The most awful idea ever... almost

From Meta, a Wikimedia project coordination wiki
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Brion, on hearing this idea for the first time:

that's the most awful idea ever
no wait... there are more awful ideas :)

Ye of weak stomachs, read no further! Ye have been warned.

Linking to articles v. linking to titles[edit]

A quick comparison:

Linking to titles Linking to articles
Easy to mark up Identical mark up (with new parsing features)
Fairly easy to check link brokenness Slightly easier to check link brokenness
Rarely confusing, harder to keep current. Edit history doesn't show changes due to moving linked-to articles; neither does editable article-text change when this happens. Can be confusing, easier to keep current. Edit history doesn't show changes doe to moving linked-to articles, eve though editable article-text updates automatically when this happens
Article renames are called 'moves'; links break on article move w/o redirect, or become redirects that need updating by hand. Articles can be transparently renamed; automatically follows article 'moves'.
Already implemented Requires changes; slower to open the edit screen; faster for other actions.

Implementing linking-to-articles[edit]

naive method[edit]

(nonoptimized, to demonstrate the idea)

When an art is saved, and new links are parsed & followed, and the article-id of the current art at the time of the save is stored with the link (so cheese --> cheese, cave-fruit --> cave-fruit ).

Upon editing, article-ids are converted to the current article name; so the user never sees article-ids.


You write a short story on your user page about your lunch.

 + '''Text''': I went [[home]] for some swiss [[cheese|cave-fruit]].
 - Stored-as : I went [[83912|home]] for some swiss [[14187|cave-fruit]].
 - Edited-as : I went [[home|home]] for some swiss [[cheese|cave-fruit]].

Someone else comes along and redirects the stub at home to the existing article on homelessness, adding content about life on the streets; meanwhile the French Resistance renames Cheese to Fromage.

 + '''Text''': I went [[83912|home]] for some swiss [[14187|cave-fruit]].
 - Edited-as : I went [[home*|home]] for some swiss [[fromage|cave-fruit]].

(Stored the same way; looks the same; changes show up on edit. home* indicating it is a redirect; we already store an is-redirect flag in cur.)

Returning to the story, you edit it so that home points to family-home :

 + '''Text''': I went [[family-home|home]] for some swiss [[fromage|cave-fruit]].
 - Stored-as : I went [[172039|home]] for some swiss [[14187|cave-fruit]].

Complaints about the naive method[edit]


Sounds like a bad idea to me. Suppose A redirects to B, but someone decides there's enough difference to make it into two separate articles...
  • Under the current system, he has to go to A, gets redirected to B, clicks on "redirected from..." and creates the article.
  • Under your system, he has to go to the 'what links here' for B, and check for each of the links what they actually are linking to.
    • Let's refer to it as the "MAIE" system, rather than "my" system.
For the sake of clarity, let's say Higher Education ("H") redirects to Education ("E"), and someone decides to add a good higher-ed article. Currently, there are 20 other articles that originally linked to H (NB: those 20 articles, under the current system, might be relinked directly to Education before the more detailed art is written).
  • Under the current system: by simply replacing the redirect at H with a real article, those 20 inlinking arts are happy (note that there may still be articles that have always linked to E which might be better served by a specific link to H).
  • Under the MAIE system:
    1. If "Education" and "Higher Education" have always been separate articles, the editors have exactly the same task. Replacing H's redirect with an article makes everyone happy.
    2. If "Education" was originally titled "Higher Education", but then renamed (because its content was more general than its creator's original vision) -- that is, if it was moved from the latter title to the former -- then those 20 articles which once linked to H now link to E (an article with the same article ID, whose name has changed), exactly as though the authors of those articles had originally written [[education|higher education]] rather than [[higher education]].
    3. In this last case, consider that the inlinking articles are more likely to still be linking to the content that was originally linked to, rather than linking to the article title that was originally linked to. (I happen to think this is the better of the two options - +sj+)
  • It is true that many editors fail to look at the articles they link to; that will be a problem under either system.