Citation Problem

Moved from CategoriesDiscussion; see also UseMentionProblem (on MeatballWiki).

I have introduced a topic for modelling laws and principles. (The wiki link is Category Modelling Laws And Principles - without the spaces.)

This neatly illustrates the category referencing problem. (I want to link to the new category, but citing the link here will add this page to the topic.) Citation is not tagging.

There should be a standard way to link to a category from a page that does not belong to that category?

Possible solutions: I think the first of these solutions is probably the better. Is it backward compatible?

Any better ideas?

Isn't that what SixSingleQuotes is for? It's easy to cite CategoryCategory without linking to it.

It cites, but it doesn't link. To maintain the illusion of seamless hypertext, we need to be able to link to a category without backlinking from it.

In essence, we need an out-of-band mechanism for tagging pages with things like categories and WikiBadges. Maybe something like !!!CategoryFoo should mean 'this page is in the Foo category', whereas CategoryFoo should just be a link. We would then have to have something other than the normal backlinks search to use categories; a specialized 'find pages tagged with this page's name' search.

Some wikis have an out-of-band mechanism for categories; there is a text area on the edit page specifically for categories, and its contents are stored along with the text, and a special search provided. This solves the problem, but one can't help feeling that it lacks the WikiNature.

Also, if you want to support things like categories that aren't categories (say, you were writing a guidebook to a city and you wanted to tag pages by locale (LocaleSoho, LocaleWestminster, LocaleBloomsbury), or you wanted to classify films by genre (GenreRomance, GenreScienceFiction, GenreHorror)), you need to hack the code to have another field of metadata, whereas in true wiki, you just slap the tag in. However, you could imagine an extensible metadata system, where taggings include the metacategory, so we might write !!!Locale:Chinatown and !!!Genre:Horror if we were writing about the film 'Big Trouble in Little China' (which, incidentally, is terrible, but does have LoPan? in; and, yes, it's more action than horror, but that's not important right now); this could be done in a special text area, or, as the syntax distinguishes metadata from links and so precludes the citation problem, in the body of the text. Tags could either go to the page named in the tag (in which case the examples should be !!!Locale:ChinaTown and !!!Genre:HorrorMovie), or to a page named by the combination of the metatag and the tag (LocaleChinatown and GenreHorror). Note that in the former case, you'd probably need an extensible tagged-backlinks mechanism, so you could go to the ChinaTown page and say 'show me all the pages which are tagged with this page as a Locale'; this would be a pain in the arse to use. If each page knew under what metatags it had been used in a tag, then it could just present a list of possible queries, which would be better. This has probably all been implemented somewhere.

The punchline is that the current system is the SimplestThingThatCouldPossiblyWork.

Well, we could ignore the problem. As far as I can tell, it means searches throw up a few unwanted links. I can live with that. Searches are rarely perfect anyway. A new link syntax, or even a convention like a "RefTopic?" prefix, is more infrastructure that has to be learned, that gets in the way. It looks like the kind of detail which TedNelson worried about for Xanadu, and which doomed that project. -- DaveHarris

Yes, I'm concerned about not adding more infrastructure, (a small, appropriate architecture seems to be one of the keys to the success of Wiki), but...

Does it really amount to throwing up a few false links? (i.e. a constant or linear increase in mismatches), or does it grow at a faster rate?

Over time, it may become significant...

All you have to do is mention a category, and suddenly you've classified the discussion as part of that category. (Like the wizards in Terry Pratchett novels, who have lots to do with the number eight, but are forbidden from pronouncing it.)

You want a page to refer to a category, but not become classified as part of that category? Here's an idea: rather than mention a category literally, directly link to some member of that category. Now the discussion is 3 clicks away rather than 2 clicks away from the automatically-generated index of all items in that category. For example, "the comic strip category, which includes DilBert". Now the user can click on DilBert, then click the category tag at the bottom of DilBert, then click the header of the category page for a listing of all the other comic strips (at least, all the ones that have been marked with that category tag). Would this work for you? -- DavidCary

Perhaps this would be even better: Say I want to discuss all pages that, say, have something to do with muffins. Each page in that group is classified in *2* ways (probably violating ExactlyOnce): by tagging each page with several category tags including CategoryMuffin, and by putting the name of that page on several RoadMaps including MuffinRoadMap. If you don't want to mention CategoryMuffin directly, directly link to MuffinRoadMap instead. -- DavidCary


CategoryWikiEditing ???

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