Big problem to solve: good WYSIWYG on WMF wikis

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Re: [Foundation-l] Big problem to solve: good WYSIWYG on WMF wikis

cngxzl
Can we use a Javascript based parser to convert the wiki markup language to
some intermediate object, which can be easily converted to both languages
(wiki markup language and HTML)? I think JQuery object is a good idea. We
can extend JQuery to include such language conversion methods.
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Re: [Foundation-l] Big problem to solve: good WYSIWYG on WMF wikis

David Gerard-2
On 29 December 2010 16:20, Philip Tzou <[hidden email]> wrote:

> Can we use a Javascript based parser to convert the wiki markup language to
> some intermediate object, which can be easily converted to both languages
> (wiki markup language and HTML)? I think JQuery object is a good idea. We
> can extend JQuery to include such language conversion methods.


Magnus has already written a quick toy to this effect, "WYSIWTF":

  http://lists.wikimedia.org/pipermail/wikien-l/2010-December/108090.html

In later messages he lists various possible paths for expansion.


- d.

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Re: How would you disrupt Wikipedia?

Alex Zaddach
In reply to this post by Bryan Tong Minh
On 12/29/2010 7:05 AM, Bryan Tong Minh wrote:

> On Wed, Dec 29, 2010 at 12:36 PM, Maciej Jaros <[hidden email]> wrote:
>> If one would have a budget of gazillions of dollars then it would be
>> quite easy ;-). The problem is - what would be the point of investing
>> such money if you wouldn't get it back from this investment?
>>
> While money can fix a lot of things, I don't think the current
> bottleneck is money. To break stuff you need to find community
> consensus, developer consensus, somebody willing to implement it and
> somebody to review it. Of course for a gazillion dollars you could
> perhaps the eliminate a few of these steps, but in general they are
> not really easy to solve with money I think.
>

I think one of the biggest obstacles to improving the Wikipedia user
experience is the requirement that the content has to not only be
reusable, but reusable with a minimum amount of effort - i.e. on a free
shared hosting environment with neither shell access nor the ability to
install or compile programs. With only a couple exceptions[1] any
software that's required to display Wikipedia content has to be PHP,
have a PHP implementation available, or be done client-side (and of
course, we can't use Flash). We're hamstrung by the limitations of what
can be reasonably done in pure PHP even in cases when we would be using
a C extension or shelling out to an executable.

The recently revived discussion on StringFunctions is a good example of
this. Tim and others don't want to install StringFunctions because it
will just increase the complexity of wikitext and, like ParserFunctions,
will only be a temporary fix until template coders write new templates
that reach new limits created. A real solution to the issue is to use a
real programming language in place of wikitext for complex templates.
But until the aforementioned limitation is relaxed, that's likely never
going to happen. We have to either implement an existing language like
Lua in PHP or write our own language and maintain 2 implementations of
it (the compiled version for WMF and the pure PHP version).

[1] LaTeX and EasyTimeline

--
Alex (wikipedia:en:User:Mr.Z-man)

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Re: How would you disrupt Wikipedia?

Lars Aronsson
In reply to this post by Neil Kandalgaonkar
On 12/29/2010 08:31 AM, Neil Kandalgaonkar wrote:
> Let's imagine you wanted to start a rival to Wikipedia. Assume that you
> are motivated by money, and that venture capitalists promise you can be
> paid gazillions of dollars if you can do one, or many, of the following:

This is a foolish discussion for two reasons. First, wikitech-l is
a technical list, and not suited for talk on organizational change.
Second, innovation doesn't come from within. Encyclopaedia
Britannica didn't invent Wikipedia, AT&T didn't invent the
Internet, Gorbachev didn't succeed in implementing
competition within the communist party (although he tried),
and dinosaurs weren't invited to the design committee for
the surviving mammals. If there is a new alternative to Wikipedia,
we, the subscribers to wikitech-l, are not invited to design it.

What we can easily achieve is to make bureaucracy so
slow and rigid (and our discussions derailed, like now)
that more people will leave WMF projects. But this is
not enough to create a working alternative.


--
   Lars Aronsson ([hidden email])
   Aronsson Datateknik - http://aronsson.se



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Re: How would you disrupt Wikipedia?

Rob Lanphier-4
In reply to this post by Neil Kandalgaonkar
On Tue, Dec 28, 2010 at 11:31 PM, Neil Kandalgaonkar
<[hidden email]> wrote:

> Let's imagine you wanted to start a rival to Wikipedia. Assume that you
> are motivated by money, and that venture capitalists promise you can be
> paid gazillions of dollars if you can do one, or many, of the following:
>
> 1 - Become a more attractive home to the WP editors. Get them to work on
> your content.
>
> 2 - Take the free content from WP, and use it in this new system. But
> make it much better, in a way Wikipedia can't match.
>
> 3 - Attract even more readers, or perhaps a niche group of
> super-passionate readers that you can use to build a new community.

I'll start off by saying that I have no idea how anyone would do it,
realistically.  I'm pretty sure it's possible, but I think a big
reason that it hasn't happened yet is because the economics of
creating a competitor are really difficult.  There are very few
markets that Microsoft completely gave up in (especially markets in
which they've had success), but yet that's exactly what they did with
Encarta.  Good luck getting VC money to take on a market that
Microsoft abandons.  ;-)

I suspect if I had to choose, though, I'd go with #2.  I'd probably
bootstrap by creating tools *for* Wikipedia editors rather than trying
right off the bat to create a wholly separate site.  For example, it'd
probably be possible to scrape our data to create a really fantastic
citation database, which then could be used to build tools that make
creating citations much easier.  The goal would be to make it easier
for editors to keep *my* database up-to-date, and push a copy to
Wikipedia, rather than having to constantly suck things out of
Wikipedia.

That's such a small part of the overall editing problem that I'm not
sure how I'd bootstrap that into something much larger (and in the
case of a citation database, it wouldn't be necessary for Wikipedia to
lose in order to have a modest ad-supported business).

As to the implied question, I think we need to figure out ways of
making things like this easier for third parties to tackle.  If we can
make it easier for third parties to create tools for editing Wikipedia
(regardless of their motivations), we'll probably accidentally make it
easier for us to make it easier to edit Wikipedia.

Rob

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Re: How would you disrupt Wikipedia?

Neil Kandalgaonkar
In reply to this post by Bryan Tong Minh
On 12/29/10 4:05 AM, Bryan Tong Minh wrote:
> On Wed, Dec 29, 2010 at 12:36 PM, Maciej Jaros<[hidden email]>  wrote:
>> If one would have a budget of gazillions of dollars then it would be
>> quite easy ;-). The problem is - what would be the point of investing
>> such money if you wouldn't get it back from this investment?
>>
> While money can fix a lot of things, I don't think the current
> bottleneck is money.

I apologize for sending this discussion in a direction I hadn't
intended. The money was purely to imply that you had to be motivated,
not that you had a vast budget.

Let me be more explicit. The "innovator's dilemma" problem, already
referred to in this discussion, occurs because the successful innovator
can't see past the goal of defending their earlier successes, and
working with their existing assets.

The thought experiment of working for a competitor was meant to suggest
this: what would you do if you wanted to make Wikipedia's earlier
successes *obsolete*? The point is to then try to look at some of our
greatest assets and see if, in the current environment, they could be
potential liabilities.

And the followup question was "if a competitor can do this, why don't WE
do this?"

Brion already suggested something like this, where we would end up with
a transition regime between old and new.

P.S. All due respect to RobLa, but "Microsoft tried this and failed"
doesn't exactly convince me it's impossible. ;)

--
Neil Kandalgaonkar (   <[hidden email]>

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Re: How would you disrupt Wikipedia?

Neil Kandalgaonkar
In reply to this post by MZMcBride-2
On 12/29/10 3:21 AM, MZMcBride wrote:

> David Gerard wrote:
>> On 29 December 2010 08:24, MZMcBride<[hidden email]>  wrote:
>>
>>> To me (and
>>> others), that leaves the question of what would happen if you wrote some
>>> software that was actually built for making an encyclopedia, rather than the
>>> jack of all trades product that MediaWiki is.
>>
>> MediaWiki is precisely that software. And there's any number of
>> specialist wikis using it that are basically Wikipedia in a specialist
>> area.
>
> No, I don't think MediaWiki is precisely that software. MediaWiki is a wiki
> engine that can be used for a variety of purposes. It may have started out
> as a tool to make an encyclopedia, but very shortly after its mission
> drifted.

I agree. If MediaWiki is software for creating an encyclopedia then why
are the tools for creating references and footnotes optional extras?
It's rather difficult to set up MediaWiki so that it works in a manner
similar to Wikipedia or Wikimedia Commons (and I know this from experience).

Scale matters too. Right now, any new feature for MediaWiki has to be
considered in the light of some tiny organization running it on an aging
Windows PC, as well as running a top ten website. It's amazing that
MediaWiki has managed to bridge this gap at all, but it's come at a
noticeable cost.

Question: assuming that our primary interest is creating software for
Wikipedia and similar WMF projects, do we actually get anything from the
Windows PC intranet users that offsets the cost of keeping MediaWiki
friendly to both environments? In other words, do we get contributions
from them that help us do Wikipedia et al,?


> MW2.0 would use actual
> input forms for data, instead of the completely hackish hellhole that is
> "[[Category:]]" and "{{Infobox |param}}". MW2.0 would standardize and
> normalize template parameters to something more sane and would allow
> categories to be added, removed, and moved without divine intervention (and
> a working knowledge of Python). MW2.0 would have the ability to edit pages
> without knowing an esoteric, confusing, and non-standardized markup.

+1

I think it is vital to keep templates -- it's a whole new layer of
creativity and MediaWiki's shown that many powerful features can come
about that way. That said, we also want a template to have some
guaranteee of sane inputs and outputs, and maybe a template could also
suggest how its data should be indexed in search engines or for internal
search, or how to create a friendly GUI interface. Perhaps that would be
impossible for all cases, but if XML made it easy in 95% of cases, I'd
take that tradeoff.

As a programmer I am somewhat dismayed at the atrocities that have been
perpetrated with MediaWiki. (Wikimedia's hacking language variants to
show licensing options is my favorite). As someone who believes that
given freedom, users will create amazing things, I'm blown away by the
creativity. I think those show the need for a *more* powerful template
system, that is hopefully easier to use.

Maybe this is anathema here, but XML seems like a logical choice to me.
While inefficient to type in raw code, it is widely understood, and we
can use existing tools to make WYSIWYG editors easily. So perhaps an
infobox could be edited with a sort of form that was autogenerated from
some metadata that described the possible contents of an infobox.

Also, XML can encapsulate data and even other templates to an infinite
degree. A few months ago somebody asked how they could implement a third
layer of "quoting" in the geocoding template syntax and it just seemed
to me like this problem shouldn't have to exist.

--
Neil Kandalgaonkar (   <[hidden email]>

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Re: How would you disrupt Wikipedia?

Fred Bauder-2
In reply to this post by Neil Kandalgaonkar

> And the followup question was "if a competitor can do this, why don't WE
> do this?"

Now you're talking. Being static because a competitor might be able to
adopt your changes better than you can is ultimately self-defeating.

Fred


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Re: How would you disrupt Wikipedia?

Ryan Lane-2
In reply to this post by Neil Kandalgaonkar
> Question: assuming that our primary interest is creating software for
> Wikipedia and similar WMF projects, do we actually get anything from the
> Windows PC intranet users that offsets the cost of keeping MediaWiki
> friendly to both environments? In other words, do we get contributions
> from them that help us do Wikipedia et al,?
>

As someone who originally started contributing from maintaining a
small MediaWiki instance, I kind of dislike this question. I also
don't think we should be mixing "we" when discussing WMF and
MediaWiki.

But to answer your question: yes. We get contributions, we get
employees, and we get a larger, more vibrant community. A number of
contributors come from enterprises and small shops, but they often
don't contribute directly to Wikimedia projects. However, their
contributions often allow other people to use the software in
environments they couldn't be used in otherwise (LDAP authentication
is a perfect example of this). The people who then get to use the
software may turn into contributors that do benefit WMF.

MediaWiki is created primarily for WMF use, but a lot of other people
depend on it. I advocate the use of the software by everyone, and
emphasize in talks that we want contributions from everyone, even if
they don't benefit WMF. I don't think we should discourage this. We
should really try harder to embrace enterprise users to get *more*
non-WMF specific extensions and features.

It doesn't take that much effort to keep core small, and maintain
extensions for WMF use. I honestly don't think this is a limiting
factor to the usability of WMF projects, either.

Respectfully,

Ryan Lane

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Re: How would you disrupt Wikipedia?

Chad
On Wed, Dec 29, 2010 at 4:55 PM, Ryan Lane <[hidden email]> wrote:

> As someone who originally started contributing from maintaining a
> small MediaWiki instance, I kind of dislike this question. I also
> don't think we should be mixing "we" when discussing WMF and
> MediaWiki.
>
> But to answer your question: yes. We get contributions, we get
> employees, and we get a larger, more vibrant community. A number of
> contributors come from enterprises and small shops, but they often
> don't contribute directly to Wikimedia projects. However, their
> contributions often allow other people to use the software in
> environments they couldn't be used in otherwise (LDAP authentication
> is a perfect example of this). The people who then get to use the
> software may turn into contributors that do benefit WMF.
>

QFT.

-Chad

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Re: How would you disrupt Wikipedia?

MZMcBride-2
In reply to this post by Neil Kandalgaonkar
Neil Kandalgaonkar wrote:
> Question: assuming that our primary interest is creating software for
> Wikipedia and similar WMF projects, do we actually get anything from the
> Windows PC intranet users that offsets the cost of keeping MediaWiki
> friendly to both environments? In other words, do we get contributions
> from them that help us do Wikipedia et al,?

Not generally, no.

MediaWiki is just one of Wikimedia's projects, something that I think is
sometimes overlooked or forgotten. Probably as it's the current base upon
which all the other projects are built. To me, that appears to be the
fundamental problem here. I've said this in a roundabout way a few times
now, but the horse is still whimpering, so let's try once more.

I don't think the software that a dictionary or quote database needs is ever
going to be the same as the software that an encyclopedia or news site
needs. And I don't think the software options that fit those four use-cases
will ever work (well!) for a media repository. I don't think it's a lack of
creativity. Given the hacks put in place on sites like the English
Wiktionary, it's clearly not. But at some point there has to be a
recognition that using a screwdriver to put nails in the wall is a bad idea.
You need a hammer.

Tim wrote a blog on techblog.wikimedia.org in July 2010 about MediaWiki
version statistics. Someone commented that it was ironic that Wikimedia was
using WordPress instead of MediaWiki as a blogging platform. Tim's response:
they do different things.[1]

This isn't a matter of not knowing what the problem is. The problem is
recognized by the leading MediaWiki developers and it's an old software
principle (cf. Unix's philosophy[2] of doing one thing and doing it well).
The full phrase quoted earlier is "jack of all trades, master of none." I
think MediaWiki fits this perfectly.

MediaWiki needs to re-focus or fork. Ultimately, however, there are not
enough resources to maintain every current Wikimedia project and nobody is
willing to make the necessary cuts. So we end up with a lot of mediocre
projects/products rather than one or two great ones.

MZMcBride

[1] http://techblog.wikimedia.org/?p=970#comment-819
[2] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unix_philosophy



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Re: How would you disrupt Wikipedia?

George William Herbert
In reply to this post by David Gerard-2
On Wed, Dec 29, 2010 at 2:26 AM, David Gerard <[hidden email]> wrote:
> On 29 December 2010 08:24, MZMcBride <[hidden email]> wrote:
>
>> To me (and
>> others), that leaves the question of what would happen if you wrote some
>> software that was actually built for making an encyclopedia, rather than the
>> jack of all trades product that MediaWiki is.
>
>
> MediaWiki is precisely that software.

However - see also the other threads on other lists recently, about MW
core failings.

MW was designed to build an encyclopedia with Web 1.5 technology.  It
was a major step forwards compared to its contemporaries, but sites
like Gmail, Facebook, Twitter are massive user experience advances
over where we are and can credibly go with MediaWiki.

So, to modify David's comment -

MediaWiki *was* precisely that software.


--
-george william herbert
[hidden email]

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Re: How would you disrupt Wikipedia?

Neil Kandalgaonkar
In reply to this post by Ryan Lane-2
Thanks... I know this is a provocative question but I meant it just as
it was stated, nothing more, nothing less. For better or worse my
history with the foundation is too short to know the answers to these
questions.

All the assumptions in my question are up for grabs, including the
assumption that we're even primarily developing MediaWiki for WMF
projects. Maybe we think it's just a good thing for the world and that's
that.

Anyway, I would question that it doesn't take a lot of effort to keep
the core small -- it seems to me that more and more of the things we use
to power the big WMF projects are being pushed into extensions and
templates and difficult-to-reproduce configuration and even data entered
directly into the wiki, commingled indistinguishably with documents. (As
you are aware, it takes a lot of knowledge to recreate Wikipedia for a
testing environment. ;)

Meanwhile, MediaWiki is perhaps too powerful and too complex to
administer for the small organization. I work with a small group of
artists that run a MediaWiki instance and whenever online collaboration
has to happen, nobody in this group says "Let's make a wiki page!" That
used to happen, but nowadays they go straight to Google Docs. And that
has a lot of downsides; no version history, complex to auth credentials,
lack of formatting power, can't easily transition to a doc published on
a website, etc.

I'm not saying MediaWiki has to be the weapon of choice for lightweight
collaboration. Maybe that suggests maybe we should narrow the focus of
what we're doing. Or, get more serious about going after those use cases.



On 12/29/10 1:55 PM, Ryan Lane wrote:

>> Question: assuming that our primary interest is creating software for
>> Wikipedia and similar WMF projects, do we actually get anything from the
>> Windows PC intranet users that offsets the cost of keeping MediaWiki
>> friendly to both environments? In other words, do we get contributions
>> from them that help us do Wikipedia et al,?
>>
>
> As someone who originally started contributing from maintaining a
> small MediaWiki instance, I kind of dislike this question. I also
> don't think we should be mixing "we" when discussing WMF and
> MediaWiki.
>
> But to answer your question: yes. We get contributions, we get
> employees, and we get a larger, more vibrant community. A number of
> contributors come from enterprises and small shops, but they often
> don't contribute directly to Wikimedia projects. However, their
> contributions often allow other people to use the software in
> environments they couldn't be used in otherwise (LDAP authentication
> is a perfect example of this). The people who then get to use the
> software may turn into contributors that do benefit WMF.
>
> MediaWiki is created primarily for WMF use, but a lot of other people
> depend on it. I advocate the use of the software by everyone, and
> emphasize in talks that we want contributions from everyone, even if
> they don't benefit WMF. I don't think we should discourage this. We
> should really try harder to embrace enterprise users to get *more*
> non-WMF specific extensions and features.
>
> It doesn't take that much effort to keep core small, and maintain
> extensions for WMF use. I honestly don't think this is a limiting
> factor to the usability of WMF projects, either.
>
> Respectfully,
>
> Ryan Lane
>
> _______________________________________________
> Wikitech-l mailing list
> [hidden email]
> https://lists.wikimedia.org/mailman/listinfo/wikitech-l

--
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Re: How would you disrupt Wikipedia?

Alex Zaddach
In reply to this post by MZMcBride-2
On 12/29/2010 5:14 PM, MZMcBride wrote:

> Neil Kandalgaonkar wrote:
>> Question: assuming that our primary interest is creating software for
>> Wikipedia and similar WMF projects, do we actually get anything from the
>> Windows PC intranet users that offsets the cost of keeping MediaWiki
>> friendly to both environments? In other words, do we get contributions
>> from them that help us do Wikipedia et al,?
>
> Not generally, no.
>
> MediaWiki is just one of Wikimedia's projects, something that I think is
> sometimes overlooked or forgotten. Probably as it's the current base upon
> which all the other projects are built. To me, that appears to be the
> fundamental problem here. I've said this in a roundabout way a few times
> now, but the horse is still whimpering, so let's try once more.
>
> I don't think the software that a dictionary or quote database needs is ever
> going to be the same as the software that an encyclopedia or news site
> needs. And I don't think the software options that fit those four use-cases
> will ever work (well!) for a media repository. I don't think it's a lack of
> creativity. Given the hacks put in place on sites like the English
> Wiktionary, it's clearly not. But at some point there has to be a
> recognition that using a screwdriver to put nails in the wall is a bad idea.
> You need a hammer.
>
> Tim wrote a blog on techblog.wikimedia.org in July 2010 about MediaWiki
> version statistics. Someone commented that it was ironic that Wikimedia was
> using WordPress instead of MediaWiki as a blogging platform. Tim's response:
> they do different things.[1]
>
> This isn't a matter of not knowing what the problem is. The problem is
> recognized by the leading MediaWiki developers and it's an old software
> principle (cf. Unix's philosophy[2] of doing one thing and doing it well).
> The full phrase quoted earlier is "jack of all trades, master of none." I
> think MediaWiki fits this perfectly.
>

I don't think using a general purpose wiki engine for every project is
inherently a poor idea. MediaWiki is highly extensible. We just, for
some reason, haven't really taken advantage of that where it could
really matter. Most of the extensions we use just kind of work in the
background. I don't know if its due to lack of resources, or whether the
WMF wants all the projects to look and work the same.

Wiktionary is probably the easiest example. All of the entries follow a
fairly rigid layout that lends itself rather easily to a form, yet we're
still inputting them using a single big textarea.

Though that's not to say we couldn't still do better than we are with a
general purpose wiki engine. I still stand by my earlier suggestion that
we drop the requirement that everything WMF uses has to be able to work
for others right out of the box using only PHP. We should use PHP when
possible, but it shouldn't be a limitation.

--
Alex (wikipedia:en:User:Mr.Z-man)

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Re: How would you disrupt Wikipedia?

Ryan Kaldari-2
In reply to this post by Neil Kandalgaonkar
I would steal some of the better ideas from Wikia like the "hot article"
lists, user polls, user avatars, and throw in some real-time
collaboration software a la Etherpad.

Ryan Kaldari

On 12/28/10 11:31 PM, Neil Kandalgaonkar wrote:

> I've been inspired by the discussion David Gerard and Brion Vibber
> kicked off, and I think they are headed in the right direction.
>
> But I just want to ask a separate, but related question.
>
> Let's imagine you wanted to start a rival to Wikipedia. Assume that you
> are motivated by money, and that venture capitalists promise you can be
> paid gazillions of dollars if you can do one, or many, of the following:
>
> 1 - Become a more attractive home to the WP editors. Get them to work on
> your content.
>
> 2 - Take the free content from WP, and use it in this new system. But
> make it much better, in a way Wikipedia can't match.
>
> 3 - Attract even more readers, or perhaps a niche group of
> super-passionate readers that you can use to build a new community.
>
> In other words, if you had no legacy, and just wanted to build something
> from zero, how would you go about creating an innovation that was
> disruptive to Wikipedia, in fact something that made Wikipedia look like
> Friendster or Myspace compared to Facebook?
>
> And there's a followup question to this -- but you're all smart people
> and can guess what it is.
>
>    

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Re: How would you disrupt Wikipedia?

Soxred93@gmail.com
Of course, you have to remember that Wikipedia is a top 10 website. Wikia is a top 200 website. "hot article"s just don't scale that well to a wiki like Wikipedia. It's fundamentally flawed.

On the flip side, an Etherpad-like feature would be nice.

-X!

On Dec 29, 2010, at 6:41 PM, Ryan Kaldari wrote:

> I would steal some of the better ideas from Wikia like the "hot article"
> lists, user polls, user avatars, and throw in some real-time
> collaboration software a la Etherpad.
>
> Ryan Kaldari
>
> On 12/28/10 11:31 PM, Neil Kandalgaonkar wrote:
>> I've been inspired by the discussion David Gerard and Brion Vibber
>> kicked off, and I think they are headed in the right direction.
>>
>> But I just want to ask a separate, but related question.
>>
>> Let's imagine you wanted to start a rival to Wikipedia. Assume that you
>> are motivated by money, and that venture capitalists promise you can be
>> paid gazillions of dollars if you can do one, or many, of the following:
>>
>> 1 - Become a more attractive home to the WP editors. Get them to work on
>> your content.
>>
>> 2 - Take the free content from WP, and use it in this new system. But
>> make it much better, in a way Wikipedia can't match.
>>
>> 3 - Attract even more readers, or perhaps a niche group of
>> super-passionate readers that you can use to build a new community.
>>
>> In other words, if you had no legacy, and just wanted to build something
>> from zero, how would you go about creating an innovation that was
>> disruptive to Wikipedia, in fact something that made Wikipedia look like
>> Friendster or Myspace compared to Facebook?
>>
>> And there's a followup question to this -- but you're all smart people
>> and can guess what it is.
>>
>>
>
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Re: How would you disrupt Wikipedia?

Brion Vibber
In reply to this post by Neil Kandalgaonkar
On Dec 28, 2010 11:31 PM, "Neil Kandalgaonkar" <[hidden email]> wrote:
>
> I've been inspired by the discussion David Gerard and Brion Vibber
> kicked off, and I think they are headed in the right direction.
>
> But I just want to ask a separate, but related question.
>
> Let's imagine you wanted to start a rival to Wikipedia. Assume that you

I think this isn't as useful a question as it might be; defining a project
in terms of competing with something else leads to stagnation, not
innovation.

A better question might be: what would be a project that would help people
involving freely distributable and modifiable educational and reference
materials, that you could create with today and tomorrow's tech and
sufficient resources, that doesn't exist or work well today?

-- brion vibber (brion @ pobox.com)
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Re: How would you disrupt Wikipedia?

Ryan Kaldari-2
In reply to this post by Soxred93@gmail.com
Actually, I would implement "hot articles" per WikiProject. So, for
example, you could see the 5 articles under WikiProject Arthropods that
had been edited the most in the past week. That should scale well. In
fact, I would probably redesign Wikipedia to be WikiProject-based from
the ground up, rather than as an afterthought. Like when you first sign
up for an account it asks you which WikiProjects you want to join, etc.
and there are cool extensions for earning points and awards within
WikiProjects (that don't require learning how to use templates).

Ryan Kaldari

On 12/29/10 3:49 PM, Soxred93 wrote:

> Of course, you have to remember that Wikipedia is a top 10 website. Wikia is a top 200 website. "hot article"s just don't scale that well to a wiki like Wikipedia. It's fundamentally flawed.
>
> On the flip side, an Etherpad-like feature would be nice.
>
> -X!
>
> On Dec 29, 2010, at 6:41 PM, Ryan Kaldari wrote:
>
>    
>> I would steal some of the better ideas from Wikia like the "hot article"
>> lists, user polls, user avatars, and throw in some real-time
>> collaboration software a la Etherpad.
>>
>> Ryan Kaldari
>>
>> On 12/28/10 11:31 PM, Neil Kandalgaonkar wrote:
>>      
>>> I've been inspired by the discussion David Gerard and Brion Vibber
>>> kicked off, and I think they are headed in the right direction.
>>>
>>> But I just want to ask a separate, but related question.
>>>
>>> Let's imagine you wanted to start a rival to Wikipedia. Assume that you
>>> are motivated by money, and that venture capitalists promise you can be
>>> paid gazillions of dollars if you can do one, or many, of the following:
>>>
>>> 1 - Become a more attractive home to the WP editors. Get them to work on
>>> your content.
>>>
>>> 2 - Take the free content from WP, and use it in this new system. But
>>> make it much better, in a way Wikipedia can't match.
>>>
>>> 3 - Attract even more readers, or perhaps a niche group of
>>> super-passionate readers that you can use to build a new community.
>>>
>>> In other words, if you had no legacy, and just wanted to build something
>>> from zero, how would you go about creating an innovation that was
>>> disruptive to Wikipedia, in fact something that made Wikipedia look like
>>> Friendster or Myspace compared to Facebook?
>>>
>>> And there's a followup question to this -- but you're all smart people
>>> and can guess what it is.
>>>
>>>
>>>        
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>> Wikitech-l mailing list
>> [hidden email]
>> https://lists.wikimedia.org/mailman/listinfo/wikitech-l
>>      
>
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Re: How would you disrupt Wikipedia?

Maciej Jaros
In reply to this post by Neil Kandalgaonkar
Neil Kandalgaonkar (2010-12-29 21:40):

> On 12/29/10 4:05 AM, Bryan Tong Minh wrote:
>> On Wed, Dec 29, 2010 at 12:36 PM, Maciej Jaros<[hidden email]>   wrote:
>>> If one would have a budget of gazillions of dollars then it would be
>>> quite easy ;-). The problem is - what would be the point of investing
>>> such money if you wouldn't get it back from this investment?
>>>
>> While money can fix a lot of things, I don't think the current
>> bottleneck is money.
> I apologize for sending this discussion in a direction I hadn't
> intended. The money was purely to imply that you had to be motivated,
> not that you had a vast budget.
>
> Let me be more explicit. The "innovator's dilemma" problem, already
> referred to in this discussion, occurs because the successful innovator
> can't see past the goal of defending their earlier successes, and
> working with their existing assets.
>
> The thought experiment of working for a competitor was meant to suggest
> this: what would you do if you wanted to make Wikipedia's earlier
> successes *obsolete*? The point is to then try to look at some of our
> greatest assets and see if, in the current environment, they could be
> potential liabilities.

My original point was that the community is the power of WMF sites and
that this alone is IMHO hard to beat. To be more exact this is a
community that I believe is loyal and needs to trust the
corporation/founder/foundation behind the site (I've seen a community
driven project fall after loosing this trust).

> And the followup question was "if a competitor can do this, why don't WE
> do this?"

We don't because it would probably be more reasonable for our competitor
to do something completely different to gather different community or he
would have to make a gigantic effort to steal current community (both in
technical and PR terms). I think the effort would simply be inefficient.

In any case - the next killer functionality (if that's what you're
asking) is well known and already mentioned - WYSIWYG. WYSIWYG that
makes edits easy for new users and make them not break existing markup.
And yes I believe present markup needs to be preserved. Not because it's
good, it's because it is well know to many current users. It's because
community is accustomed with it. Loosing users after changing markup
drastically would certainly not be a good idea. You have to remember how
many disappointment brought a simple change of default skin. Something
that can be changed back in 3 clicks. And so new markup (if such would
be used) would have to at least be parseable back to wikitext.

Regards,
Nux.

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Re: How would you disrupt Wikipedia?

Aryeh Gregor
In reply to this post by Neil Kandalgaonkar
On Wed, Dec 29, 2010 at 2:31 AM, Neil Kandalgaonkar <[hidden email]> wrote:
> In other words, if you had no legacy, and just wanted to build something
> from zero, how would you go about creating an innovation that was
> disruptive to Wikipedia, in fact something that made Wikipedia look like
> Friendster or Myspace compared to Facebook?

By having content that's consistently better.  It doesn't matter how
easy your site is to edit.  Even if your site is so easy to edit that
you get 10% of viewers editing, 10% of your few million (at best)
viewers is still going to get you vastly worse content than a small
fraction of a percent of Wikipedia's billions.  Wikipedia survives off
network effects; it's not even remotely a level playing field.  People
who are focusing on things like WYSIWYG or better-quality editing
software are missing the point.  You need to have better *content* to
attract viewers, before you even stand a chance of edits through your
site being meaningful.

If you somehow manage to have content that's consistently better than
Wikipedia's, though, people will figure out over time, as long as you
can maintain the quality advantage.  One obvious strategy would be to
mirror Wikipedia in real time and send viewers to Wikipedia proper to
edit it, but to have more useful features or a better experience.
Maybe a better mobile site, maybe faster page load times, maybe easier
navigation or search.  Maybe more content, letting people put up
vanity bios or articles about obscure webcomics that integrate more or
less seamlessly with the Wikipedia corpus.  You could even compete by
putting up a better editing interface, conceivably, although auth
would be tricky to work out.  If you ever got a majority of viewers
coming to your site, you could fork transparently.

On Wed, Dec 29, 2010 at 6:59 PM, Brion Vibber <[hidden email]> wrote:
> I think this isn't as useful a question as it might be; defining a project
> in terms of competing with something else leads to stagnation, not
> innovation.

I agree.  The correct strategy to take down Wikipedia would involve
overcoming the network effect that locks it into its current position
of dominance, and that's not something that would be useful for
Wikipedia itself to do.  To fend off attacks of this sort, what you'd
want is to make your content harder to reuse, which we explicitly
*don't* want to do.  Better to ask: how can we enable more people to
contribute who want to but can't be bothered?

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