Wiki is usually perceived as a tool for maintaining documentation, with fast-moving discussion best handled by mail lists and newsgroups. Zwiki is good at bridging these two worlds. Here you'll learn how to participate in a zwiki via email.

Zwiki mail functions in a nutshell

  • When you see a subscribe link at top right, you can subscribe to receive comments or edits by email.
  • Some zwikis allow subscribers to also send comments by mail, by sending/replying to the wiki's special mail-in address. The email subject selects the destination page.

Receiving mail from a zwiki

Many zwiki sites support mail subscription. If you see a subscribe link, you can sign up to receive mail notifications of changes. This is useful when you want to hear about changes without having to constantly check the wiki, to efficiently listen to many different wiki sites, and so on.

You can subscribe to one or more individual pages, or to the whole wiki. Here's how:

  1. Click the subscribe link at top right.
  2. If you haven't already entered an email address in options (or in cmf/plone preferences), you'll be asked to enter it now - do that and click change.
  3. You will normally get mail only for comments (and page creations). If you want more detail, check the "all edits" checkbox now.
  4. Click the appropriate button for page or whole-wiki subscription. These also show your current subscription status. Clicking the button again will unsubscribe you.

Examples: this site's subscribe form, the zope 3 wiki's.

Here is a table describing the possibilities:

when you are.. you will receive..
with "all edits" checked
subscribed to page

comments on that page only

"I want to hear discussion on this topic only"

comments, edits, reparent, rename, deletion, file upload on that page

"I want to monitor all activity on this page"

subscribed to wiki

comments on all pages, and new page creations (TestPage, SandBox, and their subpages excluded)

"I want to hear all discussion" (this is a good choice for most wikis)

all comments, edits, reparents, renames, deletions, file uploads anywhere in the wiki.

"I want to monitor all activity throughout the wiki" (good for spam defenders)

Notes:

  • empty comments and non-changing edits are always ignored
  • empty page creations work but do not generate an email
  • "TestPage" and "SandBox" are the default "boring pages", others may be configured

Sending mail to a zwiki

Some zwikis (a minority) also support mail-in. This means you can send mail to a special email address and it will be posted as a comment on one of the wiki pages. Also, you can reply to mail you have received from the wiki. In this mode you can think of the wiki as a mail list; you need never visit with your web browser if you don't want to.

To know if a particular zwiki site has mail-in enabled, you'll have to read its docs or ask the administrator.

How to send mail to a particular page

If your mail has a subject beginning with the name of a page in square brackets, like this:

Subject: [SomePage] and another thing..

it will go to the page of that name. If SomePage doesn't exist yet, it will be created.

Without a bracketed page name in the subject, your mail will typically go to a default discussion page, or the front page, or it may be ignored (useful for partial wiki/mail list integration) depending on site configuration.

Zwiki and mail lists/newsgroups

Sometimes a zwiki is paired with a real mailing list, each subscribed to the other. All wiki mail-outs are cc'd to the list, while only list mails with a page name in the subject are cc'd to the wiki. This allows list subscribers to see everything going on in the wiki, while also allowing off-wiki discussion.

And, or, a zwiki may be paired with a gmane newsgroup. For example, the gmane.comp.web.zope.zwiki newsgroup can be used to read (or send) this wiki's comments.

Other features

There may be a separate issue tracker mail-in address; when you send mail here an issue page is created. This is discussed in the issue tracker documentation (see special features).

Questions and Answers

How does subscription work?

You can subscribe to a Zwiki-based wiki, or to a single page, in order to receive email whenever someone adds a comment (by default; wikis may also be configured to send mail for every edit).

Some wikis also allow comments to be sent in by email. If configured, becoming a subscriber (anywhere in the wiki) will allow you to do this.

See WikiMail for more details.

How do I subscribe?

If the wiki admin has configured it, you'll see a subscribe link on each page. Click this (the alt-U shortcut may also work). The first time you visit this form, you'll need to enter your email address and click Change. This will be remembered if you have cookies enabled.

Now you'll see two large buttons. One toggles your subscription to the whole wiki; the other toggles your subscription to the current page. When you are not subscribed, the button backgrounds are red; when you are subscribed, they are green. Try it by clicking subscribe at the bottom of this page.

CMF/Plone notes: the current zwiki_plone skin shows two small buttons, no red/green indicator. Also, you may enter your CMF member id instead of an email address; the address configured in your preferences will be used. Some CMF/Plone sites may customize the subscribe form so that entering a member id is unnecessary.

Other features: other subscribers are briefly listed. If you have other single-page subscriptions, they will be listed also.

How do I unsubscribe?

Click the subscribe link as above. If you're subscribed to the whole wiki or the current page, you'll see green; click the buttons until they're both red (or go by the text). If you see "other page subscriptions" listed, you can follow those links to unsubscribe there also.

Note: if you don't have cookies enabled, you'll need to enter your email address (or CMF member id) and click Change, first. You should enter the same address that you subscribed with.

Recap

You've learned

  • how to monitor a zwiki's activity via email
  • the difference between page and whole-wiki subscription
  • how to send mail to a zwiki that supports it
  • how a zwiki may be used as a mail list
  • how a zwiki may be combined with a real mail list

At this point, you know everything necessary to use a zwiki with verve and confidence, and you can safely get on with real work.

If you're interested in learning about some special features, though, let's press on to the last chapter! OLOLO