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Collaboration Guidelines


  • ThreadMode - a wiki page [displayed | organized] as a conversation. It is the beginning of a process of distilling experience that culminates in patterns. There are at least four ways you can contribute to a page in thread mode:
  1. You can ADD a comment furthering the conversation. Please sign your comments like this, especially when writing in the first person. -- TWikiGuest
  2. You can EDIT older comments signed by others to improve the flow. Rearranging, merging and editing comments is a real contribution to communication if done with care and respect. But Rather than edit something with which one disagrees, perhaps changing its meaning, ... draw a line and comment below the line (Wiki:ConceptDestruction)
  3. If you see several conversations going at once, you can SPLIT them apart, putting all comments about a given subject on their own page. Leave a short summary with the name of the new page in the old page.
  4. If comments seem to be converging then prepare for Wiki:PatternMode by suggesting single paragraph patterns that CAPTURE the ideas present in the discussion. These are better anonymous or collectively signed so that all contributors know they are welcome to fine tune them.

  • ThreadMode comments are usually shorter than DocumentMode ones. If you find yourself writing a long reply, consider writing it in document mode, or even making it the OpeningStatement of a brand new page (with back and forth links to the original page, of course).

Source: Wiki:ThreadMode


  • DocumentMode - written in the third person and left unsigned. ...it may have multiple and changing authors as it is updated to reflect the community consensus. This is in contrast to ThreadMode, comments which are usually signed and in the first person, and rarely edited by people other than the one who signed them.
    • Wiki excels at DocumentMode. Many pages start off with an Opening Statement which declares a piece of wisdom. It might be a pattern,... a question instead of a statement, ...an opinion, phrased strongly to invite feedback. The rest of the page may then be the feedback: clarification, comments of agreement or disagreement, supporting evidence...
    • Often the feedback is in ThreadMode. Sometimes, after a discussion has reached a consensus, someone (could be anyone), will delete it and post a new Document Mode contribution which incorporates what has been learned.
    • A good DocumentMode comment is easier for newcomers to understand than a ThreadMode one. Threads are full of transient misunderstandings and special cases. The important points don't stand out well. And they are full of egos. The valuable content of Wiki ought to find its way into DocumentMode comments. It doesn't, always. We need more Wiki:WikiMasters.
    • ThreadMode comments are usually shorter than DocumentMode ones. If you find yourself writing a long reply, consider writing it in document mode, or even making it the OpeningStatement of a brand new page (with back and forth links to the original page, of course).

Source: Wiki:DocumentMode


An OpeningStatement is the base thesis of a Wiki page, the core idea that everyone pokes at, prods at, and refines. (This statement itself is this page's OpeningStatement.)

Source: Wiki:OpeningStatement


Wiki:TentativeSummary - A refactoring technique ... consists of 4 steps:
  1. conduct a threaded discussion
  2. when the thread cools, add a TentativeSummary section at the bottom of the page
  3. when people stop altering that section, move it to the top of the page
  4. refactor the page to reflect the summary.
    • If the TentativeSummary bursts, and threads begin anew, delete the phrase Tentative Summary and wait for cooling again.

Source: Wiki:TentativeSummary


Some pages use DoubleLines to separate a DocumentMode OpeningStatement, thesis, or pattern at the top of a page and (usually ThreadMode) discussion below. The top part is generally the pages payload -- a short article on the page's title subject along with bibliographic information; while the bottom is meta-data about the page -- discussion, suggested changes, categorization, stories, indirectly related links etc...

Source: Wiki:DoubleLines


ThreadMode tends to be hard to read: Posts are often out of historical order, you can't always figure out who said what or when one speaker stops and another starts, time sensitive information is mixed with timeless wisdom, opinions are mixed with facts, and personal debates are mixed with public discourse. ThreadMode material tends to grow quickly and organically. Adding to it while keeping it clear is difficult. It's hard to avoid UnethicalEditing when trying to clarify things later and almost impossible to avoid it while a debate is raging. There are many words used in support of discourse that aren't needed for later reading. These words are very difficult to extract.


  • Sign ThreadMode contributions ThreadMode is like a conversation. People like to know who they are talking to. Signatures also work to delimit posts and provides cues to readers about what position the writing is meant to support. Not terribly important for short, simple threads; more important for longer, multi-party threads.
  • Use a Wiki:NullSignature for anonymous contributions Put in a Wiki:DoubleDash to delimit the post but don't add your name. [ProtoPattern]
  • Use separate posts for separate subjects If each thing you write has a single subject then it will be easier to move and respond to in the future. A separate signature isn't required, paragraph breaks should be sufficient.
  • Quote and respond Instead of writing responses inline and destroying chronological order. Pull the inspiring material out of line at the bottom of the page and respond to it separately. This makes it easier to follow how the ideas were developed later.
  • Use horizontal lines to delimit threads Allows some relaxation of chronology preserving techniques. Each thread develops its own idea.

Well written ThreadMode won't solve the whole problem. Sometimes ThreadMode just isn't the most appropriate way to explore a topic. Other times Wiki just isn't the right place for a conversation.


  • Don't write it Ward writes in Wiki:WikiHistory that he's always encouraged DissertationOverDiscourse on Wiki. Discourse is easier, of course, and comes in handy. But it creates ThreadMode which can be hard to read. Prefer to write in DocumentMode when possible.
  • Use email instead Write email directly to the person that you wish to respond to. Do this especially when the topic is not of general interest or will require wordy negotiation.


ThreadMode won't always be written clearly. Even if it is it probably won't stay that way if only because it will get too big. The ideas presented in ThreadMode are usually valuable -- often they are the most valuable contribution to a page -- but ThreadMode form isn't always the best way to convey that information to the reader.


  • Break up posts by subject Take a single post that contains one subject and break it into two separate posts with one subject each. Place a copy of the original authors signature on each. Often there will be a few words or even a sentance or two that was originally used as a segue -- they can usually be deleted or modified to form a pointer from one post to the other [try to use a page link for this, they introduce weaker coupling]. Often one thread can be broken into two separate threads using this technique.
  • ConvertThreadModeToDocumentMode This is very difficult to do well and will likely raise the ire of the ThreadMode authors if done poorly or without their permission or knowledge. However, when it's done well and in context it provides one of the higest quality forms of information found on Wiki.
  • Extract inline responses Just like quote and respond above but done on behalf of the responding author. This will rarely restore chronological data but it does work to clarify threads.
  • Organize threads Group threads by subject. Merge them into the same horizontal line delimited section if possible. [ProtoPattern]
  • Label threads If sections have titles they can be found more readily. That aids both in contributing to and reading ThreadMode.
  • Extract thread to new page Usually these pages contain the word "Discussion" in their names and are completely ThreadMode. This reduces clutter on the original page (which should contain a pointer to the new page) but may only serve to move a mess to a new location.
  • Create dialectic Reduce the size of a thread by reorganizing, merging and editing the posts to form an expositional representation of the original conversation. Change the signatures to be Wiki:DramaticIdentity*s. Optionally associate the signatures of the original authors with the Wiki:DramaticIdentity*s. (See also Wiki:ThesisAntithesisSynthesis.) Wiki:ProtoPattern

Some topics generate questions and counterpoint. There is a desire to inquire, discuss, debate ... to fondle the cards until the way they interact becomes clear.

Interesting ideas and challenges, and responses to both, do often appear on this kind of page. Often a third or fourth party injects a notion that identifies a hidden issue or clarifies a position.

Still, wiki pages containing such matter quickly become chaotic. They can be inaccessible to people who newly come to the page, and often even confuse the main contributors.

You want to generate synthesis, and to ensure attribution of the ideas to all who chipped in.


Make an unsigned section at the top of the page, with an attempt at synthesizing some sense from the material below. If you move your own ideas up, remove your commentary below. If you refactor someone else's ideas substantially, consider saving a copy on your local machine, and leave them a message on their name page to check out what you did. Problem with this idea may be that a newbie wouldn't know to do it. But maybe a newbie wouldn't be editing this way anyway.

Add a Contributors line listing all authors contributing to the synthesis. If you disagree with the synthesis, remove your name or add (dissenting) after it, perhaps with a reference to another page. If you don't know who an author is, add "and others".

Source: Wiki:HowToWriteAndEditThreadMode


A play on words meaning, of course, that DocumentMode is more important than ThreadMode but suggesting also to put Wiki:SummariesOnTopDiscussionBelow.

Over the course of time dialog has often been exchanged for "discourse" when referring to this now famous quote. It will be worth the reader's time and effort to read the full quote in context. Because the dictionary definitions of these terms fail to make a clear distinction between the two, the following definitions are humbly offered for purposes of Wiki:WikiOnWiki discussion:

  • Dissertation: a unified presentation of ideas, as if from a single mind although joint authorship accepted and encouraged, in which arguments are made, information presented, instructions or advice given, etc., with concomitant assumption of authority over the chosen subject matter. DocumentMode
  • Discourse: a multi-part exchange of ideas, information, advice, admitting questions and answers, in which two or more distinct minds interact in order to explore subject matter jointly, where authority is not an essential ingredient but when present is usually distributed and often conflicting. ThreadMode

On Wiki:WikiWikiWeb, Dissertation is generally more highly valued than Discourse because it is thought to be more readable. Discourse is seen by some as a means to achieve the more preferred end of Dissertation.

Source: Wiki:DissertationOverDiscourse


Code refactoring is changing the implementation of existing code without changing its external behavior. Wiki refactoring should be changing the content of wiki without changing its meaning. Consider, while thinking about meaning:

  • The idea presented;
  • The supporting arguments;
  • The style of presentation;
  • The attribution or lack of it;

If you're really refactoring, none of these would be changed. Only the words.

The test for Wiki refactoring is whether you end up happy in the end. Sociopaths will be happy that this test lets them do whatever they want, but no test can deter them from doing whatever they want anyhow. For the rest of us, the combination of liking an edit and being satisified with the community's response to it is as good a test as you're going to get.

Source: Wiki:WikiRefactoringSummary


Delete a page if one or more of the following are true:

  • It's not connected to any other pages, nor likely to be connected (Click on the page title to find out)
  • Deleting it resolves an argument amicably and consensually
  • You wrote it and you think better of having written it
  • You're refactoring in a way that makes it redundant


  • It's just flamage or an editing experiment by a newbie.

Don't delete a page if:

  • You don't know what it means
  • It's not on a topic that interests you
  • Its content offends you
  • Someone you don't like wrote it


  • It's short.

That last one appears counter-intuitive. For example, if a page is just the plural form of another page, and only contains a link to the other page, then it seems a bit much to have two pages. I'm imagining that you're saying that there's no sense in deleting a page that is a small start to an (important) new topic. --JohnStoshMuczynski

Source: Wiki:DeletionGuidelines


There are ways and ways of making a point. Some are more likely to cause misunderstanding, inspire resentment and lower the overall value of any work in which they appear. Here are some examples:

  • ThreadMode deletion Especially while a discussion is still running. : * This causes resentment when it is not consensual and removes contextual information from the discussion.
  • Biased refactoring: * Can be a misguided attempt at "clarifying" the issues. Wiki:FixYourWiki but leave other people's alone. If you can't help yourself then make the changes small and make it easy for others to reverse them. Let conversations cool before refactoring them. Allow new readers to see the flow.
  • Name calling: * Often called irony or humor. We can't see your smile. It looks and feels mean to enough people that it just isn't an effective way to communicate. It's also not a "fair" way to argue. Attack the points not the people. Variants of ''name calling'' include spurious imitation pages or badges like Wiki:CategoryDrugAbuse.
  • Altering signatures: * Changing or adding a signature to a post is a lie. Even if the attribution is correct it still makes it look like the original poster meant to sign the contribution. If they didn't mean to then making it look like they did is a lie.
  • Altering signed contributions: * Could very well be a lie too. Square brackets are a widely recognized way to delimit editorial comments made after the fact. Spelling corrections and simple rewordings can really help. Changing the meaning will likely engender resentment, mistrust and misunderstanding. When in doubt don't make the change.
  • Misrepresenting moved material: * Sometimes it makes sense to move a conversation to a new, more appropriate, location and leave a little note in its place with a forwarding address. Moving only a piece of the conversation is almost as bad as deletion. Anything other than a factual representation of it is likely to be a misrepresentation.

Source: Wiki:UnethicalEditing

(Why have you included including web on your includes? - MartinCleaver No particular reason for now. -- MikeMannix)

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Topic revision: r8 - 2008-09-14 - TWikiJanitor
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