[Mediawiki-l] Subpages in main namespace?

Jan Steinman Jan at Bytesmiths.com
Wed Mar 22 23:18:43 UTC 2006

> From: "Rick DeNatale" <rick.denatale at gmail.com>
> On 3/22/06, Joshua Yeidel <yeidel at wsu.edu> wrote:
>> In non-encyclopedia contexts, you may have information  
>> architectures that
>> are best expressed using main-space subpages.  If so, it isn't  
>> hard to set
>> up.
> Hierarchies are appealing on the surface because they seem to
> correspond to the natural world, unfortunately too often they
> correspond to particular points of view of the world and fall apart
> when you try to use them to reconcile the views of multiple people*.

Exactly, but it is important to note that hierarchies are very good  
at modeling... hierarchies!

People get hung up on the semantics of namespaces/subpages. But in  
reality, there are situations that already have a hierarchical  
organization -- what better way to represent them, than with subpages?

For example:

is a legal document of incorporation. It consists of numerous  
sections. Different people need to work on the different sections  
independently and concurrently. While it might be nice to be able to  
refer to a particular section by name somewhere else, that section is  
essentially useless without the enclosing context.

> for a site using
> mediawiki with a controlled context and/or user set, they might be
> useful in more general usage...

Exactly! Human knowledge is rife with hierarchies -- not because they  
are "natural," but because humans invented the model. A company org  
chart, the Dewey Decimal System, federal/state/county/city  
government... the examples go on and on.

I agree that, in the most general case, hierarchies are poor choices  
for modeling the real world. But the "unreal world" of human  
knowledge has created tons of hierarchies; let's not be so quick to  
call them all evil and impose some inappropriate structure on top of  

When all you have is a hammer, all the world resembles a nail. If you  
have a dogmatic aversion to hierarchies, you're going to have to go  
through a lot of unnecessary work when you encounter a screw instead  
of a nail!

:::: Freedom of the commons brings ruin to all. -- Garrett Hardin ::::
:::: Jan Steinman (a fossil-fuel free zone!) <http:// 
www.VeggieVanGogh.com> ::::

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