After a few days of WikiSym 2006, here’s a wiki-centric list of possible research questions to explore:
- Barnstars as Motivators — What do barnstars look like as a dynamic network? Do visible peer awards impact contribution or modify behavior?
- Impact of Traditional Media — Can usage spikes for viewing, editing or creation of new pages be tied to traditional media references? An extreme example might be Stephen Colbert’s Elephant joke, which caused some headaches for Wikipedians. As wikis move into the mainstream press and culture, what will the impact of such references have on a wiki community?
- Common User Markup — What is the end-effect of markup usage in different wikis? How often does formatting get used, and is that different from what is desired? The folks behind the Creole language already examined the available markup for wiki engines, but that doesn’t necessarily reflect actual use or need. Could examining Word documents and other non-wiki web page presentation point to areas of user need that are not covered by wiki markup? Does different markup inhibit or encourage use of formatting?
- International Markup Issues — The workshop on wiki markup standards brought up the issue of common markup characters, such as square brackets ([ ]), not being easy to access on keyboards used for other languages. Would there be value to looking at markup from the perspective of location of keys on the keyboard, rather than the specific characters those keys represent? Could location on keyboard be a more universal markup strategy than character?
- First-Character Markup — Also from the Creole discussion came a suggestion, in passing, to use only the first character after a new line return to indicate markup. This would mean, presumably, that a wiki author would hit a line return before some other character to indicate bold, and then anything on that line would be bold. Can a scheme like that address both current and future wiki content? Perhaps a study that converted visible content from the rendered HTML to wiki markup might allow one to see if it translates well to first-character markup.
- Contextual Markup — Can certain characters be used as triggers to markup within a certain context on a page? If you trigger a mode with mark *, then ‘ will have a different, specific meaning, for example, than a ” character. Does this address any current limitations of markup? Could the contextual nature of markup help with efforts to semanticize wiki pages?