[Wikipedia-l] Hello, "FreeLinks" work, and redirected pages.

Clifford Adams caadams at frontiernet.net
Sat Jan 27 22:59:42 UTC 2001

    Hello to all of my fellow WikiPedia fanatics! :-)

    I'm the author of the UseModWiki software currently running the WikiPedia.
While I was skeptical at first, I think the wiki approach could work very well
for a collaborative encyclopedia.  I've decided to focus most of my near-term
efforts on new features and supporting tools for WikiPedia (most of which will
also help the other UseModWiki sites).

    If any of the readers of this list have any questions about the wiki
software, I'd be glad to try to answer them.  My "permanent" email address is
caadams at usemod.com, but this frontiernet.net address should work for awhile
(I'm not planning on moving).


    I've done a lot of thinking about WikiLinking recently, and I'm not sure
that the WikiName (capital letters) convention is a good fit for the
encyclopedia.  The AccidentalLinking is a nice feature, but it has a price in
harder-to-read links and confusing conventions.

    For instance, when I recently wanted to link to "democracy", I first did a
search to see if someone else had linked the name (I thought someone might
have already used "DemoCracy").  I found that nobody else had linked that
name, so I made the link "DemocracY" (to follow the new convention of
last-letter-capitalized).  In short, it took me far more time to make that
link than it would have to just type [[democracy]].  Someone unfamiliar with
the local wiki conventions might guess otherwise on another page and link to a
separate "DemoCracy" or even "DeMocracy".  Ick.

    To make a longish story short, I added code (about 150 new lines of Perl)
to my development copy to allow (site-optional) "Free" linking within [[double
brackets]].  You can use spaces, numbers, commas, dashes, and the period
character in these kinds of links.  Valid link names include [[George W.
Bush]], [[China-Soviet Relations]], [[Physics]], [[music]], and [[Year 2000
bug]].  User names can also use these new links.  Internally and within URLs
the spaces are replaced with _ (underline) characters, which are translated
back to spaces for display purposes.

    Visit http://www.usemod.com/cgi-bin/um9.pl?FreeLinks to see these links in
a live wiki, and feel free to edit pages to try it out. (Note that this is a
test/development wiki, and is sometimes unavailable when I'm developing.  I
will soon (a few days at most) make a more stable version available to the

    Tomorrow I will start working on a semi-automatic conversion tool which
should allow the entire WikiPedia to be converted in a couple hours.


> > [SkI vs. SkIing, etc.]  Do one of these
> > alternative ways offer a solution to this problem, allowing for different
> > links to point to the same subject page?
> I've had similar concerns wrt ist and ism.  E.g., Communist and
> Communism.  I don't have a good solution for within this particular
> wiki.
> And yes, other wiki's have capabilities that help here, but there's
> usually a trade-off in the form of having to construct the links a tad
> more deliberately than you'd like...  I would wager there is in fact
> some way to kludge around it in this one...

    That would be a good wager--there is already a "redirect" feature made for
this circumstance.  To use the page-redirect feature, simply type


...at the beginning of the page you want to redirect. (The command must start
at the first character of the first line of the page. REDIRECT must be in FULL
CAPS.)   For example, to make "CommunIst" redirect to "CommunIsm", you would
edit the CommunIst page and add:


to the top of the page.  You can see this feature in action at
http://www.usemod.com/cgi-bin/um9.pl?CommunIst  (you will be redirected to the
CommunIsm page).

    You can use this feature right now on the current WikiPedia site.  Yes,
I'm aware of the SubOptimal state of the current wiki DocumentatioN.  :-)


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