Wednesday, 17 August 2011


I've been puttering about, updating parts of the PCG wiki and putting together a short survey to try to figure out why there's not more of a community involved in updating it (One observation: I was forgetting to approve membership requests. Sorry to anyone who applied and was waiting).

Coincidentally, I listened to a Moving Pixel podcast where the chaps from Critical Distance discuss the same problem I've been having: how to turn a list of interesting links into something with more structure and 'authority' (A word I'm wary of). At the moment, the PCG wiki is basically a big bunch of external links with a bit of structure, and I don't see myself having the time to do more than keep it vaguely up to date (Along with tricks like aggregating RSS feeds from various blog posts to make it look like it's being updated more frequently than it is).

[Edit to add: Craig Perko's Google plus comment on the same issue.]

So in one way, the wiki is no more useful than the Delicious procedural tag RSS feed.

And the wiki structure isn't quite right for what it needs to be. So I'm going to sketch out an idea and see if you have any suggestions as to whether anything else fits the bill.

Firstly, I need a tool, like Delicious, which does simple link aggregation, but in a way that is domain specific, so I and other wiki users can tag it with words like 'article', 'blog post' and so on, but also 'noise', 'maze', 'caves' which don't bring up every single 'blog post' in existence by someone using the same tool. Other than copy and paste, the wiki falls down here.

Then I need to be able to keep related links together on the same page. The way the Internet works at the moment, a blog post may spark follow up posts on Metafilter, reddit, various web forums and so on, which all make sense to group together, but will include their own original content.

Then it needs wiki style authoring over the top, along with discussion groups, rating systems similar to stack overflow and so on.

I can kind of hack this with the wiki currently, by having every 'external link' actually be another wiki page in front of the external link, but this is still missing Delicious style link tagging and is horribly clumsy.

This excludes all the problems with the current wiki (and wikis in general) having data handling (should year released = 1997 be metadata or tags?), dynamic templating and etc.


D. Moonfire said...

You might look at Drupal. It has a bit of a learning curve, but it lets you create fields and has some pretty good searching capabilities. It also organizes its nodes with a hierarchal taxonomies which would let you organize it that way. From what I remember, it also has pretty good discussion threads and allows OpenID (one of my quirks).

Paul O'Reilly said...

Have you considered using Delicious as a source to feed links into a website?

Have a tag used just for the wiki (eg wiki:pcg). Write a script to receive all links tagged that way, and add / update the content in the wiki.

There's tutorials for getting delicious links and making a microblog using Django which would make a good starting point.

Andrew Doull said...

Paul: I'm already doing that with multiple feeds - the problem as I outlined is I need to be able to then manipulate the data resulting from the feeds. I guess I could attempt to automate page creation from there, but it'll be a bespoke solution which is what I'm trying to avoid (since there have to be other people who need to use it).

Moonfire: I'm trying to avoid frameworks, if possible, in preference for an out of the box solution.

tout à la mode said...

great post, invite me :)