The story basically goes like this:
There are TooFewWiki, and you want to help fill in the gap. But, you can’t just make a wiki, and expect people to quickly start collaborating on it. That’s because most wiki don’t have WikiFeatures:MailedPageUpdates? (WikiFeatures:IdeasToPlace #95), or they don’t use a ChangeAggregator to read the wiki’s RSS feed, and thus people don’t get notified of additions. When things don’t seem to happen, people don’t come back, and are even less likely to notice if something actually does. It takes time for concentration in a subject to build.
The MailingListThenWiki approach is a strategy towards community building.
You start with just a MailingList. Email is a solid platform. Everyone has email tools. The tools are sophisticated, and generally support threaded hierarchies (something wiki doesn’t support- see WikiFeatures:BuiltinThreading?) and list filtering. It’s pretty much ubiquitous.
The essential thing here about MailingLists is that they interrupt you, but not a whole lot. You get notice when something changes in the world. Unless a wiki supports WikiFeatures:MailedPageUpdates?, across the whole wiki, you don’t notice. And thus, you can’t get dragged into the wiki.
So the strategy is:
With time, WikiCanonicalization? will kick in, and you’ll have a community. Yay!
The alternative is to start a wiki for an existing community, such as an InternetRelayChatChannel (IRC). In that case, a mailing list may not be necessary, as the channel already provides the common context.
– LionKimbro and others