[jdev] Proposal : Community site

Will Kamishlian will at will-k.com
Thu Sep 2 15:58:00 CDT 2004

On Thu, 2 Sep 2004 21:59:22 +0200 (CEST)
maqi at jabberstudio.org wrote:

> On Thu, 2 Sep 2004, Will Kamishlian wrote:
> > - Build internationalization support in
> > - Do not use a wiki
> > - Make it look as professional as possible
> > - Include discussion forums
> > - Use a well-known application server
> > Internationalization support needs to be built in because it will be
> > much too hard to convert a site at a later date.  I would not suggest
> > a wiki format because the site should look as professional as possible
> > (to attract new members), because the site should be stable, and
> > because many end users are not familiar with wikis.
> This is a great number of unconfirmed assumptions ;-).
> 1. Wikis *can* look professional (see wikipedia.org). Even blogs can
> look nice. It's not a matter of the underlying idea whether someone
> takes the time to configure a good-looking CSS/whatever setup. It's just
> that someone has to do it. If you think that with Typo3/Plone/whatever
> you automatically get a "professional" look, you are wrong.

It is true that wikis can look professional, and I obviously have nothing
against them.  After all, I use ZWiki for my documentation.  I don't think
a different type of implementation would automatically look professional;
however, making a wiki look professional does require a lot of work out of
the box, and then maintaining/changing that presentation requires
contributors who are familiar with the wiki application base.  

> 2. Wikis can of course be both stable in terms of availability (not even
> jabber.org's wiki has problems there ;-) and content (it's just that
> someone needs to maintain it or there have to be proper policies - see
> the jabberd14 wiki that can't be changed by anybody at will directly).
> 3. It's true that many end users are not familiar with wikis. So what?
> Can't they even read what's written in there then? Nobody forces you to
> use wiki slang or WikiWords.

The goal is to attract new members to a community.  With that in mind, I
would suggest a format that is inviting to end users.  All of my
documentation is actually written in plain text.  I could publish it that
way, and say, "Oh well, if you want to read it, that's the format."

> I don't say you have to use a Wiki "at all costs" ;-). However, I don't
> think the points you mentioned are valid. Also, I'm sure that you need a
> close coupling of content and user feedback - using whatever means.
> Without this (for example, if you use static web pages and set up a
> separate forum), you'll end up with outdated documentation and a forum
> which may form a nice platform for the "usual suspects" but which makes
> it very hard to find actual information.

And I am not saying not to use a wiki at all costs ;-)  It could be done
well as a wiki.  I was really describing what I think has been a very
successful user-oriented site, a site that has done much to create its own
self-sustaining community.  (I don't think I made this clear).

I think that forums can couple content and feedback. If you look at the
Gentoo site, there are news, documentation and forums (among other
things). The site and documentation have their own maintainers.  The
maintainers take their cues from what is posted to the forums.  Once the
site got going, members jumped in with help on site design and

Maybe it's a question of the intended goal?  My goal would be to create a
community of Jabber end-users.  That's a different goal from providing
quick start information for end-users.  If my goal were the latter, I
would *recommend* a wiki.  On the other hand, I'll admit that the goal I
have in mind may be overly ambitious.


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