Re: [unrev-II] Knowledge Repository War Stories...

From: Jon Winters (
Date: Thu Mar 09 2000 - 20:59:49 PST

  • Next message: Jon Winters: "[unrev-II] Elders"

    From: Jon Winters <>

    Eric Armstrong wrote:

    > QUESTION: What is HyperNews?

    ANSWER: HyperNews is a cross between the hypermedia of the WWW and
    Usenet News.
    Its opensource and it has been evolving for years.

    > Do you have a link to it?

    Main Page:

    About HyperNews:

    The Future of HyperNews:

    Download the Source Code:

    It runs on UNIX or Linux and there are a ton of Perl scripts. Its not
    as sophisticated as the DKR we have been talking about building but it
    might be useful as a starting point or possibly as one way to feed
    information into a DKR. (DKRs should have many different interfaces

    > It may be
    > very close to what I am proposing this evening. If so, I could have used
    > a DKR much earlier! (Typically, I find that things that sound promising
    > don't turn out to be as good as hoped, but there are always
    > exceptions...)

    Its not perfect but my users _LOVED_ it. I ran one for a couple of
    years as part of the Toy Camera Home Page. When I lost the machine
    running HyperNews I switched to NNTP and lost almost all of my regular
    visitors from the toy camera page. (now at

    > Use Case: Person asks a question that has already been answered.
    > -------------------------------------------------------------------
    > System Action:
    > 1) It is important that the question is *not* entered into the
    > resository
    > until it has been refined sufficiently to be a unique
    > question.(Or it
    > should be possible to delete it later, as well as revise it.)

    I'll cast my vote for the revision way of doing things. It would also
    be cool if you could look at a question _and_ the answer at different
    points in time. There is value in seeing how an answer has changed and
    evolved over time.

    Imagine a search engine that returns time lines with every hit.

    > 2) Ideally, the system will be "friendly" enough for people to find
    > things. Most NewsGroups aren't that friendly, because of the
    > large volume of frequently redudant material (see point #1) and
    > the inability to group things together. So the ability to
    > "grow"
    > the organization of the data by adding categories and moving or
    > copying items to them is paramount.

    I agree. HyperNews does give different viewing options but it can take
    some time and experimentation to learn. Most hypernews servers run a
    test group for folks to experiment and learn on. (a live test area is a
    good idea no matter what we end up using)
    > 3) Even with the best system, a new person will frequently ask a
    > question "in the wrong way" -- using the wrong terminology,
    > etc.
    > That makes automated detection a difficult task. What's needed
    > is a way that makes it tres simple for another user of the
    > system
    > to respond "answered in X", where X is a link to the
    > appropriate
    > node. That answer might have the effect of adding the question
    > as
    > an "alternative form" to the original, or simply prevent it
    > from being
    > added to the database, unless and until it is redefined and
    > resubmitted
    > as a new question that no one responds to in that way.

    On one of our members stepped forward and volunteered for the
    role of "Official keeper or the F.A.Q." He has done a fantastic job.

    New Beetle F.A.Q.

    I did a quick search at and found several different F.A.Q.
    management packages.


    I suspect they might help out but I don't see anything that could
    completely replace the job of the F.A.Q. maintainer. (or maintainers)

    Burnout is also an issue with the job. When my friend Anthony first got
    started on the project he had boundless energy and
    excitement.... Over time he has slowed down a bit and I look for him to
    pass the torch on to a new maintainer eventually.
    > a) How are questions updated with new answers?

    Important role of the F.A.Q. Maintainer

    > b) How are answers updated?
    > If J. Archer changes his address from Cupertino to Pleasanton,
    > that's
    > important information, and the correction should replace the
    > original.

    Yes, and the original should be archived as a historical answer.
    > c) How are invalid and out of date responses removed?
    > If J. Archer retired, how/when is that response removed from the
    > repository?

    Should it stay in the repository but pick up an identifier as being an
    old/obsolete answer. Old/obsolete answers should be hyperlinked forward
    to current answers and backwards to older more dated answers. (in a way
    that is very simple and easy for the users, the complexity boggles the
    mind but I think it can be done simply somehow, perhaps a tiny time icon
    with forward and backward arrows.)
    > All of these issues apply to a how a system is designed, or how it is
    > used,
    > as well, since change is the norm, rather than the exception.
    > They're important issues to solve. Even after we figure out what to do,
    > figuring out how to do it is hard...

    As this grows more and more complex I'm beginning to think that we
    should consider something like a DKR distro. Call it "Bootstrap Linux"
    and have it install a whole bunch of packages that work together to
    perform the many complex tasks of a DKR.

    Leverage as many existing projects as we can to feed data into a DKR or
    pull it back out. (storage too) This will minimize wheel re-invention
    and free up our developers to work on the really unique stuff for which
    there are no existing solutions.

    Jon Winters

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