Less Is More

Every line you delete from wiki increases the value of every other line. -- KlausWuestefeld

That is really tempting fate.. ;-)

See also: PerfectionIsAchieved.


LessIsMore, but let's not go overboard with it either.


See also: WorseIsBetter, WabiSabi


In GUIs, the idea is to present the minimum amount of information to allow informed decisions, and avoid any extraneous detail. EdwardTufte is a major proponent of this ideal, although his focus is on information visualization (see CategoryInformationVisualization), which isn't exactly the same as a GUI.

See GuiGuidelines for more principles.


In a different context it has been observed by me that often more functionality can be achieved with less code. It has also been observed that if you attempt to achieve less functionality it often requires more code.

Less functionality.
Class representing only all PrimeNumbers between 1 and 1000000.

More functionality.
Class representing PrimeNumbers between 1 and 1000000. It is ok to represent extra values also.

Even More functionality.
Class representing at least all PrimeNumbers between 1 and 1000000. It is ok to represent extra values also, but they fail the test Value.IsPrime?();.

No. The previous contributor has an understanding of functionality that is contrary to its definition. A toaster that only produces toasted bread has more functionality than a toaster that sometimes also produces untoasted or burned bread. If I want a function that prints all PrimeNumbers between 1 and 1000000, then "extra values" constitute noise. Similarly, the original logic would stipulate that a printer that also sometimes prints random, not necessarily desired pages has greater functionality. Simply not true. What is correct is that a printer that is also a scanner has greater functionality than a printer that just prints. In this case increased functionality has resulted from increased complexity in the design, as is almost always the case.


More on the theme LessIsMore - Moved from WikiAtTwentyThousand:

As an experiment, I deleted my own home page. It was restored within a few minutes. (Thanks, by the way, to whoever had the kindness.) This strongly reassures me that people here are operating under the guideline "if this page might be of value to someone, it shouldn't be deleted."

I suggest: Let us first delete all the pages with zero content / usefulness. Even a page consisting solely of contentious drivel is worth more than a page which consists only of two lines of unintelligible text and a URL, I'm sure everyone agrees?

So by targeting only the unambiguously useless pages we are sending the right message: that we care about the quality of the Wiki. At the same time, we avoid sending the wrong message: that we are out to remove content.

When we have solved our WorstProblem??, then maybe we can start to work on finding out what our new WorstProblem?? has become.

I don't agree that those are our worst problem. Zero content pages are easy to delete, they are low priority in my opinion.

Noted! - Disagreement should be allowed and encouraged on this wiki.


The horticultural world calls it "pruning". The first step is to remove dead wood - deleting pages with zero content - so you can get a better look at what's still alive. But by itself removing dead wood isn't really pruning at all. Pruning is removing living parts of the plant, with two goals: keeping the plant small, and promoting vigor.

By eliminating weaker growth, the plant's energy is directed more effectively. I think this applies to Wiki as well. It's hard to severely prune a plant, because it feels as though you're hurting it. And when you remove healthy tissue, you imagine the fruit it would've borne and feel loss. But pruning works, and the plant husband must learn to trust that the plant will respond with renewed vigor.

Do we here have that trust? It should be possible to delete a page and have its followers recreate it without referring to copies, because they "know what it says." (This is Wiki "cambium", the property that makes Wiki "alive".) And they are free to say it better. Or leave it unsaid, for higher wisdom. Just as a pruned tree will respond by bearing bigger fruit on an existing branch, or growing a new branch to take advantage of newly opened space.


That reminds of something silly...

Master cannot control the bonsai,
just ask nicely that it live or die.

While not Zen and cute, this sums up the argument on both sides.

On one hand, It's impossible for anyone - even a Master - to control how WikiWiki grows because the bonsai is unto itself. It controls itself as any living thing does. Consequently, the Master must ask the bonsai to do what she wants, as one creature to another. Further, the Master cannot do this violently, but has to do this nicely. To see what happens when you don't, just read the objections to our brashness.

On the other hand, using the word bonsai suggests all that pruning (as mentioned above) that a bonsai Master does to keep the bonsai healthy. Indeed, the Master must ask the bonsai to live by working on it. But the Master can also kill the tree if she chooses. Certainly, some people will kill the tree by acting. Thus, you must oppose this by acting.

Of course, there are no WikiMasters. No one is "outside" the bonsai. We're all part of TheCollective. Like I said, don't take it too seriously, but it's perhaps a useful metaphor.

-- SunirShah


What a smooth speech. A biologist here, let me say it bluntly: Forget (average) gardeners. *Expletive deleted* They typically want something unnatural, like keep the trees in rows, or force them to bear sweet apples instead of sourer, smaller, healthier apples with more rutin and arbutin. And they graft dumbified cultivars onto a stock with different interests. And then it's weak, and the gardeners are busy around with pesticides, pruning shears, worries about every slightly harsher winter...

''The no-pruning option is usually ignored by fruit experts, though often practised by default in people's back gardens! But it has its advantages. Obviously it reduces work, and more surprisingly it can lead to higher overall yields. MasanobuFukuoka? concluded that the trees should be raised all their lives without pruning, allowing them to form healthy and efficient branch patterns following their natural inclination. This is part of his implementation of the Tao-philosophy of Wú wéi translated in part as no-action (against nature), and he described it as no unnecessary pruning, nature farming or "do-nothing" farming, of fruit trees, distinct from non-intervention or literal no-pruning. He ultimately achieved yields that were comparable to or exceeded standard/intensive practices of using pruning and chemical fertilisation.

So let's not learn from gardeners. Shortening Wiki is refactoring, not pruning or huffing kitten, when we are at it.

LessIsMore is a slogan of architectural ModernIsm by architect MiesVanDerRohe.

RobertVenturi announced architectural PostModernism with the slogan LessIsABore.


It is not so simple as the pruning example given above. Pruning assumes A is good (a flower), and B is bad (a weed). Pages on this wiki are not so simplistic, in that here we have the full range of from the most beautiful and rare flower to the obnoxious and invasive weeds. The main is InTheMiddle?, where a mixture exists. Having just returned from vacation, I can appreciate the beauty that nature provides, where even the weed sprouts flowers of beauty. Can we not feast our own eyes and behold? Let us choose, select what we are to see. (See also: CategoryGardeningMetaphor)

You would generally prune one plant at a time. If you've got two plants, one of which is unwanted, that's "weeding"

"Two prisoners looked out the same prison bars, the one saw mud, the other stars." -- Frederick Langbridge
Why do we keep that 386 in the attic, piles of papers we haven't read, anyone here have a JunkBox? I've come to the conclusion that I would rather get rid of extra useless things than have them sit around wasting space. LessIsMore when it comes to keeping that which isn't relevant any more. If you get rid of the least useful information, you are left with only that which is relevant and you can then be more productive. -- BlakeMason

What would you put in the space? Is it wasted only if it is filled with junk, or if left empty of anything?
How a California couple has implemented LessIsMore in their housing and lifestyles:
CategorySimplification

EditText of this page (last edited June 9, 2013) or FindPage with title or text search