Wiki Pros And Cons
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Why is Wiki good?
- Allows anyone to edit a page without the hassle of logging in
- Web-editable, from pretty much any web browser these days. This makes it very cross-platform for end users.
- Less thought-time from looking at a page to correcting it. (zuihitsu)
- Simple layout
- Simple command structure, no special HTML knowledge necessary, although html is available for use in some cases.
- Where other systems allow one to comment, leaving a static note which isn't integrated into a greater body of work, a wiki allows one to add to a pool of knowledge and re-edit a topic.
- Important key words do not need to be formatted in bold, because the text already highlighted by coloured text to another wiki link. In this and other wikis the unwritten red links stand out, drawing your attention for a contribution.
- principle of voluntary cooperation allows for unfinished or incomplete work to be placed in a wiki so it is shared and easily improved or added to by others at their discretion. If the original author doesn't like any alterations, they can be ignored or if the edited work is deemed better the additions can be integrated.
Why is Wiki bad?
- A wiki goal, manifesto or mission statement is not directly enforcable. When any user can edit freely, they are unrestricted. This can lead to the creation of pages with less coherance or community value.
- Refactoring (rewriting a topic) may be a barrier to some, who would consider such an action to be almost impolite or even arrogant. One solution is to maintain that nobody has ownership of a topic, and that it is expected that there be multiple authors all looking and contributing, even if that means correcting spelling or rewriting paragraphs.
- Many users are so used to viewing web content from a consumer-perspective that the only additions they make are comments. Users must understand that they are both a consumer (reader), and a producer (editor) and that while adding a comment is inspiring, editing the work directly has great value.
- Where multiple authors may work on a topic, there can exist conflicts of goals or personality. Politeness, patience and consideration must be effortful by all members. Also, where the wiki framework draws one into a "post first, think later" frame of mind, one may find onesself open to peer review and criticism.
- Some pages may collect cruft or linkrot after a time. While there are cases when the topic is so complete and compelling as to not require contemporizing or updating at all, in many cases this means the topic is unpopular, of less value or may simply be too intimidating for it's readers to 'fix'.
- Many wikis are so vulnerable that all data can be destroyed, disrupted or displaced by way of an automated attack. The konspire2b wiki was reported to have been attacked in early May 2003 and had to be rolled back to a Febuary 20th snapshot, almost three months earlier. Without proper security structures in place, such activities can only be prevented through 1:1 effort, where one ally's efforts undo the damage from one enemy's graffiti. Functionality like the ability to roll back mass changes from a single attacker's IP is rarely available. Of course, regular backups would go hand-in-hand with certain security features.
Wiki Control Structures
- Moderation is a loose concept on a wiki. The entire community is empowered to identify and undo malicious content. Page revision is trivially easy.
- IP banning exists, blocking persistant abusers.
- (wiki-wide reversion to undo script damage)