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Some tips and guidelines for using various features of the webspace

On this webspace, various features have been made available: wiki pages, articles, blogs, forums, file galleries, and image galleries. While the use of some of these features (like image galleries) and when to use them might be clear, it is not always clear when it is best to create wiki pages, create articles, use blogs, or use discussion forums. On this page, we present some tips, guidelines to help this process.

When to use a wiki

Wiki pages provide an easy way for creating a wide variety of content on the site and linking between them. So, that is one obvious way to use a wiki — when a new subsection of the webspace needs to be created and it needs to be populated with introductory material about that webspace.

Additionally, wiki pages are best suited for collaborative editing of text across a group of people. Note that collaborative editing of content requires the individuals concerned to pay attention to what others have written, edited, and an ability to integrate different ideas and thoughts. All these individual contributions in a wiki page are not easily identifiable, but all seamlessly merge to produce a text that is truly a collaborative work and is more than the sum of its individual contributions. It is much harder to ascribe authorship to any individual — the document belongs to everyone who participated in its creation.

When to use discussion forums

In contrast to wiki pages, discussion forums are best suited for discussions which can be informal and loosely-structured. Unlike a wiki, discussion forums provide a clear visibility to all the individual contributions (in the form of comments). Comments are attributable to individuals. Thus, this approach is best suited for discussion and debates where it is important to cite, quote, refer to other's comments and perhaps even engage in discussions about specific aspects of other's interventions.

If discussion forums are used to discuss an article, text, proposal, and seek feedback and comments for improving the article or proposal, note that the authorship continues to rest with the original authors (unlike a wiki). Of course, the authors could choose to invite others to be co-authors, and the authors could choose to acknowledge the input of all those who provided comments. But, the fundamental distinction remains with a wiki. There is no change in authorship of a document.

When to use a blog

An abbreviation for Weblog, "blog"s are like daily journals — they can simply be dairies of events, but in our context, they can be a way to record a continuing evolution of one's thoughts and ideas.

Blogs can also be used to provide a running commentary of an event, conference, meeting like a WSF, for example.

Blogs can be an individual's very personal impressions — while allowing everyone to post their thoughts on comments on the individuals posts. Like a discussion forum, the authorship of the post rests with the individual, but, the comments add to the richness of the posting. Blogs are thus different from a forum in that the things being discussed are usually richer and different rather than being a place where straightforward questions are discussed. More significantly, while discussion forums are open for anyone to initiate discussion on a topic, blogs are owned by an individual and only (s)he can initiate discussion by his/her postings.



Contributors to this page: Subramanya (Subbu) Sastry .
Page last modified on Sunday 27 of November, 2005 13:40:46 IST by Subramanya (Subbu) Sastry.

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