[Mediawiki-l] Is MediaWiki-l dysfunctional? What is it good for, really? and Re: Any leads on a basic wiki setup-and-configure instruction manual?

Monahon, Peter B. Peter.Monahon at USPTO.GOV
Fri May 25 11:00:51 UTC 2007

> Ian wrote: ... Please speak for yourself ...

Peter Blaise responds: I am!

> Ian: ... setting up and managing a wiki is ... 
> very difficult ... isn't some simple application ... 
> has quite a complex set of supporting components 
> (as you've discovered).  There are also some 
> serious security issued that need to be handled 
> carefully if this is going to be exposed to the 
> public ... setting up something like this requires 
> someone with system administration skills 
> and experience ...

Pater Blaise responds: Hence my asking for other people's experiences.
Catch 22?  You need experience to get experience?  All I'm askin' for is
for people to share their install and setup success stories on
MediaWiki.org - an apparently impossible task!  So, asking for details
here gets "shut up and go away" responses.  Nice.

> Ian: ... you ... asked for help with setting up
> a wiki on a Windows host where you have no 
> admin rights ... haven't got an answer ... 
> no-one else has experience with doing it 
> this way ... you're on your own.  Good luck!

Peter Blaise responds: No.

Actually, Cornelius Herzog's Wiki-on-WOS (WOS = Web server On a usb
Stick) works just fine on Windows without admin rights, and can run from
a USB flash drive or from an MS-DOS "subst" drive:


However, it defaults to a single-user wiki!  It does not require admin
rights nor does it hammer the Windows registry or Windows program and
system file areas.  Wiki on WOS is a truly portable uber MediaWiki!
However, it requires a manually created list of IP addresses so it can
be shared with more than one user, so it has a narrow audience with
ongoing support requirements to expand it.  

In a mere 6 hours, using Wiki on WOS and Word2Wiki*, I built a working
MediaWiki on it with ~500,000 words containing the entire US Trademark
Manual of Examining Procedure* AND the all supporting law.  (*Links
notes, see: Gunter Schmidt's and Fernando Correia 's Word2Wiki
extension: http://www.mediawiki.org/wiki/Extension:Word2MediaWikiPlus
and the USTMEP: http://tess2.uspto.gov/tmdb/tmep/ )

Everything I've done since then has been trying to find or create
unambiguously clear documentation and decision trees so that others in
my organization, and around the world, can take advantage of MediaWiki's
offering just as I have.  Aside from being told "what a stoopid idea",
I'm well aware that I'm on my own.  BUT, you'll have my success-notes
available for reference when I do resolve ambiguities and accomplish
predictability and reliability, even if you don't value my notes.  I
just wish I had your notes on the way to your success, as I value your

> Ian: ... [documenting and sharing your own 
> MediaWiki installation steps, detail by 
> detail] would be pretty pointless, unless 
> you want to install your wiki on *my* 
> computer, and using exactly the same 
> configuration that I use.  The point is that 
> you have to use the documentation on the 
> MW site to *figure out* what the 
> appropriate settings are for your wiki on 
> your server ..

Peter Blaise responds: We disagree.  

I think ALL we have to share is our experience.  All else is

As Albert Einstein is reported to have said: "Example is not just
another way to teach.  Example is the only way to teach."  

If I could read how you built 2 wikis that share a database, or 2 wikis
that do not share a data base, then I could adapt and adopt and tweak
and tune my own installation with much more savvy and chances for quick
success.  Otherwise, why do we share here at all?

> Ian: ... A troubleshooting guide isn't going 
> to help you either ... The number of things 
> that could go wrong ... the number of 
> possible configurations of your server ...

Peter Blaise responds: "... A troubleshooting guide isn't going to help

Yeah - high tech customer service and support is a challenge, isn't it?
But then, it's what I've been successfully doing for 30 years.  Funny, I
frequently have arguments with vendors and tech support, but almost
never with customers!  I guess I do my customer's arguing for them,
trying to convince suppliers that they really know and can share more
than they think they know and can share!  I feel like the proverbial
dentist pulling teeth.  Ian, I'll bet you've had some measure of success
installing MediaWiki.  Now, if I could only find out exactly what you
did ...

> Ian: ... It baffles me that you're having 
> all this trouble, and then making it more 
> complex by trying a custom install ...?

Peter Blaise responds: Control, Ian.  CONTROL!

Acting as my customer's ombudsman, I've NEVER let any supplier execute
their default install on my customer's personal computer and then just
walk away.  I wanna know every detail!  I watch programs load into
memory, catalog dll interdependencies, unhide all windows, and record
and compare changes to the registry.  Sniff sniff.  As I heard Bob Dylan
sing: "I'll know my song well before I start singing."

> Ian: ... I suspect that the type of guide 
> you're describing isn't as useful to a 
> wide audience as you might think ...

Peter Blaise responds: One will do.  It always starts with one.  I can't
imagine telling any one customer, "Your requests are invalid because
your requests are not popular.  You're just one customer.  Go away."

> Ian: ... It sounds like the kind of thing 
> you would write for people managing 
> *your* wiki on your server ...

Peter Blaise responds: Duh!  However, it's not *my* wiki, it's
MediaWiki, and at least I'm trying to make MediaWiki accessible to
everyone in my customer base.  Today they may ask, "What's a wiki?" (and
they have!)  Tomorrow, I hope to have them administering their own
MediaWiki, and teaching and supporting others.

Thanks for the provocative chat, Ian.  I understand more than you think
you shared.  We are totally different "techs", I presume.  My goal is to
empower my customers to take care of their own needs.  I appreciate that
others here may see their jobs as perpetually supporting their wiki ...
or something other than simplifying the complex, making accessible the

Years ago, before computers, US Trademark staff weren't allowed to do
their own typing.  Silly, eh?  Why similarly inflict "you're not allowed
to do your own MediaWiki" on them?

So, Ian, you want to keep MediaWiki in the hands of experienced
administrators only, and I want to get it out there into everybody's
hands to play with. 

Here from http://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Names

"... Wikimedia Foundation ... an international non-profit organization
dedicated to encouraging the growth, development and distribution of
free, multilingual content, and to providing the full content of
Wikimedia projects to the public free of charge ..."

"... to the public ..."

Not "... to administrators only ..."

-- Peter Blaise

More information about the MediaWiki-l mailing list