Wiki-Forum Integration

I would be surprised if what I’m proposing hasn’t been done, but I haven’t found it anywhere. Web forums are often full of useful information, but it isn’t organized. It would be great if it was easy to pull the best posts out of the forum and plug them into a more organized repository, like a wiki. Here’s what I envision.

Every forum post has a button on it. Clicking that button creates a new wiki page, copies the content of the post to the page, and creates links between the two of them. The link on the wiki page allows readers to place the item in context with the discussion which spawned it; the link on the forum post allows any future readers to find more information about the topic.

It is critically important that a) this is an activity performed by readers, and b) it must be simple enough that it doesn’t break the flow of ideas in a good discussion.

So there would probably be two buttons on a forum post: a quick and easy button to copy the post to a generic holding area in the wiki which would later be integrated (the “one-click shopping” approach), and a different button for copying to the wiki and dealing with integration now.

What made be think of all of this is a discussion on about creating a new horror mythos. Some of the posts are brilliant, and I’d like to pull the good ones together. Even better, I would like to share the results and benefit from whatever anyone else might add. I’m sure there’s a wiki somewhere with such an effort. The thing is, the content already exists in forums. All that’s needed in a wiki, a default Creative Commons license for each post, and a quick and easy way to integrate the two.

Forum-wiki integration would be very useful elsewhere. One person suggests something similar for creating FAQs. I imagine education discussion forums, as on Moodle and Sakai, could benefit equally, as could any number of other areas. So many domains would benefit from their own mini Wikipedia. The keys to success on the Web are content and links. We already have the content.

As for links, ideally it would be possible to copy to any number of other wikis hosted elsewhere, but there’s no such thing as a standard export format for forum posts. The first idea that comes to my mind is to allow each post to generate a mini chunk of RSS or Atom, which is then sent to a wiki supporting a standard REST protocol. But for now, a straightforward custom wiki-forum integration is the place to start.