[meta-sig] Re: [Python-Dev] SIG: python-lang

Jim Fulton jim@digicool.com
Wed, 31 May 2000 17:06:46 -0400

David Ascher wrote:
> > I'm extremely hopeful about something called Wiki.
> My problem with wikis (although we are using some ZWikis in-house) is that
> it doesnt' go through email, which is how i get all my news.  I'm also not
> sure if we collectively have the work habits required to use wikis as we've
> learned to use email.  with an email archive, one can track the development
> of ideas, and arguments, and 'catch up'.

For me, this is just waaaay to expensive.

> With wikis, one is left with the
> state of things as they are now.

Not necessarily. Some wikis (soon ZWiki) provide a historical record.

I've heard that one of the best-regarded wiki implementation is a 
perl-based Wiki that provides two things that ZWiki currently lacks:

  - History,

  - Notification

We are working on both of these.  Maybe email notification
of changes would partially address your email usage patterns.
> Jim, in your spare time =), could you summarize _how_ you folks at DC use
> wikis? 

We are using them to collaboratively create and manage:

  - Project information:

     o Vision statements
     o Use Cases

     o Architecture and Design artifacts

  - Change proposals

  - Interfaces

  - Problem discussion

> How do you decide what to read? 

I read whatever I'm interested in. Usually, this is motivated
by specific projects or initiatives, or by someone asking/nagging 
me to review something.

> How do you deal with a wiki after
> you've been away from it for a while?  (The RecentChanges page is only a
> crutch in some ways). 

Well, right now, this is harder than it should be. 
I currently scan the pages of interest.

Soon we'll have CVS-ish capabilities. Wiki pages will have a 
"History" interface where you can see the history of changes 
made, view individual revisions and view differences. (I used
Tim Peter's ndiff module. :)

> How do you evolve wikis? 

Ultimately, someone has to exert editorial input. 
Anyone can do this, but usually, someone with some level
of authority does this.

Typically, people will make minor corrections or 
clarifications directly. Substantive questions or
comments are added as notes. We use the 
StructuredText idiom:

  jim -- bla blah

     blah blah

which stands out nicely and provides some nesting.

Eventually questions or comments may be:

  - Addressed and merged into the text
    (ie a suggestion is implemented or a clarification
    is made based on the question).   

  - Left where they are as part of the hysterical

  - Moved to a separate comments page (or to the end of
    a wiki page)

> How do you tell people
> about changes you want them to know about (the equivalent of cc:
> guido@python.org)?

Currently, we often send people short notes with URLs to
Wiki pages. This works well for notifying people who
wouldn't otherwise be paying attention. For example, 
I did this on Python-Dev a few weeks back when asking about
binary pickles.

We plan to provide the ability to subscribe to changes
in Wiki pages (and maybe wiki sites).
> Just for everyone's information, I use wikis to store 'notes'.  Things that
> people arrive at during the development process, a place to share URLs and
> other tidbits which don't fit into a neat structure like a shared
> filesystem.  It's a fairly different use from dealing with the general
> discussions which are currently done on mailing lists/newsgroups.
> I agree that there's a problem, and wikis are enticing, but I haven't
> figured out how best to use them yet.

Well, you might pay attention to what we do in the Zope wikis.
This is definately a work in progress, from both a technology and
culture point of view.


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