Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Advanced Interactive Media Class

A book by the title "Advanced Interactive Media Class" was nominated for VfD. Considering the large volume of information in the book, deletion was ruled-out, and many people were leaning in favor of a transwiki to Wikiversity. Given that the word "Class" is in the title, this seemed like a good enough solution.

However, before the VfD could be closed, the instructor of the class posted the following message (edited for brevity):

Leave content as is until March 30th. [...] I'm new to Wikis but getting up to speed ASAP. [...] Undergraduate students are assigned to manage our Wikibook so it's not surprising that is has evolved inappropriately. I'll take responsibility to see that content is oriented to a book, not an on-line course, but will need until March 30th 2008 to accomplish this. [...] Is it possible to change the name of a book (from Advanced Interactive Media Class to Advanced Interactive Media), once it has been published?

The initial knee-jerk reaction to this is that Wikibooks isn't a web-host and that we shouldn't be storing, even temporarily, material which doesn't belong on our site. However, it's worth remembering that writing books is a big undertaking, and we have to expect some books will reach stages of unaccepability on their way to completion. Common examples of this include temporary macropedias, where people "borrow" articles from Wikipedia to seed a new book, and then slowly format the information into a book-like form. Macropedias are not acceptable per our policy, but a "macropedia stage" of a book in active development is.

Similarly, we can assume that a "course-like stage" of an active book that is being written by a classroom group should be an acceptable stage of development. When judging whether a macropedia is to be deleted, we must look at the activity level of the book, and make an educated guess as to whether the book is active enough to progress beyond that level. Likewise, we need to assess whether this course-like book is active enough to progress under it's own power to a more acceptable state. Considering that the class is currently on-going, and the semester is not over for two months, I think it's safe to assume that the book will eventually satisfy our requirements.

The important lessons to learn here are that there is no single "standard" way for a book to develop, and that often times things need to get worse before they get better. In the wiki spirit of things, we can't expect anybody to get it right the first time, and if they did there would be no need for massive collaboration.

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