Looking for wiki-type software that does the heavy lifting automatically
January 22, 2009 6:21 AM   Subscribe

I'm hunting for a 'smart' knowledge management system for an organisation, to write documentation collaboratively. It should be able to receive information in multiple ways, categorize it automatically, and publish it to a webpage.

Kinda like an intelligent mashup of Evernote and wiki software like Mediawiki and Dokuwiki.

Ideally, the system would have the following:
  • Support for input from multiple users
  • Multiple input methods. Ideally email (like Evernote), or a simple one-line form that interprets entries (like the Google Calendar 'Quick add' box)
  • Automatic categorizing of information based on keywords. So if the output document has several sections, the system will know automatically what input to put where
  • The ability to output the results on a webpage, and to customize how they look
  • A close-to-zero learning curve. The people who will use it aren't technical so it has to be straightforward
  • A low price tag

Any ideas or am I just dreaming? All pointers much appreciated.
posted by scrm to Computers & Internet (5 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
For the automatic categorising part: would this be as useful as you think? What is the difference between something that is automatically categorised and a good search engine?

On the topic of automatic categorisation, the phrase you might try search for Topic maps.

But looking at your requirements, I can't see many benefits over an open source wiki with simple syntax. Particularly as the automatic stuff will go wrong sometimes, whereas with a simple syntax it can't go wrong.
posted by devnull at 6:57 AM on January 22, 2009

You could write a script to append emails to mediawiki talk pages, and send digests of main and talk page changes to some mailing list. So the non-technical people could view the wiki as an email discussion, while more technical people could edit the real document directly. I'm sure some non-technical people would learn about editing directly.
posted by jeffburdges at 7:36 AM on January 22, 2009

Take a look at Atlassian's Confluence. I'm not associated with Atlassian in any way, other than having worked with 4 of their products for the past 4 years, and I'm especially fond of Confluence.

I both used it and administered it extensively at my previous job, and it was a big hit with all of our devs/nerdy/techie people, as well as the "I only know how to write in Microsoft Word" people.

Keep in mind it's an enterprise wiki, so for all I know it may be overkill for your situation, but I believe it handles a lot of what you are asking for. And, in the corporate, off the shelf software world, it's super cheap. Their customer support is superb too.

It's highly extensible, so even if out of the box it doesn't do something you're wanting it to do, there's probably a plugin that would do it for you.

There's a 30 day trial that you could give a whirl if you're so inclined.

Good luck!
posted by mrhaydel at 8:25 AM on January 22, 2009

I can't really imagine going with a commercial product unless it really does exactly what you want, since there are just so many choices.

I'd say wikis are clearly the best choice when there is a focus on a specific discrete unit of information, like an article, animal, city, etc. If you have such a focus, your keywords may be implemented by media wiki categories. If your discrete units are short, you may agglomerate them using extensions, like Wikinews' DynamicPageList, and/or page embedding like Wikipedia deletion discussions, thus separating the unit & presentation aspects.
posted by jeffburdges at 10:34 AM on January 22, 2009

Best answer: Oh and Wiki Matrix might help you.
posted by devnull at 4:37 AM on January 23, 2009 [1 favorite]

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