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<entry-title>Wiki is better than email</entry-title>

The wiki works better than email for content (examples, issues, brainstorms etc.) for numerous reasons. Here are a few:


  • s/n scaling. Not everyone is interested in every issue on every format.
  • efficiency: reading current state vs deltas. You can read one wiki page to get the status/thread of an issue whereas with emails you often have to read thru numerous emails (and threads) and apply them like deltas/diffs in your head to understand where an issue etc. ended up.
  • search/discoverability. search for the web/wikis works much better in practice than searching mailing lists (web search of email archives has no thread-smarts for example).
  • public domain. Wiki contributions are required public domain, while in email there is no UI to enforce this, thus email should be use only "informatively" for notifications and never for capturing material of any substance.
  • tradition. microformats have been documented on a wiki since their inception, as a result the wiki is the definitive resource for all matters microformats; not any of the mailing lists. The community has had a longstanding tradition preferring use of the wiki for content over email. We realize this is fairly novel for a standards community, as most standards communities are email-centric (e.g. W3C, IETF). However, for all the above reasons we believe using wikis for content is far superior to email and thus hope that other standards communities shift more of their activities to being web/wiki-based rather than email lists.

additional documentation

  • See the book for more details and explanations on how wikis are more efficient than email for a variety of workflows.
  • This picture helps illustrate one of many scenarios - and though we are not sending word documents, the point is, that iterating content through email is far less efficient than iterating content on a wiki: