EmacsWiki vs WikEmacs

Lot of fun stuff going on with the Emacs Wiki.

Last week, Bozhidar Batsov wrote a controvertial post called Die EmacsWiki Die. Which made me think somewhat of Sideshow Bob, (especially as I’m in Germany and sometimes I get some Deutsch posts coming up on my reader). This sparked a flurry of debate, on HackerNews and Reddit as well as a response from Alex Schroeder , the creator and maintainer of EmacsWiki.

The result of all of this is a new Wiki: WikEmacs has now been set up by Bozhidar.

I’m not sure I agree with this. Yes the current wiki is a bit of a mess. Yes there are some outdated bits of information there, and some of it is incoherent. Yes it could be structured better, or use Markdown to help with the formatting.  But I can’t help but thinking it would be a huge mistake to disregard what it is, wipe the slate clean and start again. It reminds me of a Joel Spolsky article about “Things you should never do“. Whilst that article was obviously talking about software I feel that the same does apply to content.

Whilst a new wiki will start out with the best intentions, and to start off with it will be nice and clean and well structured etc, this is the same as most software projects. However, as we all know, as the project goes on, the code (or content) becomes legacy things can start to slip. Stuff is moved around, and new stuff added, and eventually the base is so large it becomes hard to navigate. Fast forward and you have a large unwieldy repository that someone new comes along, sees a huge mess so decides to start again from scratch.

Nope, in my mind the best thing to do is to refactor what is already there. And that’s exactly what I intend to help with.