Forums vs Wiki

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This article is an overview of the major components of the DP community: all the virtual places where we talk, share information, do our work, and build books together.

The DP forum

The DP Wiki

What is the DP forum?

The Distributed Proofreader Forums are a set of "threaded message boards", organized into a set of broad categories. They're very much like "bulletin board" or AOL discussion system, in which a user starts a "thread" with an initial post, and users respond sequentially. Any registered DP member can view the posts in the forums, search for posts by their contents, and create new posts.

What's a wiki?

A wiki is a website with one important feature: Any reader is able to easily edit the web pages right there in their web browser. All the pages in the wiki are made by the people who visit the site, and any reader who sees something that's wrong, or missing, or needs proofreading or formatting can click a button and dive in and change it. This page you're looking at right now is one article in a wiki. And you can edit it, too.

What are they for?

The forums are the core of the DP community. They're where the members chat, meet, discuss, argue, make decisions and answer questions. They're where the Special Teams are organized, where Projects Being Proofed and Formatted are discussed, and where the structure and workflow of DP is established and revised.

What's it for?

Wikis are best for managing knowledge. Many websites are just piles of data, and it's a chore for the editors and the users to try to make sure the content is complete, useful, and well-structured. By allowing wiki users to change and move things to suit themselves (and, hopefully, one another), the effort is distributed over all the members of the community. A wiki is for taking data, often data that is scattered in the minds of its users and not written down anywhere yet, and compiling it into useful and public knowledge that more people can use.

Why should I read and post to discussions?

The forums are the root, and history, of the community. The forums are the best place to ask questions, seek mentoring or technical aid, voice opinions, and form friendships. And you should introduce yourself, and you'll find the people here are friendly, helpful, and can often dispel confusion quickly.

Why should I read and edit material there?

This wiki is very new. Much of the useful material here is mainly derived from work begun in the Forums over the last five years, but now it's able to be edited, improved, summarized and expanded by all the community members more easily. The material here may not be up to date; it may never be up to date. But it is not owned by the people who first edited it; it is owned by the entire community. Including you, the reader. And you're also an editor.

How can they help in my DP work?

There are (almost) no new questions under the sun in DP: the forums probably hold a record of somebody else asking the same question you have now, and even if you can't find the answer there, posting your question again in the forums will bring people to your aid. Remember that DP is distributed: that doesn't just mean that we all proofread one page of a book. It means we collaborate on knowing how to transform and preserve books.

How can it help my DP work?

The wiki is so far turning into the place where lists are made and maintained. Lists of books, lists of projects, lists of people, lists of needs and goals, lists of rules and guidelines, lists of advice. We could make lists in the forums, too, but here we have two strengths: we can all keep them up to date, and we can cross-link them. Because the wiki editing system allows us to introduce "internal links" between any document in the wiki and any other, automatically, we can start to make these lists into concordances.

What should I do to help there?

If you haven't done so already, now is a great time to post a greeting. Take some time to familiarize yourself with the social structure of the community, and above all else, make sure you ask the questions you have. The primary point of the forums is to lead people to the answers they need. Not just the questioner, but also the community as a whole. There are a few tips and tricks to making your posts friendly and fun. Jump in! Post! Answer a poll!

What should I do to help here?

Spend some time looking around. There are several (links, please, anybody?) articles that might want your attention, might benefit from your help, and might help you in return. Look around. Wander randomly. Find an article and click the "Edit" link, and make a few modifications and improvements. There are also suggested wiki maintenance tasks that you could work on.

If you don't like exactly how something looks, give it a poke and change it!