WaterWiki.net:Q&A

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Welcome to the Q&A page of WaterWiki.net. We make an effort to emlarge it - and therefore welcome your contributions, either in form of answers or new questions that seem pertinent for you to be addressed.

Jimmy Wales about the beginning of, and philosophy behind Wikipedia
More videos on the YouTube WaterWiki-channel
Where's the "mother of all Wikis" heading?
Watch a presentation of Brion Vibber from the MediaWiki Foundation (April '06):
More on the YouTube WaterWiki-channel

Contents

What is WaterWiki.net?

Banner for the WaterWiki.net re-launch at the 5th World Water Forum, istanbul March 2009
Banner for the WaterWiki.net re-launch at the 5th World Water Forum, istanbul March 2009
The Wiki for Water Professionals worldwide!
An interactive knowledge exchange and collaboration platform, where users[1] can add new, and edit existing content in real-time.
The overarching aim
is to connect Water Professionals to knowledge and experience based on work in the context of the UN.
















Like Wikipedia, but not quite...

While WaterWiki.net is built on the same MediaWiki-platform as Wikipedia, we have made some changes - most obviously to the "look and feel". But the main conceptual difference compared to Wikipedia is that while any Internet-user has full access to the entire knowledge, only registered and properly logged-in users can make any edits.

This obviously reflects the intended scope and target group of WaterWIki.net: Professionals active in UN-related work of the international water sector.

What is a Wiki in the first place?

Overarching philosophy - The "Wiki-approach"
is actually even broader than the tool and its functionality. ...
Watch Jimmy Wales
Talk about the beginning of Wikipedia

(Source: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WQR0gx0QBZ4)

Every single page is editable -- by logged in users
A Wiki is particularly suited to collaboration among peers in networks and communities of practice.

Think of it as a large black board, where all users are given chalk and sponges to start writing up, or edit existing text. Wikipedia, the famous online collaborative encyclopedia with the humble vision "to capture the world's knowledge" is perhaps the best known Wiki-project; tenthousends of users are working constantly and jointly on millions of articles/pages/entries.


No single organization or person owns - and therefore can "control" the content
Quality is monitored - and in fact achieved - through a "peer control" approach. The crucial elements of that are:
  1. Only properly registered users[2] are able to contribute
  2. Any edit / upload is recorded consecutively (and all versions are stored under the "Previous versions"-tab)
  3. All versions of a page - and thus all contributions - are associated with their respective single contributors

The obvious implication of that is that contributors think twice before they upload any content they aren't sure about its accuracy or use.


What are Pro's and Con's of using a Wiki?

PROS


CONS


What's the concept behind "Open Source" and "open Content"?

Open Source originally is a term used for computer software (see Wikipedia for more info). In the context of knowledge exchange - and WaterWiki in particular - the concept can be seen borader and to encompass (at least) 3 dimensions:

  • Open Data - "authors" or originator(s) of information / knowledge / data are willing to share it
  • Open Standards - web-system(s) use disclosed and commonly used and/or agreed upon protocols and IT-standards for handling data
  • Open Participation - Eligible user or contributor groups not only see "what's behind", but can directly influence data and IT-environments
What speaks for an "open source approach"
is that open source promotes two important aspects of information and knowledge management, which are close to the UN's work and ethics: transparency and the use of participatory approaches. The fact that not only data/content, but also standards, protocols and the very basic source code is openly visible to anyone, allows anyone interested to see "behind the scene" in terms of where the data is coming from, how it is processed, filtered, displayed, etc. And thus gives an opportunity as well to give feedback and criticism, as needed.
A good - actually negative - example where this doe NOT happen
is Google: Although most professionals count on this web-service to bring up relevant, widely-used or trusted websites to any given search-term, only few people actually know the algorithm behind the process. How exactly are top-hits determined? Who can guarantee that no websites are omitted that would actually be returned on a given search? - Apart from the business-strategic and economic arguments that obviously speak against that, were Google to disclose the algorithms their search engines use, this could help users to see why certain hits appear (or not); which would probably release a storm of discussions about the legitimacy and all kinds of aspects around the business of helping web-users find resources.

Besides, there's the phenomenon that widely-used open source software (you could call it "open solutions"), such as MediaWiki which is also the software-foundation for Wikipedia, calls on a troupe of (volunteer!) IT-experts who are thrilled to continuously improve the code and functionality, and to crate all sorts of plug-ins and extensions. For example to display YouTube videos on the Wiki.


What it is not

Not a place to display or discuss single opinions

What's the scope and aim of WaterWiki.net?

The aim is to provide
  • information and "signposts" to online resources and tools;
  • a space for codification, storage and dissemination of knowledge and "practitioners experience" * an easy-to-use tool on-line collaboration for the "Community of Practice"


The scope is global
WaterWiki.net is the global knowledge base for information, experience or any other type of knowledge, as long as it is..

Within that frame, there are no real limits though - there even is a page dedicated to Humor!

Approach

This is a Wiki! - And so is the overall approach of the "WaterWiki Project": WaterWiki is continuously growing and changing with its users' contributions. Rather than to aim for finalized and polished structure or content, we deem it more important to reach out, offer what we have, and give the active WaterWiki Community a chance to directly influence the development of this unique platform.


The "WaterWiki Project"

It all started in UNDP Bratislava Regional Centre in 2005 - "with zero budget and two interns" (Juerg Staudenmann, August 2008). There was a real need to write-up who is doing what on water-related UNDP projects in the Europe & CIS Region. The idea emerged to use a Wiki, an easy-to-use and interactive tool, as to provide a virtual space for UNDP colleagues to not only access to growing knowledge base, but to be able to contribute themselves and directly - on a continuous and real-time basis.

based on client-surveys in 2007 the insight emerged that (a) ...


In summer 2008, the decision was taken to scale-up and improve WaterWiki as platform on a global level, and to encompass knowledge beyond UNDP.


What type of knowledge can I find on WaterWiki?

Information
on ...
experience (knowledge)
(growing)
references
to other web-resouces,
people
professionals ("experts and practitioners") in the "Water sector"


Who is WaterWiki.net for?

The knowledge on WaterWiki will - hopefully - be of value to a wide array of users around the globe. However, the main target groups are:

  1. professionals (e&p)...
  2. direct beneficiaries of water-related services that the UN and its partners deliver
  3. any others?


Who can actually edit stuff on WaterWiki.net?

Users wanting to make active contributions need to apply for an account to do so. As WaterWiki.net is intended for water experts and practitioners, actively engaged in UN-related work, certain criteria will be applied before granting access.


Who is behind it?

Main driver & partners


Does anyone own WaterWiki?
Yes and now: The Community of Practitioners - you! (potentially at least) can be seen as owner of the content.

A growing community of UN-agencies and practitioners support and actively contribute to WaterWiki. ...

read more about WaterWiki


Is this a UN-Wiki?

Yes and now
The content very much focuses on issues relevant in the context of UN-agencies and their work, but no UN-agency or Programme takes control over it. The content on WaterWiki.net is the sole responsibility of each individual user who has contributed it.

A couple of UN-agencies active in the Water Sector are proactively supporting the creation of new content - see About WaterWiki.net for more details.

How can WaterWiki support the work of/in the UN ?

One-UN
bridge gaps, fill the niche of "the center piece" for data connection & sharing,
A "neutral place" (and joint "channel") to publish / broadcast / reach-out, but also to put stuff out for critical review (see "Stakeholder Participation below)


Transparency and Accountability
tell about what UN does, and be ready to get feedback on it!


Stakeholder participation
Wiki-approach to new, draft or even existing "knowledge" (example WHO-definitions)


What about quality control?

WaterWiki employs a 3-step approach to ensure quality of content, and safety against intended or unintended rampage:

  1. Practitioners wishing to actively contribute need to request a user-account. Every user is registered with his/her real name and at least a confirmed e-mail address.
  2. Editing (creation of new pages, changes on existing content, uploading of files) requires registered users to be logged-in.

need to request a user-account in order to be able to make any active contributions

Peer-control

How can I contribute?

See also Help | Help:Tutorial

First of all
If you haven't got a user-account yet, you need to apply for one (click here). You will receive a confirmation e-mail with a link to re-confirm your e-mail address. The WaterWiki-Admins will then review and approve your application asap. - Please contact us if you encounter any problems.
Then, it's easy
Make sure you are logged-in, as to see the "Edit"-tabs and links. Simply click on the "Edit this page" tab ot open the entire page in edit-mode, or on an "Edit-'link to work on that specific chapter only. After making changes and/or tagging the article with keywords, don't forget to click the save page button.
To try out how it works
We recommend to use the Sandbox. Visit the Help section for instructions and help.


What other websites, tools and platforms exist in the Water Sector?

References

  1. You need an account to be able to add or edit content on WaterWiki.net. To become an active member of the WaterWiki-community request your Login here
  2. the WaterWiki.net team makes an effort to get users subscribe with their full name and affiliations

See also

External Resources

Attachments


 WaterWiki@UNWater - final 15Jan08.ppt

 WaterWiki@UNESCO Paris 09Oct08.ppt