New book - 'Building a Better World in Your Backyard' - on Kickstarter (sponsored friend)
One approach for running a wiki is bringing together all manner of related subjects - e.g. in Appropedia's case, sustainability with green living, sustainable design, open design, international development, permaculture, appropriate technology, and all related fields.
This has the advantage of tremendous synergy, less re-inventing (doing the same things in multiple places), and more connections. E.g. see Appropedia:Synergy re Appropedia-specific areas of synergy.
It also greatly reduces the technical work needed to administer the site, and enables more effort to be put into developing the wiki and adding new features.
Potential drawbacks may include a concern about loss of group identity. Social features could alleviate this, particularly:
- Navigation templates for related pages (as found on the Hexayurt and Waterpod projects and The Transition Handbook) can help to give an identity to a group of pages on a larger wiki.
- Features that enable groups to communicate - e.g. sending a message to all members, as can be done with some social sites such as Facebook. The current solution is to use a good discussion list service, such as Google Groups - this works well, but takes extra effort in setting up, and creates a separate thing for group members to join. Very clear and simple instructions and links for group members will help for now, but an integrated message system would be far better.
- RecentChanges for the subproject. "Related changes" found near the bottom of the sidebar partly serves this function - the relevant link is the one from a category page, or another page that lists all pages in the subproject (e.g. the header template). One weakness is that it doesn't show if a page is added or removed from the collection (deleted, delinked from the page or removed from the category). Another major weakness is that this is not at all intuitive for the average new user; however the link can be added to a relevant place (e.g. the bottom of the navigation box of The Transition Handbook) where it's easy for group members to just click on it.
- Easily tracked discussions. The closest at present would be a very rough hack - making page of links to the talk pages and using "related changes," but this needs to be manually maintained, if new pages are added.
It's extremely common for people to see the value of wikis (great), decide to change the world (even better) then get excited and set up yet another wiki... without properly exploring existing efforts, and not realizing what is involved. And while setting up a wiki is easy and can be done in hours or less, making a successful wiki is hard.
Note: the "wiki synergy" described here (i.e. synergy between wikis or within a wiki) is not to be confused with Wikisynergy.com, which is a wiki for issues surrounding skepticism.