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A wiki for Perl

by mnc (Beadle)
on Jun 23, 2003 at 20:09 UTC ( #268305=monkdiscuss: print w/ replies, xml ) Need Help??

All the other languages have a wiki, why don't we?
:)

Someone asked me about setting up a wiki for Perl, to go with Ruby's, Python's , Lua's, and Tcl's. Now, a wiki is just a content store with editable nodes, perhaps some authentication, a couple of abbreviations, and a unique title to node_id map.

It occurred to me that Monks is ... well, just about that.

How about adding a Wiki section to Monks, and declaring success?

More seriously, Monks seems pretty close. Perhaps the main missing idea is node versioning and diffs (perhaps one might do versions as nodes, and wiki pages as "meta" nodes?). The non-wikish "edit only your own stuff" existing social dynamic of Monks might also be problematic. And maintaining WikiWord/title uniqueness. (I noticed Search-ing for "wiki" only found... someone whose user name is "wiki". Searching for "wikis" did better. Here comes user "perl"...) And the assorted little features which make wiki life easy (automatic reverse links, administrative tools like "rollback the loser's graffiti", perhaps one or two others). And I don't know what the Monks code base is like, or what hacking resources are around. And a dedicated wiki solution has some advantages.

But the Monks/wiki similarity seemed striking, so I thought I'd nudge.

Mitchell Charity
J94gnQm@vendian.org

Comment on A wiki for Perl
Re: A wiki for Perl
by hsmyers (Canon) on Jun 23, 2003 at 20:42 UTC
    I was just looking at PerlDesignPatterns and now this! Hmmmm---as someone who obviously knows a wiki from a wigit, perhaps if you tell us all a bit more about such things...

    --hsm

    "Never try to teach a pig to sing...it wastes your time and it annoys the pig."
      Oh, no, wikis, widgits, wombats, they all look about the same to me. Variously sized spheres...

      The basic idea is perhaps that a community can create a better website together, than anyone has the time/staff/etc to do in isolation.

      So, it's a website where anyone can create or edit pages. Everything follows from that. Editing html can be annoying, so to make it a bit easier, and to help random users, there is usually some simple abbreviation scheme. (Such as this. There is some variation, but its all just a few regexps.) People can make mistakes, or want to see whats new, and there is the occasional vandal, so one has versioning. Bottom of the page, "diff", and "View other versions". Top of the page, "RecentChanges". The last bit is to make linking between pages, the pages are usually given titles like "FooBar", so any mention of FooBar becomes a link to the page, without having to do anything. Though some wikis also allow other titles, and use Perl Monks square-bracket approach. And I think that's about it. The UseModWiki is just one (large) perl file.

      The underlying thought is that people are willing and able to contribute if a mechanism is provided. And the lower the barrier to entry, the more that will get done.

      For instance, the other day I added a page to the Ruby wiki. Python had a nice page on using other languages from Python, so I wrote one for Ruby. And added a link to it from the python page. It wasn't necessary to get access to some machine, submit a cvs patch, or anything else. Even creating an account was optional. Just a quick in, bang, done. Then I went looking for a perl wiki...

        Sounds a bit like Ted Nelson's notion of hypertext (pre web)! You mention 'the occasional vandal' is that because the community of contribution is self-selecting?

        --hsm

        "Never try to teach a pig to sing...it wastes your time and it annoys the pig."
Re: A wiki for Perl
by PodMaster (Abbot) on Jun 23, 2003 at 20:48 UTC
    Why should we? What demand would a wiki satisfy that isn't already being satisfied? PerlMonks (there is no "Monks") has the ability, but what's the point (just so we can have one isn't very persuasive)?

    MJD says "you can't just make shit up and expect the computer to know what you mean, retardo!"
    I run a Win32 PPM repository for perl 5.6.x and 5.8.x -- I take requests (README).
    ** The third rule of perl club is a statement of fact: pod is sexy.

      How about, the ability for people to contribute and organize content, even when it doesn't quite fit in the existing Sections, and have it collaboratively edited over time?

      So basically, a more free-form and "everyone can collaboratively edit the text" corner of Perlmonks.

      A more concrete example might be:

      I, hypothetical tutorial writer, would like folks to be able to help me out by editing and directly contributing material to my tutorial themselves. Rather than only being able to append comments, which I then have to grovel over.

      Or create a page of links on topic foo, which people can easily add to, flag as broken, and generally comment on.

      Hmm... can one currently create multipage content?

      Another need is apparently some perl projects are looking for a wiki infrastructure they can use.


      Reason: VSarkiss Delete: empty

      For more information on this node visit: this

Re: A wiki for Perl (reason?)
by grinder (Bishop) on Jun 23, 2003 at 21:00 UTC

    As it turns out, the Everything engine already has support for wikis, and there are various wikis dotted around the monastery for groups to collaborate on keeping things running smoothly.

    There is even a secret wiki on Perlmonks that is open to everyone. You can post anything you like there. But, as I said, it's a secret so if I told you where it was, I'd have to kill you. But seriously, it can be found by searching diligently.

    Getting back to your initial question, though, what would you use the wiki for? Just because you build it, doesn't mean they will come. The only thing I can think that might benefit from the wiki approach is some kind of souped-up perldoc tutorial/reference, however, I'm cynical enough to believe that after an initial flurry of activity it would fade away and wither.

    _____________________________________________
    Come to YAPC::Europe 2003 in Paris, 23-25 July 2003.

      :)

      Dotted wikis, hidden wiki. The public face of Perlmonks might itself be called a wiki. Certainly wiki-ish.

      So perhaps, the question is not "creating a wiki". But rather...

      Is there is yet more untapped Perlmonks wiki goodness which can be raise to public view for the enlightenment of the flock?

      As for whether they would come, good question. Two thoughts. They come to the other languages' sites. And they are already coming here.

      One might think of this as adding a less structured corner to Perlmonks, for the whatever assorted stuff doesn't fit neatly within existing strictures, er, sections.

      Perhaps?

      I built it and they didn't come.
      milkbone - perl/tk instant messaging - it's the only way to fly

      You know anyone who'll debug two million lines of code for what I get this job?
      - Dennis Nedry

        Also inline.perl.org.

        But wikis are like webpages, or mailinglists (or restaurants, or grouse nests, or...). One either needs a dedicated following, or a high-traffic location.

        Like, perhaps, <looking around>, here?

        Also, I've seen it said (drat, can't find the nice page) that creating a wiki takes time. One is building a social artifact, rather than merely a technical one. So one creates a site, with some initial interesting content, and advertises it. And adds content, and advertises it. And encourages someone to add something. And advertises it. And so on. It's a cultivation exercise, a community bootstrap exercise, rather than a release-date--ship-it--done one.

        I built it and they didn't come.
        Maybe you should ask the maintainer of www.perltk.org to add a link to your site?
      grinder,
      Actually - the secret wiki in question isn't open to everyone. At least that's what a little birdie told me a long time ago. I trust him since I think he got the information on high authority. You can't read the wiki until you have reached a certain level and you can't write until you have reached an even higher level. If I told you which levels, I might have to go chop carrots instead of learning how to teleport.

      Cheers - L~R

        This is complete fud. There is no secret wiki. There is no secret wiki. There is no secret wiki.

        The accessible-to-anyone wiki is here (you must be logged on to edit it.)

        Again, There is no secret wiki. Really.

Wikis (are worse are better)
by zby (Vicar) on Jun 24, 2003 at 08:17 UTC
    I do agree that a there should be a more exposed wiki here. I would just make a link from the front page to it, perhaps as an additional section. There are many discussions here about additional structure in PM - like better code sections, better cooperation with CPAN (reviews), etc. I believe many of them are quite usefull ideas, the problem is that they need some additional structure in the monastery, and that takes time. With an exposed wiki we could say - just start it as a wiki page, add the structure by manual intervention and see if it works. When it works and the manuall intervention is not that big problem then it can stay that way, when it works but the manual intervention is too big then one would have more arguments why to implement it as a software mechanism.

    Don't build the structure for people - let people build the structure. Give them the basic mechanisms and see what happens. Now it is easy to add content to PM - make it easy to add structure.

    -----------------------------------------
    A generall thread about colaboration on web pages: Collaborative Media.
    The original Worse is Better story.

(jeffa) Re: A wiki for Perl
by jeffa (Chancellor) on Jun 24, 2003 at 16:55 UTC
    Sounds like a perfect use for http://perlmonk.org. Get an account from jcwren and use it for your wiki. You have many choices over at CPAN: Wiki.

    As for making changes to this site ... i say the same as i always do: join pmdev. If you don't have the XP yet to become one, well, you have something to work towards. ;)

    UPDATE: wait a second ... has no-one mentioned our scratchpads yet? That could be considered a personal wiki of sorts ...

    jeffa

    L-LL-L--L-LL-L--L-LL-L--
    -R--R-RR-R--R-RR-R--R-RR
    B--B--B--B--B--B--B--B--
    H---H---H---H---H---H---
    (the triplet paradiddle with high-hat)
    
Summary of discussion
by mnc (Beadle) on Jun 25, 2003 at 14:03 UTC
    Perlmonks and wikiness are discussed in the next posting.

    - A wiki? What's a wiki?
    A website where everyone can create and edit pages. So you can create a page on some topic, and others can add to it. To make this easier, there are formatting shortcuts to reduce html clutter (like paragraphs automagically get a <p>). And titles are automagically linked - they OftenHaveThisForm so they can be regexped. Though Perlmonks' square-brackets are also used. Creating a wiki is an exercise in community building, and takes time. The philosophy is to make it very easy for people to contribute, and allow the everyone together to improve and clean up the site. Like the original vision of the web. And like Perlmonks, but less structured.

    - Take a look at a wiki
    There are links to the Ruby, Python, and Lua sites in the root posting (Tcl's... perhaps needs an editor). Or here's UseModWiki and a TWiki page. Note that the pages have a diff version history at the bottom, and a site-wide RecentChanges at the top.

    - Two popular perl wiki implementations are UseModWiki, and TWiki. There is a list here. There is also CGI::Wiki on CPAN, but I don't know it's state. Some existing perl-related wiki sites include PerlDesignPatterns, Inline, and the just-getting-started "batkins built it, please come" TkWiki. ;)

    - Ted Nelson(google) coined the term hypertext, and has been, well, puttering on it, for decades. Has a big vision, Xanadu, with fine grain linking, a money model, etc. But it never seems to quite get built/used. (There is a paragraph bio in the thread above).

    - http://perlmonk.org/ (jcwren) can provide a home for for worthy projects. Including wiki/twiki/kwikis.

    And now on to Perlmonks wiki goodness...

Perlmonks wiki goodness
by mnc (Beadle) on Jun 25, 2003 at 15:49 UTC
    Perlmonks wiki goodness

    Can do...

    "As it turns out, the Everything engine already has support for wikis, and there are various wikis dotted around the monastery", and "There is even a secret wiki on Perlmonks that is open to everyone.". Ah, the secret public wiki. :)

    How do...

    - a more exposed wiki ... link from the front page ... perhaps additional section.
    - A toggle on pages so authors can allow folks to edit them directly.
    - ...

    Why do...

    - "There are many discussions here about additional structure in PM ... many of them are quite useful ideas, the problem is that they need some additional structure in the monastery, and that takes time. With an exposed wiki we could say - just start it as a wiki page, add the structure by manual intervention and see if it works. When it works and the manual intervention is not that big problem then it can stay that way, when it works but the manual intervention is too big then one would have more arguments why to implement it as a software mechanism."
    (From zby's nice Wikis (are worse are better) above. Worth reading the whole thing.)

    - So people can contribute and organize content, even when it doesn't quite fit in the existing Sections, and have it collaboratively edited over time.

    - So a tutorial writer could allow folks to help them out with writing and editing, rather than their only being allowed to add comments.

    - So you can create a page of links on topic foo, which people can easily add to, flag as broken, and generally comment on.

    - So... you can easily create multi-page content, ... and various perl projects can build their wikis within the monastery, ...
    To blend wiki free-form-ness with PM's existing infrastructure, content, and community, ...

    To make the monastery an even more interesting place.

Re: A wiki for Perl
by doom (Deacon) on Jun 26, 2003 at 07:51 UTC
    My favorite wiki at the moment is the wikipedia, which I see already has an entry describing perl:
    http://www.wikipedia.org/w/wiki.phtml?search=perl&go=Go
    Incidentally (or maybe not) anything you might want to say about perl could be added to the wikipedia as an additional node, linked to from this page.

    Arguably it would be contrary to the spirit of the wikipedia to get *too* detailed, though.

      One of the things that Wikipedia is not is a repository of original material. A complete guide to Perl would be more suited to Wikibooks.
Was, a Wiki for Perl
by scrottie (Scribe) on Jul 08, 2003 at 21:04 UTC
    Argh. There are too many Perl Wikis. Only a few (perhaps a dozen) are large enough that their maintainers could take a vacation and have the community keep the Wiki propped up. Most of them are just the result of endless fragmentation, and there isn't enough attention going around to read them.

    Phoenix.PM.org's TinyWiki has a small selection of Perl related Wikis. Feel free to add others. Perl Design Patterns itself has a list of resources which is quite large. Some of the links are Wikis.

    I've seen this happen with MUD, too. When I started 'netting back in 1990, there were about 30 LPMuds (multi user dungeons). It was hard to get on the 'net at all, and when you did, it was probably on a vt220 dumb terminal attached to a VAX. It was almost impossible to get permission to run one from shell on a machine. There was very little recreation on the 'net aside from net news at this time. The many people who played all played the few games out there. They hated the MUD management, they were all convinced they could do a better job, they had big plans and no clue how to implement them but absolute confidence they could figure it out.

    When commercial Internet access became available and you could purchase a shell account from a place like Eskimo North (eskimo.com), suddenly, the number of MUDs exploded. All of these people that wanted to start a MUD were suddenly able to. The result was more MUDs than players! Every player had their own MUD, or even two! No longer were people having a good time on a crowded server dispising the management, they were spinning their wheels reinventing wheels that no one would ever see. MUD fragmented and died. Ever Quest came and mopped the floor with MUD. Heck, ICQ mopped the floor with MUD. People want to see all of their friends in one virtual place.

    If there were a great demand for Perl Wikis, then people besides myself would actually do things on perldesignpatterns.com, but they don't. I've hit 10,000 hits on the table of contents page, but about a dozen pages have been touched by hands other than mine. Which leads me to my second point in this rant: doing anything like this is an incomprehensiably huge amount of work. All of those people who desperetely wanted to start a MUD? They duplicated effort with each other, which would have required thousands of tens of thousands of hours, which they weren't really willing to put in. They just thought they were.

    If you haven't reached this conclusion on your own, I'll hand it to you: if you have a hankering to do something Perl-Wiki related, work on metawiki technology. Sunir created a meta-Wiki search that searches numerous Wikis. Ward's Wiki, the original, is playing with sister sites. TinyWiki (Perl Design Patterns) is playing with automated sister-sites, where links are automatically returned. This is the tip of the iceburg. A huge amount of work needs to be done. InterWiki is gaining momentum, but the interlists are manually maintained. De ja vu, LPMud had "intermud" lists that were automatically maintained, that lessons should be learned from. This should be generated automatically, from crawling. Rather than replicate content or link offsite, RSS feeds hold a lot of promise, and OddMuse is playing with this - a page from another Wiki could be included automatically, in cases where there is overlap in subject matter (frequent). Decentralizing navigation is a much harder topic.

    If for some reason you find this interesting, I wrote a piece a while back on PDP's Wiki and what makes a good forum in response to another thread about improving the EverythingEngine. My conclusion was going all-out on Wiki isn't the correct solution, but rather, a solid commitment to ongoing editing and refactoring and summerizing of the site.

    I don't read here, so if you really want to discuss this with me in particular, email me. scott@slowass.net.

    -scott
      If there were a great demand for Perl Wikis, then people besides myself would actually do things on perldesignpatterns.com, but they don't.

      Perhaps people aren't interested in Perl design patterns, or don't feel comfortable contributing to them.

      Argh. There are too many Perl Wikis. Only a few (perhaps a dozen) are large enough that their maintainers could take a vacation and have the community keep the Wiki propped up. Most of them are just the result of endless fragmentation, and there isn't enough attention going around to read them.

      I like it that way. I keep an eye on the Wiki's I'm interested in. I avoid the ones I don't. Public Wiki's are community tools - if there isn't enough community interest to maintain them then they're not going to get a lot of contributions.

      This isn't related to the number of Wiki's - it's related to whether people are actually interested in the topic, and whether they feel qualified to contribute. The large numbers of Wiki's out there don't stop new focussed Wiki's being effective. To pick two recent examples the Echo Wiki and Kwiki Wiki are both getting lots of contributions.

      Everquest is successful because it's better that the MUDs. Otherwise how would it have attracted its initial base of users. Now it's a large community that community itself is an attractor - but it had to be doing something new and interesting initially.

      Personally I don't think there is a large active Perl Wiki because there are existing well established locations for the Perl online community (perlmonks, perl.com, clpm, etc.) A new Wiki doesn't stand a chance of supplanting these existing communities - it doesn't offer enough benefit.

      Not to say that the meta-Wiki stuff isn't fascinating ;-)

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