MediaWiki for non wikimedia projects

MediaWiki seems to have become the de facto wiki software of choice for projects running wiki websites, and for good reason. Using the software that is behind the wikimedia sites, which include Wikipedia, the largest and most successful wiki site there is, makes good sense, as you know that the software is both being actively developed, and has years of experience of running wiki sites built into it.

Sites running MediaWiki do, however, suffer from looking and behaving a bit too much like Wikipedia. The standard install comes with hundreds of default system messages which refer back to concepts adopted from Wikipedia which may not be entirely relevant. The standard edit message, for instance, says:

Please note that all contributions to {{sitename}} may be edited, altered, or removed by other contributors. If you don't want your writing to be edited mercilessly, then don't submit it here.You are also promising us that you wrote this yourself, or copied it from a public domain or similar free resource (see Project:Copyrights for details). DO NOT SUBMIT COPYRIGHTED WORK WITHOUT PERMISSION!

This is fine and good if that message fits the copyright status of your wiki, but not quite relevant if you're really only asking for personally-written contributions. The Project:Copyrights page is also absent, unless you've remembered to add something there, which means the default install contains a broken link from day one.

Some sites try to avoid the complexities and unwanted depths of MediaWiki by opting for one of the simpler, alternative wiki software packages. This might be a good idea, but it does run the risk of the development of that system stagnating, and you also don't benefit from the larger amount of expertise that has built up around MediaWiki.

I therefore propose that a group of people set up a website aiming to provide a download and documentation for a version of MediaWiki with a cleaner, simpler skin, sensible defaults that make sense for small projects, and a simple install guide prompting you to set up the options for your project at the start.

Hell, if I can find a few other people who are interested in the idea, maybe I'll do some work on it myself...