noticed that at least one person was subscribed to the page and thought they would see the change and replace the original. Instead a passerby replaces it. Same outcome I guess; and a lot sooner than I was expecting.
NickHollingsworth 08 Jul 2002.
Wiki's strength is just an issue of balance. The balance of good and bad. Currently, the bad ones are too few to constantly destroy the things built by the good ones. Hence, as long as the good ones represent the majority of the population Wikis will live. A Wiki turns the balance towards the constructive people, giving them the means to overcome the destructive people by sheer speed of the reconstruction of torn down infra- structure. - firstname.lastname@example.org 15 Sep 2002 (It's just like Star Wars except with Jedi Gnomes.)
Destructive actions against a wiki are like kids with spraycans tagging your fence. They get the most reward if the tag stays there a while. If you clean it the very next day, they are less likely to bother doing it again. While this psychology protects a wiki from individuals and small groups, there is the possibility that large gangs could take turns keeping a site in disrepair - but its the sort of thing that once you've got your kicks it could easily turn boring. However, a wiki is probably best for consensus information. Running one as a minority on a generally unpoplular topic would be lot harder. --Ben Coman, Perth Western Australia, 16 Sept 2004 - hey, it seems this comment is exactly two years after the one below. Another strength of wiki?
I like Wikis because they remind me of Hypercard. I have a personal wiki running on my Laptop, and a Group Wiki on our Intranet, and there are even Open Wikis like this one. All in all they can be quite useful - and who said that you can replace everything else with it??? -- HeyHey 16 Sept 2002
- Talking about hypercard and information organization, I wanted to add - I used to use a program called "info-select" for managing my information. It had a very convenient interface. But it was very difficult to share.
Since moving over to Linux, I started using Jedit. Now that's my information organization program - I just arrange things in files and use jedit's searching facilities and macros/shortcuts/plugins to find the info I need.
I also started writing Docbook. Jedit and Docbook both have moin pages. And the real cool synergy comes from a couple of places - first, the ability edit pages directly inside Jedit thanks to the moinmoin plugin. Very cool. I just started running my own moin and I am kicking myself for not doing it sooner! The possibilities for information organization and sharing are endless.
But now, I'm using moin to plugin non-editable content. I have a book I am writing which I plan to publish. I want to make the content available inside the wiki and allow people to make comments. I embedded the generated HTML from a docbook inside a moin page by writing just a few lines of python code in a macro. You can add comments below the macro, but you can't touch the book.
Moin is not just editable pages - it's an OO framework for building webapps too. Very flexible if you know python.
I like Wikis too, even though I heard about it yesterday for the first time - but what about the dangers? Anybody who reaches this site could change my ((and your) and yours too!) texts, nobody can be sure if he/she(or it!) wouldn?t be traduced by changing his/her text, for example into something racist...
I think I wouldn?t start up my own public Wiki, but I think I?ll visit some Wikis in the future. Greetz from Berlin/Germany -- Oli 16 Sept 2002
- Well, I am just a day old in wiki .. I dont think there are too many people who really want to sabotage this concept .. after all we live in a free world with all kinds of people around .. look at our sysadmin .. there is always a good for bad .. tit for tat kind of thing .. if someone deletes this page , he would restore it and the sabotage will be unsuccessful .. long live wiki =)
I am completely fascinated by the Wiki...
- I love Wiki, but one thing that has struck my mind: what if someone decides to edit the front page and insert some horribly gross illegal porn picture or whatever? Sure, it will be deleted as soon as someone comes along, but in the case of a smaller Wiki, this can be hours, and during those hours random people can come by and visit, be offended and never visit that site again. I think the answer this though: If the Wiki is big, it will be removed within seconds/minutes; if the wiki is small, sabotagers will not care. Or something. --SimonK?gedal
Yes. It can take some hours if you have a very small, not often visited wiki. But then it won't be seen by many users anyway (it is not often visited ). If you have a well-known wiki that is often visited, it will only last some minutes and won't be seen by much people, too. So it is a bit annoying but not a big problem anyway. You also may put the FrontPage into read-only mode, because that page needs not to be changed often, but is the most inviting one for various idiots doing dumb stuff. -- ThomasWaldmann 2002-12-01 11:44:15
This wiki thingy is absolutely incredible. Totally configurable, conveniently editable, and completely based on the honor system. It's an intr-a-net's best friend.
= LONG LIVE WIKI = -- JimmyMiller 2003-01-06 17:03:00 .
Thoroughly confused by WikiWikiWeb stuff. Very haphazard navigation, no centralised focal point. No wonder it works so well. It's like some kind of nerdish cult. Only smart types will get involved and so you don't get the people who want to sabotage it. However, the integrity of what people say can be questioned. Someone could just as easily come in here and edit my words,***oooh I almost did, but I think I'll settle for a deranged digression: really, maybe the wiki just challenges the ego concept of words. I mean, they certainly aren't mine anymore, now that they are yours (or yours). This wiki stuff rocks. Now back to your regularly scheduled broadcast (now was that so bad? and really, how much of what we (i you) say and write is really holy enough to worry to much that it might get edited or even mangled?)*** negate my statements with a single word and I'll be none the wiser. I couldn't be bothered to put back what had been erased or ruined. I'd just leave it and do something else. Perhaps I would eat beef stroganoff. Perhaps I would take up the trombone. Perhaps I would write that single word on a single sheet of paper, take the paper out into a green field alone, and contemplate the idea of the internet. Perhaps I did not even write this sentence, or paragraph, but then... who or what am "I" after all, in a place such as this?
Tried just this sort of thing at school with a wordpad file left open on the screen. People just added stuff to it all day. Then the saboteurs entered and started paki-bashing a friend of mine so they took it off. Didn't work.
- Make it easier, make it auditable, give it some integrity. Nice idea needs more work.
Wordpad has no memory. Wordpad has no community. Wordpad has no revert. Wordpad is not wiki.
- The user was conducting an experament in his local envirenment. True its not wiki, but imagin spending hours working on a home work assinement,, then going to get a quick snack and coming back to see people had edited what you wrote.(Even worse is if you don't know that they changed any thing.) What if they added a cuss word or two hear and thier. A good soltion is to save. In comparison wiki is kind of(meaing, not all like, but simler) like a text file sitting open waiting for people to change. A good soltion might be to save(aka, an old copy reverted should it be entirly delted.) - r00m23
. Um, Wiki is meant to be "haphazard" so that it becomes self-organizing. I doubt it could be made much easier; it is auditable (by the community that cares about it); and it has self integrity (much like us, in fact!). The idea is one that is already reduced to its simplest, optimum format. There is no more work to be done on it. If you dont understand this you haven't ever tried the real thing. MeDerek.
- The user is saying that the experament needs to be easyer.(MOre like wiki.) Wordpad needs to be more auditable.(Perhapes if you could view the screen of the test computer, from a computer farther away.).
- Wiki relies on the users or 'passers-by' it works great in websites with numerous users however on small 'never heard of' sites it would not work. But still on Yahoo! howeaver it would not work either because everybody would think someone else would do it. Wiki works well where the conditions are good but perishes where the conditions are bad.
P.S I just think Wiki is amazing, how it secures itself while being so open.
As it turns out, smaller wiki communities tend to have less vandalismanyway, as less people are aware of them. Also, smaller wikis tend tohave larger percentages of active participants, so the first activeparticipant to find the vandalism generally isn't that far away. -- LeeDavisThalbourne
- Not stated among the arguments for and against wiki is the obvious: that you can easily secure wiki behind an intranet, and that is where wiki excels, among a contained, gated community, where trust is implicit and granted on the basis of all individuals being known to the community. There are secured wikis on the Net as well. They don't provide complete security against vandalism, yet the rollback and versioning/difference capabilities of some of these wikis is reason enough to pay attention to wiki as an important collaborative content tool.
I just installed moin^2 yesterday on our company intranet server (debian) and already people are using it. Needless to say, they're all technically minded so they know how to behave. I must say, I'm just blown away with the idea, although I have been wanting to look at wikis for ages. It just never occured to me that anyone could edit the pages, so I never got the idea of wiki-communities. It's great, I love it, and now maybe I'll have to work some :-).
- Fascinating...I'd heard of Wiki on and off but was too busy to investigate. Looking up the Aqsis renderer's online docs, I got a link to here. I'm intrigued. Re. Wordpad, above, I submit that part of the problem may be that Wordpad is too non-geeky. The prevailing view here seems to be that geeks make Wiki work, and Wordpad is...well, certainly not geeky. (I'll refrain from digging out more general Microsoft comments. *grin*)
Anyway, take care and I hope that the humming bird gets better!
Richard I-don't-have-my-own-Wiki-page Rauch, 20030718
- Sabotage by deletion is easily fixed. A truly perverse individual, however, would engage in far more subtle forms of damage, such as mangling text in ways that is not immediately obvious, especially to a user that is already familiar with the page and skipping directly to content that appears new. A vandal could post an edit that couples an insightful comment with the introduction of random typos and word deletions or insertions that degrades the quality of the page without destroying it. (Such behavior could even be automated.) By the time such damage is typically discovered, it will be intermixed with a series of valid changes to the page, making fixing things into a painful merge rather than a simple rollback.
While the level of individual with the time and dedication to do such, coupled with the sociopathic instinct to destroy things others enjoy, is a fairly rare occurrence, the internet age has taught us that such pathological individuals do exist, and that they can affect computers anywhere in the world. Unfortunately, there is little that can be done to protect a wiki from such saboteurs without severely curtailing its usability to the people for which it is there in the first place. It's the old conflict between freedom and security...
-- Mapache 2003-09-28
Well, generally most wikis have the assumption that people should be bold - thus, you find something that seems wrong, you just go ahead and fix it. It doesn't typically matter how long it's been up there, since the next person to see it will probably edit it out. -- LeeDavisThalbourne
My solution for this problem is to set an email mark to all pages that are important to me. So I get informed if someone changes the page, and I can react properly. I did so with a wiki I created for my class, and it works fine. -- 1st-angel 2003-10-07 14:57:30
P.S. Sorry for my bad english.
- Today I encountered my first wiki sabotage in the form of a hentai link randomly added to the content of the page so I had simply gone in and manually deleted it approximately 20 hours after the fact from what the recent change stated. After using Wikipedia.org for a while now, I had come to appreciate the work people put into sharing information and to see even a random link inserted motivated me to do something about it, and I did. I'm considering reverting the pages back to pre-hentai link when I figure how to do so, but this seemingly simple event has convinced me that Wiki does work as long as there are people who desire helpful information and know that they're allowed to "Fix" things.
-- random web surfer who was looking for WRT54G information. 2004-08-21
- This is cool. I just fixed a few grammar and spelling errors. I didn't get them all, but this page is crawling with them. --April 19, 2006
Why Wikis Don't Work as Well as We Think They Do
Having installed two wiki's (one for work, one for a class), I believe there are some usability issues that prevent them from fulfilling their promise. Assume that most people are not going to invest 20 minutes or more of their time to understand formatting unless there's a big payoff for them. I offer this in the hopes that we can all think about how to solve these problems:
1) People don't use wiki's because they don't realize they can actually make changes. I've found that most of my wiki's audience (participants?) bring a broadcast mindset to anything on the web. The idea that they can make changes is totally foreign to them and they're anxious at first when it comes to "talking back." "Sandboxes" don't seem to be sufficient to get people over the hump. We need something else...
That is not a problem of technology, but of people not knowing wikis. But for your work companions and students: you did tell them that they CAN make changes? I think this is more of a problem of people coming in via search engines, not realizing that they got into a wiki. One solution for them could be to display a one-time notice "Hey, you have found a great new EDITABLE web site" if they don't have a special cookie (NOWIKINEWBIEANYMORE=1). I can understand wanting to force co-workers to use a local wiki, but making random people who came in on a search engine and aren't tuned-in enough with reality to notice that they can edit the page they're reading may be more trouble than it's worth.
Spread the word! This sounds like a much more productive approach to hooking people into wiki... but there are already enough wikis that have reached critical mass. Is wiki evangelism even necessary at this point (January 2004)?
I've been using wikipedia for a while without realising what the wiki part meant, to me it was just a useful encyclopedia and thats what it will remain now as I have nothing worth adding to it. Wikis work now, one day sabotage may stop them from being effective but it is all good.
Ease-of-use and elegance have value to a lot of people. Can someone design a Wiki edit page that doesn't use arcane text codes to format text? How about a WYSIWYG editor option? -- MTF
MoinMoin 1.5 will support WYSIWYG editing (like Word or Outlook)
- It does! And works like a charm. Specially useful to edit big pages like this one. It even has context menus, yay!
2) Strangely enough, the "free-form" aspect of wiki isn't free form enough. There's no way to easily create columns. I looked at wikis originally as a way of blogging. Most blogs are two or three columns, but only one column could be powered by a wiki, the others I had to do in HTML. I wish I didn't have to make this compromise. Maybe columns isn't the answer, maybe tables are because that's really what columns are made out of in HTML...
- If you have concrete ideas of how to improve that, tell us. Do you know some method of doing multi-column text without having to make (mostly wrong) assumptions about screen and font size? But: we won't make a design that's "optimized for 800x600 and IE". @)
I work in an ad agency and we deal in short attention spans. We need to design better ways to accommodate these short attention spans at the initial stage of using a wiki. Once people see the benefit, then they will invest the time into using them.
-- Joel Greenberg 10/20/03
In regards to point number 2, you may want to check out SnipSnap. It's a combination of a Weblog (with columns) and a Wiki.
-- Richard Terry 1/8/2003
With regards to point number 1, no. People will invest incredible amounts of time learning all kinds of things - um, video recorders spring to mind! - as long as they think there is some benefit (however imaginary). So people who don't want to learn how to use wiki are those who see no benefit (and would probably not contribute anyway - no loss). -- MeDerek 1 May 2004
For point number 2, there is now a macro in the MacroMarket called Columns. It's not fully automatic, but close enough.
-- AnttiKuntsi 2004-06-14
- I have a VERY short attention span. How short? This short - (putter about, do other things, come back - oh yes!). And this looks like a lot of fun for doing short stories,poetry and goofiness! --Bruce Griffis
- I find that the biggest problem with Wikis is when people think they can use them as a solution for documentation, and it leaves you with an unusable, not up-to-date mess.
That's not a problem of wiki, but just whether you have people writing good content or not. With wiki you CAN have MORE people doing that, doing that TOGETHER even. But if you still end up with nobody doing it, you would have the same problem without a wiki, too. -- ThomasWaldmann 2004-03-23 19:53:49
The only real moderation problem with a wiki is when you encounter viewpoint wars sometimes. And in that case, there is something like the not-yet-developed ViewPoint to deal with that or the system that wikipedia.org came up with. That and subtle stalking is the only real things that I can think of. The rest is counteracted by the balancing nature of wiki's and the fact that there are more reasonable people than trolls. The fact that everyone can be a moderator can really help with trolling. --MahyarMcDonald (02/04/04)
- Viewpoint wars are fun, because both participants are always wrong. Only "I" am right.
- Huh!? I read the whole page, getting a lot out of *all* the different viewpoints, much like a slashdot discussion, without the ratings and threads (both of which I like, actually). Well, some folks can't deal with the chaos I guess, and any kind of human interaction tends to be chaotic. In contrast, refined, controlled discussions can also be boring. Slashdot-like systems leverage the chaos and impose just enough organization to avoid breakdown. It could be that wikis need some of the same control mechanisms to really work well on a larger scale.
- How to sabotage Wiki:
Generate controversy, especially heated debate over ambiguous subjects. This will raise the level of noise and frustration, driving people away.
Look for facts. Distort them. Replacing complicated data with slight changes can be detected, but only if a person is willing to pore over it and validate it. A difference engine and source control help when source material is changed in a complex, subtle ways. But enough accumulated errors cause a failure of trust.
And never forget; if you can set this page to something, someone else can set it to something else. Last in wins.
I just visited WP:HEP and found it sabotaged, pressed edit, and it loaded an already reverted version. Speaks volumes, i guess.
** Verifying that not only can I vote for the candidate of my choice, but I can add my two cents on web pages too.
- I have recently discovered wiki, through the wikipedia and beyond. seems to me the problem is not so much short attention spans, but all-consuming wikiholia. the wikipedia in particular, with its (how many?) million pages, seems to run like a dream. When I first started I put up a factoid about an obscure extinct shark species from the Cretaceous period, and the next day there was an edit and more information up. That hooked me and now I am wiki-ing more than working. true the malicious will always be out there, but the amazing thing is the number of non-malicious who are willing to spread their knowledge for the benefit of the greater good, with no return to themselves, not even recognition. Which goes to show you that if the right tools are available and accessible, and the universe allows it, (many) people will tend to do things for the good of all, and not for selfish reasons.
Wiki works because it lets you do what you want. It's open and versatile. It can do anything with few simple hacks. -- NirSoffer
- There are at least two responses to the problem of a saboteur scurrilously altering one's words. First, if you insist on being identified with what you write, public key signatures can easily be added to any text. The signature could simply be added to the text, or could be hidden somewhere in the xml; perhaps browser plugins could, in a couple of clicks, verify the authorship. Second, write anonymously. Do not claim authorship: this is, after all, a consensus.
- If there's always a previous version of a page available, then the only attack I could see is a Denial of Service by filling up the hard drive of the machine running the Wiki. Not likely, but possible I guess.
Regards, Waylon. --- Here is what I don't get, if someone wants to destroy your wiki, why don't they run a script to destroy it.
- The script would have to run periodically, since someone would restore it. Pretty easy to then find and deny that IP address access to the Wiki.
- Also, the script can't be too ambitious. Some Wiki versions detect and divert malicious behavior. Is your IP adding 20+ new pages or edits in a few minutes? Hmm, that IP is running scripts.
- For the user who deleted line 330:
"1111111111111111me, i just kept the edit page open to see what would happen. edit lock expiration happened. Perhaps a tragdy of the commons in reverse; that is - the time element trumps the resource element?"
Was your deletion based upon perceived cogency/presentation of the thought, or perceived relevance to the thread topic?
I like how the last deletion serves as the sample for deleted text. An interesting functionality would be an archive/cache showing the original sample deleted text; all deleted texts, and discussion threads originating from each instance. The parallel universe discussions add context to the (never quite finished) product. That is, using an allegory from published text, some of the most illuminating reading is not the published book-but the editorial comments and responses to comments.
- You can see that for each version, and with fancy diffs. Just try "Get Info".
Perhaps the ‘last edited by’ sub posting box provides the avenue for cataloguing into this suggested ‘deletions and discussion’ thread cache. An unintended and perhaps heretical-to-form consequence is that this same avenue could serve a the forum where, instead of posting my take on the deleted text process to the document, I could have posted query portion directly to the last ‘edited by’ username, presuming – perhaps in error- this username also performed the last deletion.
WOW- first time visiter, impressed - Dave
- Hrmm i wonder if spammers could abuse the features of a wiki and flood them with ads? Surely someone would think of this and write a script to do so eventually?
Yes, that happens. And wikis are adapting to this new situation. See CategorySpam.
- Well, I've just read the page and it feels to me the 'it doesnt / can't / wont work for long' arguments against the 'it does / can / repairs itself' arguments are kinda missing the point. These things are part of what a wiki is. Arguing about it is a moot point. Wikis get abused. Wiki communities fix themselves. It's how they work, and they do work. It is this openness that I love about Wikis. In a way, finding wikis existed helped restore my faith in people! - i.e. until I saw a wiki, I would never have believed it could work; but the people I cynically condemned proved me wrong... - Matt, UK
- In the two years or more since this page was started have we reached a conclusion? How does a Wiki cope with two people editing at once? and pressing save at the same time? Does one lot of changes get lost?
Dave - Sydney
Yes we have. And no, it doesn't. Unless the person who ratifies the changes decides the changes need to be edited out! - Matt, Uk ( http://tsmwiki.com/tsmwiki)
- I agree completely with whoever posted two lines ago. I love the openness of wiki communities and the fact that it works has restored my faith in people as well. And as for dave's question about a wiki coping with two people editing at once, I see at the top of my page a note that says "Other users will be warned until 2005-06-19 04:39:45 that you are editing this page. Use the Preview button to extend the locking period." maybe this was a feature that was implemented after you posted but I guess users get warned about changes and if they do try to change something, my guess would be whoever posts first will have their changes erased.
- Whoever presses save second is presented with a page showing the contributions made by both editors, and they have the option of attempting to merge or otherwise edit the content before saving again. - Matt, UK
- I believe that one of the biggest strengths of Wikis is, that the users looking up information have some degree of control over the information that is provided. When I first heard about Wikis I was doubtful. I thought that this would never work, knowing how the Usenet and Internet Forums tend to look like.
The difference - as far as I can see it - is that the users (as opposed to the actual original contributers) are able to control the state of the work. It may start simple - a first time Wiki user will proabably not know that (s)he can restore a site that someone put flame on. But she may see the "report" button and simply use it, or she may edit spelling mistakes.
A new topic that isn't completely silly will be watched now and then and therefore edited now and then. At some point it reaches a level of quality that people just don't want to edit it. For me it Wikis replace mostly what the Usenet was to me before - and is an additional starting point for research, replacing search engines to some extend.
I don't see that different opinions about a topic are a problem for a wiki. Sooner or later a neutral user will be confused by constant changes of a site that two opposing factions war on. The he may simple go back and history and provide both oppinions, or seperate them and remove the flames. After that there will always be a fall back version and any fighting for the pages content will be futile.
What may be a problem is that Wikis are easy to abuse by people who use another ones wiki for his own community that aren't of any interest for the whole and just use up space. For example an online-game "guild" may create subpages to a page describing the game and organize their community matters there.
Also I think that Wikis shouldn't be overestimated. They are good for research and providing information from a community to a community. But sometimes a page using a Wiki would have better worked using a CMS like :arrow: Typo3; especially if there is a relatively low number of actual contributers. Simply because possibilities are larger, structure may be predifined and user and contributer limitations can better be organized.
The one thing I'd wish out of open-source wikis and other opensourceproject is that they'd work better together. For example: integration of wiki and bulletin bord software such as :arrow: phpBB. --BjörnKeil
I've been interested in the possibility of wikis for quite some time - It turns out they're quite robust, if a little difficult to retain focus (although, there's a claim that a fuzzy focus isn't a bad thing, as it encourages community). It will be interesting to see how the wiki concept merges with current concepts - I myself am attempting to run a RPG within/as a wiki, as I've never seen such a thing before. It will be interesting to see how old concepts and ideas connect to the wiki ideals... -- LeeDavisThalbourne
- I Thought I would add my thoughts to this well worth while content. Why are comments "blog" stylesufficient? Don't miss understand me, I appreciate for documentation oropen-source applications using a wiki has huge benefits but it does seem to me that this page, for example, would make a lot more sense in an article/comment approach.
I'm loving the wiki.
Unfortunately, the coming 'hello world' community may not be as perceptive or astute as the current community. As information and entertainment are merged, the rest of the world will collapse the golden age of wiki.
That doesn't mean that these communities should be put on hold... rather, the world needs time to become edjucated and adjusted. In The Networked Planet™, the choice is simple; become enlightened or be left behind. -Anonymous Deviant
- So is the interest in Wiki that it is new (High Cool Factor) or is it actually useful for stuff? I know wikipedia is useful, but are there others that are TRULY useful as opposed to having great potential? Or is this the next fad, just a more interactive surfing? We just implemented one, and the engineers here love it, but the stakeholders are still suspicious and find it painful. -- Brett Rath
- Wikipedia is not useful for stuff. Wikipedia is unreliable groupthink, and is the supreme example of the worst of what wikis offer. Wiki editing by a trusted group of authenticated users (such as a group collaborating on a knowledge base). Wiki editing by the entire Internet results in the unusable mess that is Wikipedia. In short: Wiki are cool, Wikipedia sucks.
(Please add your comments about what should or should'nt be part of the arguments up above)
Bookshelves and Desktops
(Is a Wiki a "bookshelf" or a "desktop" or both?)
Wikis still lack a good hierarchical organization model.
Table of Contents
Basic "drill down" access to information.
Indexes and Notes
Indexes should be categorical. ie. Index to Variable Names, Index to Constants, Index to Function Names. Indexes should be internal and external. In print, notes are typically presented at page foot or document end.
- And? What should we understand from your comment?
A fairly large collection of unstructured information becomes unmanageable.
Sure, but wikis are not, by any means, obbligatory unstructured. See CategoryCategory, and again, HierarchicalWiki, PagesHierarchy, FacetedClassificationInMoin (just to start). This has already been discussed before.
Wikis need to be able to efficiently (input and retrieval) store "phone messages" in a "phone log" and that "phone log" in a "project folder". Retrieval of "phone messages" by date, subject, message taker, etc. Wiki "form plug-ins" are getting there.
These are your requirements.
Contributors and Editors
Publications have Contributors and Editors. Contributors have reputations and resumes. Editors fact check, critique, "trim the fat", etc. We trust what we read, in part, because we trust the editors and contributors.
This has already been discussed. Trust is not always gained in this way. Some things can be evaluated using your own good mind and sometimes, Editors and Contributors are not what you believe. See any of the zillion forums and articles about WikiPedia for this discussion.
- This has been discuss before computers were invented! The point is that there are many levels to content distribution. Would you want your lawyer arguing your guilt or innocence based on a legal brief found on a Wiki? Or perhaps your Doctor prescribing medication? This is not a criticism of the current Wiki environment, only an observation that there are many levels of trust.
Raw and Cooked
Large robust next generation Wikis (are the current only rewrites earlier "hypertext" systems?) will need Raw and Cooked sections, where the Raw section resembles "Letters to the Editor" and the Cooked section resembles a traditional print/online publication. Contributors should be free to "wiki away" and editors should "simmer" the Raw into a concise fact checked presentation.
This a different model, not the proposed for wikis. But wikis (or at least MoinMoin) are so flexible, that you can build a system with them that works that way.
"The statistician did a regression analysis on data about childhood regression." Of course statistical regression is not childhood regression. Perhaps Wiki phrases are in order regression[statistical] and regression[psychological]. We are awed at the amount of information online, the fact is once the Library of Congress, etc. go online, finding things, even with tools like Google, will be a nightmare. Wikis must be prepared for this eventuality.
Wikis Are Quick and Dirty
Frankly I find the Wiki Word format distasteful.
A personal opinion, of course. I don't.
I would prefer some form of prefixing such as an underscore or something similar. Perhaps there are good arguments for and against this convention, I have not found many.
- Then read more. There are many, many, many (I leave you the task to see here and in Google about it). Take a chance, is not very hard.
Actually, I have read more... And actually have been doing text encoding (biblical,medical, etc.. for a long time (which of course doesn't make me an 'expert', but I do have some experience)) Here is a fairly concise discussion of Wiki Words http://www.usemod.com/cgi-bin/mb.pl?CamelCaseAlternatives. Do we expect Time and Newsweek to start using Wiki Words? Maybe... Maybe not.
Why was HTTP/HTML a success?
Wikis are succeeding for the same reasons HTTP/HTML succeeded?
User Interface (UI)
In the early HTML days, documents were generated using text editors. Wikis need stronger UIs, that are presentational and structural. The presentation is easier than the structural. The ease of mixing text and graphics and distributing it to a wide audience was a huge selling point for HTTP/HTML.
Just take a look at FCKeditor?
- My point is that Wikis have the potential of replacing the Mac Finder and the MS-Windows file browser. The Wiki interfaces I have looked at (granted not an exhaustive review) are still maturing. HTML and HTTP matured, in part, because the underlying assumptions were sound. I believe the underlying assumptions of Wiki are also sound, hence the popularity and rapid growth of wikis and wiki development. I think my critique has been taken as criticism (Sorry).
Interfacing with email is critical. Any one up for a mail/wiki interface? How would that work? Interwiki Mail?
- Just make a search for that in this wiki, to start.
Email Re: = Wiki Changes?
I guess, the only reason Wiki works is because its very easy to destroy. Anyone can do it, so nobody bothers.
I would say, it works because the number of good users far outway the number of bad users. The way society works itself.
The main reason for its being still there I think is it can be repaired before it is destroyed.
I like that. that there is maybe some degree of 'oh its so easy why bother'.. that helps protect wiki's. If I was gonna hack anything, it would have to be some challenge at least! I mean, the wiki has an edit button right there! Deface Me it cries. Pah, who's interested in defacing That? Matt, UK
So an easy hack isn't worth hacking... seems to me it'd be a playground for beginners and those that are simply bored. Or if it becomes some kind of game to see who can deface the most wikis. I wouldn't underestimate the ludicrousness of another hacker's mentality. But even for the more advanced hackers, I would think the chore would be to hack the admin side of it... or make it irreversible... or self-spawning... I don't see much of a conclusion here except that Wiki's require protection too. I just hope if I open a wiki to the public, I get enough of the good folks hanging around to outnumber the automated spammers. And that in mind, at least hackers serve as much purpose as a tick (ticks do keep tick collar makers busy). That is, there is at least a "little" rationale behind hackers (most of the time). Just wish they would warn you prior to hacking you. Or let you know how they did it so you can fix it. But spammers? I know someone somewhere must fall for them, because they keep finding new places to spam you, but I can't fathom who... -- .Keith DC, US
- -- follow-up --
I'm not sure if Wikis can do this or not, as I'm just now reading up on them and about to start one (or two), but I'm hoping I can set authorization as:
- Registered Users - Post directly and immediately
- Centrally Registered (like with wikipedia or someplace major) - Post within x hours or admin to approve immediately
- Anonymous - Requires admin or other registered user approval
.Keith DC, US
- I'm loving the WYSIWYG editing format -- it's definitely the most important step towards encouraging participation, but... scrolling down a huge page in edit mode to try and find the paragraph you were just reading is still rather silly!The solution? A system like Wikipedia where each paragraph (section under a heading) has an edit button next to it, which either takes the user into edit mode, *automatically scrolled to the correct place*, or just edits that section. For documents with not enough headings, the edit button could be at every X number of lines.
Also, has anyone tried pressing "check spelling" button on this page? What happens is very confusing! Why aren't all those normal words in the dictionary? Plus it should only check what I've just added, not everyone's past comments. And finally, the paragraphs and indentation all change around if I preview before saving.
This WhyWikiWorks page is rather a "wiki philosophy" page that a page to discuss about wanted features or usage or problems.
We already have some FeatureRequests about section editing. The spell check is extremely simple and need a word list installed. If the wiki site you tried has no such word list, it will show lots of unknown words.
-- ThomasWaldmann 2006-12-13 11:11:04
= Wiki Whacked =; == Whacked Wiki==. I just performed my first wiki wikiing??? I am trying to learn about the wiki world for it has become wide and I am so new it and yet everyone is saying how easy it is to do. Where do you host a wiki and can you make it private? I have ADD and the internet is a great thing for people like me and yet here I am editing a page. How does one start a wiki?
-- J.Sharbel 2007-09-06 03:49:08 what does that do? is there a wiki for dummies yet?
- I have had one experience where a wiki failed -for me, anyway- because I was too nervous about making a mistake to post anything. It was an intranet wiki, I think using Twiki, and I was intimidate by the interface as well as the user group. When I saw this page, with many users posting pronouncements about whether wiki works on small sites, etc, without any actual observations, I felt comfortable about putting in my own one-and-a-half cents! How odd-the scientist in me is appalled that the unscientific nature of the discussion is what has encouraged me to participate.
This is my real opportunity to really try using Wiki technology and Iloveit. As a professional website developer I hate using WYSIWYG stuff in general (think Frontpage, Dreamweaver and so on) because users can mess up my lovely code that powers their online shop... lol. Macromedia came up with something a few years ago called Contribute but I don't like having to pay for software when the idea and principle of it should be in the public domain. I think Wikis could be incredibly useful for people like me, in that I can create a design (or some advanced code - or both) and my users/clients can just edit the bits that I choose - and not destroy the entire site in the process. I think I've got the concept & idea right - now to put it into practice! Benjamin Howarth (medicineworker.spaces.live.com)
Wikipedia is a proving ground that the human race can exist without hierachy when everyone has a common set of ideals not tainted by sight, colour, race, religion, class or other forms of social stratification. I hope this will be the tide where those who seek to preserve knowledge as their own, loose it, while those who seek to share knowledge, gain it. daren_l