HomePage | RecentChanges | Preferences

How much and how often should refactoring be done?

View 1. As often as one sees something incorrect, obviously biased/partisan. It is better to change a page immediately, when one sees something perceived to be a problem, rather than to discuss changes that need to be made. Adherents of this view: LarrySanger

View 2. Only after a discussion has played out. It is better to let the original author of a page to make changes to it. Adherents of this view:

View 3. The middle road -- respect for a dialogue qua dialogue should be respected, but at the same time a minor tweak early on can avoid a flame war. To refactor or not will often depend on the context, and so either rule 1 (change immediately) or rule 2 (wait for the discussion to end) are too extreme. Adherents of this view: JimboWales

I understand your point, Jimbo, but mainly what I'm concerned about is that people will start treating WikiPedia as yet another discussion forum, rather than an encyclopedia. As I see it--and you can feel free to disagree and act however you please, this being a wiki after all--all that emotional energy that goes into hashing through partisan and other issues could much more easily be channelled toward improving articles. The purpose of the wiki, as I see it, is--well, it's whatever people make it--but what I'd like it to be is the creation of good encyclopedia articles. Discussing things is usually aimed at changing people's minds. But what's the point of doing that on the wiki (except some ancillary social reason)? To improve articles, presumably. But what's stopping us from just going right in and improving them? Why engage in the discussion? You'd have to have a good reason, I think. So just go in and make the changes, I say. The article author can always go in and look at your changes and decide to change it back, or, if he's reasonable, just make sure that the views on the table are fairly presented. -- LarrySanger

Should discussion occur on the page itself or instead on a *Talk or *Discussion page?

View 1. On the page itself. Adherents of this view:

View 2. On a *Talk or *Discussion page, always (or almost always). Adherents of this view: LarrySanger

View 3. The decision to keep the discussion where it is, or move it to a *Discussion page, is contextual. Factors involved in the decision include such things as: how long is the discussion likely to continue, is resolution likely, is the discussion particularly flame-likely, etc. -- JimboWales

There's an excellent reason for WikiPedia in particular to encourage the practice of moving discussions to separate pages: the pages are supposed to be encyclopedia articles, not discussions. What contextual factors would outweigh this? Sure, there might be some. Can I have an example, though? -- LarrySanger

What is the purpose of refactoring?

View 1. There is one main purpose to refactoring and editing pages in general, and that is to create good encyclopedia articles. Adherents: LarrySanger

View 2.

View 3. I propose that there is a long-run and short-run purpose. The long-run purpose is to turn a discussion into a resource. The short-run purpose is to channel a discussion in a useful direction, i.e. to help aim it at the future time when it can be a resource. Adherents: JimboWales


Occasionally a useful middle-ground is to separate the commonly-accepted summary from the discussion. A good way to do this is to place the summary at top, then use two horizontal lines and a word like Discussion: before the discussion. If the discussion grows large or unweildy, it can later be separated into other page(s). --CliffordAdams

My main reason for opposing this habit, and advocating that people move discussion to discussion pages, is that WikiPedia articles are supposed to be encyclopedia articles (right?), and encyclopedia articles don't have discussion right there on the page itself. The effect of having the discussion right there on the page itself makes it seem as though the discussion is just as important (an end in itself, as it were) as the article, which it most certainly is not, in my opinion. -- LarrySanger
See also PolicyPolicy.

HomePage | RecentChanges | Preferences
This page is read-only | View other revisions
Last edited February 4, 2001 3:58 pm by LarrySanger (diff)