Styles and content types
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.
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.