1) I'm not necessary challenging the 32K limit itself. I was urging
that the message present 32K as a _soft_ limit, a guideline requiring
_deliberate_ action. The old message sounds like a call to jump in and
do something immediately.
I've Been Bold and rewritten the message. It now reads:
"Note: This page is 38 kilobytes long. Under current article size
guidelines, articles that exceed 32KB are considered to be too long. It
may be appropriate to restructure this topic into a related series of
shorter articles, or split off a section of it as a separate article.
However, these are major structural changes which should not be made
hastily, and should be made by consensus agreement among editors of the
page. See the guidelines for details."
The new text links to [[Wikipedia:Article size]]. That article should
now be expanded to discuss not just the technical issue but some
obvious observations on size problems should be handled. Specifically,
it should say that if a _controversial_ section of the article has
grown large, it should _not_ be split off as a separate article
_unless_ all editors are certain that the title and content of the new
article exhibit a neutral point of view.
2) Christiaan Briggs <christiaan(a)last-straw.net> asks
So what are the generally accepted criteria for length
of articles in
People should be getting tired of my stock answer to this, which is
that the Eleventh Edition of the Encyclopaedia Britannica contains
articles which exceed one megabyte in size. I need to get to the
library and see what size the juicier articles in the Britannica 3
3) An important consideration is _how well indexed_ the encyclopedia
is. It's a benefit if you can guess the location of your article
without having to consult the index. The Britannica 3 Micropaedia is
sort of interesting: it's essentially a TEN-volume combination of an
index and all the stub-sized articles. The Britannica 11th is notable
for having an absolutely superb index.
In case anyone doesn't know, indexing a traditional book is a specialty
in itself and involves huge amounts of judgement and creativity. People
tend to think that it's a mechanical task that can be done by a
computer. It can't. A computer has no idea _what terms need to be
indexed._ Computer-generated indices have a terrible tendency to
generate entries that have a list of fifty page references following
them, because the computer doesn't know which are the important ones,
and doesn't know how to replace a single entry term ("London, Jack" 20,
21, 22, 23, 25, 26, 27, 30, 31, 33, 34, 36...) with several narrower
terms ("London, Jack: paternity of, 20; infancy, 21; travels to Yukon,
23; breaks into print, 25; affair with Charmian, 30; ...)
I haven't tried to test this objectively, but my impression is that,
comparing Wikipedia/(current) Britannica 3/(classic) 1911 Britannica,
a) _if_ the subject you want _is_ treated in the encyclopedia,
b) _if_ you don't succeed in guessing the entry term correctly on your
first try, and
c) are forced to resort to search/Micropaedia/index,
you are _more_ likely to find what you're looking for in either
Britannica than in Wikipedia.
Daniel P. B. Smith, dpbsmith(a)verizon.net
"Elinor Goulding Smith's Great Big Messy Book" is now back in print!
Sample chapter at http://world.std.com/~dpbsmith/messy.html
Buy it at http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/1403314063/