I’ve been installing and setting up a DokuWiki.  My hosting ISP provides automatic install for 4 different wiki engines and Doku is one of them.  This is not something I do everyday so I’m being methodical (read slow) because it’s easier to get it right the first time rather than undo mistakes. At least for me it is.

Impressions:

  1. I’m impressed with Doku so far.  Like most open source scripts it’s not quite as polished as a commercial script but it’s all very straightforward and workmanlike.  It does not feel half finished.
  2. The instructions are well written.  Even I could understand them.
  3. Doku has a plugin system similar to WordPress.  All the essential plugins are already installed on the default installation.
  4. Adding new plugins to extend and customize worked smoothly.

There is a learning curve, wiki’s have their own lingo and it takes awhile to learn what things are called. I think I have it mostly set up.   Then I need to test it.

Why Wiki?

What has me excited about wikis is they work more like my brain works.  I’ve never been a good outliner for stories or projects.  My thought process is more like sticky notes all scattered around rather than an outline and that sticky note approach is sort of how wiki’s work.

Blogs are fine and have their place, but they are linear.  Wiki’s create something closer to a static site but the navigation gets built automatically as you create pages.  I like that part.

I really won’t have a final judgement on Doku and wiki’s in general for a few weeks until I’ve started writing and editing.  The setup of the script is just a one time thing,  It’s the everyday use of the thing that is important.  But in any event, if you want a wiki, I don’t think you will go too far wrong with Dokuwiki.

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Bookmark: Welcome Visitors

A nice light wiki founded on two principals: mixed content and profligate copying to encourage creativity. If I’m understanding this right, Federated Wiki users can copy pages from other users put them on their own wiki and build upon the ideas they have imported.  Hence “Federated”.  Something like that.

Federated Wiki seems to fill the same wiki niche as TiddlyWiki.  Like TiddlyWiki, it can be installed on either a personal computer or a web server.

H/T to Greg McVerry for this.

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Bookmark: dokuwiki [DokuWiki]

Another wiki server script.  Doku looks to be even bigger than PmWiki as far as plugins.

This one seems more about formatting writing in HTML rather than markup.

Pros:

No database needed. Files are stored as plain txt, which means they are forever.

Low server overhead.

 

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Bookmark: PmWiki | PmWiki / PmWiki

This is an interesting script. I have not installed it or tried it, just browsed through the instructions.

Things that caught my eye:

There is no mention of mySQL or any database needed.  I like that.  Flat files can be good.  All you seem to need is PHP.

You can install this on your home computer if you want a truly private wiki.  Or you can install on web server.

Has a plugin type system so you can extend it.

If you add the calendar plugin you get one page per day.  You could do a diary or daily journal with that.

Seems to be a very high powered wiki.

 

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This is a follow on of: Let Us Build a New Web, so you might want to start with that.

Here I want to talk about expanding beyond a static site or just a blog.  For most of these I think I would probably also have a blog just because it’s easy to post updates and announcements on one.

Website Ideas:

Wiki – if you have used Wikipedia then you already have used a wiki.  Wiki’s are very good for collaborative websites.  You can build a knowledge base  with a wiki. You might not need a blog if you have a wiki.  Wiki’s are best for making vast globs of sprawling information able to be found through the wiki’s site search and hyperlinks.

You can use one for group journal type role play.  I have always wanted to use a wiki for world building for table-top RPG’s like D&D, CoC, Metamorphosis Alpha and/or Traveler.

Knowledge Base – a KB is great for making a detailed manual.  You see a lot of knowledge bases used in software support.  Here is an example for WSNLinks.

So if you have some detailed, step-by-step knowledge you want to share, a knowledge base might be perfect.

Some KB ideas: how to paint RPG miniatures, naval miniatures wargame rules,  table-top RPG rules manual, any kind of howto guide.

Directory – I’ll talk about two variants, there are more but I’ll stick with two for now.  1. Links Directories and 2. Business Directories.  Links Directories are collections of hyperlinks to websites (ie. Yahoo started out as a links directory.) Business Directories, may or may not have hyperlinks, but they generally list the name, address, phone number and hours of operation of a business.  Most include a map showing the business location (ie. Yelp, and the online Yellow Pages.)

  1. Links Directory – this could be something as simple as using a directory for hosting your own bookmarks.  (ie. back in the day I knew someone who had a “Cool Directory” which was anything he thought was cool.  Basically his bookmarks.)  Make a topical directory, links to websites about a topic you are passionate about. (A cause, hobby, science fiction, anime, comics, etc.)  I do think that a blog compliments a directory well.  It gives the directory owner a voice.
  2. Business Directory – these make perfect local directories, their strength is they can list bricks and mortar businesses that do not have a website.  These can also be used as restaurant review sites.  I always thought a directory of weird old tourist attractions would be cool.

Forums – forums are an old school social network.  For niche sites they can be perfect for like minded people to have in depth discussions. One advantage a forum has over social networks with moving timelines, a post or a reply, much like email, will sit there waiting for you until you return.  So maybe you only visit once a week, all activity will be there waiting for you.

Most hosting accounts have a couple of free forums scripts ready to deploy at the touch of a button.  I like SimpleMachines forum the best. YMMV.  If your community thrives and becomes big you can move up to something like Invision Community.

The down side of forums are they are very hard to get started.  They work best when you and a few friends decide beforehand you need one.  Otherwise, start a blog on the topic first, attract a following and then ask your followers if they would be interested in a forum for more chat.

For almost all the above I think you should have a blog.  It is always a good way to reach out by syndicating to social networks.  You can mix and match all the different scripts described above whatever works for you.  Again if all you need is X number of pages and then your topic is exhausted just make a static site.  Do it for you. Do what pleases you.

If you have ever had the yen to build a website the above can give you some ideas.  Feel free to comment if you have ideas of your own or questions.

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