An idea: semi-wiki

Discussion in 'Feedback and Suggestions' started by imported_jrap, Mar 1, 2005.

  1. imported_jrap

    imported_jrap Thread Starter Member

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    Hi folks,

    First, thanks so much for supporting AAC!
    Anyhow, i've been pondering with the idea of turning the site into a 'semi-wiki'.

    If you are unsure of what a wiki is, take a look at wikipedia.org. The basic idea of it is to let anyone freely add or edit the content of a web page.

    Right now, I feel that with AAC/Lessons in Electric Circuits, there is no easy way for someone to add content to a topic, or to fix an error. I know there are people willing to do this, but there is just no easy way for them to do so.

    My idea is to add an 'Edit' feature to each page, so a visitor would be able to add content or fix any errors they have spotted. When compared to a wiki however, the difference is that these changes would not be instant. Instead, I think it would be best to have any changes approved by a group of editors. I think that the approval is neccessary in order to keep the book consistent, and also weed out any inappropriate changes.

    I would love to hear any feedback (positive and negative) on this idea!
  2. pebe

    pebe Distinguished Member

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    I think it's a good idea. The only point I would make is that the group of editors should include the original writer of the lesson.
  3. imported_jrap

    imported_jrap Thread Starter Member

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    That's a very good point. I'm not sure how much free time Tony has, but I would certainly like him to be involved.
  4. Dave

    Dave Retired Moderator

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    Hi jrap, pebe and other AAC members,

    This is a very good idea.

    I frequently see (often correct) unoffical corrections and additions to the content of this site in the feedback and suggestions section of the forums and think it would be a great idea to open the content of this site up to a wider contribution. Afterall we all learn, no matter how experienced, from the contributions of each other.

    I'm sure that there is sufficient knowledge in the more experienced ranks of the AAC community to provide the "group of editors" and there is no problem in opening wider changes to the community as a whole.

    Dave
  5. mozikluv

    mozikluv AAC Fanatic!

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    hi to all

    anything for the electronic improvement of members, am all for it :) B) B)

    yes i like the idea of group editors, say 3 to 5 members, maybe more, :D plus the author of the particular subject to be editted. :D
  6. haditya

    haditya Senior Member

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    good words and well pronounced, dave....
    although i havnt gone thru all the tutorials on this site(i prefer a book to a comp screen) :p :blink: ...so the only correction i see are the ones posted in the feedback...
    but allowin people to post info through a group of editors does seem to be a great idea..
  7. imported_jrap

    imported_jrap Thread Starter Member

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    I will get coding, and should have a working prototype by next week.

    Thanks for the input guys!
  8. Dcrunkilton

    Dcrunkilton E-book Co-ordinator

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    I have not contacted Tony in about a year However, I believe that he has numerous life changes, anyone of which will take him out of the picture for a few years minimum. It may even be wishfull thinking on my part to expect him back in a few years. See his post to this forum Passing the baton. My plan would be to try to maintain his source files to "Lessons in Electricity" in his format for at least that period of time. His format is oriented toward supporting the printed version of "Lessons in Electricity" in addition to the web version. So far I have made changes based on errors submitted to this forum to my source files for "Lessons in Electricity", which have yet to be uploaded to his site at Ibliblio. I will probably need to contact him within about a month about uploading the changes, and a Shift Registers Chapter for the Digital volume. i kind of hate to bother him any more than necessary.

    If you want to see error corrections sooner rather than later ( immediately), then a wiki is the way to go. At Wikipedia, anyone can make a correction to (or even deface and temporairly destroy) an article. I did not even have to log into Wikipedia to make a minor typographical correction to an article. The fllip side is that someone defaced (destroyed) one of my articles. The point is, that by the time I found out, the maintainers had already restored the article. I don't even know how they keep up with such tihings. Wikipedia is open to all potential users, editors, and abusers Though, they seem to be able to keep defacement under control by rolling back articles to a previous edition.

    By being so open and easy-to-edit, Wekipedia encourages corrections, even minor ones. And they get done quickly. If there is a group of "senior-editors" at Wikipedia, it seems that they are primairly concerned with filtering out bad edits (as in defacement) after the fact. There doesn't seem to be an approval process.

    A Wiki format will encourage the submission of new articles. As it is now, the Linux based tools that Tony (and I ) use are an impediment to the easy submission of new articles by non-Linux users. Though, Tony has offered to accept plain text, and convert it himself. See Contributing to this project for detalis on Tony's format.

    Time for AAC to move on to a Wiki. It looks like the best way to grow your article base and encourage editing of errors. Meanwhile, I will attempt to keep Tony's format up to date.

    For Wiki experience, go to Wikipedia; read some articles; look for typo's; make a minor edit. Maybe you cauld add a sentence, a paragraph, or a new section to an existing article. For more Wiki experience look for an article stub-- a page for an article not yet written. Fill the stub with an article which you write. Then, apply your experience to expanding AAC. Better yet, add a paragraph with a reference (listed at the bottom of the page) to a topic at AAC. Maybe attract more visitors.

    There is open source wiki server software out there. Though I do not know the details.

    Dennis Crunkilton
  9. tonykuphaldt

    tonykuphaldt Member

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    Hi Guys,

    It is spring break for me now, so I finally have some free time to respond to this discussion.

    I like the idea of a Wiki, because the books' present format severely limits editorial access. There is just one problem I see with a Wiki format, and that is generating printed (paper) output. Many, many readers want and need printed output, and this is why I designed the SubML "markup language" (a hack if there ever was one) to be the source code format for the books. With SubML, I can write a single source document yet output plain text, HTML, LaTeX source, PostScript, and PDF files for my readers. For a discussion of SubML and how it works, go to:

    http://ibiblio.org/obp/electricCircuits/Devel/markup.html

    My concern with a Wiki is that printed output would be lost. It's not just the technical issue of code translation, either. Printed books need things that e-books do not: page numbers, indices, tables of content, appendices, etc. There is much more to making a book than printing screen dumps of web pages, as I discovered early on. Typesetting systems such as TeX and LaTeX automatically number the pages, but they can only create indices and tables of content if tags are embedded in the source documents telling the typesetting system where chapter/section/subsection divisions are, and where terms are located that need to be indexed. This print-specific content needs to be embedded in the source code, and I'm not sure if a Wiki editor supports that level of editing. And if it does, is this level of typesetting detail too much to burden the casual contributor with? If so, it would be up to the "senior editors" to add the necessary tags after-the-fact so that all new contributions are properly referenced in the latest printed edition.

    Having said all of this, I want to make something clear to all the administrators and contributors at AllAboutCircuits. Although I am flattered by your desire to keep me involved with changes made to the books, it really is not necessary. It is clear to me that what started as a simple project (to write a few easy-to-read books on electricity and electronics) has grown beyond my ability to update and manage, regardless of whatever else is going on in my life. With such a large reader base, and so many qualified people willing to take the project to the next level, it is time for this "baby" of mine to grow up.

    Meanwhile, my other open-source educational project ("Socratic Electronics") is proving to be of greater value in my teaching than the books ever were, which tells me I need to focus my efforts there. The Socratic Electronics project is also more modular than Lessons In Electric Circuits, inviting easier participation from contributors. I expect to receive a lot of contributions for this project over the years to come, and hope to "grow" it into something really big.

    Perhaps the best thing for the books would be a "code fork," where creative control passes from the original author to a whole new set of developers and the project takes off in a new direction (or at least to new heights in the same direction). This would not bother me at all. Really. Honest. At this point there are so many things in the books I want to revise, update, or just get rid of that practically no degree of change would shock me. From what I've seen of the posts at AllAboutCircuits, there is ample technical expertise there to ensure the project will still remain relevant and valuable to the readers.

    - Tony
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  11. beenthere

    beenthere Retired Moderator

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    You might want to look at dates - that last post is dated April of 2005. Which makes it sound as if it was imported jrap's idea.
  12. Bill_Marsden

    Bill_Marsden Moderator Staff Member

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    Except this was posted in March 2005.

    Dang, beat me to the post this time. But I'll be quicker next!

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