Content Management for Conlangs

I’m considering my options for posting the evolving definition and learning materials for a small conlang.

Plain html. Evolves poorly. Easy to set up for a single document.

Wiki Evolves well, but at the end it will look like a bunch of disconnected pages. Some versions, like media wiki, have such poor security they get overrun by spam. Easy to turn into a bunch of stubs if you aren’t careful.

Blog. Well, this blog isn’t a good option. I hate mixing streams of content with different audience. This blog is for just anyone interested in fake languages. Inserting a bunch of lessons on a specific language is just noise.

A dedicate blog isn’t a very good option because by default, a blog makes recent content very visible and old content less visible. A conlang has about three levels of content– the expository description for tourists and people deciding if they want to try it out. The second is a lesson plan, work book ,flash cards and a forum for posting texts, questions, etc. Comments on a blog do a poor job of allowing the community to initiate a discussion.

The order in which content is created has nothing to do with the order in which content is most digestible.

Email Lists These scale poorly, but are easy to join. They scale poorly— at more than a dozen emails a day, people start to ignore it, send everything to a folder than they ignore, or they use only the web interface which makes a list behave more like a forum. I have no idea what the etiquette is for mailing lists where it is just the creator trying to create most of the content but I for one, wouldn’t want to be constantly trying to create conversation on a mailing list if it didn’t have critical mass, where as I can post daily to a blog and there isn’t a problem if no one is answering (at the moment).

Mailing lists assume there is someone ready to respond *right now*. Blogs allow people to respond years later.

Forum. Forums have a high entry cost, but work well for core community participants. Forums work well for high volumes of messages and work poorly for low volumes of messages. Some people just don’t like forums. Forums also have rules of their own, can attract people who enjoy other forums that may have a culture that you’d rather not import onto your life.

Miniblogging This is a good place for learner’s discussion, maybe a way to teach– breaking the lessons and vocab into a tweet or two a day is a creative way to drip feed the world the knowledge to use a language when they otherwise might not have the time to devote a 30 hour block to it.

Moodle and the like Moodle is an online lesson thing. Most computer base training is multiple choice quiz oriented, e.g. you read some text and answer a multichoice question and repeat. It sound like a lot of work to create one well and it isn’t clear how many people would be comfortable with that sort of training. Lets say that 500 people try to learn a language, will their budgeted attention span expire before they get used to the user interface? Anyhow, I’ve got a moodle up, I’m starting to think the real burden is going to be on the course designer and less so on the course user.

chat There isn’t a single dominate chat technology– people use irc, skype, and many others. For conlang projects, a key feature is the ability to get consent to record logs and to record the logs for corpus research.

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3 Responses to Content Management for Conlangs

  1. Neicen says:

    There are small dictionary tools like this
    http://www.veche.net/programming/lexmanager.html

  2. Silvercat says:

    I use Tiddlywiki (http://tiddlywiki.com/). It’s like a wiki, but all one page. You have to upload it like normal HTML, but no one else can edit it. And it’s easy to add macros so you can see what you need to work on.

    Mine is here. Between the table of contents and the tagcloud, it’s easy to find stuff.

  3. Koppa Dasao says:

    I can vouch for the spam problem of mediawiki. It really sucks like a vacuum cleaner run on a 1MV line! Though, if you install and set up the correct extensions immediately, it is manageable. Unfortunately, I didn’t do so, and got so swamped with spam that the legitimate pages was only a fraction of the content. All spam was removed (6-700 pages), but the spammers continues to attack the wiki, even though their access has been completely locked out.

    Thankfully, Dreamhost doesn’t shut down sites due to excessive bandwidth usage.