User-friendly Wikis?

October 11, 2006

hey everyone;

sorry for my late-ish post… i guess the tryptophan in my turkey caused me a little more sleepiness than i had bargained for! 😛

anyways, all turkey aside; i was reading the  and became quite skeptical of what the presenter was saying about the ease of use of wikis.

 i am going to be talking about a specific example about a department at the university of guelph which was using a wiki as a way of storing how-to information and essentially acting as a departmental intranet (Definition). the department members were using this wiki as a place to post all of their intra-departmental information, processes, procedures, how-to documents, documentation etc. the users of this system were quite frustrated at how limited the editing and formatting was; you essentially had to know HTML in order to format documents properly in the wiki. for example, if you wanted to include a simple table of potential scenarios on one side, and possible outcomes on the other within your actual wiki posting, GOOD LUCK; users were still limited by how they could format documents in the wiki based on their knowledge of HTML… even now as i type this posting on my wordpress blog, i am looking at the features available for my formatting of this blog, and i am faced with the following options: Bold, Italics, Crossout, bullets/numbering, indenting, left justify, right justify, centre, add a link, remove a link, add a picture and spell check. what about the table? what about having multiple columns in the posting, like a newspaper? i mean, for the average user posting the average text posting with the occasional picture/link, wiki’s seem great! however, if you wanted to say, create some sort of online tutorial which included a flash video you nabbed from the internet, or had a table embeded, or had other sorts of advanced editting, you would be limited by your understanding of HTML…

although, again, i think that both blogs and wikis have come a LONNNNG way since the ‘olden days’ when, even to just post simple text/pictures/hyperlinks on a website required knowledge of FTP protocols, FTP programs, HTML, website design…etc….

what do you all think? have you provided information to a wiki before? did you find the formatting limiting you in what you wanted to post? if you haven’t posted to a wiki before, do you find that your blog limits your ability to format posts precisely as you want? do you find that WYSIWYG isn’t always WYSIWYG (Definition WYSIWYG )?

 i realize you can attach a document that is formatted how you wish with some services, but i am just wondering about why, with all of the free online wordprocessors out there such as Writely and Zoho office, we can’t have a more rich editing interface than just the 7 or 8 options we currently have…

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One Response to “User-friendly Wikis?”

  1. roldham said

    ok seriously guys; i promise i had this blog post done on WEDNESDAY evening… but i had clicked on SAVE instead of publish!!!

    i am sooo sorry guys

    Randy

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