A lot of complex projects - all of them? - have difficulty collecting, sharing, generating and maintaining high-quality information and documentation in an efficient manner. This is a problem that ZWiki aims to help with.

Is your project and community a mess? Confused? Can't make headway? Here's one way to proceed:

Set up a wiki, gather content

Set up a wiki for your project. Gather resources there - text, files,

links you want to remember. Link these on your front page. Encourage people to look on the wiki for information, and to upload or write it when it's missing. One or more people should work on keeping the wiki clean and well-organized. Also decide and implement/announce policies for access control (open/restricted/private), content (topics, types, copyright), etc. The simplest and most open wikis have the best chance of success.

Gather discussion

Set up mail-out so participants can subscribe to receive page comments by

email. If possible set up mail-in so they can reply by email. The wiki is now acting as a basic mail list, but with easier un/subscription. It is also your list archive, but one that is editable, organized by "topic" (pages), and integrated with your more "static" content. Encourage people to post on or cc the wiki, so that ideas are saved and visible to all. (Or, integrate the wiki with your existing mail list).

Organize content

As content proliferates, continue wiki cleanup. As pages grow, reorganize

them and summarize/condense discussion when needed. Keep introductory and simple site map information on the front page. Organize the page hierarchy in a way that makes sense. Single parents will be simplest.

Extract documentation

Using the page hierarchy as a starting point, develop a more formal

outline of your project's documentation; call this the project's "book". Start by linking existing pages and pages that should exist, presenting these as "chapters" and "sections"; or merge small pages into fewer, larger chapter pages and link those; or, write new documentation, drawing from existing content.

<br> Note there is a hierarchy of content here - with your open, mail-enabled wiki you cast a wide net for discussion, uploads and edits. Through editing/condensing/merging/reparenting, this is massaged into a hierarchy of meaningful document-mode pages - articles, proposals, how-tos, FAQ etc. These form the basis for more dense and complete documentation - guides, books.

We are experimenting with this process for the ZwikiDocumentation.

Printing? --Wed, 08 Dec 2004 15:26:05 -0800 reply

How about printing? We like to keep a paper copy of the documentation because the documentation is about the network or the servers. If the network is down and the document is only on a computer you can't get to it.

Is there a way I can make a book on zwiki and then print the book out in order?

Printing? --Sat, 29 Jan 2005 06:44:32 -0800 reply

I did not try, but see: http://zwiki.org/ZwikiPrinting