OpenWetWare talk:Software/Subwikis

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  • Jamesh008 16:08, 18 October 2006 (GMT): I really think private wikis will encourage more and more labs to start using OWW. I know there is some hesitation as soon as I explain what OWW is about to less enlightened folks!
    However I would not want to see any private wiki need a login just to read, that really defeats OWW as I see it. Editing is another matter and is what bothers people so much.
    How much do you think it will cost to host say 100 private lab wikis? When does the cost become high enough for OWW to start charging, would a donation be more along OWW philosophy, is there a make a donation page like [1]?
    • Sri Kosuri (talk) 11:16, 18 October 2006 (EDT):This is something we come back to over and over. I think it's more a matter of our own organizational capacities. Who deals with downtimes/backups/user accounts/etc? What do we do when Austin leaves (god forbid). Many of us have our own private wikis, but we are willing to maintain that ourselves. Most of the people that help run the back-end of OWW have vested interest in getting information more open. We all benefit from it. However, many people do not really want to invest the effort to maintain private lab pages to everyone. Another option we talked about is we hope to deal with this in the future is to have a OWW distribution. In this manner people could download and maintain the software themselves, with a super-easy ways to move a page onto OWW for 'publication'. You can also imagine doing a public/private partnerships with private wiki hosting companies that are popping up all over the place. Anyways, this is definitely a topic we should bring back to the steering committee, especially considering Austin's progress
  • Jamesh008 16:11, 18 October 2006 (GMT): If you start offering private wikis and get en even greater response than now then lots of labs will be on OWW. Talk:Main_Page has a discussion ongoing on how to handle this. Can we add categories/tags to lab pages along the lines of what they do, type of research, specialisation in techniques? Then get rid of a list of labs on the front page all together. I like the map idea as a replacement, if it is zoomable like google.maps then finding who is near by would be a cinch.
    • I like the map idea too. I also think we need to become far more serious about catergorization. Once again, we need to find out how to do this for us... Any volunteers?
      • Jasonk 12:36, 18 October 2006 (EDT): map is a great idea.
    • Jasonk 12:36, 18 October 2006 (EDT): Hi james, thanks for all your great comments, youre hitting on some of the bigger issues on OWW, and its great to hear the challenges other folks face in trying to convince labs to join OWW. you mentioned that editing is what bothers people the most, but we've also found that people are worried about other's 'scooping' their research, etc. So people have asked for read-control, edit-control, etc. The question for us has been can we make either of these work within the mission of the site: "The goals of OWW are to support open research, education, publication, and discussion in biological sciences and engineering. We promote and support collaborations among researchers, students, and others who are working towards these goals."
      • Write-control -- we've found that while this is a common concern among people that we are pitching OWW to, it ends up being something that they can get over. In particular, we haven't had an incident of vandalism to date, everyone has logins tracked to a single user, any negative change can be reverted back in seconds with the wiki software, etc. Practically, this isn't as scary as it first seems to people. That said, it would make it easier to get labs to join if we allowed write-control, but what would they be joining at that point? Essentially we would be offering them a free wiki hosting service -- it wouldn't be part of OWW at all. I can't edit it as another OWW user, and so they really have their own community independent of OWW. There are lots of other free wiki hosting sites (like jotspot), it doesn't seem like we would be providing anything more than those sites do already, and we would risk labs doing the knee-jerk thing and just making everything write-controlled.
      • Read-control -- This one is slightly more tricky, since presumably collabroation can be increased, by giving scientists some space where they can share ideas outside the public eye at least until they are comfortable sharing them more broadly. In most cases we can encourage both collaboration and open sharing on OWW, but this is one instance where they seem to butt heads. Hence Austin's proposal for read-restricted pages.
      • would love to hear your thoughts on any of this, thanks.
        • Jamesh008 14.34, 19 October 2006 (GMT): I will admit that I would be unlikely to put my unpublished research onto an open source forum. A lot of effort goes into generating data, grants and more importantly ideas! I am sure you all have some concerns although I am not sure how many of us work in labs where we don't even talk shop with those across the corridor because of fear of scooping...

Austin Che 11:12, 18 October 2006 (EDT): For cost, as long as we stay within the abilities of our server and network capabilities (very likely), the cost of hosting 1 wiki is the same as n wikis. However, we are spending a significant amount for our hosted server. I'm not sure that read only wikis is more in line with OWW philosophy. A private wiki that requires login to read doesn't affect you as you won't even know it exists. But a public wiki that people intend you to go to but you can't edit is just frustrating and anti-wiki. Read-only wikis involves people getting over their fear of wikis whereas completely private non-readable wikis cannot be forced into the current openwetware structure.

  • Jamesh008 14.34, 19 October 2006 (GMT): The more I get used to it the more I agree with you, OWW is open, end of discussion (not!)
  • Sri Kosuri (talk) 11:22, 18 October 2006 (EDT): Austin, how do we handle which OWW users have access to any particular wiki. Can we make one normal OWW user, a superuser for another wiki? How do they add new users?
    • Austin Che 11:43, 18 October 2006 (EDT): The easiest solution would be in that script for creating a wiki, to give an existing OWW user sysop privileges. They would have to manage the wiki in any way that mediawiki allows for (unless our ums is rewritten to allow multiple wikis, etc.) I think it would be possible to limit the create user page to sysops. I'm not sure about the openID stuff as the login and create account appear to be the same page.

Continuing Discussion?

Hi. I don't know if this topic is still being discussed or if a decision has been reached but I have an idea i'd like to contribute.
From what i've read it seems a private wiki would be useful for collaborations but against OWW openness policy. I agree that a whole subwiki / private wiki site would not fit in OWW. However, if possible(!?), could you add a single private page to a OWW users account? This pages' name would be set to User:Private. An additional tab in the users' preferences would allow them to add another users OWW ID (username), authenticating their ability to view and edit the page. Anyone not on this list would not be able to access the page. I think this would allow for collaboration discussions without users creating a whole private wiki. It all depends on whether it can be implemented in this manner...!
Jim @ Streptomyces 08:35, 9 May 2007 (EDT)

  • Austin Che 09:07, 9 May 2007 (EDT): anything's technically possible including what you suggest but I'm not sure I see what a single private page would provide. It would only allow for one collaboration and how useful would one page be for collaboration?
  • Sri Kosuri (talk) 11:55, 9 May 2007 (EDT):Hi Jim, and thanks for bringing attention back to the discussion. I actually like this idea a lot. It may be that people only want a few things that are private. I really don't know how much private information users want to post up... is it just a few things (like account numbers et cetera) or is it many things (pre-publication protocols et cetera)? But, it seems like allowing one private page allows us to keep reasonable limits on what people can keep private, at the same time giving users increased flexibility. What are other people's thoughts?
  • Reshma 12:15, 9 May 2007 (EDT): I agree with Austin. The primary motivation for private pages is to encourage people to digitize content that can later be made public (since people are unlikely to go back and digitize content after the fact). How does a single private page encourage digitization of content for later release publicly? Isn't a google doc sufficient for single page privacy? My feeling is that the cost (implementing single page access controls, users being unable to follow links to private pages) doesn't justify the benefits (user convenience).
  • Jim @ Streptomyces 09:15, 10 May 2007 (EDT): Well, just an idea really. I thought if researchers were trying to collaborate then a single private page would be enough room to present and discuss ideas/results. However, this idea could be extended to multiple pages, without creating a subwiki. The authentication could be administered as before, but a limited number of multiple pages available (user:private; user:private01; user:private02 etc...). In the preferences you could authorise access to 1,2 or multiple private pages by entering a user ID in the respective section. OWW users would easily be able to follow a link to view a private page, because it would be a requirement that they are logged in to gain access. Should a non-OWW user want to view a private page, e.g. after receiving an invatition from an OWW user; they would have to sign up for an account. Hopefully, the new user would see a greater benefit of OWW other than just the collaboration, and create their own wiki. Perhaps this feature would also encourage researchers to keep their wiki up-to-date; thus promoting open dissemination of information. No researcher with a sensible head is going to want to discuss/present unpublished data/ideas. The private pages should be reserved for such information. Once the collaboration has finished and/or the data published, it would be easy for the page to be moved to a public area. I hope this is clear enough to follow. I welcome further discussion if OWW sees this as beneficial progression that fits their ethos.
  • Reshma 09:35, 10 May 2007 (EDT): Hey Jim, I am curious as to whether you are advocating private spaces in general (so that people can discuss and document unpublished work) or you specifically prefer private pages over private subwiki's? If so, can you explain why. Just trying to get a better understanding for what you are requesting. (Again thanks for bringing this discussion up again. It is a pretty difficult issue so it is nice to get a feel for what different folks think.)
  • Jim @ Streptomyces 09:31, 11 May 2007 (EDT): Hey Reshma. WRT my point above; discussing unpublished data can only be done in private. I thought that the private pages would be a useful (and hopefully welcome) addition to OWW. I have read other discussions on OWW that talk about private subwikis. It seems to be a general consensus that these would not be a good idea as it is unlikely that any of the information would get shared, and possibly that users would post/update more content on their private subwiki than their open one. I feel that a private page offers enough space & flexibility to use it for its intended purpose; at the same time deterring users from creating a private community. Perhaps this idea is too limited/narrow and only a few groups would use it, I don't know, we need views from other users... I'm not really requesting this facillity, just joining a discussion that may lead to a beneficial extra for OWW and its users.