Enhancing talk pages

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See mw:Extension:LiquidThreads

This article is an attempt to describe a better system for talk pages.

The wiki system is not that great as a discussion forum, a solution would be to redirect talk pages to another system like phpBB or vBulletin. But the best choice for our project is to implement our own board system in the mediawiki software, this way we will not relate on other projects.


The software got a feature that allow a user to only edit part of a page called section. Each one is identified by a title enclosed between several "=". That's a good way to get unique id's however, that's hardly possible for message unless each people set a unique subject themselves ... We will have to find a way to identify different replies.

An actual discussion looks like:


This article is great
John Doe

Yup I helped building. Fast is not like slow.
Kevin
I do drive slowly
John Doe
Me as well
Arthur
Fast is the only way to go !!!!
Mike


Notice how arthur replies to 2nd John Doe message whereas Mike is answering to Kevin message. This is a message thread. It is a common representation of an ongoing discussion used by many email and newsgroups client software. The problem is that using the wiki, people tend to forget the above shema.

A messy discussion thread :


This article is great

Yup I helped building. Fast is not like slow.
Kevin
Fast is the only way to go !!!! Mike
I do drive slowly
John Doe

John Doe


Me as well Arthur


That show one answering between a text and a signature (Kevin) and one replying above a message (Mike). For a short example like the one above, it's not too difficult to follow the ongoing discussion, but if each author wrote 20-30 lines ? It leads to a big mess that lot of people will not even care to read and just pass to something else.

If the mediawiki offer a simple reply button under each replies, it will save readers a lot of comprehension work.

It could looks like:

This article is great
John Doe

>
Yup I helped building. Fast is not like slow.
Kevin
>>

I do drive slowly John Doe

>>>

Me as well Arthur

>>

Fast is the only way to go !!!! Mike

Of course that is a really simple layout that could be enhanced.

Colour[edit]

Personally, I don't think there is much wrong with the current talk page scheme. Despite the fact that the wiki isn't designed to have discussion, it handles it pretty gracefully. The syntax is simple and simplicity is good. One idea for improvement could be colouring which could be activated by enclosing discussion in a tag such as <talk>. The text of each comment/reply would be coloured differently depending on the number of indentation marks (colons) it has. This is the implementation on some mail clients that support threading. --Swift 22:51, 27 June 2006 (UTC)