Developers Wanted: Help create an open source Wave-based forum

Monday, July 5, 2010 | 5:10 PM

David Crane is an external Wave developer, involved in the development of the Debatewise extension. We've invited him to post on this blog to share his vision for an open source project.

A few months ago, the Google Wave team open-sourced the code underlying Forum Botty, the robot that is powering the Wave API forum. We want to continue developing this code base into a powerful and generic extension for running forums in wave, and we're hoping that other developers like you will join us in this project.

Google Wave offers a number of benefits over traditional forum software, with just its native functionality. However, by incorporating some of the tried-and-tested features from forums into a robot, we could turn Google Wave into the ultimate platform for forum-based discussion.

A forum could be a killer app for Wave. It’s a tool that people already use in huge numbers for specific purposes, are used to keeping separate to their email, and will dip in and out of as required. Wave is similar enough for them to jump in quickly and different enough for them to get, and be hooked by, the benefits. A forum removes the need for people to find things to use Wave for and means they could use it even if none of their friends did. Wave could enhance and improve upon some of the most important features of a forum and through acclimatisation, will encourage them to use it for a world of other purposes.

There are three specific areas we believe need developing

Goal: Allow people to coalesce around a subject of their choosing and help them find Waves of interest
Tasks: Group waves around subject areas. List the following alongside each Wave title: the total number of blips in the wave (including read/unread), total number of views, date/time of last post and who made the post. Later add ways of rating, sorting and categorising the Wave.

Goal: Encourage and reward participation in the conversations
Tasks: Add karma mechanisms, applause and trophies so Waves, blips and users can be rated. Incorporate tiered participation levels and privileges (eg StackOverflow).

Goal: Develop trust mechanisms so people can determine who to rely upon or ignore
Tasks: Link waves with Google Profiles (or other profiles), display the user’s trophy cabinet, list all posts by user and their ranking in the community

We’re looking for Python, Java and Javascript developers, QA testers and anyone with an interest in forum software, community building and online discussion. All software will be licensed under Apache 2.0, the same open source licence that Google Wave uses.

This project is organised by Debatewise.org, a non-profit debating web site whose goal is to be the Wikipedia of debate. Anyone can create a debate on any subject they like and anyone can edit and strengthen that debate. In this way and over time the debates become stronger, more definitive and an ever-greater resource for anyone looking to make up their mind.

If you're interested in joining the project, please wave me at dh.crane@googlewave.com.