Collaborative website development

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This is a long and rabmling post, but I want to share my plans and
thank all who responded to my previous posts.

I have been delving into wikipedia, and an awed at the power of
selfless human collaboration. It has created an outstanding product.

On my own site,, I have a module for "tutors", where
anyone can register as a tutor and answer students' questions. There
are tools for drawing nice formulae and graphs. In fact, it seems that
one of the members of aww is posting there! (thank you very much for
helping students). The solutions stay on my site forever, have a link
to the tutor's website (hence a bit of self promotion aspect), and as
they accumulate, they will build real content that is quite helpful to

In a couple of weeks, there is already 252 very well solved problems,
50 tutors (most inactive), etc. There is no junk (web graffiti), as I
can delete junk.

What I have concluded is that it is highly fruitful to let users
themselves build content on my site. There has to be some sort of an
editorial "watch" to screen out junk. I will not be able to follow the
wikipedia mode because I want content to be interactive rather than
static (solver vs. a mere "article").

The wikipedia mode may be more useful in building lessons or

The incentive here is, first, self actualization, and second, being
able to promote their sites. For more advanced content, there will be
a higher degree of self promotion. I will let contributors define
their own text banners.

My plan is to have interactive customizable problems, reducing word
problems to known promlems such as linear systems or quadratic
equations (referring then to my solver), and perhaps even creating a
system for letting users define solvers.

I am now greatly hopeful that with my existing exposure to
students/teachers/wannabe tutors, this may actually work.

I want to thank everyone for their input.


Re: Collaborative website development

Ignoramus8965 wrote:
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Sounds like you want a customised forum ...  (thinking, but nothing is
coming into my head)

BTW I think its a superb idea, if I tell my girlfriend about it, she
will love it (a maths graduate and teacher, who is a little bit of a
nerd when it comes to maths problems!)


Re: Collaborative website development

On Thu, 14 Apr 2005 19:51:47 GMT, Gerry for email use my name at dergal dt com
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This would be a forum in some sense, but, first, posts ("messages")
are also solvers, they are not static. Secondly, this "forum" is
spread out on the site according to topic. Thirdly, I want messages on
that "forum" (if you wish to call it that), to use full power of my
website, such as being able to invoke my other solvers when necessary,
or being able to draw a graph of anything with nothing more than a keyboard.

Think of a typical math word problem, in the end it normally reduces
to a linear system or a quadratic equation or to a percentage problem.

Getting a tutor to explain how to reduce it, is good enough for me:
the solution to the formal math problem is already available through
my solvers. I do not want them to replicate those solvers, only to get
to the point of being able to invoke one.

So, it will me a marriage of wiki, forum, and use of my supporting

Some pieces are already there: tutors can post solutions, plot
formulae and graphs. What is missing is

1) being able to solve customizable problems with parameters (Bob is
___ years older than Jim, in ___ years he will be ___times older).

2) being able to invoke my solvers for problems reduced to formal math

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You know, one of the objectives of my tutor system is letting tutors
for money advertise themselves. So, perhaps, your girlfriend may find
it of interest.


Re: Collaborative website development

Ignoramus21798 wrote:
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BTW I think that it would be a lot better with a very simple CSS file
over the top, just to make it feel a little better ...  using arial as
opposed to Times New Roman, which is harder to read ... (controversial
according to some research, but ...)

Re: Collaborative website development

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I recently started reading a book on XHTML and CSS. My HTML knowledge
dates to approximately 1998. My site already has switchable styles, so
experimenting with a new style would be easy and would not disrupt
regular viewers. (it must also be noted that I have a development
site, but Ilike to sync my main site and development site often).


Re: Collaborative website development

Ignoramus21798 wrote:

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IMHO what you need is your own markup language, along the lines of the
Wiki markup tags or BBcode, to use a couple of examples already hinted
at, and then parse them before rendering the final output html, invoking
various other scripts or whatever along the way. Quite how the heck
you'd do it is another thing entirely, as I have less idea about CGI
than I do about algebra (which is very little indeed).

David Preston
Now playing: The Inspirations - No-one can take your place

Re: Collaborative website development

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I agree with you. Yes, what I need is a markup language of sorts, a
"give credit" system, an editorial syste,, and handlers for this
markup. I have rudiments in place: i have markup for formulae and
graphs, which people are using with abandon. It needs to be extended
for solving parameterized (customizable) problems.

The challenge is to do it simply enough so that average people (like
teachers) can use that markup language. For example, wiki uses LaTeX for
math formulae, which is very powerful, but too complex for my average


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