You hear it in the bushes since quite some time, rumors spread and people whisper about it: A new wiki for the openSUSE project is coming very soon! The openSUSE Wiki team is in the last preparations to launch the new wiki on
Monday the 12th of July
As with all shiny new things the new wiki is different than the old one. But different how? You can sum that up in one word: Structure
The current wiki, online since the start of the openSUSE project in 2005, grew wild into something that is not maintainable anymore. This is because content in it is in no way structured and we use it as a simple information dump. We don’t have any rules on how to present information or how to connect it to related bits and everybody is just adding pages. It makes adding content very easy but it neglects completely the biggest group of users of this wiki: the readers. On a normal day we have 10 people adding and 78.000 reading content. Yet we do very little to ensure that those 78.000 people find what they are looking for.
This is about to change. We, the openSUSE Wiki Team, sat down and thought about the wiki. What is it and for whom is it for? Why can’t we maintain it? What are the most common complaints? And how can we solve this with the resources we have? We had a very lively discussion about this in the winter and afterward started to explore the options we have. We tried and discussed a lot methods, rules and mediawiki extensions. We came to the conclusion that we need to structure the content for the user-groups we have, provide better means of navigation than simple links, work on standardized templates and make sure that the most prominent content is of a acceptable quality.
The content in the new wiki is separated by topic in a couple of namespaces. Most prominently the main namespace (with no prefix) for the presentation of the latest openSUSE Distribution, think of it as the product brochure, for people who are new to openSUSE and maybe to Linux in general. The support database’s SDB: namespace for people who have a problem with the openSUSE distribution and seek written instruction on how to solve it. And the openSUSE community’s openSUSE: namespace to collaboratively write on documentation for their projects and teams. With namespaces we ensure that the right content in the right form reaches the right users.
Navigation happens now through portals. Portals are entry points for a specific topic, similar to the main page. They provide an overview over a topic and guide readers to the content they seek which is either another portal or an individual article. Also categorization is very important so we can automatically generate overview pages and navigational structures. With these rules for navigation we ensure that our readers find the content we produce.
Styling of content happens through templates. There are 2 kinds, templates for a specific kind of article like the general article template, like the one for Portals or for support database articles and templates for styling of recurring content in articles like introduction and info boxes, hints and instructions or external sources and items. With these rules about styling we ensure that people understand the content we produce.
Prominent namespaces (currently: Main & Portals) in the new wiki are subject to a quality assurance (QA) process to ensure articles meet the required quality. This QA process happens via a system which provides the opportunity to have several revisions of articles in parallel and one approved by the openSUSE Wiki Team. It does not limit creation of new content, but allows only quality content to be shown by default. With this process we ensure that first time visitors get drawn into page and stay.
You can see the current state of our preparations at our temporary location http://wiki.opensuse.org. Have fun exploring it and please don’t hesitate to contact us with ideas or problems on our mailinglist firstname.lastname@example.org.