[thelist] horrible wiki usability

Brent Eades beades at almonte.com
Fri Feb 9 20:53:11 CST 2007

Steven Streight wrote:

> I am having bad luck using wikis. My main problem is creating (should be an
> auto-populating feature) an Index to All Pages, or a Wiki Table of Contents.

I agree, many wikis are appallingly bad in this respect. A good example 
is the documentation wiki for for the Mason back-end product I use quite 
extensively. Here's their "new and improved" table of contents 
(kwiki-based, I think)... pretty useless, and in turn I don't bother 
using this wiki, ever:


I'm partial to MediaWiki, myself. As you likely know, it automatically 
creates a ToC for every page a user creates, and they're pretty good. 
Here's a MediaWiki page from a project I'm working on with colleagues 
from several countries (I put this wiki together in about two hours, and 
its content is far from complete):


And here's an 'all pages' ToC for this same wiki (automatically created):


Not great, but certainly better than the Mason wiki.

The essential problem with wikis is one of GIGO -- garbage in, garbage 
out. If users pay no attention to style guides/structures for a given 
wiki, then automated attempts to generate ToCs will create, well, more 

MediaWiki is far from perfect. It has numerous frustrating weaknesses. 
(Try renaming a page, for starters.)

But I find it a lot better than the rest. Good enough for Wikipedia, anyway.

Brent Eades	
Almonte, Ontario

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