Archive | February, 2007

Case Study:

16 Feb

We just finished our case study with Nils Gore from Rebuilding the Seventh (

It’s a wiki built that’s helping assist a collective of architectural schools and other collaborators in rebuilding the New Orleans 7th Ward.

7thward Wiki Image

PBwiki: Why’d you choose PBwiki?
Nils Gore: …we decided to use it because of its flat learning curve. We also have collaborators in New Orleans, and had no idea how web-savvy they were (in terms of web design). I had seen a blog link to PBwiki a few weeks before and had tried it out. So I knew how easy it was to make instant web pages, and that it would be feasible with a diverse group of people. I have attempted before to have classes of students do a group website, with each adding content, using Dreamweaver, and it was basically a disaster. I’ll never attempt it again.

PBwiki: What’s Rebuilding the Seventh wiki about?
Nils Gore: We started this collaborative project in January 2006 to bring architecture students to New Orleans and help with the re-building effort. We needed a place to quickly post stuff, as a way of 1) communicating with ourselves; and 2) communicating with others outside of our organization. We have collaborators in Kansas and in New Orleans.


PBwiki: How do you use your PBwiki?
Nils Gore: We use it as a way of documenting our completed work in New Orleans; as a way of making links to other web content about new Orleans (mostly for our own students education); as a way of sharing files with all of the collaborators; and as a way of allowing numerous people to add content without screwing up the page design (too badly).

PBwiki: Give us a project update! Is this particular project done?
Nils Gore: We could work there forever if we wanted to; no shortage of work to be done in New Orleans! We just do one or two projects at a time, on a semester-by-semester basis, paying for it as we go along.


PBwiki: Would you tell others about PBwiki?
Nils Gore: I have several times.

PBwiki: What has been the biggest surprise for you in using PBwiki?
Nils Gore: I have quite a bit of web design experience, and could be doing this myself. But I have to spend very little time fooling around with PBwiki; less than I would if I were building it from scratch. I’m also surprised that the students haven’t messed it up when adding their own work. It has an incredibly flat learning curve.

Never Fear….

15 Feb

…no Salmonella here!

Harkening back to David’s post about being glad we ship bits rather than physical stuff, boy, it’s also nice to know that we don’t ship anything that could harm people, either.

On a lighter note, I just bought a household-sized fridge for our office. The one we have now is a very small dorm-room style one. In fact, it was actually my fridge for the two years when I was in a college dorm. With the recent addition of employee #6, it’s bursting at the seams, though, so we’ve decided we need a bigger space for all that Red Bull, leftover Chinese food, and Little Lucca’s sandwiches.

I’ve decided this must mean we’ve arrived as a corporate entity. We need a real fridge. The entire company can’t legally fit in one regular passenger car anymore. Woot.

Tip of the Week #7: Point-and-Click Editor, part 1

13 Feb

totw-banner.jpgThe Point-and-Click editor has received mostly positive feedback since it was unveiled, but of course with all new things, there are some growing pains, both in terms of technical work (bugs) and users’ comfort with the new system. To aid in this cause, I’m offering a two part series on how to get the most out of the Point-and-Click Editor.

Continue reading

Some contradictory feedback

13 Feb

We just got these two pieces of feedback on our Point-and-Click editor within 25 minutes of each other:

oh pbwiki. just when i think you couldn’t make it any easier… there you go again. it is a beautiful editor and it couldn’t be simpler. thank you for your great work! i have started pbwikis for several of my jobs as a grad student and this new editor has only helped grow their popularity.

thanks again!

Yeah!!! And then this one:

I can’t stand it.

Hmm. Well, we do let you switch from the Point-and-Click editor to the Classic editor with just one click. Check the top-right corner of your page when you’re editing.


RSS & Atom Feed "Leaks"

13 Feb

Dear wiki owners,

A few people have been surprised recently when their users accidentally republished information from private wikis to the world at large by way of an RSS / Atom feed. Here is the low-down on how this can happen and how you can avoid it.

Your users must be careful when using a private wiki to not share the private, unguessable feed URL with third parties. If a user uses a third party web-based feedreader like Bloglines or Google Reader and pastes in the private feed URL, they have given that third party access to the feed, which may likely contain private data, such as email addresses, page names, and snippets of page content.

Some of these third parties may decide to publicly republish the feed’s content, or make it indexable by Google and other search engines. This is in spite of our servers very clearly telling third party services (with the Robots exclusion policy, the Google indexing Atom extension, and the Bloglines access control feed extension) that they should not allow any material obtained on a human’s behalf available to other users. But that doesn’t always stop them, either by accident or malice, from republishing data that a user has given to them.

In order to help protect our private wiki communities from accidental disclosure in this way, we’re going to be disabling feeds by default for all private wikis starting March 15, 2007. If you own a private wiki and want to keep feeds enabled, no problem – just surf on over to the “Feeds” tab of your settings page any time before March 15 and pick “enable” and we won’t get in your way. Or you can disable them immediately if you want to prevent the above situation.


David Weekly
PBwiki’s CEO

Case study:

8 Feb

What is

It’s a class on communication, arts, and sciences (100b is the course designation).

Screenshot of How’d you first hear about PBwiki?I took an English graduate class (I’m a grad student as well as an instructor) and decided to give it a try since I teach a group communications class. Several of my colleagues were using PBwiki and it seemed really easy.We love hearing that! So how do you use your PBwiki?Neither of us had ever used a wiki in a classroom, so we were feeling our way through it with our students. We have our own course management software through Penn State. So at the beginning, we were using the CMS (content-management system) and then having the class submit through the wiki. Finally, the students asked if they could do just one. So we turned everything to the wiki.

I really wanted a space where they could work together and see everyone’s else’s work. Our CMS is really good for individual work and student/instructor (we assign, they return) but it’s not really good for encouraging group work. The group file areas aren’t very good. One group can’t view another group’s work.

We were interested in the public and collaborative aspect of the wiki. It was a lot better than the other closed-off options we had. We want our students not only learn for themselves, but analyze other group’s work and learn from them. It would give them a different perspective from just their own groups.

We end up having a couple of groups in crisis, so other groups could see that weren’t functioning so well. I think this was very helpful.

Can you share some of the results you’ve found from using PBwiki?

The flexibility was so useful for me. Being able to just go in and change the lesson plans around, and make the chance instantly in the wiki, was really useful to me. Being able to keep up with the groups — I asked them to post their group notes so I could see who was keeping up and documenting their groups’ progress. I could step in and ask them to speed it up. I could technically have had them turn paper in, but most of them don’t use paper any more. The wiki was really useful for flexibility and keeping track of their progress in a different way.

Why’d you choose PBwiki?

Because it was easy. I’d gotten recommendations from a couple of friends, and almost without really meaning to, I had a wiki set up instantly. I’ve done a little bit of stuff on Wikipedia. Without having set up a wiki before, I was surprised how ridiculously easy it was.

How many people are active on your wiki?

143 students and 2 instructors.

Wow. What has been the biggest surprise for you in using PBwiki?

Surprised at how simple I found it. I also didn’t realize how many files my students would store (like Powerpoint files).

Would you tell others about PBwiki?

Yes, and I have. I tell them that if they ever want to start a wiki, PBwiki is a really good one to use.

Tip of the Week #6: Cross-Browser Design

6 Feb


PBwiki does an amazing job of maintaining cross-browser compatibility in its basic design, so much so that people have told me about editing their wikis from their Blackberries. The designers work hard getting layouts and skins to look the same in every major browser, and for the most part, you’ll never ever have to think about making sure your page looks the same in Internet Explorer, Firefox, Safari, etc. That’s awesome.

Nonetheless, as people spend more time with their wikis, they will undoubtedly experiment. Maybe they learn a little HTML and create a few layouts within the content area. Maybe they are even more experimental and learn CSS to skin their wiki in bold new ways. Maybe they are really ambitious and begin fiddling with Javascript. Regardless of the situation, and especially if your browser of choice is not Internet Explorer, you’ll want to know that things look okay in other browsers. Continue reading