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Project proposal: IOPS Wiki

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The idea of creating a wiki for IOPS has come up several times in the past and has already resulted in an IOPS Examples Wiki. This blog is the latest attempt to get a wiki going. If you'd like to participate, please leave a comment.

The rationale behind building a wiki is that IOPS (and activists in general) need knowledge resources to be able to effectively do their work. A wiki could be ideal for that purpose because:
- it requires only moderate technical skills
- it supports easy restructuring and rewriting of content
- it is popular software with free services and many guides and examples
- it supports team work
- it allows for linking of concepts as a way of integrating content

The best approach to me seems to start with something small and simple, basically the same as was tried before. I'd suggest creating a separate space in the existing IOPS Examples Wiki to start experimenting a bit with structure and content while discussing on how to develop the wiki further.

To make the idea a bit more concrete, below a list of possible discussion points:
- Software and hosting
- Aims
- Licensing
- Decision making structure
- Ideas for articles/topics
- Rules and guidelines
- Any other things, like quality control, teamwork, peer review, planning, constraints on content, ideas for special/experimental pages/wiki's.

If enough members are interested I'll create a new project and we can start further working things out. I'm hoping to be able to spend enough time on this in the coming months to create a solid base wiki. If we choose to host the wiki ourselves I can work on setting that up.

Feel free to comment also if you think it's a bad idea or have suggestions for improvement.

Discussion 19 Comments

  • Caragh - 16th Feb 2017

    I had an idea for making a dictionary of terms which might be useful to do, so a wiki could be great. And thanks for offering to set it up- it has been floating around as an idea for ages.

  • Perry 17th Feb 2017

    I'd like to participate. Not very well versed in wikispaces so there'd be a bit of a learning curve

  • Rod 17th Feb 2017

    Great Caragh and Perry! A dictionary of terms sounds interesting and a wiki would be ideal for that purpose. And Perry, I've never worked on a wiki before either so we're in the same boat. But it shouldn't be too hard and I'm willing and able to invest some time in it.

    Let's wait a bit if there are more interested people, but I think 3 people should be enough to start the project.

    • Perry 18th Feb 2017

      Ok, sounds good

  • Bat Chainpuller 17th Feb 2017

    What exactly do you need people for to do this? Its design and shit? I have no idea about these things although I have looked at the wiki that was already attempted. What is wrong with that one? Would it be a matter of modifying that one or starting anew?

    • Rod 17th Feb 2017

      For one, because we're a participatory org. Wiki's are meant to be a collaborative tool, where the quality and scope of the content is increased through multiple iterations by different people. So ideally there would be a sense of collective ownersnip, instead of everyone doing their own bit. And we might want to agree on some rules or guidelines regarding content.

      But if no-one was interested I would've still gone ahead with my own ideas, just without creating a project.

  • Peter Lach-Newinsky 28th Feb 2017

    Love wikis. But what's the aim of this proposed one content-wise? I gather its collecting and discussing activist "knowledge resources"?

    If so, is there not an overlap with (a) the as yet empty Book Shelf that's appeared in the Forum, (b) Bat's list of alternative visions on the Home Page, and (c) the Resources section that people have already posted a bit too? Would a wiki perhaps add to that fragmentation by creating a fourth site for 'knowledge resources'?

    • Rod 28th Feb 2017

      Good points. The content would depend on the participants, but anything that could be useful for IOPS-ers and activists in general. The project is really meant to assess the feasibility and popularity of a wiki as an additional tool within the context of IOPS. A wiki creates a different platform for working together than this site offers. It offers better tools for structuring content for one and for a different kind of collaboration.

      There would indeed be an overlap with what we already have and may have in the future on this site. So your point that it could add to the fragmentation is a good one. How to decide on that, though? I don't really know. Perhaps it would be good to have some discussion among interested members about how to develop IOPS further. I proposed a project earlier, but this could be done in another form, like in the current Reimagining IOPS forum topic (though that thing is getting long to load, so a new topic would perhaps be better suited). What do you think?

      To be clear, I don't mind working on this alone for a while to develop my skills and ideas around this concept further. I need to do it anyway to satisfy my curiosity. Just thought other people might be interested in using the same platform and we might be able to help each other learn some skills in the process (and eventually actually add something useful to IOPS).

    • Perry 2nd Mar 2017

      Is there an open-source, cloud based collaborative note-taking software you like to use? I was trying out different ones like etherpad, googledocs, zulupad, zoho, mailbox. Trying to find programs that make it easy to read text off a screen.

    • Perry 2nd Mar 2017

      I'd also like the power to go back and edit my posts in case they aren't dumb@ss-ed enough. How do they call it, "wingardium leviosa"

      Lean Note


    • Rod 3rd Mar 2017

      I have used a few but don't have a real preference except for open source and free solutions. Piratepad is one we used recently in the financial team project, but I've had good experiences with others too. Though I haven't looked at them in terms of making it easy to read text off a screen. There may be solutions outside of the particular notetaking service you use to make text more readable btw, if by readable you mean pleasant on the eyes. For instance there are add-ons in firefox that change the colors of any website you visit to make it easier on the eyes. It can look a little weird though :)

    • Lambert Meertens 4th Mar 2017

      The Mozilla pads are much like PiratePad, but I noticed that documents there vanish after a long period of inactivity. I don’t know how it is with other free services, but obviously you don’t want stability of the documents you carefully crafted collaboratively to mean their days are numbered.

  • Perry 3rd Mar 2017

    Hi Rod, thanks for the suggestions. For some reason I just have a hard time reading wikis

  • Perry 3rd Mar 2017

    Just rambling through some ideas but Maybe the collaborative project could support the financials committee with some kind of enterprising enterprise. Not to go over your helmets but some ideas we talked about at FuckOffee included a cafepress store, a gofundme suggested donation site, an ebay store, maybe IOPS could be a wireless telecom carrier.

    Maybe somebody with experience in cooperative production could give some pointers on how to start and sustain a project.

    • Rod 5th Mar 2017

      Hi Perry, I think I have to correct a misconception about the aim of this project as I intended it. I now realize I wasn't clear about this at all in my description of the project.

      For me, the aim of the project would be to create a wiki with nicely ordered and linked articles about topics that could be useful for IOPS-ers, activists in general or anyone else interested in the world. This could be articles about movements and struggles going on in the world, problems in the world that activists should be interested in, the workings of political systems, visions for a better future, etc. It's an ambitious and problematic goal, but could start small and imperfect while we try to add content and work out the problems encountered. As a tool for creating this kind of comprehensive body of knowledge I think wiki's are the best tool available, but I'm not that well informed.

      Wiki's can also be used as a tool for other kinds of collaboration, where the content created isn't the end goal but serves another purpose (like discussion leading to implementation of any of the things you mentioned). For instance, the IOPS examples wiki has been used as a tool to collaborate on improving the mission statement for IOPS. The current wiki can still continue to be used for that purpose and if we ever create a new home for a wiki there should still be room for people wanting to use the tool for that purpose. But it's not what I intended to work on in this project and like you, I would favor other collaborative tools for this purpose.

      Somewhere else I proposed a project to brainstorm on ideas to help further develop IOPS. Perhaps it's an idea to call off the wiki project for now given the (useful and constructive) criticism and lack of interest so far and try to get that other project going?

    • Perry 5th Mar 2017

      Hi Rod, thanks for clarifying. Of all the possibilities the wiki does seem to be the most tried and true, and for the purposes that you mention. I'm on board with that. :)

    • Rod 6th Mar 2017

      Alright, I'll start a project tomorrow. Want to do a little preparation first so I have some sense of how to kickstart this thing.

  • Lambert Meertens 4th Mar 2017

    From what I have seen, many potential participants are shy to ”boldly” edit text that was authored by someone else. At the best, they’ll suggest textual changes. Effectively, the original author becomes the owner of what they wrote.

    On Wikipedia, in article space, contributions are unsigned and you need to do something special to find out which editor wrote which piece of text. There is no notion of “ownership” of the contributed text. In fact, an official Wikipedia policy states:

     All Wikipedia content − articles, categories, templates, and other types of pages − is edited collaboratively. No one, no matter how skilled, or how high standing in the community, has the right to act as though they are the ownerof a particular page.

    For a wiki or similar tools for collaborative authoring to have added value over what the current site software offers, we need to break through the ownership barrier and get people to be bold enough to edit and improve texts they did not originally write themselves.

    • Rod 5th Mar 2017

      Yes, this is a serious (and understandable) problem that's very visible in IOPS also. Something related is the 1 % rule. There's a kind of pyramid of activity in online creation communities where most of the content creation / modification by a small percentage of users.

      According to this paper (page 20) around 80-90% of the contributions to wikipedia are done by 10% of the contributors (which itself is a small percentage of all wikipedia users).

      I think this rule of thumb is something we need to take into account with IOPS too (perhaps puts all the inactive members at least a bit into perspective).