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From: Fernando Cacciola (fernando_cacciola_at_[hidden])
Date: 2005-05-04 10:05:08

Jeff Garland wrote:
> I'll just respond in general to the thread. It's great to see some
> enthusiasm from the boost user community. I'm afraid to say,
> however, that I'm a bit of a skeptic. Having started the Boost Wiki
> in 2001 after a burst of similar discussion and the initial creation
> of the Boost-user mailing list, I consider the wiki to be basically a
> failed experiment.


> That's not to say that the Boost_User Wiki hasn't
> been very useful to many people (especially Boost developers). But
> I'd say that there has never been sustained "user" support to help
> grow the Wiki and make it more useful for Boost users. The initial
> vision was that users would contribute 'tutorial' and other useful
> information. It's been sparse at best.

> So my thought is that before we go and grow another technological
> solution and diluting our resources even more, we need to really
> think about what the 'users' want to achieve and why the current site
> doesn't meet those needs.

You're definetly right that we better capitalize on your experience here and
the already available resources.

> Why don't more "users" contribute to the
> current Wiki?

>From my own personal view I think the main answer to this question is lack
of visibility.
So a related question is why isn't the wiki as visible as it should?
Users in this thread already mentioned that they were unaware of the
existence of the wiki.
There is a link to it down the main boost site, but many people never get to
read those "additional stuff rolls" on a web page. I never do for instance.
AFAICT there was little marketing for the wiki, specially of its evolution.
I remember I visited it once long ago when it was basically just a spread of
ideas for new libs and additional docs. I never got back but likewise I
never _heard_ of it anymore expect on a couple of occasions. It was never
clear to me what it was about.

I see this "failed experiment" as you called it not as an indication that
the idea won't work but as a source for learning from mistakes. We might
fail again, but then we will have had learned even more. There are
succsefull communitites out there so we _can_ do this; we just need to learn

> What is it that users really want to contribute to
> Boost?

Well, in reality, users want boost to contribute with them.
Now of course that _requires_ them to contribute to boost, but the site must
stand out as a place were resources can and will be found. It is only after
users recognize that they'll turn to participate as content providers.
I guess there is a transitional phase were people must be actively requested
to provide content until we reach a content level sufficiently good to
attrack most of the users that are just wanting something they can get, not

When I first came to boost there were already very good libs. If I had saw
just a couple of libs and/or of poor quality I would have moved on.

So IMO the site must somehow market itself as best as it can and at that
promise a good deal to users _before_ they become providers.

> Why not build on some of the good things on the current wiki
> (like the 'effective xyz' pages? Why not band together and help work
> on the current Wiki?

Can the wiki we extended in such a way that would ressemble the community
sites that can be deployed with off the shelf community products like plong?

> If it's additions to docs there are certainly
> many ways that can be done currently and is done all the time by a
> variety of users.

This is one thing yes.

> It's alot of work to do it well I believe -- more
> than I can do. And if we want to augment with other technologies we
> can --

OK. I know close to nothing to wiki tech and the "other" community products.

> I'm fully open to expanding the hosting I already provide.

> As for the wiki spam problem, I believe it to be a non-issue at this
> point. The problem really started to take off in mid-2004, but a
> series of measures have been implemented to reduce and resolve the
> problem. Yes, spam still appears from time to time, but it is quickly
> and completely reversed. The spammers that get thru initially get
> blocked out because the new content filter stops them from posting
> links to spammer sites after an admin update. The more organized and
> dangerous spammers seem to have moved on to easier targets. And at
> this point, any open content system is going to have to face this
> problem -- so be prepared.

Right, this shouldn't be considered a problem anymore.

The bottom line of my opinion regarding the wiki is this:

I believe the wiki failed becasue of marketing. Not only in terms of
publiticing the site but also in term of the wiki look-N-feel. As I said,
users want boost to contribute with them first, only then, when their main
need was satisfied, they may turn to contribute with boost. Therefore, the
site success is greatly influenced by its attraction capability. That means
a great design, a good feature set, etc...

I definitely want to capitalize on the work already done.

The question is, can the wiki be extended to acomodate the features of
something like Plong or Mambo?
I'd like to see a feature-by-feature comparison.
Of course, you might argue that is worth lossing feature X in order to reuse
the wiki work, but I'd like to see a rational for each such case.


Fernando Cacciola

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