Dispatches from Andyland "Your reality, sir, is lies and balderdash and I'm delighted to say that I have no grasp of it whatsoever!" — The Adventures of Baron Munchausen

June 27, 2007

There’s a thorn tree in the garden, if you know just what I mean…

Filed under: Uncategorized — Andrew @ 12:54 pm

For something as simple to use as a wiki, they can be surprisingly hard to maintain at times. I remember the first couple of attempts at work to make a wiki of software development documentation sort of fizzled out. The first successful wiki started about five years ago. Some of the consultants working on the project and documentation were experienced wiki users. They discussed with us “wiki gardening”; the way that especially at the beginning a lot of material will need editing, moving, joining, or splitting. Once the wiki reached a certain critical mass, adding new material in becomes easier, and the administrative chore diminishes. The term is obviously trying to create an analogy to plant gardening, and as analogies go is pretty close. There is a fair amount of upfront work to till and plant seeds, and while the stalks are small weeding is important to avoid choking out the plants. Once the plants are strong and healthy, a little care is still needed to maintain a certain stasis. The amount of growth of a healthy plant is large in comparison to the work needed to maintain its growth.

Then for various reasons another wiki was started for the software developers, and I moved most of the content from various other documentation sources over. I was relatively comfortable with the shape it was in, and I believe everyone else was as well.

Now I feel a problem seems to be developing, and I’m not sure what can be done about it. A bunch of people outside of our immediate development group are adding wiki content. Unfortunately, these people don’t seem to be wiki-clueful overall. For example, one person created a page talking about one product or system they were developing, and made a link to a page called [[Diagram]] and wanted a page for their flowchart. There was no consideration given that other systems may have their own diagrams, or even later projects of theirs. On the Diagram page was a message asking for help in uploading an image to the wiki. (I guess they had an understanding of how they wanted their documentation to be laid out as an HTML page, and where using wikilinks to create html hyperlinks. They gave no thought, however that wikilinks are document titles and information in their own right.)

Another new wiki user took an existing page with no real useful content, and started using it as in index of their content. The content probably needed some sort of index page, and what was on it was unimportant, but the page did exist as a common page that related content could be found via backlinks. Now all of the existing links to the page make very little sense.

It now seems that this influx of people is actually reducing the quality of the wiki as a whole. If these were direct co-workers, I’d probably be willing to talk to them about it and lead them into a better understanding of how their information could fit into an overall knowledge base. Company-org-chart-wise, and day-to-day-interaction-wise, these people are very remote. I have no official “wiki admin” role that would give myself some authority to redirect them in their work. For that matter, I don’t even have systems based admin status that would allow me to rework a lot of the content on my own. I fear this wiki that I worked on for a while, and was actually sort of proud of is now turning into a mess of meaningless links and misleading pages titles, and I’m not quite sure what to do about it.

June 1, 2007

Nothing new under the Sun

Filed under: Uncategorized — Andrew @ 12:14 am

This whole joke revolves around how one can find certain similar musical elements across many if not most genres.

Rob Paravonian’s Pachelbel Rant

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