So we're up to 100 users today. Good going. I have also had very encouraging responses to the process thus far. We need more content and more editing, but I am confident it will come in time. So far, so good.
Several more questions came in today that I want to address briefly here…
Q1: Why is this wiki, which is supposed to be an official ASU planning tool, being hosted on sannier.net? That seems weird to me. Can I trust it?
A: Nothing nefarious here I assure you. It was simply a matter of getting the site up quickly. Using my hosting provider I was able to establish the site over a weekend, by myself, at no extra charge. Hosting it inside ASU would have been a much more expensive proposition, would have taken a lot longer, and required the efforts of lots more people. Remember, at this point the University Technology Office has exactly one employee. So I decided to be nimble instead of orthodox.
(This choice is a microcosm of the choices departments make all the time. When using centralized resources is expensive or slow relative to our budget or time frame, we opt to go outside. Maybe it’s a little weird, and it may in the end create more work, but sometimes it’s the only way to meet the requirements of the customers, in this case potential planners who would have no patience for a stalled process. And if you consider how often that happens around here, I take it back, there’s nothing weird about it).
In the end, since the readership isn't restricted to ASU, and only registered users can edit or post, unless we run into major vandalism issues, it doesn't seem to matter much where it’s hosted. If it’s an issue of being able to find the wiki, where do people suggest I place references to it?
I don't see any other usability issues. Or is there something I'm missing?
Q2: The blog and the wiki are great as far as they go, but there are a lot of people that don't "do" this level of tehcnological gimmickry. Nevertheless, those people might have great ideas. What are you doing to reach out to the "non-bloggers", the “un-wikian”?
A: Definitely an important issue. The whole point of the early part of this effort is outreach. But if we rely solely on technology to get the word out, how will we reach out to the non-techies?
The first and most important way is evangelism. While not by any means universal, the blog and the wiki are getting serious readership inside of ASU. If readers who believe in this process take the evangelism mission seriously and reach out to people who are either not aware of the process or were initially turned off by its reliance on technology we can dramatically increase the level of participation.
Through evangelism, new people will be turned on to reading the blog and the wiki. And others can be engaged in group sessions where a techie gathers the group's thoughts and posts them to the wiki on the group's behalf. With active outreach like this, I am confident the process can reach a much greater cross section of the ASU community.
Second, I am committed to personal evangelism. If you know of a group of people that you think I can turn on to this process, let me at 'em. And as the process continues, and we begin to make decisions, or find ourselves on the brink of decisions, I am similarly committed to conducting open forums to talk about those decisions and enlist help.
Finally, I am working on deploying two new email addresses: one to submit questions to; the other to submit wiki content to. The question address will make it easy for people to ask questions like: "Why can't I get access to every lecture as a podcast?" or "Why can't I register a benefits change on line?" Hopefully that will give us a different window into what's important to a cross section of people.
The wikiContent address will allow people who find the wiki editing interface too forbidding to nevertheless submit articles or edits – as text, or word documents, or powerpoints, or digital whiteboard pictures, or whatever. Anything to gather the best ideas.
Additional thoughts on how to reach out beyond the blogosphere?
Q2: What's going on with the moderator list? Looks a little uneven to me. Are you assigning them at random? Are people self-selecting? What is the moderator's job anyway?
A: No, moderators are not self-selecting. At this point, all the moderators have either been selected by me or have applied and been accepted by me.
There is a great deal of difference of opinion about the moderation team. Some people feel we have too many moderators. Some feel we have too few. Almost everyone thinks the representation is uneven.
Myself, I think there are still too few moderators, and I agree that the coverage is uneven. I am hoping the existing moderation team will begin to seek out their colleagues (from a variety of points of view) to expand these teams where necessary. I am also still interested in applications from interested parties, but at this point I will be asking the moderation team's opinion about additions.
As to what a moderator's job is, in the beginning it’s :
- to provide shape to the individual sections,
- to create a skeleton for the plan to develop around
- to focus effort on the vital questions
- to be certain that the most important questions and answers are represented in their respective spaces.
As the sections begin to take shape, I would expect the moderators to begin to drive the most important articles toward a finished form, to begin to make decisions about contentious issues, and to protect "finished" pages from further editing. Protected pages can still be commented on, but the page itself will no longer be editable outside the moderation team unless the discussion drives us to unprotect it again.
Hope this covers some of the burning issues. Any other questions?