RhetoricOfWiki > ComposingProcesses
In a rhetoric of wiki, composing processes will
address the acts of composing as public, collaborative, and paced for collaboration
guide acts of composing to keep knowledge on the wiki developing
help writers sort signal from noise
help writers engage in discussions and contribute to thread mode
help writers refactor pages by helping them discover logical and structural patterns in the thread mode exchange on the way to creating a document.
As well,
A rhetoric of wiki will address how to crack open what threatens to become static, dogmatic knowledge.
We have well developed methods to facilitate writing on paper and word processors for print.
But on a wiki, the act of composing is public and paced differently than it is in other writing spaces. And the object of the wiki is to keep knowledge developing, prevent it from becoming static, while also keeping it collective.
: Knowledge on a wiki is created by creating consensus by means of refactoring discussions into documents.

pages start as discussions

A model of wiki composing has developed independently of that we typically teach in composition. It is a model that guides collaboration, engages a tempered and reiterative pace, and the guides movement from discussion to document.
Here is Leuf and Cunningham's overview:
Wiki pages start as discussions. An author poses a start, then others respond. Eventually, the author re-works the discussions into a document. Others can visit the document-in-progress to make suggestions, provide guidance, and so on. But visitors do not actually re-work the page itself
that is the prerogative of the author (Leuf and Cunningham, The Wiki Way).
A wiki page begins by creating a topic to define the working space. Within that space, a writer makes an opening statement "the core idea that everyone pokes at, prods at, and refines." [http://c2.com/cgi/wiki?OpeningStatement]
This statement will help start and direct development. It's not a thesis; it's more something seedlike.
: Many wiki pages start with an opening statement that declares a piece of widom or with a question requesting clarification. The initial position may be an opinion, phrased strongly to invite feedback (Leuf and Cunningham, 326).
In this model, composition proceeds by discussion: dialogue (whether enacted by one or many) is built into the composing process itself.
Ownership Who owns the opening gesture? Ward suggests the originator does, and so the originator is the person responsible for later (and continued?) refactoring.

thread mode

Development tends to start in thread mode. a discussion, dialogue. Comments tend to be brief, concise, to the point rather than social. Comments are signed and rarely edited by others. Each writer owns her contribution. [http://c2.com/cgi/wiki?ThreadMode] [http://c2.com/cgi/wiki?ThreadMode Example of ThreadMode?]
within Thread Mode, writers can
add to further the conversation
edit comments to improve flow. Be careful.
split conversations, again to improve flow and understanding
capture the ideas of the exchange by suggesting paragraph patterns. This move leads to Pattern Mode (more at /PagePatterns)
Wiki:HowToWriteAndEditThreadMode has suggestions on writing thread mode.

document mode

As the page develops, writers move it towards document mode. Discursive, more monologic.
The document is written in third person and becomes community property.
But this is only a moments' rest because the document is cross-linked and contains cross-links, and can be further changed as thread mode discussion and exchange below the /DoubleLines? continues.
The document "may have multiple and changing authors as it is updated to reflect the community consensus." [http://c2.com/cgi/wiki?DocumentMode]. [http://c2.com/cgi/wiki?WikiPageLayout Example of DocumentMode?] [http://c2.com/cgi/wiki?WikiHasManyMeanings another example: Wiki Has Many Meanings]
The status of document mode text, perhaps, is that of
completed argument
data or warrant for the next argument


Pages are developed initially in the shuttling between ThreadMode? or DocumentMode?. Refactoring is a kind of revision, but where we comp/rhet types might see revision as changing meaning, "refactoring a Wiki page would mean making it easier to read without changing its meaning" [http://c2.com/cgi/wiki?WhyRefactorWikiPages]. Refactoring is a matter of finding and making explicit an organizational pattern in the ideas of the ThreadMode? exchange. It has the main purpose of making the latent, implicit, possible meanings explicit, reified enough to become a whole - a whole which can in turn be responded to, developed further, on another page, from another perspective.
Refactoring is synthesis. On WardsWiki?, it's described this way:
Replace a thread mode conversation with a monolog that says the same thing and preserving as much of the original text as possible. Change the 1st person singular to 1st or 3rd person plural. Remove the inline attributions and put them at the end under "Contributors
". It is understood that individual authors may not have chosen the exact words used; that we have a consensus and hence probably compromises. [http://c2.com/cgi/wiki?ConvertThreadModeToDocumentMode]

A strategy for refactoring is Pattern Mode

When comments and contributions begin to suggest a theme, focus, or structure, a writer might begin to form a page pattern to "capture and focus the ideas present in a threaded discussion." [http://c2.com/cgi/wiki?PatternMode] One of the most common patterns is ThereforBut?. (see Wiki:ThereforeBut, and Wiki:ThreadsConsideredDrivel for examples) Supplementary discussion might be kept on the page below the /DoubleLines?.
And we can see why Pattern Mode can be significant in refactoring. Pattern Mode allows writers to float some paragraph structures that might articulate the relations between the ThreadMode? entries.
Wiki:RefactoringWikiPages lists some strategies for refactoring created by writers.
Wiki:WikiRefactoringStories offers some refactoring guidelines.

Staying close to the ideas in refactoring

In refactoring, writers are advised to not be cavalier but to keep close to the ideas of the participants as they synthesize the thread mode discussion into a document. : This is an important refactoring, but it is hard to do correctly. You need to synthesize the discussion in a way that is acceptable to most of the participants. Sometimes a discussion comes to an end, at which time it is easier to summarize it, but there is less motivation to do so. Discussions most need to be summarized when they get long, which usually means there are a lot of different opinions, making them hard to summarize. [http://c2.com/cgi/wiki?ConvertThreadModeToDocumentMode]
The concern is getting the synthesis wrong, especially thinking that you understand a point when you don't. However, the wiki is self correcting:
: Suppose I refactor a conversation and I (unknowingly, of course) get it wrong. The topic itself will show up in ChangeSummary? and RecentChanges. There are good odds that one of the experts on the subject will read it and correct it. [http://c2.com/cgi/wiki?ConvertThreadModeToDocumentMode]
(more on refactoring at /ComposingProcessesEvolveFromInside)

thread mode > document mode and the state of knowledge

It might seem that in driving from thread mode to document mode writers are moving towards a monological rhetoric. Knowledge on the wiki is a matter of consensus, and the movement from thread mode to document mode via refactoring is a matter of discovering and creating concensus.
But the collective knowledge of the wiki is not static. When a thread becomes a document, it is only a moment's rest. Refactoring writers are asked to maintain any loose threads that don't fit the refactoring. And visits to document mode pages show that thread mode exchanges continue.
Discussions on WardsWiki? [http://c2.com/cgi/wiki?HowToWriteAndEditThreadMode How to write and edit thread mode] and [http://c2.com/cgi/wiki?ThereforeBut ThereforeBut?] tell us that wiki writers are interested in keeping pages changing.
/PagePatterns - discusses how rhetoric might help writers refactor by incorporating the ideas of others.
/ComposingProcessesEvolveFromInside - double lines

more on modes: guides and heuristics

The composing modes - devised by wiki-users (an example of creating a wiki rhetoric from within) - signal to reader-cum-contributers that a page is in progress, while also guiding them on what to do next, how to proceed. ThreadMode? gives a place to jump in. DocumentMode? marks a resting point. Figures such as ThereforBut? may reopen the page, or a portion of it, into ThreadMode?.
The modes are generative, heuristic, as is the drive to refactor.
ThreadMode? and DocumentMode? (and spinoff modes, such as DialecticMode? in which writers assume identities and argue out various stances) signal what to do when a writer encounters a page: they set the agenda and guide composing.
The modes are also a way to move what are individual statements towards collective knowledge. ThreadMode? is refactored into DocumentMode?. In that refactoring is the transformation of knowledge from the individual to the collective.
Wiki writers have created conventions to help know what's what and what's needed next in /StyleAndPageGuides?
See on this wiki, a slide for /DoubleLines?.
See on WardsWiki? [http://c2.com/cgi/wiki?DocumentMode DocumentMode?], [http://c2.com/cgi/wiki?ThreadMode ThreadMode?], [http://c2.com/cgi/wiki?HowToWriteAndEditThreadMode How to Write and Edit ThreadMode?]
WikiAndEssay? | KnowledgeBuilding? | WikiAndBlog? | [ WikiAsCulture? on Blogs and Wikis]
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