Open Thread: Blog, Wiki or Forums

61 Comments

Gentle readers, quite a few of you have requested additional features such as SWAT Wiki, more interactivity and greater involvement with the site. So we are ask you what would you like to see in terms of community features? Would you rather have ability to blog here or should we simply get a forum board going? Again Wiki vs Forums… you decide and we will take a cue from you.

61 Comments

Ian

I’d say go for a Joomla type app. Open enough to add features if we want them, plus interactive and social. And keep up the good work!

Qasim

I love this question – how to move forward and build on community interaction from a simple blog/comments scenario… Sort of a personal mantra for me actually, though I’ve been advocating websites to be built in Joomla for this reason – the cool thing about blogs is that you can spark converation among like-minded individuals but it dies to soon in simple article-commenting, so surely the system should evolve to allow direct, multi-lateral, communcation – people can sign up to the site, get a profile and private messaging service, plus access forums… with all posts/comments linkable to others by the person and their profile..

Okay, I’ve blabbed on for too long – go for a forum (vanilla/SMF/vbulletin?), so long as its integrated nicely. :)

q./

Rajesh Segu

There has always been debates on WiKi vs Forums since their existance! There are lot of times I got screwed up with an WiKi because of simultaneous editing and postings. Forum would be idle with such a large traffic, anytime people can edit or post.

Hope you get started with a nice forum.

Joe

The post from Silverbear caught my eye; I think there’s a really good point there. The work we do can be pretty isolating in terms of meeting other folks who work in this way ‘in the flesh’ so to speak. Perhaps some kind of system to allow for the adding and management of location based informal peer groups can be added here.

I don’t really think a wiki or a formum is the kind of platform for such a facility – I guess it’s more in tune with social networking apps. Given that we’re all involved day to day with web applications I don’t think it would be a huge task to come up with an extension to the site that would handle this kind of thing.

shannonclark

I would suggest first a quick brainstorming about what content would be useful that is NOT suited to blog posts.

A few specific ideas:

– geographicly mapped data such as LOCAL “S.W.A.T.” groups

– Calendars of relevant events (perhaps also geotagged)

– web worker to web worker interactions – i.e. reader to reader referrals, lead sharing, tool commentary, etc

– summaries (with links back) of collections of blog posts on various topics – for example a wiki page might usefully summarize ALL “tips” from blog posts, especially including suggestions from the comment threads and present them as a more unified, quickly read/printed out set of suggestions

In a few cases it might also be useful to think about how some of the SAME content might be presented in multiple ways – i.e. a geographic organization of “SWAT” groups makes sense, but it might also be useful to have a TIME sorted view as well (i.e. so you can see what SWAT groups meet on a Wednesday – and decide for yourself if any of them overlap with your travels). This same content would clearly be usefully sorted by geographic locations (though here as well it might be helpful to have many “fuzzy” ways to match – so that a group in Oakland might show up for someone looking for groups near Berkeley or San Francisco…)

What either a well run Forum or a useful WIKI require is editors/moderators who impose structure and some order to the potential for chaos. In a forum these help make sure that posts are in the relevant categories and key posts are highlighted and perhaps made “sticky” to show up at the top – i.e. FAQ’s, key announcements etc). In the case of a WIKI these editors/moderators watch for spam or revert wars, they also set the initial “style” guidelines and help impose standard look and feel across disperate pages. With at least a simple template in place it is much easier to get people to add content – the questions of “how do I phrase or present this data are answered for them in advane.

Comments are NOT akin to a good forum. Great forums offer lots of notifications, threading, formatting, consistent identities etc. See http://www.lthforum.com for a great example of a useful forum (based on PHPBB this is a discussion forum for food/restaurants with a Chicago focus)

Shannon

Zoli Erdos

They both have their place, the different is in the intent: – Forum: preserves original, often conflinting entries / opinions – Wiki: focus is on joint *creation”, synthesis of collective wisdom. Wetpaint is a hybrid of wiki / forum (and blog to some extent) – I would think they’ll be happy to set you up with a custom-tailored version that fits your site’s theme.

MartinE

When I see a blog discussion of adding wikis and forums (so-called ‘user-generated content)’ a flag pops up: Have they discovered that their subject matter doesn’t offer enough to write about? It took me about four attempts before I found a blog subject that I really wanted to write about multiple times daily and that offered enough topics to do so. GigaOm met that test but I wonder if WWD will?
You got a huge kick start through the Om relationship but frankly I haven’t seen the posts grabbing my interest. Wikis and forums won’t improve that situation.
Don’t comment basically serve as a forum anyway?

Bastian

I would go for a blog feature, i think that would be fun. If you would let people blog about their own topics i´m pretty sure a lot would do so. Just think about the fact how fast WWD would be extended to other cities, etc. I would go for a blog feature and i would start blogging about Munich and London right away. Is there a way that i can do that even if you don´t install a blog feature?

Bastian

urbandesignr

IMO – Forums (on a blog based site) are only useful if the lead post in the forum is presented inline with the blog, ie as a blog post. Otherwise you just end up with more bits to manage. I assume you’re trying to make the way information is presented and community interaction easier, not harder, (and that includes for yourself!).

I’m not a wordpress user, my sites run on drupal, on which forums and wikis can be integrated smoothly through modules.

I don’t want to have to subscribe to additional feeds either just to see what people are saying, so tying it all up in one feed would be on my wishlist.

thanks for asking!

Diogenes

I think doing a wiki ‘just because we can’ has led to a proliferation of useless wikis out there. A wiki needs to cover “something”, but it shouldn’t try to cover everything, because we have Wikipedia. So what is the “something”?

Now, having said that, the ideas above for listing Solo/Freelance resources in different cities and briefs on the different tools available would be great things for a wiki here…if participation is high enough to make it useful. This might require not management, but at least cheerleading and occasional nudges in the right direction from Mr. Malik and colleagues.

Forums are much better for creating a true community online. The difference to consider is whether you want to give this community the freedom to take discussions in their own direction, or keep the discussion tightly directed by sticking to blog posts and comments.

silverbear

My vote is for neither. I HATE forums, and don’t need the wiki.

WWD is a good blog as it stands, and I have to ask, “Would WWD be better if it had a wiki or a forum?” I don’t see how. The wiki would/could be redundant with other wikis out there, and as for the forum IMHO most forums are a poor substitute for reality. If the forum encouraged actual face-to-face amongst those groups physically near, AND served as something far more substantial than a ‘bbs’ for those far apart I’d say go for it. If it can’t do both of those things…forget it.

anjan bacchu

hi there,

if you’re gonna use a forum software, why not use vBulletin (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/VBulletin) — many open source software companies use it — pretty good customization — has better features than phpBB.

whether wikis and forum can co-exist depends on your target readers/users —
a) forums can be used by most users
b) wikis (with their own syntax/formatting) needs a lil more sophitisticaton but nothing too difficult.

BR,
~A

Nathan

Beyond having wiki pages for cities, there could be pages for various tips. Categories could range from “best online calendars” to “how to beat cabin fever.” A lot of this information gets posted into blog entries, like my own, but this information ultimately belongs in one central organized archive.

-gary

I like how The Daily WTF has a blog type site with forums integrated as comments for a particular post and standing on their own. It allows users to carry on what ever conversations they see fit and gives owners the ability to blog and even promote users posts to blog status if needed.

Justin Lilly

I vote for both.

I like the idea of a wiki in terms of the Ruby On Rails wiki. Forums have their place for topical discussion, but wiki’s are more informative on topical reference.

I might suggest we also have forums that can serve as “Hey.. Make and populate this page in the wiki please!”

Om Malik

jackson,

live chat is a good idea except there is never enough people. i think blogs/forums are really timeshifted live chat in my humble opinion.

so we will get cracking on both things and see how quickly we can get stuff rolled out.

jacksonwest

I do like Wikis as tools for reference, since I think that drilling down to information you’re looking for is often much easier that it is in a thread-formatted forum. If anything, the ‘talk’ pages in a wiki become sort of a default forum, no?

What about live chat? I’m on the road right now, but anything from an IRC channel to an some AJAXy Web 2.0 solution might be fun.

Krish

I like the site as it is. If you really want to expand on the interactivity, a forum is a good option. I don’t see a need for Wiki as such.

Jay

I think both would be great. A wiki could serve as city guide. If I was going to be traveling I could just find the page in the wiki each city rather than searching through a forum. I agree, a forum and a wiki do different and useful things.

Damian

I definitely vote for the BOTH.

I definintely think Wiki’s can help everyone and forums are definitely a lot of fun.

vassko

Why not just add Social Networking on top as well. We can help Om. Blogtronix does blogging, wiki and social networking under one platform/membership. We don’t do integrated forums with blogs. I think forums are a bit old now. We have it as a separate product and most of our clients are moving to blogs from forums now.

PXLated

I think forums would be better also. Does WordPress have an integrated Forum or Wiki module?
If not, you might want to consider switching to Expression Engine, it has blog, wiki, and forums all using one membership module. Membership across modules is a good thing, make integration and life in general much easier :-)
(No, I don’t work for EE/pM, just use their product)

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