[MediaWiki-l] Reorganizing your wiki when the whole world changes...?

Daniel Barrett danb at cimpress.com
Wed Nov 19 15:59:24 UTC 2014

Greg Rundlett (freephile) suggests:
>The Replace Text extension works pretty well, and even warns about conversions that can't be undone [1] >http://www.mediawiki.org/wiki/Extension:Replace_Text  Perhaps that's what you're referring to when you mention automatic search and replace.

Thanks Greg. I've used ReplaceText and it's pretty handy. We also use Pywikibot for similar things. However, these are one-to-one syntactic changes.
The example I gave -- of revamping the periodic table of the elements, analogous to a company reorg -- requires more intelligence. I'm not talking about Hydrogen being renamed to "Bydrogen."  I'm talking about a paradigm shift in chemistry in which the old elements have been replaced by new *concepts*, not just new names. Instead of "elements" we now have "Foobles" that don't correspond one-to-one with the old elements. That's what happens in a corporate reorganization: team names don't just change. People are shuffled into an entirely new organizational shape. A company that was formerly organized by geography (USA, Europe, Asia) gets reorganized by function (Global Sales, Global Technology, Global Human Resources). In one second, all your wiki content about company structure becomes deeply wrong.

In some ways, this is the wiki equivalent of database schema evolution, in which one set of organized data must be transformed into another. It's a very, very hard problem. I was wondering if anybody has successfully handled it.

>One thing I do is to create and use templates like {{CompanyName}}, 
>{{PrimaryDomain}}, {{EngineeringTeam}} so that you can use them throughout the wiki and update the template...

We did this too, years ago, creating a {{CompanyName }} template. And then something amazing happened. Our company split into TWO companies, a parent and a subsidiary. Now, human intelligence is required to change each instance of {{CompanyName}} either to {{ParentCompany}} or {{ChildCompany}}. No automation can do this, short of A.I.


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