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Updated Wiki

After many different requests I have finally updated the content that was in the Teaching Hacks wiki.  The content had been hacked by a spammer and the content had been lost.  I did some recovery using the Google Cache and also the WayBackMachine on  I will continue to update the content on wiki.

I have used a 301 Redirect to automatically move the old urls to go to the new urls.

Tips On Developing A Wiki Community

Muppet WikiDanny Horn, Founder of the Muppet Wiki shares tips on building a wiki community.

Small wikis are different

Small wikis aren’t the same as Wikipedia. Wikipedia has 43,000 contributors every month. Muppet Wiki has around 50 contributors. 43,000 isn’t just “50, but bigger”. It’s a whole different level of complexity.

Muppet Wiki is the size of an office. Wikipedia is the size of a small city.

That means that a small wiki has different priorities and a different structure, and it needs different rules. “They do it this way on Wikipedia” is not a good way to run a small wiki.

The individual is important

The biggest difference between a group of 50 and a group of 43,000 is that a small group needs to value each individual much more highly.

An individual contributor doesn’t mean that much on Wikipedia. The top ten Wikipedia contributors could all take a month-long vacation at the same time, and it wouldn’t make any difference to the project as a whole. If one person drops out of the project — even a long-time, knowledgeable, valued contributor — then there’s still hundreds, even thousands, who could take that person’s place.

On a small wiki, each individual is important. The top contributors on a small wiki are probably the administrators. They’re the people who understand the structure. They’re the institutional memory. They’re the people who mentor new contributors, and help to referee disputes. If you lose an active contributor on a small wiki, there isn’t necessarily anybody there to take that person’s place. If you lose two or three of the most active contributors, then your wiki is in big trouble.

The other side of that coin is that an individual can also do a lot of damage to a small wiki. One vandal, or one babbling kid, can’t do much to harm Wikipedia — the database is too big, and there’s plenty of people who enjoy finding and reverting nonsense. On a small wiki, there aren’t as many people around to clean up the damage. As we found out on Muppet Wiki, one pestering, clueless kid with a lot of time on his hands can frustrate and exhaust the most active contributors — and if that’s allowed to continue, it can make the active contributors drop out.

Therefore, you need to pay attention to each individual on a small wiki. Each contributor needs encouragement, mentoring, and appreciation. You also need to set boundaries that make the productive contributors feel safe and happy.

People don’t like anonymity

It’s amazing to me that people still believe in the old cliche that “on the internet, people like to be anonymous.” That might be true when you’re searching for porn or sending out viruses, but aside from that, it just isn’t true.

Compare these two ideas about what people enjoy.

  • “People like to be anonymous, and seek out places to hide. It’s satisfying and fun when they can contribute to society without anyone knowing who they are.”


  • “People like social experiences, and seek out ways to interact with other people. They like going to places where they feel well-known, and welcomed. They like being around other people, and when they’re completely alone, they feel lonely and abandoned. They like being recognized and appreciated for their work.”

If you look around at the way the world is structured, it’s pretty clear that people crave social experiences. People work, play and relax in places where other people are around. Sure, everyone needs some alone time, and some people need more than others, but that’s not how we live our lives. People like being around other people.

But people still say, “on the internet, people like to be anonymous.” As if there’s a difference between how we behave on “the internet” and how we behave when we’re walking around in the world. That’s like saying that we become different people when we’re on “the telephone”.

There is no “the internet”. It’s just a communication medium. You’re still a person, with human needs and human feelings, and people don’t like being alone.

A wiki is a volunteer project

There’s one easy way to predict whether a wiki is going to thrive, or stagnate and die: look at the Recent Changes page, and check out how active the Talk pages are. If most of the users have a red “Talk” link — meaning nobody’s ever bothered to talk to them — then that wiki is in trouble.

A wiki is a volunteer project, and the admins should act as if they’re the volunteer coordinators at a non-profit agency.

If you walk into a non-profit agency to volunteer, there’s somebody there to say hello. They get you oriented, and they check in with you about how things are going. If it’s a successful, active program, then other volunteers are there too; they talk to you, and help you out. There’s always a sense that your participation is important, and appreciated. If you’re not getting paid for being there, then they need to give you something, and usually what you get is pride, satisfaction and appreciation.

People who like working alone have their own personal websites and blogs. People come to wikis because it’s a communal project, with lots of people working together on a common goal. They want to feel welcomed and appreciated.

The admin of a small wiki has three essential tasks — to welcome new people, to mentor the new contributors and make sure they know how to participate productively, and to encourage communication on talk pages. Everything else is secondary.

Everybody needs a user name

At Muppet Wiki, we have a User Name policy. We expect every contributor to sign in and create a user name. The first time an anonymous contributor posts on the wiki, an admin posts a welcome message on their talk page that says hello, points them towards the FAQ, and invites them to sign in. The majority of contributors sign in at this point.

Anonymous contributors get a trial period of five edits. If the contributor does five edits without signing in, an admin posts a warning message, telling them that they’ll be blocked if they continue editing without signing in. Many contributors sign in at this point.

Occasionally, an anonymous contributor will ignore the warning and continue posting. When that happens, we block that IP address, with a message that directs them to the User Name policy, and gives them my e-mail address if they want to get the block removed.

Your head just exploded, right? Most wiki people that I talk to about the User Name thing usually have head explosions at this point. Let me summarize the argument: It’s harsh, it’s mean, it’s anti-wiki, it drives away potential contributors. In other words: Wikipedia doesn’t do it that way.

And it’s true, Wikipedia doesn’t do it that way… which is why Wikipedia has hundreds of admins who play an endless game of whack-a-mole with anonymous vandals. Wikipedia’s system works, but at the cost of hundreds of person-hours every day. If those admins weren’t wasting their time reverting vandalism and nonsense, they could be doing productive work on articles.

Wikipedia can afford to waste admins’ time like that because they have 43,000 active contributors. Small wikis can’t afford to waste their most active members’ time.

User names build trust

The User Name policy helps to weed out vandals and creeps — and it also helps to build communication and trust.

Having a stable identity makes communication possible. Contributors with user names build a record of contributions, and a reputation. If the community as a whole knows that a particular contributor is trustworthy, then that can influence how conflicts get resolved. You need a stable identity to earn people’s trust.

Allowing people to sign in with a random string of numbers breaks down the community’s sense of trust and common goals. You can’t build a strong team of trustworthy colleagues that also includes shadowy, faceless strangers.

Setting reasonable boundaries for anonymous contributors proves to your active members that they matter, that this is a group worth protecting and taking care of. Groups like it when the leaders act in the group’s interest. It makes them feel special, and safe. That’s basic group process technique — it doesn’t matter whether the group is on “the internet” or in your living room. That’s how you build a group.

Love your contributors

So, anyway. This is all basically saying the same thing: Love your contributors. They’re working for free. Some of them are spending hours of their personal time every week. The only reward they get is the satisfaction of adding to the project, and the pleasure of working with a group.

That’s magic, it’s pure magic. It’s one of the best things about human nature. We like to work together, just for the pleasure of building something. That’s why I believe in wikis, because wikis are a pure expression of our generosity, our passion, and our strange, quirky enthusiasms.

That’s why you have to take care of your contributors — talk to them, welcome them, take their interests to heart. Learn their names. When something is bugging them or frustrating them, take care of it. Pay attention to them, and make sure they feel appreciated.

These are extraordinary people, doing extraordinary things. Love them.

(Image source: Muppet Wiki) and (Content is GNU FDL Free Doc License)


It’s about time PBwiki:

We recently rolled out a test of our new WYSIWYG editor, which lets you edit just as you see it–bold, italics, images, and many other things are much easier to manage. (Click refresh on your wiki a few times and you’ll see a preview in the bottom-right corner of your wiki.)

Here’s real, live feedback from early users:
* “Brilliant”
* “Love the editor!”
* “This is a HUGE improvement and I hope will greatly increase participation in my wiki. Can we start using this NOW on our pages? Sorry to be overly anxious, but this is a major leap forward that I welcome.”
* “Just one word: AWESOME!!!!”
* “This is great — so much easier to use!”

We’ve now released the new editor for new wikis, so if you create a new wiki through you’ll see the option to choose our new editor. Try it!

After the holidays, we’ll give everyone the option of switching their wikis to WYSIWYG.

Video Sharing in Education

The TeachingHacks wiki is in constant development, but I have recently been working on the Video Sharing in Education area of it. I started out jumping into publishing on Video Sharing web sites, but realized that I was missing the most important learning component of this area – video production.

I’m going to be doing a workshop later this week on curricular uses of video production for Grade 6-8 teachers using whatever video capture devices that we can pull together and MovieMaker 2. We will be creating, recording, editing and publishing video shorts. When I organized this workshop last spring – I thought “okay” I can do it in a half day workshop – now I’m thinking I should have gone for the full day.

Working with video is always quite a bit of fun and when you see teachers engaged in the medium, you know they are going to want to work with their students in it too.

NoteMesh – For Class Note Taking

This is a neat tool for high school students but marketed to higher ed.

NoteMesh is a free service that allows students in the same classes to share notes with each other.
It works by creating a wysiwyg wiki
for individual classes that users can edit. Users are free to post their
own lecture notes or contribute to existing lecture notes. The idea is that users in the same class
can collaboratively create a definitive source for lecture notes.

You can check out the school cloud to see which schools are using it. 

Giving Away 100,000 Wikis – Wikispaces

Wikispaces wants to reach their goal of giving away 100,000 wikis to educators. I will let them explain:

Back in January, we decided to offer our Plus Plan to K-12 teachers for free. We didn’t set out with a grand strategy, just an interest in helping teachers with our easy to use wiki technology.

Over 10,000 educational wikis later, we’ve heard countless stories of excited students and empowered teachers. They’ve told us about their collaborative essays, group study guides, online lesson plans, and classroom notice boards coming alive on Wikispaces.

Now we’re taking the next step – we want to give away 100,000 free K-12 Plus wikis. That includes all the features and benefits that normally cost $50/year – for free. No fine print, no usage limits, no advertising, no catches.

We hope that you’ll read on, try a wiki at your school, and help us spread the word.

Check it out at:

Tracking Down Educators that Use Photo Sharing (flickr)

ShareI have been building up a new section on the wiki on Photo Sharing in Education . There were a number of ideas that I built upon from the RSS Ideas for Educators guide and developed in this section.

I wanted to ensure, as I had done for other sections of the wiki, that I included examples of K-12 educators that are using photo sharing web sites. (I also included a Higher Education section for Chris Lott .)

As I had done for the social bookmarking section, I used a number of different strategies to track down educators that are using photo sharing with a focus on Flickr. Included are some of the strategies that I used.

  1. I took the names of educational bloggers and educators that I used in the social bookmarking tools section of the wiki and plugged them into Flickr, using the "People" search feature .
  2. Once a user was identified, I examined their profile in order to find more information about that user. A profile might include specific teacher information like Aaron Smith or the url of a web site/blog for more details about the user.
  3. Once a user was identified as an educator, I was able to search through that user's contacts in order to identify other educators. This works particularly well for profiles of well known educational blogger like Tim Lauer.
  4. Another method of tracking down educators was by joining Flickr groups and examining its members. A few groups were particularly useful: FlickrEdu, Flickr for Education, and Educational Bloggers.

And here is the big list, and my own Flickr site. Please let me know if I you would like to be added to the list or if I made any

Elementary Teachers Anthony Hardwick Jeanne Simpson Collin Bonner Derrall Garrison Doug Noon Craig Carignan Cathy Evanoff James Tubbs Jackie Campbell Aaron Smith

Secondary Teachers Vicki Davis Steve Dickie Darren Kuropatwa Dan McDowell Bud Hunt Eric MacKnight Jo McLeay Paul Allison Neil Winton Dana Huff John Blake

Administrators Tim Lauer Chris Lehmann

Educational Technology Geeks Will Richardson David Warlick David Jakes Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach April Chamberlain Karl Fisch Judy O'Connell Miguel Guhlin Wes Fryer Stephen Dembo Stephen Downes Charlene Chausis Elizabeth Ross Hubbell Garry Chapman Jenny Levine Jeremy Price Leigh Blackall Jo Kay Joel Solomon Janice Stearns Doug Belshaw Josie Fraser Dean Shareski Tim Wilson Thor Prichard

Higher Education Alan Levine Paul Baker Christopher Sessums Clay Shirky Chris Lott D'Arcy Norman Cyprien Lomas George H Williams Brian Lamb

Mrs. Richardson’s Literature Circles Wiki

PencilsI like this idea for using the comment feature in pbwiki, that Dana Richardson uses to carry out Literature Circles .  It is an easy way to keep the conversation going with not a lot of extra setup required.  The wiki acts more of an organization tool and web page editor for the book topic. 

There are other tools that Mrs. Richardson could have used, but what is important, is that her students are learning with the tools.  I noticed that the timings of the comments occurred between certain times of the day.  I'm guessing this occurred during class time.  What was interesting was the last literature circle book that had comments – TheIceLimit.  Where the conversations seem to take place over different time periods.  Student's finding a need to share or feeling more control of the environment?

Take a look – 

Dana has also listed some Role Sheets for Literature Circle Resources in her links section at:

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