Feature #4140

Updated by Boone Gorges over 6 years ago

During our last in-person meeting, the issue of the wiki - and its general lack of use - was raised. The idea was floated that we might consider deprecating the wiki altogether. I wanted to start a ticket for discussion of the advantages/disadvantages of getting rid of the wiki, and sketch what such a deprecation might look like from a technical point of view.

h2. Reasons for keeping the wiki

a. The wiki has been part of the Commons from day one. It's a departure from tradition to get rid of it.
b. The wiki was meant to be a free-form, completely public place for people to collect information of interest to the community. Most other areas for content creation on the Commons are more locked down by various hierarchies. Docs, for example, are buried inside of groups. Sites are not easily tagged/organized to make them browseable. The wiki thus fills a conceptual gap in the site.
c. The wiki is home to a couple pieces of content that are regularly used. It powers the Help FAQ. The ePortfolios section is pretty nicely done. The Digital Humanities pages are fairly well known.

h2. Reasons for ditching the wiki

a. The wiki is barely used and barely visited. Having a top-level site section with little to no activity doesn't reflect well on the vibrancy of the rest of the site.
b. Judging from the small amount of wiki activity, the role of the wiki in the Commons is not clear to users. This may be a case where taking away one possible form of content creation makes the remaining ones conceputally clearer.
c. The MediaWiki interface for reading (and especially for writing/editing) is much different from the other Commons interfaces, and I'd argue, much worse.
d. Maintaining MediaWiki alongside WordPress involves odd hacks (like our shared login and similar skins) that are difficult to maintain. Our MediaWiki instance hasn't been updated in years due to these hacks, and due to the fact that we have no MW expertise on our team.

h2. h3. What deprecation might look like

All of the arguments for getting rid of the wiki could be addressed by some other means. But, IMO, it's not worth the time and energy to do so, especially when we have so many ideas for how to improve the rest of the site. So let's assume for the moment that we get rid of the wiki. Here's how the deprecation might work in a minimally disruptive way:

1. Existing wiki content can be migrated to WordPress. We could use an existing system (like BuddyPress Docs) or write a standalone plugin. It should be possible to maintain the content as well as whatever proportion of wiki metadata (tags, etc) and history that we deem worthwhile.
2. We can write some code that will ensure that old wiki URLs will redirect to the new ones, so that content can still be found by Google and other incoming links.
3. Wiki links will be removed from top-level navigation. Migrated content will only be available by direct links (or, if we migrate into an existing system like Docs, by the regular Docs filter/search interfaces).

Thoughts and ideas are welcome. Even if we ultimately decide to keep the wiki, it's helpful to spell out our concerns in a forum like this.