The UBC Wiki, as originally described, serves multiple purposes:
- It is a course repository: The wiki provides a collaborative space for faculty and students to create and share course related content.
- It is a documentation repository: The wiki provides a collaborative space for the creation, updating, and hosting of documentation, user manuals, and the like. Using the wiki append plug-in and the wiki book creator, specific documentation could easily be syndicated and republished.
- It is an open space that anyone can use for any purpose.
- Finally, it would be a knowledge sharing repository of all things UBC. For example (again as originally described):
The genome page [on the UBC Wiki] should inventory UBC resources about Genome – topics like people, groups and departments that research genome; papers, posters and thesis published about genome etc. In the ideal scenario, UBC faculty, students and staff would update topics of their professional (and wider) interests and so make resources more presentable and easier to find.
To accommodate these multiple purposes, the UBC Wiki was divided into four public namespaces: Course, Documentation, Sandbox, and the Main space. However, as I’ve detailed in my early Course Conundrum post, users tend to not use the namespaces and just create new pages in main space. To some extent, this problem is getting better. I’ve created some expanded documentation and created wayfinding aids about the different namespaces. I’m also moving all new pages to their proper space and dropping a note to the page creator explaining what I did and pointing them to the proper help pages. Finally, I’ve been moving older pages to their proper spaces as well – as you can see I’m close to hitting the 500 page mark.
One thing that would really help users notice the organization of the wiki would be to better define the purpose of the main space:
- If the main space is intended to be a wikipedia like resource for anything and everything UBC, then this needs to be stated in clearer terms in all descriptions of the main space.
- “Best practice pages” or better examples of main space articles should be developed so users have a better idea of just what it is we are trying to create.
- Policies and guidelines should be developed as to what types of content fit into the main space (I’ve started developing some here).
- The term “main space” should go and it should be renamed with something that better conveys the space’s intended purpose, such as UBCpedia, UBC Dictionary, UBCompendium, or (my favourite) the UBCnomicon
Of course, these suggestions apply to all namespaces. However, since the main space is the most prominent part of the wiki, clarifying its purpose would help clarify the the purpose of the other areas as well.