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WikiWikiWeb (wikipedia.org)
137 points by tosh on July 12, 2019 | hide | past | favorite | 47 comments

I guess I'm one of those old people now who actually does remember reading about software patterns on the c2.com wiki, and being amazed by it, before Wikipedia even existed :)

Some of their article titles are still hilarious, like http://wiki.c2.com/?SmugLispWeenie

I appreciate asking questions like "WhatsaControllerAnyway?"


And covering both sides of issues like:



Not before wikipedia existed but I did lose myself countless times on this website. The most impressive side of it was the ratio of information over presentation. It's confusing to follow the discussions at times but you will make the effort without hesitating.


I HaveThisPattern.

> On February 1, 2015 Cunningham announced that the Wiki had been rewritten as a single-page application and migrated to the new Federated Wiki.[6]

I still don't understand the motivation behind this. The "new" SPA is bizarrely unperformant and inelegant. Unnecessary too, since the wiki just serves a bunch of unstyled HTML boilerplate. What was the idea here?

The point wasn't a new front-end. From this Wired article[1]:

> But there is one thing about the wiki that he regrets. "I always felt bad that I owned all those pages," he says. The central idea of a wiki – whether it's driving Wikipedia or C2 – is that anyone can add or edit a page, but those pages all live on servers that someone else owns and controls. Cunningham now believes that no one should have that sort of central control, so he has built something called the federated wiki.

So, in short, the point is decentralization, so the Wiki belongs to the people and not be under any one entity's control.

[1] https://www.wired.com/2012/07/wiki-inventor/

Watch Ward's video on fedwiki's design goals: https://www.infoq.com/presentations/federated-wiki/ Some of the goals mentioned in the talk is providing tools to aid in journalism, and a chorus of different perspectives on a given topic.

Can't find the post, but someone in the indiewebcamp community had a reflection on how so much of our contributive information gets pushed into comments now, instead of direct contributions of information. There's seemingly a chasm between very large wiki sites like Wikipedia (where the there's more resistance in the contribution process in the form of editing guide), and Personal documentation tools (traditional blogging, gdocs/quip/etc., notetaking platforms like evernote/etc.)

It was fun for Ward to work on. What other idea does there have to be?

One thing I liked was the use of WikiCase. Just type the title of another page, and it makes it a link. No markup to learn. Very approachable. There are a number of major downsides, though, so I am glad most modern wikis use a markup-based system.




But the tiny learning curve made them so accessible. Back then you could introduce a wiki for your team and start churning out project documentation right in a meeting. Where the wikis back then didn't hold up was for long term documentation sites. If your wiki would only have a short shelf life it was an awesome collaboration tool.

Where did you feel wikis fell down in the long term? I would quite happily ditch Slack for something like a live collaborative Google Docs but simpler and with wiki style linking, if the tooling for search and discovery was good.

I'm surprised how many people today, even people my age, don't realize that anyone can edit Wikipedia, or that there's much more valuable information (at least for controversial articles) located in the Talk page.

You can edit it, but your edit will be quickly reverted.

If you make small changes to improve the article, you won't get reverted. The issue is that many people want to add their opinion, but Wikipedia is based on third-party reliable sources, not on random people's opinion.

Not always but definitely true for anything politically controversial.

It's true for anything with an obsessive self-declared owner on a subject. Political articles attract those like flies, but you'd be surprised at all the other places they nest.

Everything is political to somebody.

I see that the bird lovers have finally conquered the Feral_cat page on wikipedia. That took some doing. The obsessed cat crazies used to really guard that page.

A decade or two ago, wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales had to step in to handle pedophilia-related pages that were being guarded by sympathetic editors.

Most companies will guard pages related to them. Whole countries will even do this.

Not just controversial or political. I've added edits with valid sources to non-political and non-controversial pages only to have them immediately reverted by a zealous editor who looks things just as they are.

I had edits with valid sources be reverted and then added by the "owner" of the page. Wikipedia honestly is a mess in my opinion for contribution. I'd prefer if edits could be voted upon by the community to be approved or not instead of someone being able to straight up edit it and straight up revert edits.

This is my experience. I fix an error on a page (and not a controversial page, and just fixing an error in some math) and it is immediately reverted by someone's bot. A few hours later the moderator puts the edit back in. Probably pretty difficult for someone to break into the "star wiki editors" list these days.

This is a really interesting idea!

The history of wikis[1] page says that the wiki concept was introduced to the general public by Wikipedia.

Of course this is a one sided perspective. Growing up in Sweden I was introduced to the concept by susning.nu. Which is also mentioned on that same page.

For a while it was a concept to look up things on susning. Just like googling.

"Skaffa en susning" is an old swedish saying that means "get a clue", "educate yourself".

1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_wikis

Thanks to Ward and his friends, a source of inspiration like few.

I loved the site so much I used to spam it on every blog as a 'personal website' to promote it ..

My favourite online community. It taught me a lot about what can and cannot work with online social organizations. It is amazing how much can work with so little just through sheer common spirit, focus, and camaraderie.

I remember researching online communities and eventually found this:


Somewhat off-topic but also eye-opening to me was this:


It was a great online community!

It was weird how shared content (what we think of as a wiki today) and discussion ("talk" pages on wikipedia) were all mixed together, and it somehow worked. The only Wiki I use these days that still does this is EmacsWiki. Google Wave felt like this in reverse, starting with discussion as default but you could edit everything into a document.

Also: hi Sunir!

Hey Amit!

I still think the best I have ever written or contributed was from editing discussions over time into content. Slowly.

I still use those skills. I just edited a Slack Q&A into a checklist on launching partnership integrations. The difference is I don’t write in the “WikiNow” any more because no one understands it except what someone once pejoratively called “wiki monks”. :)

For reference: http://www.cloudsoftwareassociation.com/2019/07/11/the-compl...

I remember two great things from my time on c2:

- Vigorous and fruitful discussion of current programming and SW engineering trends

- TopMind!

Ah, the TVtropes of software development.

Does anyone know if the original (pre-2015) source code of the wiki software is available anywhere?

It once was at [1], but that link has long gone. [2] still links to it.

[1]: http://c2.com/cgi/hp?WikiInHyperPerl [2]: http://wiki.c2.com/?WikiBase

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Free_On-line_Dictionary_of_Com... also allowed suggestions from users for changes

So, are wikis currently out of fashion in Software development/internal documentation?

I don’t see many wikis that are really suitable for this, and none that have widespread adoption.

Does everybody just throw stuff in Slack and hope they can find it with the search function?

Dokuwiki is still around. A lot of companies are using things like Confluence or other integrated SAAS wikis.

I'd say tools like Notion [1] have brought wikis more into fashion for internal documentation than ever.

[1] https://www.notion.so/

Interesting, but I’ve never heard of it and didn’t come across it when I was looking for wiki/Evernote alternatives a few months back.

I guess I’ll have to look into it. Couldn’t quite see how it differs from Evernote (which in my few has a lot of features missing which teams might need).

Microsoft recently switched developer docs from MediaWiki (Wikipedia’s engine) to GitHub hosted static sites. I’m interested how that will influence things.

I’ve experimented with both wikis and GitLab Pages hosted static sites with large technical teams (hundreds of contributors). The WYSIWYG editing of MediaWiki still gives it an edge, especially for teams with non-software disciplines. MediaWiki also has various features for “gardening” wiki content.

goto: http://wiki.c2.com

it's like http://harmful.cat-v.org but saner

I hate this trend on sites that show you buttons when you highlight text. I use highlighting to follow the text and it interrupts my line of site every time those buttons pop up.

Install NoScript, never look back.

Unfortunately, the site in question requires JS; without JS, it displays nothing but a blank page with a spinner. It doesn't even have a <noscript> element.

Ah, I forgot I already have c2.com setup. Trust c2.com, Block the hypothes.is entry. That's the beauty of NoScript, you finetune things once and a while and the web goes much more smoothly. Since I visit mostly the same sites every day - it's not a huge issue. And for sites I haven't visited - I already block many scripts I don't like globally!

Stylus can often undo that by styling the popup elements as "display: none !important;"

That would still result in a blank page. There's no content at all in that page, everything is generated by JS.

I was addressing the "show you buttons when you highlight text" issue.

Enabling JS and 'none' styling the offending elements via CSS ... solves at least one problem.

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