Thread Mode Corrected

This is partly a counterpoint to OneWikiStyle, and a reaction to WhyWikiWorksNot. Even some proponents of ThreadMode admit that ThreadMode hasn't worked. Is it completely broken, or is there a way to fix it short of giving up signatures altogether?

In XpFreeZone, RonJeffries mentions that he is "reluctant to remove others' [signed] objections as if they never happened." One convention is for people to delete their own objections once they've been answered. Sometimes we write MetaNotes? to that effect, which seems inelegant but probably more necessary than we want to realize.

One issue is whether we need an AuditTrail. Does the history -- the to and fro of ThreadMode -- makes the subject easier to understand in the manner of a SocraticDialogue? Sometimes it does, but usually it doesn't. Usually it just gets in the way. People sometimes fail to delete stuff because they fear to make that judgment.

The second issue is one of ego. Keeping old threads helps if you care about the egos involved. Putting a signature on a comment is taken as a way of saying, "I have a big ego. Don't mess with my stuff or I'll be offended." We could counter-act that with the WikiBadge OpenAuthor. This is similar to the DeleteMe marker, except not so extreme.

Note that we're talking about full deletion, not editing. People seem happier to have their comments deleted altogether than to have their name put to something they didn't actually write. One way of diluting the problem is to replace the sole-author signature with a Contributors: section which lists all the people who worked on the comment. This has been tried for the OpeningStatement of a few pages. Perhaps it could be absorbed into the conventions of OpenAuthor: edit anything, but attach your name if the text is already signed.


All writing here is a gift to the community, as is the editing that a few visitors provide. ThreadMode provides a convenience to those who visit regularly at the expense of the many more occasional readers. I encourage the more even-handed thread participants to eventually tighten up every page so that important ideas are expressed clearly and concisely, at the possible expense of ego. -- WardCunningham [Ditto. -- Anonymous, TimChambers]


Another possibility, but one which requires either a cultural or an infrastructure change. Every WikiPage should have two parts: (1) a kernel which describes the pattern, is unsigned and constantly updated, and (2) a threaded comment and history section which is simply added to. Comments should probably quote the kernel section briefly to which they refer, recognizing that those sections could vanish. I have seen this more or less attempted in a few places, but always with a tendency to degrade. Perhaps if this becomes a WikiWay, this effect will diminish. -- RussellGold

Maybe not every page, but certainly every substantial page. -- TimChambers

Try using DoubleLines. -- AnonymousDonor


Perhaps having history and the ability to recover previous versions of pages would help, i.e. use of a "revision control system."

I've found in programming that having all code in a revision control system gives great encouragement to the act of deleting stuff that is no longer needed. After all, you say, "if someone finds out tomorrow that they need it, it can be recovered from RCS." Most of the time you never go back and look at the deleted stuff ever again, but it sure makes you feel better to know that you can. -- JeffGrigg [Ditto. -- TimChambers]


Agreement can be tagged with "Ditto." When "ditto" is signed, the signer is standing by the original author to add their own weight (for what it's worth) to the "truth" of the statement. (This is more elegant than the "I agree with Ward. - Anonymous" comment I found on this page, IMHO. -- TimChambers ><>) "I HaveThisPattern" can also be used as appropriate.


See also ThesisAntithesisSynthesis, ThreadModeConsideredHarmful
CategoryWiki CategoryWikiMaintenance

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