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Maintain an open source project collaboratively with TWiki

This is the presentation material for the conference talk Maintain an open source project collaboratively with TWiki at Online Deliberation 2005 conference at Standford, 22 May 2005

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Slide 1: Maintain an open source project collaboratively with TWiki

  • Many online communities deliberate and make decisions by using Wiki software
  • As a case study, this talk examines how Wiki supports online deliberation in the TWiki software development community.

Conference talk at Online Deliberation 2005, Standford, 22 May 2005

-- Peter@ThoenyPLEASENOSPAM.com

Slide 2: What is a Wiki?

  • WikiWikiWeb = Writable Web
    • As quick to contribute as e-mail
    • As easy to use as a website
  • Ward Cunningham implemented the original WikiWikiWeb in 1995 to collaborate on software patterns
  • Inspired by HyperCard; some call it a Blog for groups
  • Wiki design principles:
    • Open - Should a page be found to be incomplete or poorly organized, any reader can edit it as they see fit
    • Incremental - Pages can cite other pages, including pages that have not been written yet
    • Organic - The structure and text content of the site is open to editing and evolution
    • more...

Slide 3: What is a Wiki? (cont.)

  • The original WikiWikiWeb has these features:
    • Read-write web, every page can be edited using just a browser
    • HTML form based editing
    • Pages are served dynamically
    • Pages are linked automagically with WikiWords
    • Simple markup, no need to learn HTML
  • Try the WikiWikiSandbox

  • Over 200 Wiki engines based on the original Wiki idea, mostly open source
  • Wiki has geek appeal

Slide 4: Blogs and Wikis

  • Blog: (Weblog)
    1. Key: Easy to publish opinions of individual, in sequential posts
    2. Media to express individual voice
    3. "Post media" (like e-mail), with feedback and TrackBack
    4. Usually hosted service (e.g. Six Apart's TypePad)
  • Wiki: (WikiWikiWeb)
    1. Key: Easy to create and refactor content owned by group
    2. Media to express group voice, deemphasizing identity of individuals
    3. "Refactor media", content may change at any time
    4. Usually open source software, installed on own server
  • Some Blogs have Wiki-like features, some Wikis have Blog capabilities

Slide 5: What is TWiki?

Slide 6: What is TWiki used for?

  • Conventional Wiki:
    • Collaboratively work on unstructured & crosslinked content
  • Structured Wiki:
    • Shared notebook for projects: Repository, scheduling, meetings
    • Departmental collaboration tool: Processes, project reviews, QA tracking
    • Intranet publishing tool: IT, HR, ISO standards
    • CMS with focus on free-form collaboration: Requirements capture
    • Knowledge base: Problem/solution pairs with attached patches
    • Platform to create wiki applications: News portals, inventory systems, issues tracking systems, etc

Slide 7: Can a Wiki support deliberation and decision making?

  • Open source communities are virtual by nature, and they often work by conventions
  • Wikis are a natural fit:
    • Virtual rooms where people with common interests meet and converse
    • Wiki content grows organically
    • Highly interlinked content due to WikiWord links
  • What about deliberation and decision making?
    • Community needs a framework
    • Need to structure content and add workflow
  • The TWiki community uses TWiki for brainstorming, feature tracking, bug tracking, support and tech writing
    • 8000 page changes per month
  • Few mailing lists, not for conversation: twiki-dev, twiki-core, twiki-announce, twiki-security, ...

Slide 8: Build a Virtual Community

  1. Motivation, motivation, motivation
  2. Build an environment of trust
    • Real FirstnameLastname ("shake virtual hands"), often know where community members live and work
    • Embrace brainstorming & differences
  3. Build an environment with focus (high S/N ratio)
    • Let community focus on content
    • Organize content into buckets (core dev, Plugins dev, support, tech writing)
  4. Build a sticky site
    • Place to learn (inside and outside domain)
    • CoffeeBreak
    • Metcalf's law

Slide 9: Why is a Mission Statement Important?

  • Some geeks (incl me) can be vocal on how to do things
    • A mission statement provides guideline for developers
    • Consult mission when there is a disagreement

  • TWiki.org's mission statement:
    • "TWiki is a leading-edge, web-based collaboration platform targeting the corporate intranet world. TWiki fosters information flow within an organization; lets distributed teams work together seamlessly and productively; and eliminates the one-webmaster syndrome of outdated intranet content."
    • Additional focus bullets on mission

Slide 10: Document Mode vs. Thread Mode

  • Wiki:DocumentMode
    • "Contribution is written in the third person and left unsigned. The piece of text is community property; it may have multiple and changing authors as it is updated to reflect the community consensus."
  • Wiki:ThreadMode
    • "Comments which are usually signed and in the first person, and rarely edited by people other than the one who signed them."

Slide 11: Polls

  • When needed, on-line polling comes into play to take the pulse of community opinion about a particular feature
  • This functionality is provided by the CommentPlugin
  • Example poll: ConfusingDefaultAuthor

Slide 12: From Brainstorming to Implementation: Change Proposal

  • OSS development typically done in small steps, feature by feature
  • TWiki.org's Codev process version 2
  • A ChangeProposal is a unit of work:
    • Submit: Brainstorming idea, bug or feature request
    • Track: Route proposal (workflow)
    • Report: What is the status?
  • Proposal topics have DocumentMode section and ThreadMode section

Slide 13: From Brainstorming to Implementation: Workflow

Slide 14: From Brainstorming to Implementation: Reports

  • Currently under construction DakarRelease has reports on:
    • Change Proposals being worked on in DEVELOP branch
    • Change Proposals awaiting merge
    • Change Proposals merged to MAIN branch

Slide 15: Questions & Answers


  • Copyright © 2005 by Peter Thoeny. This presentation may be reproduced as long as you retain the copyright notice and provide a link back to the URL of this presentation on TWiki.org
  • This presentation is based on the SlideShowPlugin and uses the TWiki:Main/PeterThoenySlideShowTemplate
  • Please provide feedback below, or add/fix the presentation, we have a community wiki here smile

-- PeterThoeny - 21 May 2005


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