[Foundation-l] Why is the software out of reach of the community?

geni geniice at gmail.com
Sun Jan 11 19:33:23 UTC 2009

2009/1/11 Brian <Brian.Mingus at colorado.edu>:
> I see on Village Pump (technical) and wikitech-l, in addition to an
> associated talk page, that there was a vocal group of people who objected to
> parser functions and that they were ignored and the extension was enabled
> anyway.

This is wikipedia. We could find vocal opposition to kittens.

> At all Wikimanias I have been to, including ones in 2006 and 2007, there
> have been discussions on usability where the audience contains 50-100
> people. There is always an inspired discussion about how awful wiki syntax
> is.

Because it's easy to complain about without directly challenging anyone.

>You are correct that I do not like templates, but I do not blame that on
> a process that still exists. It certainly would be interesting to know the
> history of the implementation of templates, if anyone knows that. The point
> is that I am aware of a much larger community than I see in these links that
> would have at least liked to have a meeting of the minds on parser functions
> before they were enabled. The community was apparantly bypassed by the
> developers. Compare the process here to that which Guido uses in the Python
> community: "*A quick poll during my keynote presentation at PyCon 2007 shows
> this proposal has no popular support. I therefore reject it.*" -- Guido

Python is not comparable. Most wikipedians are not aware of phaser
functions. Most PyCon 2007 will probably at least understand what the
changes mean.

> I strongly disagree with your point that a lack of uprise in the community
> against parser functions is evidence that they should have been implemented.
> Uprise take a lot of energy - certainly a lot more energy than the "few
> hours of work" that Tim put into them.

We have uprisings against stuff all the time. It doesn't appear to be
something wikipedians lack the energy to do.

> As a previous poster pointed out, "I
> would bet there's at least one template that uses a ParserFunction on 75% or
> more of all the articles on enwiki." MediaWiki effectively has a programming
> language in it because of a few hours of developer work and a few minutes of
> conversation. A programming language that, apparantly, cannot be reverted.

Again no. It already was. {{Qif}} dates from November 2005. People
were working out how to build calculators out of templates.

> I have been to the developer presentations at all but one Wikimania, and
> they are dissapointing. I don't really see new ideas for features being
> presented to the community, and I do not believe that the developers ideas
> are *a priori* better than the community ideas.

Most of the community does not go to Wikimania.

>The presentations put
> together by community members are better thought out, more polished, more
> comprehensive and more inspired than those that come from the developers.
> And they are often ignored by the developers. I reject the argument they do
> not have time. Over the course of years, I expect that a CTO would both the
> time, inspiration and technology vision to recognize something amazing when
> he saw it, and take it upon himself to review it, rather than implement a
> new interface for the iPhone.

What amazing thing do you think has been missed?

> I maintain my position that the process of adding new features to MediaWiki
> is broken, and that it happens largely at developer whim. I am discouraged
> that Erik believes we should maintain the broken status quo, and kludge a
> WYSIWYG on top of it.

Doing much about the phaser runs into the issue that what in any
normal enviroment is some weird unused corner case on wikipedia is
likely to have be widely abused and deployed.


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