OK….the Mormon Studies Wiki is now released. You can access it at this URL: https://www.mormonstudieswiki.org

This project is not to "compete" with the FAIR wiki, but to be complimentary to it.  To me, the 2 major differences are:

  • Audience: In terms of writing style, we are targeting the average 18 year old LDS person.  We are not seeking to write technical, academic prose, but instead accessible prose, in very plain language….telling the stories on each of these issues at a high level, assuming minimal prior knowledge.
  • Neutral Position: While I’m sure the majority of those who participate in this project will be active LDS folks, we feel as though there is a need to provide a neutral outlay of the facts…and to use neither apologetics, nor antagonistic text.  We start with the assumption that earnest seekers are wise enough to interpret the facts appropriately, and will be less "turned off" or suspicious if they feel someone is doing a "sales job" on them.  And of course, for the polemical versions, they can seek out FAIR and the numerous anti-Mormon sites.

Please sign up and help us contribute!!!

8 Comments

  1. Jared November 5, 2005 at 5:43 pm

    I’ve never worked with a wiki before. Perhaps you could explain how I can contribute and how the process works–or point me somewhere that does this.

  2. Kim Siever November 6, 2005 at 10:09 am

    Jared,

    The two most important links in a wiki are the “Edit” and “Discussion” links at the top of the page. Edit ads or modifies content; Discussion discusses it.

  3. John Dehlin November 6, 2005 at 2:42 pm

    OK…here’s the scoop.

    A wiki is a web site that allows people from all over the world to collaborate in writing content. The best example of this is: https://www.wikipedia.org. This web site has over A MILLION articles written PURELY by volunteers. Go ahead and fool around and search for topics that interest you–you’ll be suprised at the breadth and depth of content there. We use the same software wikipedia does to run Mormon Studies wikipedia (called “MediaWiki”). It’s free, and open source (runs on Linux).

    Anyway, the main features of a wiki that are relevant to this discussion are:

    * A login–to allow for people to have itentities, establish reputations, and to enact punishment if someone misbehaves (blocking them from participating). In this wiki, I require a login for the editing of pages. Wikipedia doesn’t require a login for editing purposes. Anonymous edits, in my opinion, are more bad than good, and help contribute to vandalism and edit sniping, etc.

    Logins also allow you to assign some users more rights than others–to allow them to help you administer the site. By carefully controlling who has these advanced rights, you set the tone/direction for the site (editorially). This would be the main distinction between what we want to do (at Mormon Studies Wiki), and what LDS folks do at wikipedia, or what FAIR hopes to do at FAIR Wiki. We want create a neutral outlay of the basic history/facts, and let people do their own interpretations. We want to avoid polemics at all costs–we also want to keep things SIMPLE for the new folks coming into Mormon Studies. We need MORE BRIDGES between the average Mormon and Dialogue/Sunstone…and this can be one of those bridges. Plain, simple, factual, interesting, accessible stories/documents about each issues.

    * A history page–which allows you (for each individual page) to track the history of who changed the document, and what changes they made. You can compare the most recent version with a past verion of the document, and you can even roll back to a previous version instantly if someone made a change you don’t like. Click the history tab for any wiki document, and you’ll see tons of history on the document.

    * Page locking–which allows you to lock a page, and prohibit future editing, or control who gets to edit it. One thing wikipedia also suffers from is the fact that a page can be improved, and then de-improved by subsequent editors who are less-informed, or more idealogical. Page locking will help us prevent this.

    The basic organization I see for each (10 page) document that we are to create is:

    * Each paper is based on one of the major 30+ historical or cultural issues facing Mormonism (let’s say the black issue)
    * The paper begins with a brief introduction/history to what the common understanding, and/or past official or even unofficial teachings that have been regarding the topic (Brigham Young’s quotes on the blacks, racism of past church leaders, the “less valiant doctrine”, the perception that blacks never held the priesthood until 1978, etc, etc
    * Then the paper lays out the facts more clearly (Joseph Smith and his progressiveness w/ blacks, Elijiah Abel, civil rights/priesthood issues of 50s and 60s, DOM’s views about “policy, not doctrine”, etc)
    * Finally, if we choose, we can summarize with a section of “why the facts don’t have to lead one to conclude the church is bad or false”
    * And of course, both throughout the article, and at the end, we will have a HUGE bibiliography of the seminal articles from Dialogue, Sunstone, JMH, etc. that support the article, and encourage future reading. This will become the BRIDGE for young folk to Mormon Studies.

    I’d love to have FAIR/FARMS join us as well, if they’re willing to support us on the neutral pieces–and we’d love to support them with an “apologetic response” link to each neutral section.

    To answer Lori’s questions, the basic differences between what we want to do and wikipedia are:

    * We have editorial control. This is huge. There is no “neutral” voice on the web for Mormon studies right now. There are anti’s, and apologists, but nothing organized towards the “neutral”…the facts. Wikipedia gets this right at times, but it is far too easily vandilized or subject to idealogical battles (in my experience).
    * We are not writing long, academic, “researchy” documents. We are trying to tell fact-based stories, and write at a high school level–to help bring the average mormon (who’s interested) into the world of Mormon Studies.
    * Most importantly, we are also trying to build up a community of future subscribers to our publications, and scholars, and thinkers for the 21st century within Mormondom. If we rally around wikipedia, we lose the opportunity to build relationships, and to establish community, and to do even greater things together.
    * Lori–you pointed me to places where you can search for past articles based on keywords…but I’m not talking about ALL the articles ever written on a given topic. That’s too much detail, and too many pages for a person that is new to this field to wade through. Those that are new to Mormon Studies need to see the basic, seminal articles, before they can become interested in the more detailed, less general articles. We need veteran people who know Sunstone and Dialogue, who can help us understand which articles are the seminal, most general ones–that are most accessible/relevant to a person entering Mormon Studies for the first time.

    Now…this is just the beginning. Once the documents have been written, they can be:

    * Assembled into a directory for easy reference, much like you already see on the front page of https://www.mormonstudies.org (which will also reference each of the publications as sponsors)
    * Converted into Powerpoint Presentations, and “Screencasts” can be created from the Powerpoint presentations, to reach out more broadly to those who like audio/visual learning (see here: https://mormonstories.org/COSL/eduCommons.html for an example). This is FREE, and VERY EASY to do (I hope to do one soon for Mormonism, just to give you an idea)
    * Converted into podcasts, for those wanting to just listen to this stuff while in the car, or exercising, or mowing the lawn.
    * Ultimately, I can forsee more creative 30 minute or even 1 hour documentaries being produced based on these whitepapers, that can even be made into “sellable” DVDs to help our respective fondations generate more revenue. I feel it in my gut that if we do these right, there is a market for this. A bad example of this is the video I showed at the Sunstone symposium (you can view it here https://www.archive.org/details/Episode1AbouttheBlacks ). Anyway, I know that this is doable with minimum investment (assuming we build a strong, vibrant community).

    Let me know your thoughts. I would love to have Dialogue, Sunstone, Mormon History Association, JMH, lots of the up and coming big blogs, and whoever else wants to participate join forces. It will be much, much stronger if we unify. This brings back into thought what Dan Wotherspoon was discussing with some of you last year. A “Mormon Studies Consortium”, where we can pull together and do even greater things than if we stay fragmented/separated.

    I feel it in my bones that within these ideas lie our answers regarding how to nurture the future generations of Mormon Studies fans and scholars. Ultimately, my 4 goals are:

    1. Increasing the knowledge/thinking among the average LDS person
    2. Providing open forums (safe spaces) for dialogue
    3. Reducing the pain (and maintaining the good) within Mormonism
    4. Demonstrating that faith and reason can edify each other

    John

  4. Davis Bell November 6, 2005 at 3:25 pm

    John,

    I think is is awesome and sorely-needed.

  5. Me November 6, 2005 at 9:29 pm

    In addition to the seminal/key articles, I would suggest adding a section for more indepth reading, perphaps a “Additonal Readings” section.

  6. John Dehlin November 6, 2005 at 10:19 pm

    Sounds good to me.

  7. Nate Oman November 7, 2005 at 3:49 pm

    Good luck! This looks like a great project…

  8. Aaron Shafovaloff December 2, 2005 at 10:53 pm

    You guys might be interested in following this project:

    https://mormonwiki.org/

Comments are closed.