As home to Ward Cunningham, father of the wiki, Portland has a special place in the world of wiki. And, of course, we’ve also got AboutUs here—Ward’s current employer—which holds the promise to be one of the leading wikis in the world.
So when something momentous happens with wikis, it affects Portland. And today’s announcement definitely fits the bill.
Introducing the Universal Edit Button.
What is the Universal Edit Button? Well, you know how we’ve all become conditioned to look for the little RSS chiclet as an indicator that an RSS feed is available? This is that same idea—only it’s an icon that indicates a page is editable.
And while the conversations around the concept have been circulating for a few years, like wikis themselves, the actual development took place quite quickly.
That was a little over a month ago. And now, 20 different wikis are participating. That’s mind boggling to me. And a testament to the wiki community.
So how will it work? The Universal Edit Button wiki describes it this way:
The Universal Editing Button (UEB) will allow a web surfer to more quickly recognize when a site may be edited. It will be a convenience to web surfers who are already inclined to contribute, and an invitation to those who have yet to discover the thrill of building a common resource. As this kind of public editing becomes more commonplace, the button may become regarded as a badge of honor. It may serve as an incentive to encourage companies and site developers to add publicly-editable components to their sites, in order to have the UEB displayed for their sites.
Portland’s Marshall Kirkpatrick put it this way:
Leave it to people in the wiki market to know how to collaborate. Nearly 20 different wiki providers have teamed up to offer a new Firefox extension that will notify users whenever they are on a page that is publicly editable, using a standard icon that sits in the same place the RSS autodiscovery icon appears. Clicking on the icon… will take you to that page’s editing interface.
Again, I think this is a huge step forward in wiki collaboration and its great to see. But what I remain even more impressed by? The speed at which this whole thing took place. And the collaboration that helped them achieve it.
I think there are any number of open-source and open-specification pursuits that could stand to learn from this.
For some of the history and discussion of this concept, you can see some of the dialogue on the AboutUs Universal Edit Button page. For more on the sites supporting this fledgingly concept and information on how to participate, visit the Universal Edit Button wiki. Convinced? Here’s the Universal Edit Button Firefox extension.