Individual hive projects

Hello all, it occurred to me tonight that we don’t have much in the way of organization via our projects on an individual level. We have the Wiki to post about large scale projects, but we also don’t have many who actively check or post to the wiki (for various reasons). It’s hard for the average person who know little about wiki’s (like me) to know how recently things have been updated or what projects are on hiatus, or if focus has shifted to a new project, etc. We could post on the mailing list, but I feel like that could congest the mailing list (I can think of at least 4 projects I’d like to work on that I don’t want to clutter up the mailing list with, or worried it will get overshadowed by concerns of the hive as a whole). Facebook gets cluttered, and messages get buried.

So a suggestion was made for a forum. I like the idea, but we already have the facebook page, the IRC, the wiki, the mailing list… I’m worried that there too many outlets already to add a new one. Maybe if we can have it auto-update to the IRC channel, facebook, and the hive homepage (whenever we get around to the website restructuring) it might work? Thoughts?

I feel like whatever we do, I feel like we need a template for it. Something like:
Project Name: "Antique Arduino"
Project Leader: "Dustin Bruce"
Last Updated: "10/28/14"

Description: This is where you’d describe a bit about your project
"I bought the old Antique radio at the hive, and I’d like to re purpose it with a micro-controller to play radio, mp3, audio in (to act as a surround sound), audio out, etc. Any other suggestions on what I can do with it?
EDIT: suggested to use Rasberry PI instead of arduino"

Skills: Listed skills that the original poster does not have, and requires assistance from someone who knows
"Rasberry Pi, electronics, speakers (I have no experience with any of this stuff, but I want to learn. This project is basically my ‘force myself to learn a bunch of things’ project"

Materials: This is specific materials that the original user does not already possess.
"Rasberry Pi (I have an Arduino, but I was suggested that Rasberry Pi would be better for the purposes I want to use it for."

Project status:
"Working on Mon, Wed, Fri after 2:30pm (after school) or whenever I feel like it"

Something pre-structured that’s quick and easy to write and post to encourage people to write and review, and some way to edit quickly. I really can’t think of any other medium besides a forum though, any suggestions?
I would like to have a way to join in on a project (to notify a person I’m interested in helping them out) and receiving help via messaging system or a forum posting system.

It would be super awesome if you could ‘Subscribe’ to projects which will update you when their project page has been updated and/or preset times (i.e. you can set dates in project status that will notify followers when you said you are working. In the above example, It would notify people every Mon, Wed, and Fri at 2:30pm that I was working on the project).

Ideas? Thoughts? Suggestions? Opinions? Constructive Criticism?

Correct me if I'm wrong but you seem to be describing a wiki.

These appear to be your general criteria:
  - Organization for projects on an individual level.
  - Pre-structured Templates.
  - "Subscribe" option to get updates.
  - Communication with the project "lead"/ other people interested in the project.

All of these criteria are covered by the wiki. The real problem, it seems to me, is that people do not update their wiki pages. Lack of willingness to organize information will not be solved by adding an additional location for that disorganization. People that write and abandon wiki pages will start and abandon forum threads just the same.

I completely agree that we don't have a good system for organizing our personal project. I just think the solution is fixing the problems with our existing setup rather than adding a new one.

Just my 10 cents.
  - "Dark" Ian

p.s. I realize I may have proved your point here about mailing list discussions being de-railed...

p.p.s on the topic of people who know little of wiki's, I contribute to many and own/run one myself so I would be happy to help :slight_smile:

AFAIK there are also ways to pull wiki entries into WordPress ( which we use as a cms for the home page ) semi automatically via RSS. So we can easily update the homepage with what is going on on the wiki.

Perhaps a Tuesday talk can be on wiki usage? We have enough competent folks that we should be able to have a decent student-teacher ratio for small groups after a presentation.


See, i’m not all that familiar with using wiki’s. What little experience I have with it was that I spent about 2 hours for 2 paragraphs of work. I’m somewhat intimidated to post my willy nilly projects like my curved lenses in steampunk goggles because it doesn’t seem important enough to post to the wiki, and I would probably spend more time trying to set up a page than it takes to make the lenses. Plus if someone else were interested and make their own with a slight variation (adding led’s) then they might not feel obligated to add to the wiki because there is ‘technically’ an original post. Maybe someone is proud how their project turned out, but don’t feel like it’s worth noting enough for them because they did the exact same thing as I did.

I also don’t understand the structure of the projects. I understand the active, inactive, and what have you, but unless someone posts dates with updates i’m not quite sure how active projects are. I might be interested in a project, but I don’t want to bother asking everyone to know that the project has died. I’m not sure how to contact people with interest in the projects (I heard there was a way to message people on the wiki, but I haven’t figured it out yet).

I’m also not sure how the templates work in the wiki. I’ve never used them, The structure of each project seems to vary greatly depending who the original poster is.

I don’t know if these problems can be addressed in the wiki, or they are and i’m too inexperienced with them. You are right though. The biggest problem is we have a lot of people that don’t like to or are bad at posting to the wiki page. We don’t have much moderation, and it’s hard to moderate other peoples pages when you can’t communicate with them. The new medium might fall into the same sort of disregard. But I’m hoping that if we streamline the process a bit, it will encourage more people to post. If we have a system that new projects are cycled to the top of the list and inactive projects are cycled to the bottom, we wouldn’t have to deal with inactive projects sitting in the active projects area. If we have a template to follow, it could allow users to search for projects via skills, activity, specific user’s, etc without searching the entire wiki for keywords.

I’m not saying that the wiki needs replaced, and I’m not saying that a forum is the way to go. I just want structure for whichever medium works the best for everyone. If we can revamp the wiki to be better organized for individual projects, then it’s fine by me. If people would like to have a forum, it might be something to look into. Maybe there’s something a bit easier to use than a forum that we don’t know about that would fit our needs better. Maybe my idea for structure is bad and there’s a more efficient way to structure it?

Any and all ideas are welcome. Thanks for your 10 cents Ian =)

I’m biased toward the wiki because I love wikis and I spent a lot of time on this one. So I’m trying my best here to leave my bias out of the conversation.

Let me be a little bit of a devil’s advocate. What problem do individual project pages on the wiki solve?

A wiki is a collaborative documentation medium. So it’s good for writing documents collaboratively. It’s not really good for being a general communication medium, or a collaboration medium for other things that are not documents, like computer code, electronics designs, or hand-crafted items.

So, the problem that individual project pages on the wiki solve might be one of these:

  • Someone spent a lot of time figuring out how to do something and wanted to write down how they did it.
  • Someone wants to have a place to describe something so that they can link to that from other places.
  • Someone is more comfortable with wiki markup than with HTML or anything else and editing a page via a web-form is convenient.

Problems I don’t think the wiki is really great for solving would include these:

  • What are people actively working on at the Hive at this moment.
  • Someone needs help collaborating on a robot/craft project/python library/potluck ( things that are not documents ).
  • Communication directly between users.
  • Event planning / any kind of complex project planning.

For announcements and slow group discussion, we have the mailing list. For real-time discussion we have IRC. For working on code members tend to use GitHub. For events, we’ve used eventbrite sometimes. For publicity and news, we have the blog. Then there’s always regular old email to fill in the gaps.

So, yes, there is perhaps a hole that needs to be filled in terms of a here’s-what-i’m-doing-and-i-might-need-help-and-what-are-you-working-on-do-you-want-to-work-together tool. I’m having trouble picturing exactly how it would work though. I don’t know of anything that fits that bill off the top of my head. I mean, is it more of a gallery of things that have been done already or is it more of a collaboration space for in-progress work? Or is it more of a social tool for like-minded people to search for each other? Would it be more like Basecamp or Tumblr? More push notification or searchable repository? More communication or more documentation? More for-everyone-all-the-time or more just-these-people-that-are-interested-in-this-one-thing-right-now?

I think the wiki is a good common denominator as it can kinda/sorta fill those roles, especially with plugins and templates, but I also think that it’s not good to try to push it do things that it’s just not good at.

A perennial problem that has no apparent solution: for the wiki to be useful, people have to spend time with it, keep their pages up to date, and to do anything fancy you have to learn weird syntax.

It seems to me like a forum might end up with some of the same downsides without that many new upsides. It adds one more channel that people have to keep track of, people have to create another account, learn another syntax for posting, and visit regularly.

I don’t know what the right answer is. I know I already pretty much ignore everything on Facebook because I don’t spend much time there. One more medium is just one more thing for me to probably ignore. But maybe that’s how it should be. The people that are into it will use it, and the people that aren’t into it won’t.

Whatever it is, it will need a host. So in order for anything else to happen on this front, we’ll first have to pick a tool and decide where it will live and who will admin it. The current web server is advancing in age, so perhaps it would be a good idea to try phpbb (or whatever the kids are into these days) on a cheap VPS as a pilot. Server sysadmins are basically the genies that will make your wish come true here, but they need fairly unambiguous instructions.

This is a do-ocracy, so if someone builds something and wants me to point some DNS at it, just let me know.


While typing my last post I was searching for the right term for what the wiki needs, and you just hit it right on the head: "moderation". We have little to no moderation of the wiki right now. There are projects listed as active which have clearly not been updated in a very long time, and we have pages which are out of date, or simply no longer needed. I would be happy to volunteer to help clean up the wiki (whoever "owns" the wiki, shoot me a message?) but, awesome though I may be, I don't know how much of a dent I can make on my own.

Agreed, the structure of the projects on the wiki needs some serious work. I have been wanting to overhaul the templates on the wiki for some time now but have not had the time. Ideally, it should be set up such that the templates handle most of the formatting and organization and all you have to do is fill in the text/images/etc.

As far as projects being "important" enough to post, I would say that almost anything should fall into that category. The point of the wiki (at least in my opinion) as the largest publicly visible body of information about the space, is to show off all of the cool things being done at the Hive, not just group projects.

Now, to bring this halfway back to the original topic of discussion, I think perhaps a combination of forum and wiki would be a good idea. I am certain I have seen a plugin which turns the "discussion" wiki pages into threaded conversations similar to what you would get in a forum, although I would have to dig around to find it. One of the things I love about the MediaWiki framework is that there is basically a plugin for everything, so we can keep adjusting the wiki until it's what we need it to be.

Relevant note: All of this should be read with the understanding that I am somewhat biased by my unabashed love of all things wiki (you might have noticed...).

  - "Dark" Ian

I may be wrong about this, but I always thought one of the things people liked about fora was that there is a front page showing the latest posted messages with prominent timestamps. Of course MediaWiki has Recent Changes, but it’s not the same. It would not be too difficult to knock together a “Recently edited Projects” or a “Recently edited Talk pages” query with Semantic Wiki ( which we already have installed ).

( Here I avoid a philosophical tangent about why a wiki would try to actually de-emphasize timestamps and “recent activity” for the browsing user. )

Something that is perhaps not obvious to people that don’t use the wiki regularly: There is something called a Watchlist that allows you to specify that you want to watch particular pages and then gives you your own custom Recent Changes feed of only those watched pages. ( )

Also, you may be interested in Semantic Forms, which uses to great effect. ( e.g. ) In fact, I recommend copying from that wiki a lot. I don’t remember if Semantic Forms is already enabled on our wiki or not…


I have not run across Semantic Forms specifically but that seems pretty awesome. I’m already thinking of ways I could use it on my own wiki…

“Dark” Ian

p.s. Whyyyy am I awaaaakeee…

“Dark” Ian

p.s. Whyyyy am I awaaaakeee…

Cause no one built the ps2/db9 mouse trap yet and it’s making to much noise with all the mouse balls

At the risk of sounding stupid ..... How do we connect to IRC? I've never used IRC.

You can check the wiki to find out about irc… :slight_smile: (ctrl+f on the main page and search for wiki, you’ll see the info for it). You can use the webchat link to join our IRC channel easily, but that isn’t a very good long term solution. You may want to google for an IRC client.

My thoughts on the whole topic:
I moderate the wiki a decent amount (especially in the last few months) so a lot of stuff should be relatively up to date, but I don’t have the time or will to update every last thing.

I have noticed more people using the wiki recently which is a very good thing in my opinion. I think a lot of the reason why more people don’t use it is that they just don’t know about it. I lost track of how many times I had to say “It’s on the wiki” in the past few months about random stuff.

This probably gets back to telling new members the necessary information about the hive. We discussed this at the last couple of boards meetings and it has been tossed around a lot for the last couple of years.

As for a forum: a few people talked about this a handful of years ago and it sounded like an OK idea. I’m not sure I like it at this point. Like others have said that is yet another place to check.

I think the best solution to this is twofold. First we need to make sure everyone knows about the wiki and make it easily usable. The second is getting more people to use the wiki for things like projects and also having many people maintain the wiki.

What can be done to make the wiki easier to use? Should we set up a few more “How to” pages on the wiki with common things like setting up a project page and then put links those on a pdf/sheet of paper that we give to people when they join? Should we just link them on the front page of the wiki and tell people to go browse through the main page?