[acawiki-general] Proposal: new hosting for AcaWiki

Jodi Schneider jschneider at pobox.com
Sat Apr 2 06:06:11 EDT 2011


Hi Reid,

Glad to have your interest!

On Fri, Apr 1, 2011 at 5:31 PM, Reid Priedhorsky <reid at reidster.net> wrote:

> [I am putting the most interesting stuff at the beginning, but there are
> some responses in-line below too.]
>
> I spoke with Mako Hill, one of the principals at AcaWiki, last week and
> am now quite enthusiastic about the system. I believe the flaws can be
> fixed and we should take advantage of the small but present community
> which is hungry for new members.
>
> The key problem is hosting, and Mako shares this concern. It turns out
> that the current hosts (Creative Commons) also would like to transfer
> hosting somewhere else, as running a MediaWiki is not part of their core
> mission. So, our interests align.
>
> Thus, I propose that we move AcaWiki hosting to Referata, retaining all
> existing history and user accounts. If acawiki.referata.com is OK, then
> it can be done for free; if keeping the acawiki.org domain is important
> (in this case, the move would be completely transparent to users), then
> we'll need to find $50/mo;


Yes--keeping the domain name is important. Otherwise, we break all links,
and alienate existing users -- many of whom do not read these lists, and who
may check the site infrequently. Since we're a nonprofit, we should ask
about a discounted price.

Further, we might want to change hosting again sometime in the future (for
instance if Referata went away or significantly changed).

I see that "Referata offers hosting of semantic wikis" but I hadn't heard of
it before, though WikiWorks is well-known. What's your connection with
Referata, and how stable are they? It appears that hosting is funded by the
fees, with the free hosting just coming along for the ride...

All I find on the FAQ is:
"From the time of its release in July 2008 until December 2009, Referata was
run by its creator, Yaron Koren <http://referata.com/wiki/User:Yaron_Koren>.
Since December 2009, it has been run byWikiWorks <http://wikiworks.com/>, a
MediaWiki consulting company that Yaron founded."

There's more info about WikiWorks at
http://wikiworks.com/

if keeping the existing skin is important
> (which think it is not - see below), then $80/mo.
>

No--the existing skin needs improvement. Is there info about the default
Refarata skin?


> AcaWiki folks, what do you think about this? Have I mischaracterized
> anything about you above?
>
> I would be happy to lead this process (Mako gave me some technical
> people at CC to talk to) and could start on this in late April. (I have
> some unavoidable responsibilities in the next few weeks and won't have
> time until then.)
>
> Once this is done, I could then facilitate the other technical tasks
> which I offered to do (uploading existing stuff into AcaWiki).
>

It's great to have your offer of help for the transition. But one challenge
is ongoing technical leadership. I'd like some clarification from Referata
about what is included in hosting. Any volunteers for technical
administration would be welcome, too!


>
> >> I don't necessarily believe that we need it to be the standard MW look
> >> in all respects (though I personally like the consistency), but the wiki
> >> controls need to be consistent with other MW installs (most importantly,
> >> Wikipedia) so people can see easily that it's a wiki and in particular
> >> one they've used before.
>

I agree with that! We were relatively close to Wikipedia, but Wikimedia has
made significant usability improvements this past year.

-Jodi


>  >
> > Actually, the controls seem to me to be quite similar to the standard
> > Wikipedia layout. For example, look at
> >
> http://acawiki.org/Measuring_user_influence_in_Twitter:_The_million_follower_fallacy
> .
> > The page edit controls are on the top of the article, and the navigation
> > bar is on the left, all very similar to Wikipedia. Since these key
> > functional elements are very similar to the default, I assumed that your
> > comments had more to do with the aesthetic elememts. Could you perhaps
> > point out some specific differences in the core MediaWiki functionality
> > elements that you think might confuse new users who are familiar with
> > editing Wikipedia?
>
> Hmm, looking again you are right. I'm not sure exactly what happened;
> perhaps I was confusing AcaWiki with something else.
>
> Anyway, I still don't like the AcaWiki default skin. I could provide a
> specific critique of the problems I see, but it might be better to
> simply offer a better one for comparison, which I am happy to do. At a
> high level, it's a little sloppy, it wastes important vertical space,
> and standard elements (e.g., search, login) are in nonstandard
> locations. On the other hand, the default MW skin is very professional
> looking and gets these things right. It's another aspect of separation
> of responsibilities - let people who are good at web design design the
> pages.
>

> > Actually, another reason for my comments is that I would assume that the
> > core audience of contributors (academic researchers who are willing to
> > share their research summaries online) would not have trouble trying to
> > learn how to edit, even if AcaWiki used something other than MediaWiki.
>
> That is true; however, many won't. Barriers to entry matter a lot more
> than one might think, even small ones. The basic theory is, folks who
> are new to a system don't care much about it and are easy to drive away
> by making small mistakes. On the other hand, if their initial experience
> is smooth and pleasant, and enables microcontributions right away, that
> builds emotional investment in the community and those people are more
> likely to come back and help build the community and the resource.
> Researchers in particular are very busy and (I claim) will have less
> patience than average to hassle with bad systems.
>
> Reid
>
> --
> I work for IBM, and sending this e-mail might be part of my job.
> However, I speak for myself only, not the company.
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