Wherefor the wiki in ScotEduBlogs?
The ScotEduBlogs wiki was set up just over a year ago to allow anyone to add their blog to a relevant Local Authority page, browse other blogs in their area and, using the front page, send messages on gatherings to the larger community.
- tagged blogs - people can find your blog quickly by the interests you describe your blog as covering (I like the drilling down through multiple tags)
- a simple blog submission form - it's difficult to leave out useful information by accident when you've got a form to fill in, but it's difficult to offer additional information which might be of interest.
It's a work in development showing some great promise but there are a few things that the wiki provided, and which have been hugely useful tools, but which appear to be missing form this one.
1. Editable pages and Scots'EduBlogs
The fact that every page in the ScotEduBlogs wiki is editable means that the front page could be used to highlight the ScotEduBlogs meetup and TeachMeet events. It was also easy for any member to create a new page to cover these events and organise them.
Without an integrated ScotEduBlogs wiki - or even one active link back to the original - we lose one of the most important factors there has been in creating the burgeoning group of connectors and persuaders in Scotland's social media world: face-to-face meetups which are organically organised by everyone who attends. I hope that the guys don't forget to build this in.
2. Content control - who's 'in charge'?
I can't add this element myself since I don't have access to the URL or the site - on the wiki everyone does - and I don't have the not insignificant expertise to code the site's content. This is the second payoff with the site. There might be something slightly prettier to look at but the downside is that, currently, the average ScotEduBlogger has no control over what appears on the pages or what appears from their blog content. With the wiki, we are all fond of saying, you can change what you want: "If you know how to use Word, you can change the page". With ScotEduBlogs.org.uk it's Open Source, provided you've got the computer science to understand what on earth the coding all means ;-)
Moreover, some blogs are having their content replicated entirely on the news page of the site. This is potentially quite destructive, effectively removing the notion of conversation since the comments button, the comments themselves and the connected posts within that blog are not presented through the news portal. It also takes 9 out of 10 of the audience away from those blogs which, in turn, might reduce the desire of some edublogging teachers and students to continue their work. If someone's going to partially quote my blog, fine, but in blogging they join the conversation, they add to my thoughts with their own. If they're going to rip off my entire post and not add anything, expect an email ;-)
3. Aggregation vs Editorial
I am aware that most people don't use a feed reader and so the news page of the ScotEduBlogs.org.uk site is a welcome addition to our world. However, the way an aggregation site becomes the feed or homepage of choice for people is because of what it adds to the blogs those punters will start subscribing to or visiting directly once they're hooked. I want some framing, some analysis, some back story, some connections to be made for me if I'm just jumping into the conversation now.
This is something which requires more than coding - it needs good editorial. It's a tall order for any project, but easiest probably for an open project. It would also be a real improvement on the wiki and perhaps start to appeal to those who don't understand where some of the blog conversations come from until they are given the full story. The site would also have the ownership transferred from the owner of the .org.uk domain name to those writing the news on the site.
These are just a few of my tuppences for the guys to consider, but I wonder if there are other things a community site should be doing or if there are other ways a community site can have larger appeal. Any ideas?