Convert Thread Mode To Document Mode

Replace a thread mode conversation with a monologue that says the same thing and preserving as much of the original text as possible. Change the 1st person singular to 1st or 3rd person plural. Remove the inline attributions and put them at the end under "Contributors:". It is understood that individual authors may not have chosen the exact words used; that we have a consensus and hence probably compromises.

This is an important refactoring, but it is hard to do correctly. You need to synthesize the discussion in a way that is acceptable to most of the participants. Sometimes a discussion comes to an end, at which time it is easier to summarize it, but there is less motivation to do so. Discussions most need to be summarized when they get long, which usually means there are a lot of different opinions, making them hard to summarize.

See also: RefactoringWikiPages, RefactorByCondensingConversation, DialecticMode


Home page notification

Is there any reason not to be cavalier about this refactoring?

Yes, it is often hard to perform correctly. Maybe you didn't understand all the points that were being made. If you know you don't understand them, you won't make this change. The danger is when you think you understand and don't.

Could this be addressed by putting a note and a link on each contributors page? I know that when I see my name in RecentChanges [or ChangeSummary] and I haven't touched my page it really gets my attention. Perhaps there could be a standard place on each home page for stuff like this. -- PhilGoodwin

It would surely get the attention of any RecentChangesJunkie.

Suppose I refactor a conversation and I (unknowingly, or course) get it wrong. The topic itself will show up in ChangeSummary and RecentChanges. There are good odds that one of the experts on the subject will read it and correct it.

Suppose you're the expert, you read the page, correct it ... then add a comment like "Please note that Some_Other_Idea is a misconception that I've seen on this page" ... perhaps including an explanation for why the confusion is likely to exist or why the misconception is, in fact, wrong. Does this sound too bad? Consider, the page gets refactored correctly (after a bumpy start), and there is more information in the page in the end, right?

On the other hand, I wonder if AlistairCockburn might suggest that the original text, un-edited, may retain more information. I'm thinking of the tale of the napkin with sketches and greasy finger prints from one of his works. See: AlistairsScumTalk


Unilateral decisions (or the lack thereof)

Some advice I hope those writing this guide find useful: There is no I in "Wiki." To avoid unilateral decisions when collaborating with others, write a TentativeSummary and request input from your interlocutors on its quality. Once the summary is more solid, delete the parts of the discussion covered by the summary. The best way to win an argument is to make your opponent argue your side for you.

The intent is to enable unilateral decisions, not avoid them.

Curious. Why would you want to enable unilateral decisions? I would think unilateral anything should be reserved for private space. There you're free to present your own viewpoint unhindered by responsibility to a greater whole.

In the proper context individual unilateral decisions generate desirable emergent behavior. "Enable" in this case means to provide such a context. Theoretically the proper feedback mechanisms would motivate individuals to take actions that benefit the entire community. Systems that work this way can be very efficient.

AhHa. Sensitivity to feedback implies it isn't unilateral. Perhaps you just mean individually initiated. Someone has to take the first step.

The feedback comes after the action. So instead of there being communication -> feedback -> action, there is action -> feedback -> possibly future action. Each individual action is unilateral - nobody asks for permission - but overall there is a feedback mechanism that reinforces actions that benefit the community as a whole.

Multilateral implies slow. Don't wait for my agreement because I may not revisit this website for a month. Ideally Wiki would be a low ceremony environment, in the same way that XP is (or even more so). Some refactorings don't happen on Wiki simply because it is too hard to collect everyone's agreement - even though they would, in fact, agree. So we seek unilateral refactorings for which agreement may be assumed.

Find agreement with active feedback when possible for feedback provides the UnitTests for this refactoring. When no feedback is available, you will be left saying something analogous to "It compiles. Ship it." Before you undertake these tortuous cases, take the time to learn how to edit while preserving meaning. Practice on your own text until it is as concise, clear and simple as possible. Remember, the best editors are the best writers. That's because they edit themselves viciously. When you've practiced long enough, you'll learn that haste makes waste. WikiNow can wait.

Perhaps Wikizens would benefit from reviewing pages such as HowToWriteAndEditThreadMode before simply converting a thread mode discussion to document mode. Don't forget that there are several other modes of writing at work on this Wiki; search for Mode or look at CategoryMode to get some ideas on how to present a "completed" page.
Consider also:

When people hold opposing views, should a page declare a verdict?

If each party wants the page to show only their truth, then conflicts erupt. People DisagreeByDeleting, replacing the opposing view with their own, rearranging by InsertingObjectionsBeforeDiscussion?, confusing and interrupting the flow of discussion and dialogue. This can make the Wiki, which is a naturally benevolent and collaborative medium,to become fractious and contentious.

It is a GoodThing to present in the Wiki both ideas as clearly and persuasively as possible. Do not attempt to make the Wiki pronounce only your truth. Make the Wiki a place for collaboration and ExpositionOfIdeas?. Do not make it a place of judgment and declaration of ultimate and unilateral truth. Help the people who disagree with you to express their views more clearly and persuasively. Present what you understand of their views in your own words, to keep the flow of meaning going. They may then respond with ideas and support for their views which are more clearly understandable. (Moved from OppositeViewsPresentedWithoutJudgement?.)
Parallel wiki thread cleaning is where you clean up a ThreadMode document by creating a parallel page with a similar name. The parallel document tries to convert the arguments in thread mode into a more compact or more organized form. When a consensus is reached that the new page captures the points of views in the threaded version, then the threaded version is eventually deleted, archived, or perhaps left in as a "discussion" section. Note that one should wait for discussion activity to die down first. It might also take several months before the replacement is ready.
CategoryWikiMaintenance CategoryWikiRefactoring CategoryMode

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