MindTouch Review

I heard about MindTouch on FLOSS Weekly last week and decided to give it a try. It's a fork of MediaWiki, the framework behind Wikipedia. I've been looking for a wiki for a while so this was a perfect opportunity. Based on the FLOSS Weekly interview I had high hopes, but unfortunately I was quite let down.

The tech in MindTouch is actually pretty cool. The install goes very smoothly. It requires a number of web packages, including Apache, MySQL, and PHP which I already had installed so nothing further was required. The setup was just a few more clicks and away I was going, setting up my wiki.

At that point things seemed great. I spent a few hours creating pages and linking them around. It worked rather smoothly. I really like the embedded FCKeditor which made markup a snap. Life seemed good.

I did have a few problems with the configuration, mainly because just about anything interesting you want to do with the software, beyond an RSS feed, is locked away in the "enterprise" versions. I wanted to set up LDAP authentication or Twitter integration, but no go. Looking through the version lists it seems that they're trying to only put the bare minimum into the open source version. But I figured it was worth a test drive for a few weeks at least.

And then Monday morning hit and I got a curious email in my mailbox. Sam Montes had written to see if I needed any assistance with my MindTouch install. He just wanted to know more about my company and how we planned to use it. Say what?! I went through the roof. At no point during the install was there a "phone home" option displayed. If there had been you can rest assured I wouldn't have selected it (in fact there was an option to join their mailing list and I declined). The fact that they would spy on my like that leads me to suspect their motives. How do I know they're not keeping tabs on all my data? At this point I can't trust anything they say.

I responded to Sam and voiced my concerns. He replied with some drivel about providing the highest level of service and integrity. I'm sorry but I just can't forgive this affront of my privacy. This is the sort of behavior I might expect from a proprietary software company, but I expect more from open source developers.

I've received further email from MindTouch because apparently they put me on their mailing list, despite my request otherwise. I just can't get past this and I shall be uninstalling MindTouch soon. What a shame.


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