Tag Archives: open source

Tools to manage and keep track of community and ideas around delegation [#cls notes]

What are people using for monitoring life of their community?

Image by …-Wink-… via Flickr
  • Homegrown perl script.
  • PlanetPlanet + Feeds. Using Thunderbird to read the feeds and it’s failing.
  • Governance issues with the regards to what should be posted to planet.
  • Google Shared items to publish moderated items
  • Frequent bloggers extra feature inside PlanetPlanet
  • Don’t planet this tag
  • SVN-search – a way to view SVN history of certain open-source projects. Lifetime history of the project, which commiters contributed mail.
  • MarkMail.org
  • Apache-attic – ability to mark dead communities within Apache
  • Public message boards between anybody else on the site. [WikiAnswers.com]
  • The question is whether they should be public or not.

Delegation – as a community management tool. When the community becomes so big that you can’t manage it, you have to delegate and give more power to specific users.

The summer's darling
Image by Martha? via Flickr
  • [Invent] A special delegation tool
  • Different projects have their own internal dashboards that helps them asses their community and decide who are important contributors to the project. They usually aggregate a number of scripts that aggregate different stats and parts of community (forums, bugs, commits, etc.)
  • Ubuntu is trying to track community contributions. If you do non-technical things, they would like to be able to track it and give you karma points for this and to be able to help you.
  • In order to keep people to motivated, you have to validate their contributions and find a way to track them and their community contributions.
  • MeatBot – figure out who is actually doing stuff in contrast to who is just talking
  • What happens when people try to gain the system. Community managers are afraid of users gaming the system? How do you reward or contribute that?
  • Are there any visualization tools for past data/archives and can help with identifying important community contributions?

Community tools:

  • GetSatisfaction – emoticons to express feelings and make a better tool
  • StackOverflow – karma system that gives you points based on the amount of your contributions, that gives you extra features as you gain more points

Brand tracking tools:

  • We need a dashboard of dashboards

Social Tracking Tools:

Metro L 1/2 Universitat
Image by jsprhrmsn : bcn via Flickr
  • Need a reason for monitoring? It shows people that you are listening.
  • Job title: Professional listener

Tools that should exist:

  • Mozilla is doing a Community CRM – a tool that has information on everyone on community, short bio and their involvement in community + API that allows you to write a JetPacks etc. that show you more information about that person.
  • It’s being built on City CRM tool. Open source customer relationship tool.
  • The community must look small, to make it grow bigger.
  • Similar project is django-people
  • Visual relationship tool for email mailing lists
  • Mailman archives that don’t suck
  • Mailman archives GreaseMonkey script
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Full disclosure is important

In last few months I started playing with idea that Microsoft products might be worth checking out again. The last time I used their stuff was in Windows 2000 era. After that it was just Linux and then with years more and more OS X until I also stopped bothering with Linux.

0907 - Lago Medio del Flumendosa
Image by Selene Farci via Flickr

This effectively means that my perception of their stuff and experience is almost over a decade old. While we’re always happy to bash the people that haven’t tried alternatives like Linux and are dismissing open source as a viable business opportunity, I think we should be equally critical of our own insight.

In this regard two interesting things happened:

  • I started wondering loudly if we should rethink some of our open source strategies in favor of new offerings from Microsoft. Maybe their featureset can actually battle the religion of open source?
  • Microsoft Slovenia for some reason decided to reach out to me and enabled me to go to MIX’09.

The combined process of both things made a sell-out at the end of the day. Probably some stronger words were also used in the process. At least this is how it was perceived by the part of the community.

Lesson learned

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Transparency and full disclosure are important when you’re trying to play an active role in community. While nobody says anything about my job @zemanta or things I say about blogging, I haven’t earned my reputation in regards to Microsoft related technology and it makes me suspicous.

When someone as big as Microsoft shows you some attention it’s important to talk to them what this actually means so it’s easier to do a full disclosure about your affiliation.

Oh .. the full disclosure

Right now there’s nothing much, they sponsored MIX’09 conference ticket and we’ve had some great talks about possible cooperation on a number of different projects. Hopefuly I’ll be able to bring some of their expertise and insight to the community with time, but everything is very much in brainstorming phase.

Now stop bashing and help me learn some new things! 🙂

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3 must read documents for usability experts

Doing usability in startups is often very confusing as you don’t have time for proper process and you’re always wondering how good you could do it, if you had proper resources. With time, you wish you would just be able to read some of these resources in order to be in touch with your industry.

Luckily, there are two incredible startups that open-sourced their usability and redesign process – WordPress and Acquia’s Drupal.org redesign.

Lets start by two documents published by WordPress – wireframes for upcoming 2.7 release and results of their usability studies, that were used in order to actually produce wireframes and from there designs.

1. Usability Testing Report: 2.5 and Crazyhorse

This 25-page document describes what they’ve learned while observing bloggers while using WordPress 2.5, and also posts gaze trails from eye tracking, to get better idea how they used surroundin visual information while achieving their goal.

2. WordPress 2.7 Wireframes

The same team also produced these excellent wireframe documents, detailing changes and behavior, allowing programmers and product manager to use it as an initial input for more detailed specification, without having to go back and ask any bigger conceptual questions. Good example to learn from.

3. Drupal.org prototype

Drupal.org is taking an interesting approach towards redesign, where the usability experts and designers do everything out in open, getting community feedback and input into almost everything they do.

As such they’ve produced a wide range of interesting documents and videos. For now I would like to focus on their prototype, which is built in HTML, with no design, but includes something more important – notes. This is a great way to talk about information distribution, without the noise of actual design.

Modern civilization is built by standing on shoulders of giants. This is the reason why studying examples of other practitioners while doing your own work, will make you better UX expert.

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Wikimania 2008 wrap-up notes

Wikimania 2008 was a blast. Here are just a few more bits of information that didn’t have a place in other posts.

Wikimania logoImage via Wikipedia

Cool projects

PediaPress is a project that allows you to turn Wikipedia pages into actual books. They have an open-source MediaWiki extension, so you can run this on your own wiki. The coolest thing is that they’re going to be integrated into official Wikipedia wiki’s, so the whole world will be able to get their paper Wikipedia quickly and cheaply. Kudos go to Heiko and Johannes for getting this far with it.

UniWiki is a set of usability extensions for MediaWiki, developed by Unicef. They’re using wiki’s in 3rd world countries to help spread knowledge and to allow collaboration between schools from all over the world. They’ve done some impressive testing and improvement, so these extensions are something you should consider for your MediaWiki. The only problem right now is that they’re actually very hard to find. I’ll try to get a better idea how to get this working and post a follow-up blog post on this subject.

Wikia Search data dumps. While we’ve all tried the Wikia search, it’s not so well known fact that they have database dumps of everything. This should make some interesting research possible. Incidentally, this is exactly what Franklin st. statement proposes.

OLPC in Europe. There were some rumors that this Christmas they’re going to repeat funding drive that they had last year in USA. It’s not going to be limited only to USA, so we’ll be able to get them on this side of the pond.

FLOSS Manuals is a project that’s creating Free Manuals for Free Software. The idea is to create communities around different software projects that then work together to write really great manuals. Some of them are also available as printed versions.

Kaltura – Open Source video editing platform. Idea here is to be able to edit a video, just like a wiki. They have their own Flash player and can fully attach to MediaWiki pages.


General impressions

Overall it was a great conference. For some reason I’ve felt a bit of disconnect with local attendees but that is probably my own fault. Conference organizers did an incredibly good job with the whole organization. The only wish I would have for the next time is to make sure there is water available at the venue. It was a bit strange to only have some coffee and tea available, but it was easy enough to find a near street-corner vendor with water. 


What I learned about future of Wikipedia and Wikimedia foundation

I learned that they are working very hard. But it’s a really young organization that’s only starting to grow. So for now it seems that their goals for next year is to just make the whole operations as stable as possible that will allow them for further growth and bigger projects.

Having better search, WYSIWYG editor, better uploads and more projects is on their TODO list, but to be able to achieve that they have to make sure their infrastructure (both technical and real-world) is working well enough. I can fully respect that.

There was also some buzz on finally getting tagged revisions in. This will allow to create non-vandalized snapshots of pages through time (or at least that is my envisioning of usage).


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Angela Beesley – Beyond encylopedias – The rest of the library [Wikimania 2008 notes]

Nature’s SunshineImage by Capture Queen ™ via Flickr

Wikipedia, 10million articles and lots of articles. Isn’t that enough, so why would we need other wiki’s?


Wikipedia is not a lot of heap of things – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:NOT


So what do you do with these things?


Wikimedia has educational goal. There is another company Wikia, that runs these specialized wiki’s.


Variation of popularity within Wikia


 -> 5000 very active users per month in gaming but only 183 in books

< 10,000 monthly pageviews in health, compared to 11.3 million for WoWWiki alone.


Health wikis

Zh-tw.med.wikia.com is the most visited health wiki at Wikia bus has < 600 pages

Locked down editing is common

 – E.g. – Elsevier’s “Wiser wiki” asks for verification of physician qualitifactions


Wikipedia is far more detailed and complete than the largest specialist health wikis. So health is not really working on separe wiki’s. One of the reasons for this could be that it’s a encyclpedia topic and encourage in Wikipedia.


Gaming content

The content is reguraly delted from Wikipedia. Doesn’t fit the “textbook” model. It’s often seen as trivial or non-important.


Wikibooks also has policy it’s not for for video game strategy guides.


Topics deemed “unenycyclopedic” can thrive on their own. The 3 top gaming wikis have more articles then all the health wiki’s combined.


Comics and Wikipedia

  • Controversy led to creation of Comixpedia
  • Still many comic-related deletions
  • Growing number of independent comics wikis
  • Marvel Database has 26,000 articles.



In 2004 lots of recipes got deleted from Wikipedia. Wikipedia asks people to add recipes to Wikibooks Cookbooks, but it’s often not well received. You can’t add variations of recipes and such.


Wikipedia and social networking

People tried playing chess on Wikipedia, or do social networks. All of these things were deleted.


Wikia builds into software itself tools that allow such operations.


What is needed regarding deletion:

  • Better workflow for information initially in the wrong place
  • Easier ways to find the correct place



A bot takes articles thar are listed for non-speedy deletion

Archives them where they can be reused by other wikis, with full attribution.


What is needed

  • Links between projects:
  • Part of interface
  • Automated
  • Appealing


This also works for languages. It’s also possible to do Geo-location so Wikipedia could suggest right place.



  • Less loss of content; more availability of free content
  • Less loss of contributors
  • Less ill-feeling toward Wikipedia



Jimmy Wales – Wikia search


Search principles

  • Transparency
  • Collaboration
  • Quality
  • Privacy


Designing a search editing process that it’s Wiki like. It’s a very different thing in a search context. It’s about links, much more granular piece of information. People really like debating and discussing things, and not add links without lots of social context.


Wikia Search it’s whitelisting pages that are community related.


When you search, you get different options next to search results. You can edit, annotate, spotlight, delete. There’s a full transparency of who changed what etc.


They’re trying “Facebook style” profile pages. 


Search roadmap

Wikia expecst it to be at least 1.5 years before we will be fully competitive

Their mission right now is to build the tools and community


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