On 10/30/07, Rolf Lampa <rolf.lampa(a)rilnet.com> wrote:
Sorry for this long post, but perhaps part of the difficulty so far is
Not at all. I haven't had time to fully read it and reflect, but will
do so in about 4 days.
that different concepts, from "different levels of abstraction" makes
it difficult to clear things up. Short version:
Redirects is primarily
Right. The reason is that it's much easier to get consensus (or lack
thereof) for a real, concrete change.
OTOH it's easy to discuss stuff at an abstract level, but nothing ends
up becoming of it.
In other words, don't make, in an early stage, any
assumptions at all
about Redirects' be or not to be, until the use case (from the users
perspective) is very well defined, and optionally, till the Redirect
concept is very clearly understood, as a very good and generic
abstraction useful as a (technical) design concept (in any complex
I have no idea how to go about having a good discussion to solve
difficult problems, or to come up with
excellent solutions for only moderately difficult discussions. It
seems to me that most of the development
effort on MediaWiki has come from individuals who themselves have come
up with, and then implemented,
solutions. Can an email list really suffice for analysing a problem
and coming up with a solution?
Therefore, don't confuse Redirects per se, with
any good ideas about
use cases solving real problems for the editors.
Sure. Redirects are just there already, it's good to look at them to
see if they're solving our problems
or can be improved.
In reality Redirects handles, under the hood, real problems, as
"freestanding" helpful "guides",
which will not go away very easily.
Yep. But I originally started by proposing a mechanism to enhance
their use as "guides". We've called
this concept "aliases", "synonyms", "hints"...obviously we
something like that. But redirects
are obviously not a perfect solution. And as you point out they're trying to
solve more than problem
This is because some of the problems it solves stems from the way we
humans function. Example: People tends to not always
find the best
title for a topic directly. Then, when a better title is found later,
someone may already have linked to the first/old title. Then it is
convenient to be able to move a page, and automatically leave a
(freestanding) Redirect behind as to not break existing links to the
There's no obvious reason why the original text couldn't simply be
updated, instead of a redirect
being created. This often slowly happens anyway, as people or bots
replace redirects with their
This use of Redirects simply is a good solution. It solves a real
practical problem, in real use case(s) (both when
moving a page, and
in continually catching the now "bad links" in the system). It's just
a charmingly good solution.
It's charmingly good in the way a 7 year old who can play violin is
charmingly good. I'd still rather
listen to a real virtuouso. It was easy to implement, it's
conceptually simple...but why stop there?
The Redirect concept actually abstracts a very basic concept in any
complex system. The point is that basic concepts
implies "useful for
many things", which is exactly what *designers* look for when they
search for or design their tools for solving things. And in such a
complex web of information as WP really is, don't remove redirects,
I don't think I've ever suggested "removing redirects". I've
replacing actual physical implement
redirects, but the mechanism should live on, I think.
because Redirect is a tool, a technical good "meta solution" to more
than one problem. But such (technical) design tools
necessarily best exposed "naked" to the users (which currently is the
case with the present Redirect solution).
So what I am saying is that whether, and how, Redirects are exposed to
the users, is quite another matter. You usually do NOT
"meta solutions" to end users of a system.
MediaWiki will always operate this way though. It sort of has to. It's
so general purpose it's
pretty hard to really hide the implementation details with some sort
of abstraction layer. Maybe
individual sites could do that, but I don't see how the software could
generally do that. Though I
would like it if it tried ;)
discussed at the same time. But the technical implementation must not
be confused with the essence of the Use Case! Well
Yes, you have repeated this point several times. Can you offer some
more concrete guidance?
Believe it or not, I have studied requirements analysis, and I have
some understanding of use cases.
I'm skeptical about the chances of performing a genuine use case ->
specification -> design -> implementation lifecycle on a product like
this though. Especially by email. :) So perhaps if you
have some good ideas, you could state them directly.
The only "problem" with redirects may well
turn out to be that they
are exposed to the users (!),
Don't forget that MediaWiki really doesn't distinguish between the obvious
types of users: readers
and editors. That's in the nature of the wiki. I don't think it's
conceivable to truly "hide" information
from the user.
After having a concrete (Use Case kind of) specification of the need
and functionality of the feature, it will also become easier to pick,
or develop, the best technical implementation for just that well
This would be a nice process if we were starting from scratch. But
realistically, if we come up with
an awesome solution to the general problem, that requires masses of new
code, it's just not going
to happen. We need to focus on what smallish changes we could
implement that would cause
great benefit. Especially given how many other people are going to have to
need to get involved
to make it happen.