Wikis and blogs

A week ago I've announced that we've managed to merge my personal wiki efforts with NIL's corporate wiki, resulting in a solution that will cover more networking topics than just the Cisco IOS issues I've been describing so far. The only response I've got was a concerned anonymous reader who was afraid he would have to sort through a few more entries before getting to the Cisco IOS content he's interested in.

Anyhow, the comment clearly shows that I haven't done a good enough job detailing what my plans are (in case anyone wants to know :). Blogs (particulalry Blogger-based ones) are not the best media to write long in-depth texts. I've therefore decided a few months ago that I will have to start a Wiki along with the IOS hints blog to split the content based on its length and technical depth: the longer articles would be stored in the Wiki (also giving you the ability to expand on them or fix my errors), whereas the shorter hints would stay in the blog. Also (as you've probably noticed), whenever I publish a Wiki article, I'm also publishing a link and a short introductory text in the blog, so you'll be aware of all my content just by following the blog (or its RSS feed). The only change (as far as you are concerned) is that the Wiki will have a broader, but still networking-focused, coverage than if it would remain my personal effort.

Just for the reference, this is what I wrote when I was documenting the wiki-to-blog positioning for people I've invited as potential contributors:

The next obvious question should be: why not the blog. The reason is very simple: ease of use and the underlying assumptions. I've started blogging because it was the easiest platform to push quick ideas into the Internet ... and that's what blogs are good for. But unless you invest a lot of energy into customization (and I can't do much of that, as I'm using Blogger), blogs still have a sequential mentality (and Blogger's first page gets quite slow if you're writing long articles). Furthermore, formatting my stuff on Blogger the way I want it to appear is close to a nightmare; I'm much faster using Wiki markup. Last but definitely not least, the wiki software allows me to edit a single section, so I can really focus on the text that needs to be fixed; in Blogger, I have to spend a lot of time trying to find the exact text in the small editing window (but of course, that's my fault, I'm misusing Blogger for something it was never designed to do).
There is also another huge difference between a blog and a wiki: a blog post is almost static (only the author can fix errors in it), while a wiki is a dynamic environment. Hopefully we can attract writers as well as readers and have other people fix the typos, bugs or even add explanations where ours are sketchy.

In case you'd like to get more overview information on differences between blogs and wikis, check my Web 2.0 presentation.

1 comment:

  1. FWIW, I appreciate the tips you present, no matter the format. If it's blog-worthy, put it there. If it's more detailed and needs other input, use the wiki.

    In either case, I'm hitting those sites. Most of the stuff you post is over my head (for now), but I very often do run across items to pass on to my colleagues.

    Your blog is in my RSS reader and your wiki is bookmarked.

    Thanks for all you do!

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Ivan Pepelnjak, CCIE#1354, is the chief technology advisor for NIL Data Communications. He has been designing and implementing large-scale data communications networks as well as teaching and writing books about advanced technologies since 1990. See his full profile, contact him or follow @ioshints on Twitter.