Wiki of the Month November 2014
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ShoppingTomorrow is both a website and a knowledge platform for the ShoppingTomorrow initiative. It supports Dutch retail experts in the creation of a book on e-commerce and in sharing knowledge and best practices on retail and e-commerce.
ShoppingTomorrow is an initiative by Thuiswinkel ('Homeshop'), the e-commerce organization in The Netherlands. Thuiswinkel wants to expand its position as the knowledge 'spider in the web' in retail and e-commerce. ShoppingTomorrow.nl is an important vehicle to achieve this.
The ShoppingTomorrow wiki
The structure of the knowledge part is in subjects (Category:Onderwerp), chapters (Category:Hoofdstuk) and paragraphs (Category:Paragraaf). Subject and Chapter pages contain introductions and a list of the underlying chapters or paragraphs. The Paragraph pages contain the body of the text.
Each subject is in the care of an expert group. These experts accompany the content on the chapter and paragraph pages. They are responsible for quality content and for meeting the deadline for finalizing the content.
The ShoppingTomorrow wiki is built by Wikibase Solutions, a small company in The Netherlands that specializes in business solutions with Semantic MediaWiki.
ShoppingTomorrow.nl is a wiki in Dutch. You can view the wiki in English using Google Translate; see here.
The ShoppingTomorrow community
Thuiswinkel has involved nearly all important companies in the Netherlands that have something to do with retail. Experts from these companies work together in groups to create the content. We are talking about more than 650 'experts' from around 100 companies.
Thuiswinkel organizes meetings, conferences and also wiki-trainings to keep the experts involved. Companies are committed because they are president or host of expert-groups.
Thuiswinkel has managed to create a lively community and the wiki is a key instrument in achieving this.
ShoppingTomorrow.nl is fully powered by Semantic MediaWiki with mostly 'standard' extensions. The Vector skin has been modified a little: the fixed width and the footer are the only structural changes.
The basic extensions, such as Semantic Forms and Semantic Result Formats are used throughout the wiki. This is both to optimize the user-friendliness of the website and for better managing of the content added to the wiki.
For optimizing the user experience the extension UserFunctions is used. Together with the Lockdown extension a basic authorization scheme could be implemented that fits the needs very well.
We like using subobjects for all kinds of things. For example the fact that a user has requested a document is registered as a subobject on the user page. This information is used throughout the wiki to present the document as a link to the file or to the page where the document can be requested. Also the link between subjects and chapters and between chapters and paragraphs is stored in subobjects. Evidently this information is also used throughout the wiki, for example for navigation to previous or next chapter or paragraph.
Mostly we learned about the flexibility and the possibilities that are offered by the SMW platform. Together with the exceptional reliability we have a powerful, rather underestimated toolkit.
During development we experienced that user requests lead to very useful solutions that inspire and lead to new idea's. This happens when focusing on authoring, on community building or re-using information.
Benefit from re-use of information
SMW enables that information is registered in one place and combined and presented in many ways in other places. On ShoppingTomorrow.nl chapters and paragraphs are on individual pages to support authoring. On other pages all chapters and paragraphs of a subject are presented together. We use a variable to determine if information is on an individual chapter or paragraph page or on the page in which everything is combined. This way content is presented in the way that suits the purpose.
Some pages are meant to be printed or printed to a pdf file. For such cases we always use the standard browser printing facilities. The advantage of this is that it provides in the basis a 'wysiwyg' printing that can very well be configured.
The wiki performs very well on SEO. Especially the experts, who have pages with their profile on the wiki, are among the top search-results in Google. With the extension WikiSEO the meta-description can easily be managed in templates. This enables to create for each expert a personalized meta-description with only one template. A useful feature of the SEO on this wiki is also that the content of the meta-descriptions is loaded from properties. Because of this, if something changes about a user or other page which needs to be found, the meta description is immediately updates with the latest information.
All that are involved in building the community, developing content, building the site work together productively to achieve the overall goal of ShoppingTomorrow.
Want to know more?
The ShoppingTomorrow site shows lots of interesting things for anonymous users. If you want to know more about what is 'under the hood' the best way is probably to send a message to the mailing list. We'll provide you with an adequate answer.