Styles and content types

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Having style guides for "formal" content is great and the suggestions being put forward are appropriate. However, I put lots of information into WikiEducator that is not formal and not really intended for others although it is public. These are notes to myself, dynamic public content (guidelines for my students' projects), links to interesting information, etc. I also require my students to write collaboratively on group projects in WE.

With the style guides, does this mean that these pages would no longer be appropriate within WE? Does this imply that WE is moving to the Wikipedia model where all content is overseen and coodrinated?

I really hope that it will be possible to accommodate formal and informal content and know which is which. --Valerie Taylor 06:47, 17 July 2009 (UTC)

Vtaylor (talk)19:47, 17 July 2009

Hi Valerie,

These are very important questions we need to resolve.

I would like to see a WikiEducator community that welcomes and supports both "informal" and "formal" content. As founder of the project I would not like to see WE evolve into a model where all content is overseen and coordinated. At the same time I would like to see our project strive towards quality in education. That said, I'm not sure how we can achieve these objectives.

As you point out --- we have an opportunity to find creative solutions to "accommodate formal and informal content and know which is which" and I see this workgroup as the vehicle to tackle these challenges.

Let the discussions begin :-)

Mackiwg (talk)20:27, 17 July 2009


WE is definitely a new species of wiki. It has frequently asked me to take a step back and look at what a wiki is from a different perspective. I think the main difference is the idea that some pages are not welcome to open collaboration (they are closed to public collaboration). I think your students' projects would fall under that classification. It's mentioned here that it may be useful to solidify these classifications, and I'm beginning to think it could actually be a good idea.

Personally, I still believe that pages the author considers private (doesn't want anyone else editing) belong in the user namespace. So I would say notes to yourself should be there. I'm think we need to figure out a way to classify pages as private/closed collaborations, so that groups like your classes can work in relative privacy.

That said, though, I still think a style team should look after the quality of all pages. I do agree that coordinated content would defeat the purpose of this wiki, but I think there are very good reasons for having a style guide; it's in each author's best interests to follow it. I agree with Wayne that we shouldn't force it on WE's contributors, but I really think we need to make it totally clear the importance of following the guide.

In regard to "formal" and "informal" content... I really don't think that classification (should) exist(s). I agree we should welcome the content you label as "informal", but labeling it that way gives me the impression those contributors are just "freeloading". I feel that if someone isn't here to help make the wiki better/more complete, fulfill the mission, and reach the goals, I think he's taking advantage. If he is here for those things, well, following the style guide is one of the ways to do them.

So, we can call it whatever we want, but I'll stick by my guns and say that we need somebody paying attention to these things, and making sure that everyone is aware of them as well.

Jesse Groppi (talk)15:40, 19 July 2009

Hi Jesse,

Yeah -- WE is a unique community in many respects. It's fascinating to compare how policies and procedures evolve among different wiki communities.

The user namespace is the best place for private content (where folk don't want anyone else editing). The downside for newbies is that this requires knowledge of the subpage syntax --- which arguably is a more "advanced" wiki skill than creating a new page in the wiki. I'm sure that if we put our minds to this -- we would find a smart technical solution to tackle the issue -- namely making it very easy for users to distinguish between public and 'private" pages. Perhaps something for our usability project with the NZ Ministry of education to take on board.

Good on you for sticking to your guns on stressing the importance of style guidelines :-). Ultimately -- if educators do not believe or support the ideals of quality education -- they're not true educators and I suspect that they're not going to be well aligned with our community vision and goals.

I think the important message here (which we all seem to agree on) is to make sure that we find ways to welcome and support educators on their road / apprenticeship in becoming active contributors to our vision for widening and increasing access to high quality free content materials.


Mackiwg (talk)17:41, 19 July 2009