BASESwiki

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BASESwiki - Business and Society Exploring Solutions
Wiki of the Month December 2010
Image for BASESwiki - Business and Society Exploring Solutions
Statistics (2010/11/29)
Pages: 3,148
Users: 768 (16 active)
Properties: 115
Categories: 50
Templates: 67
Forms: 48
Table of Contents
Note Note: This wiki is defunct as of February 2014. All its contents was migrated to ACCESS Facility which serves as the new home of "BASESwiki - Business and Society Exploring Solutions".


BASESwiki was an initiative of the UN Secretary-General's Special Representative on Business and Human Rights, undertaken in cooperation with the Corporate Social Responsibility Initiative at Harvard Kennedy School. The core mission of BASESwiki is to improve access to, and the development of, rights-compatible mechanisms for addressing grievances between companies and the communities in which they operate.

BASESwiki was re-launched on Semantic MediaWiki in early 2010, enabling the creation of a stronger data structure and the development of community networking tools, which have facilitated more information-sharing and interaction between users.

BASESwiki is available for public edit and is maintained on a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

BASESwiki has been chosen as Wiki of the Month for December 2010.

Who uses the wiki?

BASESwiki provides a forum where all stakeholders of business-to-society relations can learn about existing mechanisms for resolving disputes between companies and communities, sharing perspectives on how they work in practice and how they might be improved in the future. Most users are mediators, lawyers, academics, government workers, and representatives of NGOs or community groups.

What is SMW used for?

BASESwiki hopes to be a proof of concept for how Semantic MediaWiki can be used to drive a stable and robust wiki community, even when contributors are not technically-inclined enough to use Wikipedia-style CMS and editing features. BASESwiki employs a combination of Semantic extensions, protected pages, and custom 'widgets' to deliver a content system with more protection and user-guidance than a wiki would typically contain.

Semantic Forms are used heavily to transform the process of entering data into a 'walkthrough' experience for users. Category pages are used as 'channels' to summarize various sections of the wiki, with most category pages containing 'add data' buttons to point users to an appropriate semantic form.

Inline queries are used to provide a cleaner and more robust view of property data than would otherwise appear on default property view pages. Although Semantic Drilldown could have been used to construct similar views, early feedback from users suggested that the open-ended style of the Drilldown tool was perceived to be confusing, and that a direct summary of relevant information would be desired.

Semantic Forms are used heavily to pass data into user-friendly templates that drive user profiles, informational summaries about grievance mechanisms, featured contributors, and an events calendar. We are currently exploring the use of form/template systems to drive blog articles, a podcasting system, and discussion forums.

Semantic Extensions used

Noteworthy Features

Users choose between two profile types

Multiple user types: upon registration, users choose to register either as an individual or on behalf of an organization. A Concept was used to divide user data into two categories, 'individual' and 'organization', which are passed into relevant pages on the wiki using a #switch.

Language portals: BASESwiki provides fully-developed content in English and Spanish, although language wikis in French, Japanese, Korean, Chinese, and Russian are also under development. Wiki commands are translated using data from translatewiki.net as well as a special message translation system developed by Wikia.

Behind the Scenes

Similar to the AIFB Portal, BASESwiki uses a highly-customized skin, which provides a more visual and less textual navigation system. This created the challenge of trying to integrate categories and semantic data into navigational elements of the wiki, such as a subnavigation menu within the mechanism channel and a seek assistance widget on the main page.

Generally speaking, BASESwiki faces a number of technical challenges which must be solved if the project is to become self-sustaining:

  • The discussion boards have limited functionality and are difficult to navigate and use. We have experimented with LiquidThreads and embedding widgets from third-party services like Disqus, but have not found a solution that would integrate well into the wiki data structure.
  • The language portals on BASESwiki are difficult to maintain, and struggle with the same problems as Wikipedia, where users have long called for a centralized structure to manage interlinks. In addition to maintaining text in multiple language, Semantic MediaWiki introduces the need to also maintain templates, forms, properties, concepts, and queries. It is unlikely that this problem will be resolved into a major resolution is built into the core MediaWiki platform.

As the project moves into 2011, our primary objective will be to rapidly scale the wiki's content and membership, toward the goal of galvanizing a permanent and sustainable community around the wiki. The overarching goal is to empower both business and civil society actors with the information and resources they need in order to pursue more effective dispute resolution where conflict arises, thereby reducing impacts on human rights, and enabling mutually-respectful and beneficial relationships.

Further Reading