Why RX-Wiki is Better
There are plenty of platforms on the internet that are great for communities network, grow and flourish. However, very few of them are well suited for collectively documenting and maintaining information, and presenting it in an easily digestible way. There are many limitations with editing and updating, there are issues with link rot, problems with data loss when a user account is deactivated, and other dilemmas with varying degrees of severity. RX-Wiki offers a solution to these problems using the very popular and universally understood Mediawiki platform. This site does not intend to replace forums, social media groups or news aggregators. What it does intend to do is provide a platform for important and useful information to be documented and gradually refined in a way that is organized and concise.
Groups on social media platforms are great for a lot of things because of their large user bases and usability across different devices. They are excellent for networking with people, organizing events, asking for help or opinions, conducting sales transactions, and sharing photos. Some of the reasons social media groups are unsuitable for presenting technical information are:
- Posts with incorrect information can not be updated by the group
If a post is made with incorrect or misleading information, the only person that can correct it is the original poster. So, if someone searches for a topic and discovers such a post, they could be led astray and potentially spread wrong information elsewhere. Corrections can be made in the comments but are not always seen. RX-Wiki solves that issue by the pages created being editable by registered users. Pages can be corrected, refined and expanded even if the original creator is long gone.
- Contributions from users who have their accounts deactivated disappear
If a user contributes a lot of good content, but develops an unsavory attitude that leads to a ban, or they delete their own account, all the helpful information they posted vanishes never to be seen again. On RX-Wiki, if a person gets their account deleted, by themselves or an admin, their pages, edits and uploads remain intact for all future readers to consume.
- Lack of options for formatting of information
Social media platforms are very limited when it comes to formatting, typically when posting on social media you will get one font size and the ability to make line breaks. With RX-Wiki, the use of Wikitext language can be used to 'edit source' or the powerful Visual Editor tool can be used to 'edit' with headings, bulleted and numbered lists, font changes, sort-able tables, embedded images and more.
- Lack of organizational features
Most social media groups will have a search function, maybe a place to store files, and that's usually where it ends. Using the RX-Wiki, we have the ability to tag pages with categories, search pages, use internal links, create templates, etc.
- Can not be discovered through a web search
Social media posts and comments are not indexed, and therefore not searchable, by web search engines. People turn to search engines for answers more than anywhere else and the wealth of information contained in social media posts are opaque in web searches. RX-Wiki is easily indexed by any web crawler and has some optimizations to improve the rank of pages in web searches.
Better than forums
Forums have been a fixture for enthusiast communities since the 90's. They are almost universally understood, they are searchable from the web and they tend to attract some of the brightest minds in the communities. They are good for discussions, event organizing, build threads and getting community help when working through a project or issue. However, there are a few major issues with using a forum.
- Posts with dated or incorrect information can only be updated by the OP
Sometimes posts on forums will be made with information that eventually becomes dated, incomplete or has minor errors. These things are often corrected in the replies by the OP or other forum members, but they can be buried under hundreds of replies on dozens of pages. This makes getting a complete picture of the information presented difficult and laborious. On RX-Wiki, new information can be added and old information can be corrected with ease, and the reader can get the most current and complete information in an easy to view, single page.
- Dead links and missing images
There are endless examples of forum posts that once contained images to compliment the the text of the post, that are no longer useful because the images are gone. There are also many cases where links to documentation is dead, or a users personal website where they post information has vanished. With RX-Wiki these issues are not present, because uploaded media is saved on on a durable, highly available object store, replicated across regions, and served to users through a global content delivery network.
- Formatting and organization limitations
While forums are usually well organized by category and easily searchable, the forum posts themselves leave a bit to be desired. Forums will usually give options to change font size and color and embed images, but lack advanced features like tables, headings with indexes, templates, etc. RX-Wiki leverages the advanced Visual Editor extension and has the ability to use other extensions to do things like embed video, build graphs, mathematical equations and more. A good example of what kind of a difference a simple table can make is this page on RX8Club with a list of DTCs for the RX-8, vs the sortable table at the RX-Wiki page: RX-8 S1 OBDII DTC Codes
Better than personal sites
There are a handful of personally built websites that have been ABSOLUTELY ESSENTIAL to rotary car enthusiasts for many years. Foxed.ca, RotaryHeads, and The Ultimate RX-7 Page, to name a few that are still standing. While the likes of RX-7.net, ILuvMyRX7.com, and Wankel.net are gone forever along with the content they used to provide. Personal sites can be good and they can be bad, it all depends on the depth of knowledge about the subject and the level of technical skill needed to build a website. Personal websites fall short for a few reasons:
- Only one contributor
Personal websites are exactly what the name implies, personal. It is up to one individual to create all the content, and no one person has the time or the knowledge to cover every aspect of this subject, while simultaneously writing it in to presentable HTML. RX-Wiki enables the community to build content together, bringing an eclectic mix of expertise and experience in order to maximize accuracy and ensure comprehensiveness.
- Dubious Hosting
Many great rotary enthusiast websites over the years were hosted on free webhosting platforms like Geocities, which have since succumbed to digital decay, leaving 404s in the webrings of the few remaining holdouts. Ultimately it is up to the owner of the website to pay for the expense of the hosting and domain names, and keep the code up to date to avoid hacks and failures as software inevitably depreciates. For hosting, RX-Wiki is has taken the ubiquitous Mediawiki software and upgraded it in to a cloud native application. It runs on a load balanced auto scaling cluster of containers delivering content through a global CDN. It is extensible, and upgraded regularly with zero downtime rolling updates. The backend has a schedule of automations that patch the software, backup the database and replicate uploaded files for maximum reliability and durability.