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I have started writing a technical book. I wish to publish it as a work-in-progress.

  1. I want new visitors to see the current contents, probably starting at a TOC.
  2. I want return visitors to see what I've changed since their previous visit, also probably a TOC but sections marked with revision date.
  3. I want everyone to be able to make comments.
  4. I want some way of dealing with spam that doesn't take up too much of my time.
  5. I want to distinguish minor edits from additions and major revisions.

I think that doing this as a blog wouldn't work well because visitors couldn't easily see the table of contents or otherwise see the context of a new addition.

Has anyone seen anything like this?

Edit: I'm not looking for a collaboration tool where multiple people write something together. I'm looking for a tool where only I write and publish, and anyone else can make comments, which are also visible to everyone.

I'm trying to do a first draft in MediaWiki, marking all the main pages as protected and leaving all the discussion pages as unprotected. I think this will fail on points 2 and 4.

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closed as off-topic by John C, Alex, Eight Days of Malaise, Al E., codingbadger Apr 7 '15 at 7:05

This question appears to be off-topic. The users who voted to close gave this specific reason:

  • "Application/website recommendations are off-topic and out of scope. It is better instead to use a particular web app or website and ask for help in any issues you have with it specifically." – John C, Alex, Eight Days of Malaise, Al E., codingbadger
If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

What format do your text have? LaTeX or DocBook? Whats the target format for your visitors? PDF or EPUB or even HTML? – Aaron Jul 7 '10 at 22:27
I don't know if this belongs on Web Apps, but I can't think of a better place for it. – cstack Jul 7 '10 at 23:45
Hi Sir, I think I want a Web app to do this. Should I be looking at something else also? Thanks. – user1052 Jul 8 '10 at 1:02
MediaWiki spam management is not hard for a simple wiki, if only you install mediawiki.org/wiki/Extension:ConfirmAccount or configure QuestyCaptcha properly. – Nemo Apr 6 '15 at 8:25
up vote 1 down vote accepted

I'd recommend WordPress along with the Commentpress plugin (and Akismet to handle spam). Commentpress enables paragraph-level comments and makes the table of contents evident.

Here's an example: http://mediacommons.futureofthebook.org/mcpress/plannedobsolescence/

Free download from http://www.futureofthebook.org/commentpress/

I'm not sure whether this will take care of your requirement #2 but there may well be another WordPress plugin addressing that.

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Hi Jodi and phwd. I like this. I thought Planned Obsolescence was quite well done. WordPress/CommentPress doesn't really handle #2 well, but it handles #3 beautifully. Since I haven't seen anything else as good, I'm going to accept this answer. If anyone sees anything that handles revision dates better, please let me know. Thanks, Pat. – user1052 Jul 24 '10 at 11:18

Google Wave is actually quite a useful option for this.

  1. The Wave is the book - so the top will be the TOC
  2. Waves shows you what have changed since your last visit
  3. Everyone can make comments ( and they can be hidden too, great for readability ) - then also deleted when the comment has met is usefullness
  4. Spam...hmm not so sure.. you could only invite your reviewers, but if you make it public, well you take the risk
  5. They will be distinguishable by the size of your change - but perhaps not a perfect fit.
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Hi Stackingit. I hadn't thought of Wave. I looked at it and think the current version won't work. I don't see a way to mark some parts as "only I can write" and other parts as "open for anyone". I don't see a way to allow random people to see it and make comments, only people whom I invite. I'm looking for a way for me to publish what I write and for others to read and comment on it, not for a way for several people to collaborate. So, I think this solution is for a different problem than the one I want to solve. – user1052 Jul 8 '10 at 18:05
Yes there is now way to selectively give edit rights ( well that I know of anyway ). But you can make it public by adding the Public contact. The major benefit of wave would be the in-line comments - most other solutions will separate the comments from the source. Good luck with your search. – Stephen Bailey Jul 13 '10 at 7:14

You could look in to MediaWiki.

Gina Trapani and Adam Pash of Lifehacker recently used it to produce and publish a book and website on Google Wave

Media Wiki - http://www.mediawiki.org/

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Hi Beanz, Thanks for the pointer. I'm using MediaWiki for some other things, and I can't figure out how to make it do #2 from my list above without some actions by the user (clicking "recent changes", unselecting "show minor edits", and then trying to remember when they were here last.) I'd prefer that to be automatic. – user1052 Jul 8 '10 at 1:00
@patmcgee1: Look at lifehacker.com/5396832/… for some ideas on how to customize it to your needs. – AnonJr Jul 15 '10 at 2:38

I think WordPress would work great for this. You can test it out on wordpress.com and it should handle 1, 3 & 4 out of the box. When it comes to revision, you probably need a plugin like http://www.darcynorman.net/wordpress/post-revision-display/ to show older revision of posts. WordPress got a revision system, but its not presented to the user by default.

Also, as pointed out earlier, a wiki or Wave would work well for this purpose as well.

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