Display permissions for a wiki--how specific can you get?
February 11, 2009 6:12 AM   Subscribe

An organizationally obsessed GM wants to create a wiki-like site to house information on his created world. Challenge: he also wants a way to limit what information users can see on a given page, on a user by user basis.

My husband, after watching his gamers furiously trying to take notes and constantly ask "what do I know about [blah]", decided that it would be much easier if he could just put all the information about his game world up online somewhere. The most logical format would seem to be a wiki.

His big requirement is that the wiki or CMS app he uses have the ability to decide who can see certain things. Not just certain pages, but even sections of text on certain pages.

For example, if user A goes to the page on ents he sees,

"Ents are large trees that happen to move around and talk. Freaky, no?"

But if user B goes to the page on ents he sees,

"Ents are large trees that happen to move around and talk. Freaky, no? Oh, and by the way, the party met one on day 135 and you had tea together."

Are there any wiki or CMS apps out there that have this type of granularity to their permissions?
posted by elfgirl to Computers & Internet (9 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
You might try Obsidian Portal. It's a wiki host meant for RPGs, but each page has the potential to set aside part of it as "GM-only" by the creator of that setting's wiki. I haven't played around too much with the permissions system, but it sounds like it's close to what you want.
posted by Pseudoephedrine at 7:37 AM on February 11, 2009

Other than Obsidian Portal (of which I know nothing), none of the major CMS/Wiki systems support this type of activity.
posted by unixrat at 9:01 AM on February 11, 2009

I'm not aware of any CMS or wiki that does permission at a finer grain than per page. Would it work if he had a public ent page with a link to gm_ent, which was not public?
posted by valadil at 9:02 AM on February 11, 2009

Wow, Obsidian Portal is neat looking.

Wikis can be awesome for games. One long game I ran where I hosted the wiki on Pbwiki (which doesn't have the granularity of permission you want), several of the players took it upon themselves to unload everything they remembered about various NPCs - way way more than I'd have ever had the time to put up on my own. It was fantastic.

Then they got into an editing war over an NPC who was the girlfriend of one of the PCs, flamed out, and didn't touch the wiki again. *eyeroll*
posted by canine epigram at 9:54 AM on February 11, 2009

The hope (I'm the husband) would be to have a page on a given bit of information that everyone could see to some degree. My hope would be that I could tag a paragraph (or sentence, or link) to a specific person, a party, a class, a race, a national origin, or any combination thereof. When someone from the appropriate group viewed the page they would get the info desired.

When someone from that class, party, race, national origin, etc, wanted to edit a page, they could expand it to any group from which they were a member, or keep it as personal knowledge. Thus players could have personal pages for their character info, shared knowledge pages, and read access to world info that is custom tailored as required without having to be entered as distinct pages with names like Ent_Knowledge (Southern Elven Clerics plus Bob the Bard).
posted by dwivian at 10:04 AM on February 11, 2009

It's a great idea...not sure how to implement it though :(
Checking out Obsidian now
posted by AltReality at 11:39 AM on February 11, 2009

Another thing to think about is you will probably never get around the proliferation of meta-knowledge of the game. Sure, a wiki like this will be nice, but if I can assume how anal your husband might be with such a thing, whatever is out there will probably never, truly fit the bill.

But, one sure fire way to make sure the players only "know" certain things is to ignore that they know more than what they should in the RealWorld, yet make sure they role-play their own part in the GameWorld. So if Player A and B know that they met that Ent on day 135 in the RealWorld, but in the GameWorld only player B should know that, then Player A should role-play that he doesn't know it. Just like how any player can buy the Monster Manual and know that Kobold's like to hang out with/worship dragons...but would their character really know that in the GameWorld if they are just coming across a Kobold for the first time?

So while I know it is a totally awesome idea to have such a site, the time spent actually keeping the data in line with some sort of Access Control List based on role/race/user would be such a time toilet in my eyes.
posted by JibberJabber at 12:08 PM on February 11, 2009

It occurs to me that linux file system permissions solve this problem if you treat each entry as a folder. IE, ent/ is a publicly readable folder. It has a text file that is world readable. It has another text file readable only by members of the group 'elf.' Other text files could be designated for other unix groups or users. Then you just get your users to go into a directory and do 'cat *' to read whatever files they're allowed to see, possibly piping errors into /dev/null.

You may even be able to get all this to show up in an apache server. Just include an index.php in each folder that reads all the .txt files. And a .htaccess that requires you to log in. This last bit is the only thing I'm not real sure about. I know .htaccess can do some login authorization, but I'm not sure if it can be tied to unix accounts. I'm also not sure if index.php could be ocnfigured to run as the user who logged in, or if it would run as your webserver.

The downsides even if this works are that you don't have a nice neat CMS and that you couldn't edit it as a wiki. You could allow players to contribute, but it's unlikely that you'd be able to get them all to want to shell into the machine and learn emacs or vi.
posted by valadil at 1:41 PM on February 11, 2009

IIRC, Twiki has the ability to specify which users can view which pages fairly easily.
posted by Barry B. Palindromer at 3:31 PM on February 11, 2009

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