Friday

Adventures in Wiki writing

As I said on my previous post, I had so much fun posting at Wikipedia that I decided to do a Wiki Book: Illustrated Guide to the world of Spira

But reading the "fine print" at Wiki Books left me in doubt about whether the book really belongs on Wikibooks so after reading a little about what belongs on Wikibooks and what doesn't I decided to hunt for another place to host my FFX musings.

It's not that my Illustrated Guide is so out of place, but I had other plans for my Wiki exploits, so I decided to hunt for a place where I could "spread my wings" better. Just as I'm doing in this blog, on Youtube and in another place (a secret... it's not ready yet to announce), I wanted to explore the possibilities of Wikipedia style technology to write fan fiction, a fiction that is enriched by pictures, sounds, comments and author notes, a recent source of great grief I had on Fan Fiction dot net.

Don't get me wrong, FanFiction is a very good site, and for free who can complain ? But the lack of the ability to add pictures and links to my tales had already made me create this blog to try a less "dry" place for my stuff. Recently I found out that FanFiction shuns any author notes that are larger than one or two sentences which, if this blog has given you any idea about my writing style, is something I simply can not live without!

==My experience at the free wikifarms==
Wiki Farms are places that host a Wikipedia style software. I went to each one of the free sites on the list below, trying to find a place for my Fan fiction writing. After that "pilgrimage" I discovered that reusing rejected (or iffy) wiki content ain't that straight forward!

I signed up on each free site as Renmiri and gave myself 30 minutes to try each one to see the one that would allow me to recreate my book's front page faster. What a disaster! Also, after being used to be the queen bee on my blog, letting any joe schmoe potentially wipe out my hard worked pages got me a bit freaked out, so I wanted the ability to lock SOME pages. What, have my hard work out there free for all to wipe out ?!?! It seems this wiki philosophy of having everything unlocked takes a lot of getting used too. So I set up to find a place:

- Free or very close to free
: $5 a month or less. (Heck, my "art" is worth at least the price of a doubble latte per month!! ;-)
- With a lot of reusability towards Wikibooks and Wikipedia code. Not only I have close to 50 pages worth of content already that I don't want to loose, but I am a newbie at formatting pages. The openness of Wikipedia allows me to copy the style and features (such as a table of contents) from any page I like. It cuts down on my learning time a lot, because of the "learn by example" aspect of it and I don't want to loose the potential help that Wikipedia's thousands of pages have. So reuse is crucial to me.
- Security. I need to be able to lock some pages. I know this is against Wikipedia's view of what a Wiki should be, but openness to all Internet doesn't work when the content writers are a small group of people trying to lure new users. How can my Wiki grow if I can't maintain a minimum ammount of good quality pages ? Wo would want to join a wiki that looks awful and has tpos, bad info, etc.. Newly created wikies need to show their value to potential newcomers. How can you ensure that you have value out there with all of your pages open ? At Wikipedia each good page has an unofficial "minder" that makes sure no one erases months of hard work. Me the lowly Fiction writer and my friends could never keep up with protecting all my "good" pages so the only way to get some good pages up and make sure they stay up is a minimum amount of security.

The only place where I could get something decently resembling my original page, without having to fiddle with it a lot AND could have some security - like locking my logo - was at editthis.info, with BluWiki a close contender.
Both are free, but editthis has security for free which Bluwiki does not. More security will cost me at editthis but the prices are not up yet so I'm waiting to see if I would have to forgo the latte or my firstborn's quota of Minute Maid juice ;-)

Anyhow, see for yourself the results of my exploits: Compare the original to the cut & paste results

Gratis Wiki
Was is ein Wiki ? greeted me the home page, entirely in "not English".. Didn't even try to cut & paste my test page or register. I don't speak German!

AtWiki
It's pretty easy to use, and has "Word mode" which I assume allows you to import stuff from word. Cool! Another nifty thing is the "test wiki" page they have that lets you play with it before you even bother to register. I tried my C&P and got (cut & paste results) that reeked so much of extensive rework needed - not even section headers were working!!! - that I didn't even bother to register. For people who are just starting and have no need to reuse Wikipedia content AtWiki seemed very nifty with it's promise of MS Word compatibility.

Schtuff.com
Not so good at reuse (cut & paste results) but has a very easy to use setup, ability to secure pages and a picture gallery. I liked it so much that I broke my rule and fiddled with it for longer than 30 minutes getting that blah cut and paste page up to this page in an hour or so

BluWiki
The reusability was great! See my (cut & paste results): As good as it gets, just like Editthis. Like editthis, it leaves the broken links in red and all you have to do to fix them is to double click on them and load content. Perfect! But unlike editthis, it didn't give me any security for free, so I didn't even bother to register.

Wikicities
Reusability as good as it gets just like editthis But tons of red tape to create a new wiki and no security available. I took a pass.

Fiction at Wikicities
http://novelas.wikicities.com/ has less red tape than the rest of wikicities but it still has no security so I took a pass. As with the rest of wikicities reusability is as good as it gets just like editthis

SeedWiki
Another one with bad results on reuse and with security only available via cold hard cash. I took a pass. But the page editor is very nifty and Wikis are easy and fast to create. Worth a look if you don't mind paying for security and are not worried about reuse.

Wikispaces
The way to enter pages uses a very nifty WYSIWYG editor that completely mangles any text pasted from Wikipedia. And, like Wikipedia, they have virtually no security, as a matter of philosophy, so this one was not for me. Their strength is the slick editor and the one click Blogger.com integration (check my Jecht post). A slick product, excellent for begginers and people who blog, just not what I wanted.

Edit this
Reusability as good as it gets, easy to set up, some security even in the free wikis. All that I wanted in one nice little package. And it allows you to integrate it with your own web site. The winner of my affections!! Expect to see more there soon!


The bottom line is that all the wiki farms listed here are pretty good, but each one serves better a particular kind of user. When reuse, price and security are the top priorities Editthis wins, but the result would be different if you favored other features.

6 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

A comment by Angela:
Thanks for reviewing the Wikicities site. It was interesting to read your comparisons.

I'm sorry you thought there was red tape involved to start a Wikicity. Really, all it involves is completing short form at http://www.wikicities.com/wiki/Special:CreateWiki once you've made an account. This prevents us having lots of junk wikis like other wiki farms.

There is a lot of security available at Wikicities. As well as page protection for articles with severe vandalism, and automatic protection for the logo and interface elements, there is a spam blacklist, IP checking, cross-wiki vandalism protection, account creation limits, automated spam removal, page move limits, and other features, all designed to ensure maximum security whilst still keeping the barrier to good faith edits as low as possible.

One mistake in the post was to say Wikispaces was by the people who do Wikipedia. I'm not aware of any connection there. Perhaps you were thinking of Wikicities since that was created by Jimmy Wales, the founder of Wikipedia.

Regards,

Angela.

2/12/2006 03:51:00 PM  
Blogger adam said...

Hi and thanks for the quick review of Wikispaces. Always helpful to hear what people like and don't like.

In case it wasn't clear, we do offer free "Protected" spaces (readable by anyone by editable only by members) and fully private spaces for $5 a month.

Cheers,
Adam
www.wikispaces.com

2/15/2006 07:04:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Recently I started to consider using Wiki as a homepage of mine. I started to look for some good hosting service on the net, that would be also free (for me $5/month is too much :().

I have found many sites.

Just as you, I found EditThis.Info, but I also took a look at PBwiki (http://pbwiki.com/) and Odd Wiki (http://www.communitywiki.org/odd/HomePage).

For now I find PBwiki the best, because I know its limitations (10 MB of space for a wiki, but one can create as many wikis, as he/she wants) and there is a possibility of preventing anyone from modifying the content.

Perhaps Odd Wiki is also a fine site, but I haven't been able to find anything about their limitations so far.

I would say, that EditThis.Info looks really great, but AFAIK they don't give the Wiki's admin the possibility to limit access to the content, so it's out of my scope for now :(

TPJ

2/22/2006 01:59:00 PM  
Blogger Gavin said...

I fear that ratings of editthis.info must be downgraded in the light of recent experience. This year has seen at least two major outages -- there's one still in effect as I write -- and it seems impossible to find out who's in charge or whom can be alerted about the outage.

I have found it a great site, when it's up. But now we seem to be experiencing so many days when we can't update our wikis, that you get the impression the creator (Rob Kohr) no longer cares.

Because I suspect editthis.info is simply going to be shut down one day without warning to any of its free subscribers, I am now wasting a lot of time trying to find a replacement MediaWiki site and worrying about how I am going to transfer the mountain of material I have written on Editthis.info.

2/20/2007 09:54:00 AM  
Blogger Renmiri said...

Sadly I have to agree Gavin. Rob means well but he is just one and has a life... We wikis suffer when he gets tied up. I suggest Wiki Cities or Wikia, at least they are big enough to have someone to pick up for one of the techs gets too busy.

2/21/2007 06:31:00 PM  
Blogger Quadratus said...

Might I suggest elwiki.com?

5/27/2007 11:43:00 AM  

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