Proposal: Official Church Wiki

So you have the BIG idea that the Church or community needs to develop. Discuss that idea here. Maybe you just want to make a suggestion on a new forum topic. Let us know.
joshuao2
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Proposal: Official Church Wiki

Postby joshuao2 » Fri Nov 04, 2011 9:49 pm

The Lord has revealed an immense number of truths to Earth, and yet so many of them are currently scattered throughout different forms of media and in different places. Every time I have heard a quote from an apostle or prophet in seminary or a BYU religion class (among other regrettably obscure gems), I have felt more and more like my attempts at gospel study are virtually useless. And to think that I used to read every month's New Era and Ensign!

This is but one reason why I strongly believe that it is time and past time for the Church to support an official wiki. Another use is in missionary work. Specifically, misinformation and disinterest could be fought directly by the convenient and knowledge-expanding (read: browser tabs) nature of wikis.

This must not be just another project. This is a large and continuing undertaking, but it could be just as influential, and not just for nonmembers. Starting by integrating information from lds.org's gospel library, official interpretation of scripture, etc. through a system like Indexing or Vineyard, I can see this happening, perhaps without having to deal with copyright concerns.

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aebrown
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Postby aebrown » Sun Nov 06, 2011 10:13 pm

It's certainly an ambitious project that could yield some benefits if it had sufficient support from both the Church and the community. Some benefits I see:

  • Links to collections of information such as Conference reports, which are in a variety of formats and sites depending on how old they are.
  • Cross references by topic, author, etc. It would be great to be able to quickly find every talk by Ezra Taft Benson on the Book of Mormon, for example.
  • And many more -- it would be a wonderful research aid.

Not to throw cold water on the idea, but I'm skeptical about whether it would work. Here are some concerns:

  • Would the site get a critical mass of participation? We had high hopes for the LDSTech wiki, and yet there are only a couple of regular contributors outside of Church employees and people actively working on community development projects (and they contribute almost exclusively to their project pages). The LDSTech wiki should appeal to a large audience of techno-savvy people, but it can't even come close to the critical mass of community involvement that is needed. Would this reference wiki, with a much more ambitious scope, succeed dramatically better? I have my doubts.
  • You need a large set of workers just to get that content entered, which is daunting enough. But then you need a decent multiple of that number to be able to have peer review, format consistency, guideline adherence, technical wiki expertise, etc.
  • It seems like there would be tremendous duplication of effort with what the Church is doing in Gospel Library and other efforts. That would mean that a large amount of work would go into just maintaining a duplicate index of that rapidly growing content.
  • Although the Church has been really good about allowing the LDSTech wiki to exist and providing a home for it, we have to be very careful about the content placed there. It's generally not the kind of information that has to pass through review by the Correlation Department. But if I understand this idea correctly, much of what would be placed on this proposed wiki would be the kind of content that the Church wants reviewed by Correlation. That department is strapped for resources as it is, so I doubt that the Church would allocate significant resources (if any) to this project.
  • You probably can minimize sabotage by nonmembers by requiring an LDS Account login. But the there are plenty of members with diverse ideas about how doctrine should be presented. Would we have enough faithful participation to keep the fringe doctrines, or even downright false doctrines, from creeping in? I wonder.
I hope even my criticisms can be helpful. After all, if such a project were to ever get off the ground, it would only be after a careful review in which potential problems such as these would have to be addressed head-on.
Questions that can benefit the larger community should be asked in a public forum, not a private message.

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Postby joshuao2 » Sun Nov 06, 2011 10:34 pm

You make good points, but also remember that this is aiming higher.

The gospel library has an entirely different approach to organization, focusing on the actual source with much less organization by topic than a wiki should have. More importantly, perhaps partially because it focuses on the source, it's missing so many things because they are copyrighted, like the complete JST, or others like the Joseph Smith papers or the original Book of Mormon manuscripts.

The participation needed is on the order of indexing. It sounds like the current Correlation Department doesn't fit with this project, not the other way around.

At first, fringe doctrines wouldn't be part of the wiki. But including all doctrine is the point. Doctrine is either supported or not. Official interpretations and expoundings are doctrine too.

I might be coming across as snobbish or something, but I think this isn't just any project. I'm posting in this forum because there isn't anywhere better to bring it up. Preferably, this would go to a General Authority (I'm not criticizing leaders, just wanting to do what Emma Smith did in the story of the Word of Wisdom).

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johnshaw
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Postby johnshaw » Mon Nov 07, 2011 9:41 am

Joshuao2,

Making the data available would be fantastic... over the years, if you really wanted the content, it was available (Gospel Library from Deseret Book, the information from Signature, the free NFO available... BYU put the Encyclopedia of Mormonism into a WIKI format (which is the best place IMHO for 'official' interpretation). And as for content, the church has made enormous efforts to have it available online. But I agree with you on the value of having the content tagged for easy searching and gathering what the different authorities have said about principles and doctrines of the restored gospel.

IMHO We will not ever have an 'Official' as you seem to be requesting... read our history... we believe the living oracles can re-interpret, or even reverse or suspend principles, or doctrines. I have a hard time thinking that the Brethren would sanction this type of activity... but the tagged content idea is still a good one... Another quick potential snag... how far back to you go? Is the Sermon in the Grove, and the King Follet Discourse going to be part of the list? Are they doctrine? Journal of Discourses.... basically the proceedings of General Conference....

joshuao2
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Postby joshuao2 » Mon Nov 07, 2011 11:12 am

JohnShaw wrote:IMHO We will not ever have an 'Official' as you seem to be requesting... read our history... we believe the living oracles can re-interpret, or even reverse or suspend principles, or doctrines. I have a hard time thinking that the Brethren would sanction this type of activity...
What do you mean? Our leaders will never lead us astray, and we have been instructed on how to know whether any interpretation is official or not.
JohnShaw wrote:Another quick potential snag... how far back to you go?
It's the doctrine that matters.

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Postby johnshaw » Mon Nov 07, 2011 11:33 am

I'm not going to continue the thread... it's probably beyond bounds already... please feel free to send me a personal message if you're interested in my thoughts.

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Postby marianomarini » Mon Nov 07, 2011 11:35 am

There is already a Mormon wiki site (http://www.mormonwiki.com).
Is not official but I think it will be a good point to test all your ideas, opinions or criticism.
La vita è una lezione interminabile di umiltà (Anonimo).
Life is a endless lesson of humility (Anonimous).

joshuao2
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Postby joshuao2 » Mon Nov 07, 2011 11:41 am

It's meaningless if it's not official.

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Postby russellhltn » Mon Nov 07, 2011 12:19 pm

joshuao2 wrote:It's meaningless if it's not official.


If it's official, it won't be a wiki (IMO).
Have you searched the Wiki?
Try using a Google search by adding "site:tech.lds.org/wiki" to the search criteria.

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Postby jdlessley » Mon Nov 07, 2011 4:28 pm

RussellHltn wrote:If it's official, it won't be a wiki (IMO).
And if its official it has to have the approval of the brethren and will have the fingerprints of the correlation department all over it.
joshuao2 wrote:It sounds like the current Correlation Department doesn't fit with this project, not the other way around.
This kind of approach will never get official approval. If it is going to cover doctrine in any manner in an official capacity the correlation department is going to be involved.
JD Lessley
Have you tried finding your answer on the LDS.org Help Center page or the LDSTech wiki?


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