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(As of: 30 January 2012)
let.sysops.be (lsb) was a wiki dealing with the professional issues of the shift to peer-to-peer (P2P) and to user-authored content (so-called Web 2.0, wiki-centric). Major assumptions include the 'right to leave' hosts without losing data or 'technical barriers' (including the ability to fork wikis very easily as guaranteed by open content and open configuration), democratization of naming, flattening of namespaces, and trolls.
- the essay on the real web 3.0 provides a good starting point to understand the scope of coverage.
Table of contents
Not for beginners
The target audience appears to be software and service architects and perhaps academics and students. It maintains a list of articles on topics that are considered defensible, though the references on many articles are weak. It also maintains a list of practices actually used. These seem to take some pressure off to allow more speculative or opinionated statements on pages without these tags. This is one of many good practices followed in this wiki.
LSB covers design issues from a hardcore economic and analytic "systems perspective" with the basic assumption that the fantasy world of the net is merging with IRL politics and economics. The individuals whose views are cited in depth include Clay Shirky, George Lakoff, Donella Meadows, Jay Forrester, Craig Hubley, Marcus Ranum, Donald Knuth, Bill Joy, Ron Dembo, Bernard Crick, and many others whose expertise spans psychology, management science, organization design, economics and other fields. To understand a typical page probably requires at least some prior exposure to the fields of study mentioned. Graduate students who know how to use a search engine and are willing to put a little time into learning unfamiliar terms will be far more likely to get benefit from reading let.sysops.be than casual browsers who have no particular prior exposure to the problems of venture capital, investment theory, language and metaphor theory (for this last, most US readers should see DKosopedia for the most sophisticated example of a wiki applying these methods directly to familiar issues).
Among the most immediately useful articles on design economics and metaphors include:
- a sadly long list of ways MediaWiki confuses users
- the categorization of capital assets and the explanation of the way they combine to create value
- the definition of the twelve levers and Forrester's Law
- definition of the five levels of intranet
- the definition of a reactive process
- the catalogue of reflective methods, or "heuristics", that improve aspects of a system while ultimate guidance remains external
- the many many articles on organizing aspects of wiki
- the state of the art wiki best practice list
For the more political aspects it often defers to definitions at Openpolitics.ca, SourceWatch, Embodimentwiki.org (an even more sophisticated psychology/biology wiki). A central political question is who controls the editorial and governance path on a shared web service like a wiki. The many articles dealing with trolls and trolling making the assumption appropriate to P2P, that they must be dealt with as equals. This is why P2P best describes this wiki's purpose.
Technical coverage is no less sophisticated. The level of discourse is high and includes most or all of the very hardest problems in security, hardware, software and online service design. Some of the interesting technical material for wikiindex users includes:
- the definition of open configuration which lays out the terms of reference to integrate P2P with conventional/mainframish web host
- the more detailed definition of an open host which would make it possible to move all services (email, web hosting, wikis) around like P2P services
- explanation of the verb/noun/type API design theory
- explanation of the responsibilities of security personnel
- explanation of the responsibilities of network operators
- a preliminary stack description of the various trades that are emerging given the responsibilities in a mixed P2P/web universe
As the material reads like a bunch of notes for a series of graduate courses, it isn't surprising that the wiki recommends picking a particular category and reading everything in it, then asking a lot of questions or adding contrary opinions or references, which the "old trolls" (what the sysops call themselves) will deal with rigorously. Part of the wiki ideology espoused, aside from generally troll-friendly policy and shunning of sysop vandalism and sysop vigilantism, is that a wiki, in order to work, must necessarily focus on the content, and avoid social factors deciding what is discussed or debated. To this end, let.sysops.be encourages anonymous trolls, keeps 'first person' discourse on talk pages and user pages, and evaluates every policy from the perspective of disinterested or hostile new users with knowledge worth sharing - the so-called 'new troll point of view'. Like Wikipedia, let.sysops.be remains open for anyone to edit, to satisfy the scientific method, in which any contrary evidence is allowed to invalidate any thesis, and even wholly untrusted critics must be heard and answered. To further enable hearing out minority point of view, issue/position/argument structure is employed. Anyone who finds the dominant point of view on a page is making it hard to express his or her argument can re-organize the controversial points into logic trees. If debate gets intense, evidence, sources, and authority handling are all built into the category scheme.
This category scheme seems to be the major feature of this wiki. To put it simply, every infrastructural aspect of hardware and connectivity to get to the first wiki edit is defined as part of infrastructure and goes in one category 'infra', as everything social and financial (like selling and training) that happens after that goes in another category 'ultra'. The first wiki edit is treated as the most important distinction of all!
Other good examples of best practice include:
- redirecting names of categories to the category and treating them as just another tag, and always using singular not plural forms (as tags do)
- as mentioned above, dealing with precedent and credibility with separate "defensible" and "empirical practice" tags
- keeping controversial terms in their own "term namespace" so that the wiki won't be seen to be sanctioning any deprecated terminology
- keeping command terms that have specific meanings in REST protocols (like "get") in a "verb namespace" to keep the strict technological meaning separate from the ordinary conversation meaning
- keeping good documentation of internal practices such as edit summary tags and page name prefixes
- insisting articles adopt Wikipedia names when talking about roughly the same topic, and further adopting their naming conventions
The entire wiki, which is named eg, is designed to make it easy to copy and cut out all content not relevant to a specific purpose, while keeping as many pages as possible.
The material is redistributable with credit to "Efficient Civics Guild" and link-back to the source under Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share Alike (CC-BY-NC-SA), or other open licenses sometimes marked on individual pages.
Sometime around 2010, let.sysops.be also became known as the Efficient Civics Guild.