[openstack-dev] Wiki

Sean Dague sean at dague.net
Wed May 11 14:04:26 UTC 2016

On 05/11/2016 05:53 AM, Thierry Carrez wrote:
> Tom Fifield wrote:
>> On 11/05/16 09:04, Dan Smith wrote:
>>>> Here it is :)
>>>> https://wiki.openstack.org/wiki/Special:AncientPages
>>> Great, I see at least one I can nuke on the first page.
>>> Note that I don't seem to have delete powers on the wiki. That's surely
>>> a first step in letting people maintain the relevance of things on the
>>> wiki.
>> Looks like that was just fixed ... :)
> Yes, and if people were as committed to cleaning up/maintaining old
> content as they are in creating new content, we'd certainly have a
> different discussion here.

Regular users don't have delete on the wiki (I know I don't). The only
way to actually delete things is to ask someone in infra. The last time
I asked about this was about 3 years ago and the policy was "don't
delete". I'm sure I'm not the only one that internalized that behavior.

Before deciding that it's unsurmountable, maybe giving delete
permissions to a larger set of contributors might be a good idea.

> To clarify, we do not plan to "just delete the wiki", we just continue
> to evolve our usage of it. We already moved most reference content out
> of it, and we'll continue to do so (since that is better served by a
> peer-reviewed website or proper documentation). The next step is to
> identify all the remaining use cases for the wiki -- all the people that
> use the wiki as a convenient/lightweight way to publish information.
> Some of those use cases will be better served by other tools (think:
> TC/PTL election information should really live on the governance.o.o
> website), but there will always be a reminder of use cases for which a
> wiki (or some other comparably-lightweight publication platform) will be
> the best tool. The goal is to make sure we take into account all the use
> cases, as we investigate what tools could be used in the future.
> I'll soon start a thread on that. Since that goes a lot beyond the dev
> community, I'll post it to the openstack general list and post a pointer
> to it here.
> Cheers,

Ok, this is a different tone than seemed to come out of the first response.

That being said, the wiki is effectively crippled at this point with no
new accounts allowed. And with 40% of contributors every cycle being new
to OpenStack, the haves and the have nots for wiki access are going to
become a friction point before too long.

The wiki is a good domain where you can trust (but revert) quite easily,
so you can let anyone run and update a topic, and know that if you need
to revert is pretty simple 3 clicks and done. It is an on ramp where new
people in our community gain trust because we gave them tons of leeway,
knowing that we can revert if needed.

Etherpad gives lots of freedom, but reverting to a canonical form isn't
simple. Plus, no rich markup, which is often needed to explain ideas.

Git gives all the revert and markup power in the world, but includes
another review cycle. Someone other than the author has to push that
content in. For extremely formal documents, that's fine. But for a lot
of our popup workgroups, sprints, it's got too much friction to be

The absence of a functional wiki (or some other equivalent system where
permission to do almost anything is cheap, and reverts are easy) within
the project is mostly going to be people using 3rd party wikis, or
google docs, or other content systems outside the backup space of the
project. And, once people start actively scattering into those systems
and finding their groove, they are going to be quite slow to come back
into infra hosted systems for that content. The content will be sticky
where it is.

I do realize running a public wiki is a PITA, especially at the target
level of openstack.org. I also realize this is one of those spaces where
there are far more people that want to use a wiki than run one, so there
are no easy answers with new volunteers here.

As a community I think we need something in the space which is:

* new contributors can directly modify without having to ask permission
* supports rich markup (including images)
* is easy to revert to previous save point if we find something has gone

A wiki definitely hits these points. Other tech might as well. But a
wiki is also a known construct from open communities. So as solution
finding goes forward, please keep such things in mind.


Sean Dague

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