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Wholeheartedly endorse ALT's adoption of MediaWiki to achieve the benefits you cite. The benefits will outweigh the loss of control and loss of direct connection (paradoxically, the loss of direct connection factor might actually increase members' affinity with ALT).

Seb - this comment could be to either of your two recent postings on "the Wikipedia effect"

We need to all get better organised on recording, disseminating AND preserving knowledge of e-learning over long periods (up to 14 years to get a software patent through in the US). The current Wikipedia exercise has been fascinating to me in my historian persona, but reminded me how much detail has been lost,mostly "accidentally", from the web.

Better records would help us all - not only to disseminate information, not even only for those who defend against software patents, but also for those unlucky souls who have to do patent searches for prior art. For some purposes they will need legally valid date stamps and to be allowable "publications" within the legal requirements for prior art. This may affect the value of Wikipedia for all the things you would like it for - OK for evaluations but not for systems specs, perhaps.

I think some combination of your approaches would be best. What is no longer acceptable is not to put stuff up or put it up in a way which disappears after a few years because of staff changes and reorganisations. (There is a whole new justification for open content lurking here.)

Interestingly, the UK HE/FE funding bodies and their immediate agencies are not any better than UK universities in puting into practice long-term storage of information. So maybe ALT could take a lead.



There are instances where stuff "might be valuable" to others, but if it is not universally applicable, then "the place to put that stuff" is not Wikipedia.

I'm thinking of guidelines, know-how, rules of thumb etc that might work in one sector but not another. One example (which you will know, because we worked on it together) is the TUC's Online Course Development and Management. It's on a separate wiki of its own. It's not fully open for editing (among other reasons, link spam is harder to patrol if you attract fewer eyeballs than Wikipedia).

I'm sure there must be other, better examples.

Quick response from Seb. I rather buried the same point toward the end of the post ".....it is certainly arguable that producing them either in Wikipedia itself (taking account of what is already there), or using the Open Source MediaWiki system that sits behind Wikipedia,...." but failed to broaden the question on which I seek views in the overal question posed.

Interesting and timely topic.
We are tentatively exploring putting some of our College help documentation into a local version of MediaWiki.

Our Education Technology people are keen and have started their own set of pages. They returned from a WebCT(not yet Blackboard) conference using terms such as 'radical trust', and got on board. Our thought was that employees, faculty, and interested students would contribute. We'll see how it goes.

However I'm still not entirely comfortable with the loss of control associated with Wiki documentation, especially with regards to highly detailed or technical information that *I* want to control, but want to give public access. A possible solution is a different Wiki. We are experimenting with TikiWiki, with LDAP authentication, write by group, and open read: Computer Lab Descriptions.

As an aside, another interesting use of MediaWiki as a conference schedule.


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