History of NBWiki
If you don't know what a Wiki is, please see Help.
My personal involvement with the Wiki concept started through involvement with a village Wireless Broadband project. Investigation led us to use a network of LocustWorld Mesh nodes. LucustWorld had found a Wiki a convenient mechanism for facilitating the development of documentation. As the Rural-WEB project progressed the need for a forum for exchanging information and views amongst the activists became evident. This should create a semi-permanent record as a basis for writing up the project for the benifit of others.
I looked at a couple of bulletin board systems but had some implementation problems and also felt they were not ideal (but then, nor is a Wiki - both are subject to misuse by human beings!). Anyway, it seemed to me that a Wiki could be used for our purposes and a search for one reasonably capable but simple to install led me to roWiki. This was adopted with one or two minor adaptations - just sufficient for me (brought up on Fortran, Jean, Basic and a little assembler, Pascal and Delphi) to start getting to grips with the joys of PHP.
Success in the use of the Wiki with the Rural-WEB project has been mixed for various reasons. Some people chose not to use it, one or two didn't seem capable of patching together a broken long URL, some typed whatever they wanted to say on any page they had open, etc. Experience indicates that some active "moderation" of a Wiki is needed, starting with the establishment of a basic structure.
There were also problems due in considerable measure to latency. Our Internet "backhaul" was via a satellite connection which, due simply to the distance up and back to a geo-stationary orbit, imposes a minimum delay of over half a second on any message. When other factors increased the delay somewhat one of the computers on the way somewhere would decide to be kind and send a page it had cached instead. Result? You had edited a page, committed it, then all your hard work seemed to have vanished. Solution - implemented in NBWiki - add a random element to every critical page request. The kind computer on the way thinks the reference is to a page it knows nothing about. Incidentally, if you have similar problems due to a bad line with an interactive website, try adding something like &zz to the URL and submit it again.
NBWiki developed from a wish to incorporate similar technolgy in a village website in order to provide a notice board and diary facility that could be updated without recourse to web page editors, FTP uploads etc. A standard page layout from the site was modified to form a Wiki template file and the Wiki PHP script adapted and extended. Other changes added functionality and modified the syntax to reduce problems when importing documents by cut-and-paste. NBWiki is a spin-off packaged here so that others can use it.