This is the twenty-ninth installment in "33 Wikis," a close look at best practices in wiki-based collaboration. Each day -- for 33 days -- we look at one wiki and briefly describe what the wiki is for, why we like it, and what we all can learn from it. If you want to nominate a wiki, please let us know. On day 34 we will post a public wiki featuring info on all nominees.
What this wiki is for: for the next four days we will be looking at meta-wikis -- i.e., wikis about wikis. Meatball Wiki, one of the most influential wikis in wikidom describes itself as a "learning community" comprised of the leaders of online communities. Their mission is to bring together all "proprietors, developers, mentors, samaritans" of wiki-based communities to share what they know and propagate a better understanding of the Wiki Way -- the philosophy of wiki-based communities first articulated by the inventor of the wiki, Ward Cunningham.
Why we like it: during my first real visit to Meatball, I fell in love. This is a treasure trove of technology, philosophy, sociology, anthropology, and common-sense wisdom of the do's and dont's of online communities. But it is even more than that. As one of the older and wiser wiki communities, Meatball has helped to introduce and evangelize BarnRaising, SoftSecurity, RealNames, NonViolence, "playful wisdom," and other concepts that are helping community leaders in both the online and offline worlds. Spend enough time on this wiki, and you will get a very stong vibe: this community is in fact dedicated to making a better world -- online and offline. It reminds me of an article we posted last year, where we put forth the idea that the online world is like the New World of the colonial era -- a breeding ground for ideas from the Old World that eventually would go back to the Old World ... but only after the New World tested them.
FYI: meatball refers to a picture of the Web as a big plate of spaghetti and meatballs, where spaghetti are the links, and meatballs are the content. This wiki is a mighty big meatball, and it has spawned all sorts of projects. But Meatball follows the principle of CommunityOverContent: in the end, it's all about relationships, and the ethic of community predominates over everything -- even the meatballs -- on Meatball.
What we all can learn from it: for what it does -- and it does a lot -- it would be hard to top Meatball. But the members of this community have been gracious enough to link to similar sites, directly from the home page. But what can we all learn from it? Recommendation: join this community, contribute to it, and learn. If you have been following this series for all 29 days to date, you actually might be ready for the experience.