My goal with this project is to give excerpts a chance to become useful and widespread in the English, German, Portuguese, French, Italian and Spanish Wikipedias.
Background and rationale
Content reuse is a key concept in knowledge management and Wikipedia. In one way or another, it has been with us since the beginning, from basic features such as links and templates, to entire projects such as Commons and Wikidata. Reusing content has several important advantages:
- Fosters collaboration by channeling contributors to the same resources, rather than having them work in parallel
- Reduces maintenance by avoiding duplicate content that needs to be updated independently
- Improves content quality by encouraging editors to merge and reuse related content, rather than having multiple versions in various stages of development
Selective transclusion is an underused and underappreciated form of content reuse. Although it has been available for years and is used sparingly on some wikis, it hasn't gained the widespread use and popularity of other forms of content reuse. One reason is that it's difficult to use, for it requires dealing with #lsth parser functions, <section> and <includeonly> tags, and has annoying problems with unwanted elements being transcluded (hatnotes, amboxes, infoboxes, etc). Another reason is the lack of awareness and documentation. Thus, selective transclusion remains an advanced and obscure technique.
But there's hope! The Excerpt module can transclude any section of any article and leave out any unwanted elements without having to add confusing <section> or <includeonly> tags to the transcluded articles. Two years ago I started using this module on the Spanish Wikipedia by wrapping it with a template that makes it super easy to use. Eventually I also created documentation, examples, screenshots and tracking categories. Now over 400 articles and 100 annexes use it, often multiple times, and almost every day a new article or annex joins. Totally unexpected uses appeared, such as reuse of population tables, sports results and TV episodes, plus the amazing excerpt trees developed.
Thus, I believe selective transclusion, when done with the Excerpt module and wrapped with an easy-to-use template, has the potential of becoming a useful and even popular feature. This project is about realizing this potential.
Tell us how you'll carry out your project. What will you and other organizers spend your time doing?
During the first month, I'll work on the Spanish and English wikis only. My main tasks will be:
- Update the Excerpt modules. The Spanish and English modules have diverged significantly over time. Each has some useful features the other doesn't. The challenge will be to update both modules with the best features of each, without breaking existing usage of any (the modules were originally conceived for portals and are used extensively there).
- Improve the relevant documentation. I've already created the basic Spanish and English documentation, but many improvements are still possible. Working in Spanish and English simultaneously will help me develop documentation that is easy to translate, before moving on to the other languages.
- Replace the Template:Transcluded section for the Template:Excerpt in the 1500+ articles that use it in the English Wikipedia. The first template only inserts a hatnote saying that the content below is transcluded. The transclusion itself must be done manually by calling the #lsth parser function after the template. By contrast, the Template:Excerpt inserts both a hatnote and the transclusion, and does the transclusion using the Excerpt module, which results in cleaner output without having to add <section> or <includeonly> tags to the transcluded article. Replacing one template for the other is often a simple process (I've done it on a few articles already) but the amount of articles makes it a time-consuming task. However, I believe this effort is key to establish excerpts as the standard way to do selective transclusion. Once all the replacements are done, the old template can become a redirect to the new. Plus, adding excerpts to 1500 articles will increase exposure significantly.
- Add excerpts to top articles of the Spanish and English wikis to increase exposure.
- Create short and clear videos showing how to add excerpts to the Spanish and English wikis.
- Develop at least one excerpt tree in the English Wikipedia to demonstrate the concept to interested users (the Spanish Wikipedia already has several).
During the second month, I'll continue working on the Spanish and English wikis but will also add the German, Portuguese, French and Italian wikis. My main tasks will be:
- Create the basic resources on the German, Portuguese, French and Italian wikis (module, template, documentation, categories, videos, screenshots, etc).
- Ensure that all the wikis have the best version of the Excerpt module.
- Add excerpts to some top articles of the German, Portuguese, French and Italian wikis to increase exposure.
- Leave a message on the appropriate area of each wiki to share the technique and convey the potential.
How will you let others in your community know about your project (please provide links to where relevant communities have been notified of your proposal, and to any other relevant community discussions)? Why are you targeting a specific audience?
- Post in the Spanish café and English village pump
- Post in the talk pages of the existing relevant resources in the English Wikipedia: Template:Excerpt, Module:Excerpt, Wikipedia:Excerpts and Wikipedia:Transclusion
- Post in the talk pages of the existing relevant resources in the Spanish Wikipedia: Plantilla:Extracto, Módulo:Excerpt and Wikipedia:Extractos
- Notify users that have shown interest in excerpts, selective transclusion, content reuse and related ideas: Betelgeuse1960, IIM 78, Leoncastro, Alvaro Marques Hijazo, Matu100
What will you have done at the end of your project? How will you follow-up with people that are involved with your project?
- I will have done most if not all the tasks described above
- I will follow up through the talk pages of the relevant resources on the Spanish and English wikis
How will you know if the project is successful and you've met your goals?
- All the relevant resources will be available on the English, German, Portuguese, Italian, French and Spanish wikis
- The excerpt modules will be updated on the English, German, Portuguese, Italian, French and Spanish wikis
- 1500+ articles will be using excerpts in the English Wikipedia
- At least one excerpt tree will be developed in the English Wikipedia
- Some high-traffic articles will be using excerpts in the English, German, Portuguese, Italian, French and Spanish wikis
What resources do you have? Include information on who is the organizing the project, what they will do, and if you will receive support from anywhere else (in-kind donations or additional funding).
- Myself, my computer, my skills and background. I will not receive any support from anywhere else.
What resources do you need? For your funding request, list bullet points for each expense:
- USD 1000 for roughly two months of work. In a previous grant I requested twice the budget for a similar time frame. The reason for the difference is that my previous grant required much more mind-consuming work as a developer. The kind of work required for this project should be less demanding, hopefully.
- Support Excerpts are a great feature - easy to use, massive number of potential usages, and powered by a sophisticated piece of Lua code. In my opinion, they should be getting used a lot more often than they currently are, especially on the English-language Wikipedia. This grant is a bargain in terms of the increased editor productivity it will provide, on various Wikipedias. Yaron Koren (talk) 19:41, 12 December 2019 (UTC)
- Support The Excerpt template is one of the best ideas I've seen to improve Wikipedia in recent years. As it is well argued, its use will make us strive to give coherence to the entries of the main articles that will then be reused as summaries in some more. Its generalization will result in a good articulation of our information. Bravo for the initiative. Betelgeuse1960 (talk) 20:07, 13 December 2019 (UTC)
- Support with a warning As the main author of en:Module:Excerpt, I write here in response to its talk notice. Naturally, I favour transclusions and am pleased to see other editors taking an interest. On enwiki, an unclosed RfC generally supported greater use of excerpts in portals. However, I should warn that they have not been universally welcomed. Most of the pages on which Module:Excerpt was deployed (via its simple wrapper templates) were either reverted to old versions or deleted completely. The matter is now the subject of an ArbCom case, which fortunately has not yet expanded into the area of the software. I wish you all the best and would be happy to continue providing technical assistance but you should be aware that, on enwiki at least, this development has proven unexpectedly controversial. Certes (talk) 23:13, 13 December 2019 (UTC)
- @Certes: Wow, thanks a lot for that info and links! I read the controversy and it looks like it was triggered mostly by a lack of clarity about what the transclusions would entail for the portals, and then was greatly exacerbated by the past conflicts between two involved users. I will take this precedent as a warning about the importance of being clear in my edit summaries and similar places, but I see no reason why that controversy should carry over to the edits this grant proposes, especially considering that transclusions are already being done in thousands of articles on the English Wikipedia (with plain #lsth parser functions). Anyway, thanks again for the warning and support! Sophivorus (talk) 23:41, 14 December 2019 (UTC)