Table 1


Strengths and weaknesses of conventional collaboration systems and WikiWiki systems.

System Strength Weakness
Email
  • Ubiquitous and convenient.
  • Ability to work offline.
  • MIME encoding lets users attach files and send rich text.
  • Most HTML-based email is used in a way that doesn't justify using HTML.
  • A one-to-one or one-to-few medium, that is, useful information doesn't reach other people within an organization.
  • Not searchable, or search is limited to the client.
  • Threaded discussions are underused, and some email clients, like Outlook, don't thread messages.
  • Can't link to another topic that has been previously discussed.
  • Can't change message after posting.
Mailing lists
  • Convenient.
  • Possible to work offline.
  • Rich HTML messages are rare.
  • Subscription based, so people come and go depending on their interest.
  • A one-to-many medium, that is, information reaches all interested people.
  • Setting up and maintaining mailing lists using Majordomo or similar systems can be complicated and are nonintuitive.
  • Content is not searchable unless archived.
  • Threaded discussions are underused.
  • Can't link to another topic that has been previously discussed.
  • Can't change message after posting.
Usenet
  • A many-to-many medium—information on a focused topic reaches all interested people.
  • Threaded discussions where you can get an overview of the topics being discussed.
  • Perception that it's complicated to set up and use.
  • Content expires after some time.
  • Medium to low signal-to-noise ratio, depending on the group.
  • Plain text is the norm.
  • Limited search capabilities.
  • Can't change message after posting.
WikiWiki
  • Rich text and graphics.
  • Very easy to create hyperlinked text.
  • Content can be changed after posting.
  • Web based, no installation or upgrade on client side.
  • Authenticated and under version control.
  • Initial learning curve, need to grasp WikiWords.
  • HTML form based, non-WYSIWYG editing.
  • Can't work offline.
  • Searchable.