Watercooler Exchanger of 1 Jul 2013
This evening I scratched out a document, User:Jrm03063/Facts, Categories and Wikipedia. It describes some of the techniques I've been using lately to put some pages in (perhaps) better order, as well as to leverage Wikipedia pages other than simple places and biographies. Almost none of what I describe is original to my efforts, but this may be the first attempt to put it together.
For those who find reading a document too boring for words, I offer the page for Gen. Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain (fitting as we are a few days short of the 150th anniversary of his defense of Little Round Top). Notice that the page makes relatively rich use of Categories, but if you open the page for editing, you'll see that no category syntax appears in the narrative body proper. Categories are established by way of templates in fact descriptions. --jrm03063 23:49, 30 June 2013 (EDT)
- Wikipedia indicates that adding pages to general content categories via a template is not recommended. Some of the reasons they list are
- editors cannot see the category in the wikitext
- removing or restructuring the category is made more difficult
- inappropriate articles and non-article pages may get added to the category
- sort keys may be unavailable to be customised per category
- ordering of categories on the page is less controllable
- the "incategory" search term will not find such pages.
- WP:Help:Category#Categories_and_templates says:
- "Changes to the template, however, may not be reflected immediately on the category page. When you edit an article to add a category tag directly, the list of category members is updated immediately when the page is saved. When a category link is contained in a template, however, this does not happen immediately: instead, whenever a template is edited, all the pages that transclude it are put into the job queue to be recached during periods of low server load. This means that, in busy periods, it may take hours or even days before individual pages are recached and they start to appear in the category list. Performing a null edit to a page will allow it to jump the queue and be immediately recached." --Jennifer (JBS66) 05:25, 1 July 2013 (EDT)
- Thanks for your helpful observations. They are informative, but not persuasive. WeRelate is not Wikipedia. Specifically:
- Wikipedia pages have no sense of genealogical facts, as we do
- We need to ENCOURAGE more fact usage - and interesting categories and facts plainly are apt to coincide
- The Wikipedia community is good at adding category syntax as needed - WeRelate users aren't.
- Several of the templates I offer allow for sort keys
- The "incategory" search term implementation, as you describe it, is broken. It should be fixed in mediawiki.
- Re-caching behavior - my response - who cares? WP extracts are only updated a couple times a year and the source-wikipedia template gets run once a week.
- --jrm03063 10:16, 1 July 2013 (EDT)
- Persuasive is in the eye of the beholder. I suspect the wikipedia list of defects represents actual experience with this issue, and do not accept some of the hand-waving arguments made to counter them. In particular "We need to ENCOURAGE more fact usage" For example, pages that show residence facts every census even when the residence does not change tend to be nothing more than more cluttered, not better. (As usual, rote application of technology, just because one can do so, is not necessary good genealogy nor helpful to the usefulness of the page.) And I think the point of the re-caching argument may have been missed, as it has nothing to do with WP extracts, rather it would mean WeRelate re-caching (since we use the same software as WP) and the confusion that gets caused when recent edits don't necessary appear in all the places one would expect to see them. In regards to incategory, regardless of how it should be fixed, that doesn't rule out fixing it as a prerequisite. All that said, I believe putting categories in templates is a practice long-used by many of Amelia's ship templates, among others, and it would seem that usage of templates will rarely be done by GEDCOM uploads, so hopefully the editing user will be checking that their work produced the desired effects. This should hopefully minimize the misuse. --Jrich 11:24, 1 July 2013 (EDT)
- The re-caching argument has not been missed. The issue raised is one of timeliness - and my response is that we already expect that a number of things do not happen in a timely way. In any case, the situation indicated as a concern is one where the template is changed and it takes time for the secondary effects to trickle out. The more common situation is adding a template on an individual page, and that matter doesn't have any such problem.
- The primary insight that I offer is that categories apt to be genealogically interesting seem to be remarkably aligned with things that ought to appear as facts ("ship" templates obviously belong as "immigration" facts). I don't yet see that this has been disputed, so what I'm hearing amount to excuses why our users should be abused into handling something twice (First as a fact and secondly as a matter of membership in a category). That isn't an eye of the beholder issue - it's objective interface design.
- I'm not claiming that a GEDCOM will be uploaded containing categories - what I instead claim is that placement of useful facts on a Person page - is more apt to yield re-useable information on Export - than to see a category syntax appended in some random way in another piece of software. Facts also allow for explicit support - which seems like it would be problematic in the context of category syntax in the narrative body.
- I would also note, that I've worked with at least some of the templates and practices for a while now. I'm not offering ideas simply because they are possible as a matter of technology. I have found them to be useful in practice, which is why I'm describing them for the public.
- I'll add the criticisms to my document so that informed discussion can be resumed later. --jrm03063 12:59, 1 July 2013 (EDT)