2012-12-10

On IRC, user quazimodo suggested that we should indicate “outdated” pages:

13:02 quazimodo
oh my god the emacs wiki is a piece of shit
13:09 quazimodo
yeah it has no in build maintenance
13:09 quazimodo
anything over a year old ought to be flagged as potentially out dated

I installed an extension that adds a class to the body element based on its age. Right now pages that have not been edited for more than a year, get a “linen” background color. → OutOfDate

I’m not sure I like it. What do you think?

  1. great
  2. meh
  3. keep the note and loose the background color change
  4. other?

Known problems:

  1. old pages that include new content such as RecentChanges and News are also marked as “old”
  2. the note is added by the CSS and does not depend on your language settings

AlexSchroeder

To be clear I threw out an arbitrary period. Perhaps there is a general consensus on what may be considered as potentially outdated. If so, then a user ought to know about this - and it should be very easy to see. I’ve followed a fair bit of very out dated and now irrelevant advice because of this lack of obvious, clear info or guidance.

So yeah, we should do something to increase the affective ease of understanding what’s relevant or not

– quazi

I think this is a terrible idea. It makes no sense whatsoever. A page or an edit on a page can be 5 minutes old and be out-of-date or just plain wrong, with bad information. A page can be 10 years old with up-to-date, solid information.

There are many different kinds of info on the wiki. Some info will not require any changes, pretty much forever. Some info might have been updated recently but is lousy information.

The way to “do something to increase the affective ease of understanding what’s relevant or not” is for wiki users to comment on it (or just update it). Trying to determine by algorithm is completely misguided, IMHO. Relying on wiki users for wiki quality is the right approach.

If you find particular pages with particular info that is out of date, then flag it — either on the page itself or via a Comments page about it. Better yet, just update the info, if you can.

Imagine applying your suggestion to the Web: automatically flagging all web pages/sites that have not been updated within, say, 2 years as possibly out-of-date. Think about it. There is a reason that we don’t do this kind of thing. Makes no sense.

Just one opinion – DrewAdams

I agree with Drew. It might be useful to flag advice that is only valid for older Emacsen, though. Maybe having a tag like [legacy “Emacs <= 22.2”] that adds a little flag might be useful. Not sure if it’s worth the effort, though. Just adding a comment pointing out this might be enough. --shjk

Pretty humorous. People are framing the problem(s) with this Wiki in the wrong way. The problem isn’t that nobody knows there are problems – errors, omissions, bugs! The problem is finding people to fix them. Tagging pages or paragraphs as “obsolete” is wasted effort.

To get things done in a community project, roles and responsibilities need to be doled out to people. We don’t have a staff budget, but people are willing to volunteer if they are given a task. If there’s one problem with Wiki and fork-culture (Git and so on) is the misconception that “everyone’s doing the work so nobody has to do the work”. If you actually study the Linux kernel or WikiPedia? you find that there is an layer of people working as an organization and taking responsibility for tasks and getting them done. There’s also some pride that comes with volunteering for these projects. We won’t be able to replicate these projects, but we need to find appropriately sized corollaries.

I’d suggest trying to define the maintenance needs and make people responsible for them so that important parts of the Wiki are updated. People used to say on their UserPage? what they had authored or hoped to edit. I don’t think we want page “ownership”, but we do want some sort of system by which people cooperate to improve the Wiki.

As an example, there is rather humdrum work of maintaining the release and download availability of popular ports of Emacs:

There’s probably other pages or categories that could be maintained by a collective.

Changing the color of pages, doesn’t seem like an incentive to edit. It seems like a disincentive. – AaronHawley

Thanks, all. I’ll be removing the extension. :) – AlexSchroeder