Tips From Ward Cunningham

WriteWhereTheyRead. BruceAnderson invented this technique when he left a note for JimCoplien on Jim's name page, although it's no longer there. [See also: WikiMail , WikiMailBox]

Write the answer to your own question. PatrickMueller wrote that he had cloned wiki. I wanted to know more. So I added "see WikiWikiClone" to his page, as if I were speaking to a third party, and then wrote what little I knew of his system in that page. Pat filled in the details that afternoon.

Send email. It's old fashioned, but it still works. It's also a little like whispering in class. If you learn something this way please bring it back to the web. We'd all like to know.

-- WardCunningham

"Email? Faster than snail-mail, less intrusive than phone calls ... sorta like passing notes in class." That's been my line for years. -- BenTremblay

Links not Questions (or PromptingStatement) When you have a question, try to ask it in the form of an unresolved link. I saw someone refer to a company called "Wall Data". I thought, "what's that?" Rather than post the question, I just turned it into a link - WallData - trusting that someone will fill it in later. -- KentBeck

Does that actually work? I tend to interpret the question mark as meaning clicking won't help. I don't see it as a request to create the page. This may be because there are too many accidental matches to the LinkPattern. I also sometimes create links without caring whether the page exists, on the off-chance it does. That's what I just did with LinkPattern. I know what a LinkPattern is.

Writing a PromptingStatement worked for me - I now know what a ConLang is :-)

Might it be better to actually create the page, but leave it blank or containing only the request for data? Or (preferably?) a half-baked guess at the answer which someone else can correct. -- DaveHarris

I think so. If only because it will then show up in RecentChanges. -- PhilGoodwin

I'd prime the pump by putting in a 1st cut slab of text, with the appropriate caveats. -- BenTremblay

The community here at Millennium (where I've ported Wiki at the request of MitchellModel) finds the "accidental matches" to be an enormous benefit. These amount to automatic citations and glossary entries, especially helpful with jargon words. We find these to be useful PromptingStatements, that invite a response.

In this community, even though you as the author might know what a LinkPattern is, many others might not. And so the presence of the PromptingStatement of LinkPattern invites someone to fill in a description of the LinkPattern. Since DaveHarris knows what it means, he won't bother to follow it very often (unless it changes...*smile*). Newcomers, however, appreciate having it so readily available. -- TomStambaugh

What can also happen is that a PromptingStatement is written, and then someone else realizes that there is already a page but with a different WikiName, and so they fix the WikiLink. This may be a good reason not to create the empty page, as suggested above. -- EricScheid

Very true - but equally, don't let fear that a link already exists under a different name stop you from creating a new page. Certainly, some level of due diligence is required before starting a new page - but do place some faith in the notion that the same WikiCitizen who might flesh out your new page could just as well perform the DisAmbiguation.


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