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Discussion Mode

Basic guidelines for using xiki topics to have asynchronous discussions.

Problem: You want to use a wiki page to have a discussion with others, but the structure and arrangement of the topic becomes too hard to understand and follow.

Solution: discussion mode is a way to lay out a Xiki page to improve readability while maintaining a flexible and easy to use format.

Discussion mode describes both how a topic looks when you browse it, and how you add content to it.

A discussion mode topic may or may not contain /threads/ (subtopics of the discussion).

Appearance: A discussion mode topic will have the following visual elements:

  1. A short descriptive title.
  2. A short paragraph set off visually somehow that describes the goal or point of the discussion.
  3. Possibly a table of contents if section headings are used for threads.
  4. Contributions by discussion participants in chronological order with the oldest at the top.

There are some simple guidelines developed over the years by the wiki community for using discussion mode.

Goal first: Keep the goal of the discussion clearly identified at the top of the page.

  • You could use an [indented block] in italics.
  • Or you could use a xiki [heading], like /Object of discussion/.

Chronological order: Add new discussion material only to the bottom of the page.

  • This helps new visitors understand the history of the discussion.
  • Comments can help with this.

Sign your comments: Prepend your name to chunks of text you write.

  • This improves readability and comprehension alot.
  • The result looks like a transcript of a conversation.
  • Use xiki [signature]s to add your name, the date, and time automatically.
  • See the example below.

Demarcate new thoughts: If you're adding a new thought (i.e. starting a newthread of the discussion), then use horizontal lines or subheadings to separate your new thread from others.

  • If using headings, you can use the table of contents feature to create a summary of the threads.

Clean up the writing of others: You can edit comments signed by others to improve the flow.

  • Rearranging, merging and editing comments is a real contribution to communication if done with care and respect.
  • But rather than edit something with which you disagree – and maybe change its meaning – just add a distinct comment (perhaps in italics) asking the author of the comment to rephrase his words.
  • Spelling and grammar corrections should always be welcomed.

Finally, summarize: When a discussion is over, write a summary intended to define precisely how the goal is met, what action items arise, etc.

  • Put the summary between the Goal section and the Discussion section.
  • A discussion might end because it reaches convergence, or if interest and participation start to wan.
  • Some refactoring may help.

When discussions split, so should pages: Sometimes, a collateral thought will emerge and take on a life of its own.

  • Copy that fragment to a new page, and link it back to the original discussion.
  • In the new page, note briefly how it came into existence from the original discussion.


Goal: To determine whether any unathenticated user should be allowed to delete content from a Xiki page.


FilSalustri: It's not a matter of allowing unauthenticated users at all, but rather a question of ownership and responsibility. Letting unauthenticated users do full edits implies a lack of interest in ownership, which is not the case. Since anyone can register anyways, it's not like we're excluding people.

DarthVader: Making people register will scare people away. I like that.

CapnKirk: That is so Klingon. Some people will just object to it on principle.

DarthVader: Principles are important. Which reminds me, we need to decide on some principles for determining who goes into which user group.

FilSalustri: WAIT. That's off-topic. Shall I start a new page for that? Or do you want to do it, Darth?


DarthVader: Philosophy aside, what is the impact on performance by opening up deletion? Are there any? When Xiki tracks deletions who aren't authenticated via http, can it still track of the info it needs to?

CapnKirk: Ya got me. What's it need?

FilSalustri: RCS wants to have an author for an action. The script assumes the USERNAME is a good author name. If there's no author - i.e. if the author is [Guest User] - then it's not a problem. Except that [Guest User] is hardwired into the code as editor non grata.

Some content based on

wiki/discussion_mode.txt · Last modified: 2020.03.12 13:30 (external edit)