There are many ways one can make a point. Some are more likely to cause misunderstanding, inspire resentment and lower the overall value of any work in which they appear. Here are some examples:
- ThreadMode deletion Especially while a discussion is still running. : This causes resentment when it is not consensual and removes contextual information from the discussion.
- Biased refactoring: Can be a misguided attempt at "clarifying" the issues. FixYourWiki but leave other people's alone. If you can't help yourself then make the changes small and make it easy for others to reverse them. Let conversations cool before refactoring them. Allow new readers to see the flow.
- Name calling: Often called irony or humor. We can't see your smile. It looks and feels mean to enough people that it just isn't an effective way to communicate. It's also not a "fair" way to argue. Attack the points not the people. Variants of name calling include spurious imitation pages or badges like CategoryDrugAbuse?.
- Altering signatures: Changing or adding a signature to a post is a lie. Even if the attribution is correct it still makes it look like the original poster meant to sign the contribution. If they didn't mean to then making it look like they did is a lie.
- Altering signed contributions: Could very well be a lie too. Square brackets are a widely recognized way to delimit editorial comments made after the fact. Spelling corrections and simple rewordings can really help. Changing the meaning will likely engender resentment, mistrust and misunderstanding. When in doubt don't make the change.
- Misrepresenting moved material:
- Sometimes it makes sense to move a conversation to a new, more appropriate location, and leave a little note in its place with a forwarding address. Moving only a piece of the conversation is almost as bad as deletion. Anything other than a factual representation of it is likely to be a misrepresentation.
- Double editing to cover up your changes:
- See for example RecentPosts for this very page:
- 1097889172 22.214.171.124 126.96.36.199 79
- 1097889241 188.8.131.52 184.108.40.206 80
- 1097892070 220.127.116.11 18.104.22.168 81
- 1097892168 22.214.171.124 126.96.36.199 82
- Edits performed by a banned individual
See also WikiNewspaperAnalogy
The best advice I've gotten on issues of ethics is to avoid the appearance
as well as the act of wrong doing. If it's possible that your change could be misconstrued then it's best not to do it.
See the Ethics section below.
It's hard work. It takes more than just not being lazy to do it. Too little is far, far better than too much in my opinion. For advice on what to
do see RefactoringWikiPages
(particularly the advise about sections). In software good refactoring is riskless, easy and tedious. It's done in small steps and with great care. I would prefer that Wiki be treated in the same manner. If that makes it too hard to do then don't do it. But I'd like to suggest that if we focused more on doing WikiRefactoring
the hard way we wouldn't have time for all of these endless meta-conversations. -- PhilGoodwin
Don't change what I say. Ask me about it and get me to change it if I care to. Don't sign my name to what I didn't sign, whether or not I wrote it. Don't remove my name from something I signed. If you do any of these things, I will hunt you down and eat your liver with some fava beans and a nice Chianti.
As I was saying, it looks a lot less risky not refactoring.
Misrepresenting moved material
What's a "factual representation"?
It's a summary that includes facts but excludes opinions. If there is a chance that it'll be misunderstood or that the original authors will be misrepresented then don't do it. You could split hairs over the meaning of "factual" I suppose. If you're unsure, you can try borrowing someone else's judgement - if you aren't sure that some other reasonable person with a point of view that is different from your own would agree that something is fact then just assume that it isn't. The more you feel like you want to say something even though someone else will disagree with it, the less likely it is to be a "fact".
Here's an example:
(from the Face
- FacePaint hides all of those ugly freckles. -- FreckleFree
- Oh, I love my freckles. Maybe I could just paint around them. -- FreckleFace
- Let me set you straight here...
- (False statements about the attractiveness of freckles moved to: FrecklesAreUgly)
- (Freckle conversation moved to: FreckleDiscussion)
-- PhilGoodwin very good example thanks
Yes, good example. Moving things is mostly OK. I'd advise care not to hide an idea an author might have thought important. -- RonJeffries
"The best advice I've gotten on issues of ethics is to avoid the appearance
as well as the act of wrong doing. If it's possible that your change could be misconstrued then it's best not to do it."
If we're talking ethics, words like "laziness", "procrastination" and "bad manners" also come to mind. How is it that so much waste material has been left on Wiki for years? Good refactoring of good stuff mixed with less good is especially risky and difficult. Even if you only try to FixYourWiki
it's often made very difficult by other people's responses, unless your totally ignore readability by doing a mini "wind wipe". I often feel almost that in the end the advice boils down to: "don't bother, it's too risky". Increasingly I don't blame people for not bothering. -- RichardDrake
Maybe this whole discussion ought to focus more on HowToWriteAndEditThreadMode
contributions. I agree with you on several points here mostly revolving around the concept that junky ThreadMode
shouldn't be produced. If nobody wrote undecipherable ThreadMode
then we'd never have to argue about how to clean it up.
I think that we need to get good at making what's there navigable rather than resorting so much to straight re-writes and deletion. I think that once we have the first skill in place the second two will find more naturally fitting homes. -- PhilGoodwin
I find small changes hard to pick out in the QuickDiff
modes, basically they're two large chunks of black-on-yellow and black-on-green with a small but possibly important change hidden somewhere inside. Sometimes it's possibly to spot where the word-wrap or line length changes. Additional highlighting (like emacs ediff mode) would help. Applying this to formatting changes may be harder, perhaps inserting symbols in the formatted version would work? MoinMoin
have [-had-] this feature [-for a long time-]. See WikiWikiSuggestionsMedium
This is basically a feature suggestion. Opposing views?
- Not from me. Thanks for the link. Deletes suggested above if you care to tidy up (ack, now I'm scared of refactoring)
Side-by-side diffs would help. -- EarleMartin
This wiki has pages and their history. To get outside the world of linking to the current version of a page, one must link to the HistDiff
. The content of the link is not subject to further editing so this may make it easier to discuss the changes without further edits muddying the water.
Want to avoid the above?
Almost all of the problems and differences mentioned above can be addressed adequately by using one's own personal wiki space in a FederatedWiki
such as the SmallestFederatedWiki
, or the newer node-js "wiki" introduced since 2011 by this Wiki's Founder: WardCunningham