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Querki, Comments and Conversation
jducoeur wrote in querki_project
[Continuing from "Conversation and CommYou"]

So what does a conversation system have to do with Querki?

You have to keep in mind that Querki is, intentionally, a hybrid between a database and a wiki. (Indeed, the name comes from "Queryable Wiki") In the long run, the intent is for it to have all of the useful features of both of those. And one of the key features of any *good* wiki is comments.

Apply that to Querki, and we get one of the things that makes it both cool and exciting: each Thing can have, pretty much automatically, comment threads. Querki is for keeping track of stuff, and you can do that by yourself, but the real power of Querki is that it's intended to be a *collaborative* database, where communities can work together to manage stuff. And you really can't have collaboration without conversations.

So each Thing has attached to it any number of Conversations for talking about that Thing. These Conversations are live, and can be edited freely -- while the idea can be used for free-form chat (one of the long-term use cases is rebooting CommYou inside Querki), we should also lift the key insight of Wave, that a conversation is driving towards a purpose. Wave allowed discussions to not only be nested in complex ways, but to be edited, snipping out threads that were no longer relevant. That's exactly correct for Querki: comments will typically have the purpose of driving the evolution of the Thing.

In the long run, we might also move into document collaboration for enterprise use, but that's an iffier proposition: there are already people playing in that field (including the aforementioned Rizzoma) and we shouldn't get distracted by it unless we actually have something to add. The main implication of document collaboration is being able to embed comments *inside* of a Thing, at a specific location, to help focus the discussion. This is extremely powerful, but complex enough that we're not going to do it unless it looks like it's really worthwhile.

So each Thing will have associated Comments. I haven't yet decided whether those will show at the bottom of the page or in a separate one, but that's a detail for us to experiment with as we go -- indeed, we may let folks choose which way they prefer. Comments will be subject to permissions, very similar to the ones for Spaces and Things, and will follow many of the rules I evolved for CommYou, with some new twists:
  • There will be no such thing as anonymous comments (the bane of the Internet, IMO), although pseudonymity is allowed, even encouraged.

  • The owners of the Space have full control over who can read, add comments, and manage comments in that Space. Ideally, it should be possible to control this on both the Space and Thing levels.

  • Moderation is *strongly* encouraged, and we should provide the editors of the Space good tools for managing conversations. We should try to avoid stigmatizing comment deletion: if the point of conversations is to help evolve the Thing, there is nothing wrong with deleting comments that are no longer relevant.

  • Conversations must have replayable history, both so you can track the evolution of the Thing and for social reasons: being able to see the history will help destigmatize comment deletion.

  • It should be easy to track Conversations that I am interested in -- I should be notified when a Conversation or Thing I care about gets new comments.

  • Conversations should have heavyweight threading, so as to allow deep conversation and side-topics while encouraging discussion that is relatively linear and easy to read.
Needless to say, this is all going to take a while to evolve: I expect it to be at least the end of 2013 before the conversation system gets to where I really want it. The first implementation will display as a simple flat-threaded conversation attached to the Thing. But we'll gradually make conversation more powerful, to encourage folks to get involved and collaborate on their Spaces.

Next: what the heck am I talking about with this threading stuff?


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