Re: [Haskell] page renaming on the Haskell Wiki

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Re: [Haskell] page renaming on the Haskell Wiki

Graham Klyne-2
Wolfgang,

[Switching to haskell-cafe]

Re:
[1] http://www.mail-archive.com/haskell@.../msg18352.html
[2] http://www.mail-archive.com/haskell@.../msg18356.html
[3] http://www.w3.org/Provider/Style/URI

Wolfgang Jeltsch wrote (in [2]):
> On the other hand, I think that the above W3C article is far too extreme.  It
> tells you that stability is the most important thing concerning URIs.

I will pursue this a little further, because I think that getting the web
presence right is very important to maintaining an online community.  It may be
that we must agree to disagree, but based on my experience of using the web,
stability of URIs *is* the most important thing (after content, of course).

I have been using the W3C web site now for many years, and the inconsistencies
you mention have never been a problem for me -- indeed, I hadn't even noticed
them until you mentioned them.

Why is this?  I hypothesize that it is because, when the Web is used
effectively, it is really quite rare to enter a URI manually.  Instead, one uses
various index pages, RSS feeds, search tools and so on to find a URI, and then
simply click on it.  Many URIs are never seen by human eye, but placed behind
descriptive links.  W3C themselves use URIs very intensively in transient
communications, and their mailing system is set up to facilitate this (see their
x-archived-at mail headers).  A result of this is that the email archives,
together with the web site pages, form a tightly interlinked collection of
documents and comments that can be, and are, frequently cross-referenced rather
than reinvented.

But, for this to work, once a link has been placed in a document, feed, archive
or whatever, it is crucially important that it continues to work for as long as
the information it references is of interest to people.  Without this, all the
devices we use to find our way around the web simply fail -- not all at once,
but over time.  Even with every intent to maintain stability, this happens, but
if you allow that URI stability is somehow less important than other
conveniences, then I think all hope is lost for information continuing to be
accessible.

As for the difficulty of designing a consistent URI naming scheme for all time,
the W3C position explicitly recognizes this, and this is why they recommend
incorporating dates near the the root of the URI path.  That way, fashions can
change without requiring that pages published using older conventions be removed.

How to do this in a wiki, I'm not sure, though I don't take that to mean we
shouldn't try.  I think the mediawiki mechanism you mention is reasonable if not
ideal, though this would clearly be overwhelmed if page-renaming were to become
the norm.  There are, as you indicate, other technical concerns.  But I still
think they are more easily solved that the problems that arise by failing to
maintain URI stability.

Best regards,

#g

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Graham Klyne
For email:
http://www.ninebynine.org/#Contact

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Re: Re: [Haskell] page renaming on the Haskell Wiki

Bulat Ziganshin-2
Hello Graham,

Wednesday, February 22, 2006, 12:57:39 PM, you wrote:

GK> How to do this in a wiki, I'm not sure, though I don't take that to mean we
GK> shouldn't try.  I think the mediawiki mechanism you mention is reasonable if not
GK> ideal, though this would clearly be overwhelmed if page-renaming were to become
GK> the norm.

my 2c is what new wiki is just two months old and we should refactor
it now extensively to make it useable in the future. for example, i
think that all libraries should be under Library or Libraries root and
so on. we started with filling up the pages, now we had enough
contents to see what the structure will serve better

--
Best regards,
 Bulat                            mailto:[hidden email]

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Re: [Haskell] page renaming on the Haskell Wiki

Wolfgang Jeltsch
In reply to this post by Graham Klyne-2
Am Mittwoch, 22. Februar 2006 10:57 schrieb Graham Klyne:
> [...]

Hello Graham,

thank you for your answer.

> I have been using the W3C web site now for many years, and the
> inconsistencies you mention have never been a problem for me -- indeed, I
> hadn't even noticed them until you mentioned them.
>
> Why is this?  I hypothesize that it is because, when the Web is used
> effectively, it is really quite rare to enter a URI manually.  Instead, one
> uses various index pages, RSS feeds, search tools and so on to find a URI,
> and then simply click on it.  Many URIs are never seen by human eye, but
> placed behind descriptive links.

I'm not convinced.  Many other people might not notice improper URIs or might
not care about them.  But I do care!  URIs are text and shall be
human-readable and human-understandable.  (I think, this view is also backed
by the W3C.)

Normally, every URI can be seen—at least in the browser window.  Nowadays,
people might have gotten used to cryptic URIs like

        http://www.amazon.de/exec/obidos/tg/browse/-/301128/028-9225198-9779755?
        site-redirect=de

so that they don't think of a URI as something a human should be able to
understand.  But I'm sure that this is not what the inventors of URIs (or
URLs) had in mind.

And users should be provided with URIs which are as easy to remember and as
sensible as possible, in my opinion, so that they have the ability to also
enter them into their browsers by hand.  How often can you see publications
on paper which say something like:

        To learn more, first go to http://www.our-institution.org/, then click on the
        link "departments", then on the link "our department" and finally on the link
        "great new project".

I think, it is far better to just say:

        To learn more, go to

                http://www.our-institution.org/departments/ours/great-new-project

In the past, URIs became mostly something that only the computer is expected
to deal with, not the human.  I'm very much opposed to this and are therefore
a fan of nice URIs. ;-)

> W3C themselves use URIs very intensively in transient communications, and
> their mailing system is set up to facilitate this (see their x-archived-at
> mail headers).  A result of this is that the email archives, together with
> the web site pages, form a tightly interlinked collection of documents and
> comments that can be, and are, frequently cross-referenced rather than
> reinvented.
>
> But, for this to work, once a link has been placed in a document, feed,
> archive or whatever, it is crucially important that it continues to work
> for as long as the information it references is of interest to people.
> Without this, all the devices we use to find our way around the web simply
> fail -- not all at once, but over time.  Even with every intent to maintain
> stability, this happens, but if you allow that URI stability is somehow
> less important than other conveniences, then I think all hope is lost for
> information continuing to be accessible.

Of course, stable URIs have a lot of advantages so URI stability is not
something that should be ignored.  But it should be weighed against other
(important) things.  I think that URI stability shouldn't always have the
final word.

> As for the difficulty of designing a consistent URI naming scheme for all
> time, the W3C position explicitly recognizes this, and this is why they
> recommend incorporating dates near the the root of the URI path.  That way,
> fashions can change without requiring that pages published using older
> conventions be removed.

Of course, this naming scheme isn't really consistent, since the naming
schemes you use inside the "name spaces" of different years might (and
probably will) differ.

> How to do this in a wiki, I'm not sure, though I don't take that to mean we
> shouldn't try.  I think the mediawiki mechanism you mention is reasonable
> if not ideal, though this would clearly be overwhelmed if page-renaming
> were to become the norm.  There are, as you indicate, other technical
> concerns.  But I still think they are more easily solved that the problems
> that arise by failing to maintain URI stability.

The fact that we are dealing with a wiki here makes retaining URI stability
especially difficult.  You don't have a webmaster allocating URIs.  Since the
key point of a wiki is that everyone can edit, more wrong things are made at
first which have to be corrected later.

I want to add another point which is maybe the most important argument for
being open to renamings.  In the wiki, the page title affects not only the
URI but it's also part of the page.  It's the human-readable title you see as
a part of the article.  So this title *has to* be meaningful and sensible.  
And if this title doesn't fit into some kind of guideline for titles or is
not well chosen in another regard then it is just wrong and has to be
corrected.

Don't misunderstand me.  You have a lot of important arguments but I think
that your arguments are only one side of the coin.  I wanted to provide the
other side. ;-)

> Best regards,
>
> #g

Best wishes,
Wolfgang
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Re: Re: [Haskell] page renaming on the Haskell Wiki

Wolfgang Jeltsch
In reply to this post by Bulat Ziganshin-2
Am Mittwoch, 22. Februar 2006 13:00 schrieb [hidden email]:
> [...]

> for example, i think that all libraries should be under Library or Libraries
> root and so on. we started with filling up the pages, now we had enough
> contents to see what the structure will serve better

Be careful.  A title is not a path name.

I think, using hierarchy is good in cases like "GHC/Documentation" since the
page is strictly about documentation *for GHC*.  So it is clear what the
ancestor page should be (GHC).  The non-hierarchical title "GHC
documentation" would contain the "GHC" anyway and the hierarchical title has
more structure.

But "Libraries/Edison" seems not like a good idea to me.  The more structure
you add, the higher is the probability that your structure will not fit
future needs.  If we want to minimize the reasons for page renamings in the
future, we should tend to use "flat names", i.e., names with little or no
hierarchical information.  If we develop software, we also don't know the
right design right from the start.  (And therefore we need something better
than CVS since CVS doesn't support moving of files and directories. ;-) )

Best wishes,
Wolfgang
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Re: Re: [Haskell] page renaming on the Haskell Wiki

Graham Klyne-2
In reply to this post by Bulat Ziganshin-2
[hidden email] wrote:

> Hello Graham,
>
> Wednesday, February 22, 2006, 12:57:39 PM, you wrote:
>
> GK> How to do this in a wiki, I'm not sure, though I don't take that to mean we
> GK> shouldn't try.  I think the mediawiki mechanism you mention is reasonable if not
> GK> ideal, though this would clearly be overwhelmed if page-renaming were to become
> GK> the norm.
>
> my 2c is what new wiki is just two months old and we should refactor
> it now extensively to make it useable in the future. for example, i
> think that all libraries should be under Library or Libraries root and
> so on. we started with filling up the pages, now we had enough
> contents to see what the structure will serve better

Well, yes, better now than later, for sure.

My comments were really directed toward longer term principles.

I think I've said enough for now.

#g

--
Graham Klyne
For email:
http://www.ninebynine.org/#Contact

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