Need help on setting up a wiki/forum

Discussion in 'Web Design and Development' started by dschiller, Apr 5, 2009.

  1. dschiller macrumors regular

    Joined:
    May 7, 2007
    #1
    Hi all

    Here's the thing: I started my first year of University about a month ago at the biggest Engineering school of Brazil, and I'm enjoying quite a bit so far. The only thing is, it's quite hard to get hold of the exams of previous years, the answers for the exercise lists, and so on. Basically, it's all very disorganized, and there's very little online resources to help you study.

    So a friend and I had an idea: what if we set up a sort of wiki, to which people could upload all sorts of resources (answers, class notes, old exams, etc), which would become available to "subscribers" of the site. One could become a subscriber either by paying a small amount (to cover the costs of running the wiki) or by contributing with resources to the site. It would also be interesting to gather resources via advertising on the site. There could also be a forum for discussion of topics relevant to the wiki. It would probably be a good idea to display the content using flash, as a way of preventing copying of the content (I know there are ways around it, but it's still better than nothing).

    The thing is, neither of us know how to set up the wiki/forum, how to manage the subscriptions, and so on. Could some of you please point me to the right direction? Which wiki/forum provider (if there is such thing) would be the best? Would something like Google Ads work on a wiki? Any useful information would be very welcome.

    I am sorry if I couldn't make myself very clear, so please ask about anything I've forgotten to mention.

    Cheers;)
     
  2. miles01110 macrumors Core

    miles01110

    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2006
    Location:
    The Ivory Tower (I'm not coming down)
    #2
    First, I think you're thinking way too "big picture" before you've even started. I think that first you need to actually
    1) get a hosting provider (will the university allow you to host on their servers? If they will your financial costs basically go to 0.)
    2) build the wiki/boards
    3) get a user base

    Then you can start thinking about ads and revenue. Since this is an educational endeavor, I don't really know why you want to charge people to use it in the first place, especially because your business model is essentially taking something that is private domain (professors' tests and lectures), charging for it, and not giving the source any sort of financial compensation.

    You'll need a host that supports SQL databasing. For a list of wiki platforms, check here. For forums, phpBB is free and pretty common. From what I hear, it's also awesome.

    edit: Oh- if you're going to charge for a subscription, look for a host that has encryption options. Displaying things with flash is most likely going to be overly complex and simply annoying for your users (Flash's deficiencies with OS X are well documented in these forums and elsewhere), plus it won't even stop anyone from copying content (they could just take a screen shot).

    Just speaking from a personal standpoint, I wouldn't think twice about whether or not I would pay to subscribe to a website that provides something I could get for free with a little extra trouble.
     
  3. angelwatt Moderator emeritus

    angelwatt

    Joined:
    Aug 16, 2005
    Location:
    USA
    #3
    You might also want to consider that this may be considered cheating at the university, which could very likely get you kicked out. It would depend what specifically is shared though, but unless you monitor what people share it's only a matter of time before someone posts something they shouldn't. Not many people will be willing to pay as there are a number of free ways. At my school most of the teachers scanned in their stuff and provided digital copies of most everything on their school web sites. If the teacher is having an issue doing this, maybe you can help get it done. You'd be better off try to work with the school than on your own.

    Setting up the wiki and getting contributors will likely take a good deal of time and effort, and you may graduate by the time much gets done. You'd probably be better off using Google Docs and sharing among friends.
     
  4. dschiller thread starter macrumors regular

    Joined:
    May 7, 2007
    #4
    Thanks for all the input!

    Well, thinking about it, it might not be such a good idea to charge for "subscriptions" as a way of raising funds. It's probably way too complicated both from a legal as well as from a practical (how to prevent copying, etc) standpoint.

    Unfortunately, the University wouldn't host the website for us, so we would probably end up having to pay for that. Any ideas if it would be viable to cover the costs with ads (I'm thinking Google Adsense, maybe)?

    The legality of posting the content itself probably shouldn't be a worry, since it would consist mostly of answers and ways to solve the exercises from the lists and exams, not the lists and exams themselves.
     
  5. miles01110 macrumors Core

    miles01110

    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2006
    Location:
    The Ivory Tower (I'm not coming down)
    #5
    I highly doubt that it would be profitable or even break-even in a semester, even in a year. Ads aren't a great way to earn revenue unless you're getting thousands of visitors daily.
     
  6. angelwatt Moderator emeritus

    angelwatt

    Joined:
    Aug 16, 2005
    Location:
    USA
    #6
    Agreed, that ads won't give me much in the short run. You might want to consider having a donate button, like Paypal offers, which I use on my site. That way people could pay if they decide to. Some people are awesome like that.

    When looking at hosting plans, some offer simple installs of common software. I use Dreamhost and they have 1-click installs. One of the programs is MediaWiki, which would be a decent selection for what you're doing. They also have blog and forum installs among others. This would lessen the technical knowledge you need to get setup. Other hosts offer similar features I'm sure.
     
  7. dschiller thread starter macrumors regular

    Joined:
    May 7, 2007
    #7
    Once more, thanks for the input!

    Well, I guess it's back to the drawing board then :( Having to pay to run the wiki/forum wouldn't be all that great, especially considering that if the site can't pay for itself, it would probably disappear after we left college (and there's nobody willing to become its administrator, since they would have to pay for the site to run).

    Donations might be an idea to consider, but there isn't too much of a "donating spirit" here in Brazil. Most people take things for granted, and usually don't care to see if they can help maintain the resources.

    Any ideas about how much it would cost to host/run/maintain such a site?
     
  8. miles01110 macrumors Core

    miles01110

    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2006
    Location:
    The Ivory Tower (I'm not coming down)
    #8
    ..Or in college in general, if things are even remotely the same between the US/Brazil.

    Standard plans for a low-traffic site would probably be around $5-10/month for a year contract. I don't know, search around... there's a sticky that lists web hosting providers.
     
  9. dschiller thread starter macrumors regular

    Joined:
    May 7, 2007
    #9
    Thanks for all the helpful info:)
     

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