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Validating Wikis (and other Collaborative Writing Tools)

by P. Bernick, J. Palazzolo
2007 IEEE International Professional Communication Conference ()

Abstract

Though a person with a shovel may dig a hole in an hour, the same hole couldn't be achieved in a minute by giving 60 shovels to 60 people. For some, good solutions don't involve throwing more people at a task. Contrast this with Linus's Law, first coined by Eric Raymond, which claims that "with many eyes, the bugs are few". The claim is supported by the successful collaborative development model and robustness of the Linux operating system. In the past, typewriters and word processors might have been the equivalent of digital shovels. But several new collaborative authoring tools create new opportunities for adding eyes to the construction of documents. To avoid creating a new technology myth by suggesting that these tools will solve all of the problems associated with collaborative authoring (and without creating new ones), this paper explores some of these tools. We identify some of their strengths and weaknesses, look at how some are using them, and suggest some tasks for which each tool seems well suited.

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