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Wiki usage policy

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This is a project led by Charlie McCay to recommend a policy for wiki usage for adoption by HL7. This page is in an initial ideas gathering mode -- and will evolve as the project gains structure and substance


  • The project will deliver a set of recommendations on how HL7 should support the use of wiki technology, and the policies and processes that it should put in place to support effective usage.
  • The project will recommend a process to maintain the set of policies and processes.
  • A link to the project scope document will be added when that is at a URL...

HL7 wiki FAQ

The HL7 wiki FAQ is being maintained as a set of questions that this project should deliver the answers to. Currently there are many questions awaiting answers.

Current good practice

hot topics by INM / MnM

The maintaining of a set of articles on open issues is an effective way to capture ongoing discussion on these themes. There is a need for the topic sets to be maintained. This section needs further work.

agenda maintenence

  • conference calls
  • WGM sessions
  • affiliate conferences etc

Project Status management

Issues encountered

network availability problems

At the May 2007 WGM there were problems with wireless network availability with not everyone in a meeting room being able ot get a network connection. This was compounded by wiki access problems caused by excessive load with many people trying to access the wiki during the meetings. This meant that those running meetings had to ensure that they had local copis of any wiki pages that were needed as a backup for use if the wiki was not available

Maintaining draft ballot content

This was tried by the ITS SIG, and while it was very useful to have the documents available as a shared editable resource -- in practice porting the information from the wiki mark-up to the HL7 mark-up was a problem. It was also more difficult to work when not connected to the internet (though not impossible).

Balloting of wiki content

The wiki should certainly NOT be used as a place where material that is to be commented on in the ballot process is stored. Given the dynamic nature of wiki material, it is not suited to the ballot process where there is the collection of a set of comments, that can be reviewed as a whole, and result in an agreed set of changes.

When content from the wiki is stable enough to be ready for balloting, it should be removed from the wiki, and moved into a more controlled editorial environment.

Risk analysis


  • Key staff/suppliers become unavailable. (documented processes and record keeping will be used to mitigate this risk. For hosted services this should be addressed with each supplier).


  • There is huge demand during WGMs and so availability suffers due to excessive load.
  • There is limited network availability during WGMs or at other times, and so work that is dependant upon the wiki cannot proceed
  • Hardware and/or software errors making the wiki unavailable (to be addressed with backup procedures, and testing processes for when changes are made)

Updates lost

  • Edits to the wiki are lost because the network is lost
  • Edits are lost because the user fails to save the web session. This is more likely with wiki updates than word processors because there is no “autosave” function, and because many users will not be familiar with web pages needing to be saved.
  • Two people update a page at the same time. (This is managed by good comparison tools in the wiki software, and the fact that both updates are held in the wiki page history).
    • Note that the Wiki software prevents this. Whenever a user tries to edit something that's currently being edited a warning is given. Whenever one tries to save a modified version based on version X, whereas another user has created a later version X+1, one again is warned that a versioning issue has occurred. This should be sufficient to prevent most clashes - unless the page is being concurrently edited by a dozen editors, in which case a IM tool would probably be more approriate than a Wiki. Rene spronk 04:39, 30 August 2007 (CDT)
  • Minutes, MnM “Lore” and “agreed changes” wiki pages can all be changed after committee approval has been obtained. How are such documents maintained so that the wiki can be used where appropriate to maintain the documents, without compromising the references to approved versions.


  • The HL7 endorsed wiki(s) are hijacked and used for commercial or junk links
  • Point of View abuse – the HL7 wikis are used to present the opinions of individuals as though they are endorsed by HL7. This may be done intentionally or unwittingly. (This will be addressed by usage guidelines, and management policies).

relationships between website, wiki, and HL7 publications


This section outlines where the wiki policy may have impacts.

  • Co-chairs handbook
  • Publishing Facilitators Guide
  • Website maintenance policy
  • Project Management Office


  • This project will be discussed on Electronic services conference calls.
  • It is intended to be complete by the May 2008 WGM