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Re: Editing in the Wiki

From: Ian Horrocks <ian.horrocks@comlab.ox.ac.uk>
Date: Mon, 7 Jan 2008 19:52:19 +0000
Message-Id: <F74A7F1A-51C0-4145-B434-A5B8C23B249C@comlab.ox.ac.uk>
Cc: public-owl-wg@w3.org
To: Peter F. Patel-Schneider <pfps@research.bell-labs.com>

I'm not proposing it as a solution to Peter's problem, but I wondered  
how easy it would be to install a local wiki, and perhaps even a  
mirror of the WG wiki, so that I could work on wiki pages/documents  
off-line and upload them when I have a connection. This would solve  
what is for me one of the more annoying aspects of the wiki -- the  
fact that it is useless without network connectivity.


On 3 Jan 2008, at 09:50, Peter F. Patel-Schneider wrote:

> I have suffered with editing in the Wiki for quite some time now.   
> Here
> are some comments on the Wiki editing process (as opposed to  
> editing as
> related to the Wiki language) and some suggestions for changes.
> The Wiki editing system has at least the following problems with  
> respect
> to editing WD documents:
> - The Wiki diff mechanism does only a textual diff, ignoring the fact
>   that whitespace can be compressed and that newlines are often just
>   whitespace.  So a diff may be much harder to decipher than a simple
>   description of a change.
> - The Wiki diffs are only between two versions of the document,  
> whereas
>   the changes required to implement an issue may be interleaved with
>   many other changes.
> - Direct editing (i.e., editing in the provided text box) is not
>   adequate.  This leads to the common practice of editing pages or
>   sections in an external editor.  The export and import can produce
>   non-visible artifacts, which are then picked up in the diffs.
> - The Wiki editing model is not designed for speculative editing.  All
>   changes are reflected in a single branch.  All editing must be  
> made on
>   the Wiki itself.  It is not possible to have private copies, e.g.,
>   editor's drafts.  This means that it is not possible to "freeze" a
>   document (e.g., for publication) and continue to work on it at the
>   same time.  No, you cannot use old versions for this - freezing does
>   *not* mean that the document does not get changed as there may be
>   changes needed to support the publication process.
> - The Wiki editing system appears to be designed for light-weight
>   concurrent editing.  It is adequate for recording who did what when,
>   but not adequate for recording why.  It is much too easy to  
> forget to
>   enter the description of changes.  Contrariwise, it is impossible to
>   fix these descriptions after the fact.
> A reaonable editing system would have *at least* the following changes
> from the Wiki editing system:
> - A user-entered description of the changes would be *required* for  
> each
>   change.
> - The "minor edit" flag would have to be entered for each change.
> - Change descriptions could be changed after the fact.
> - Speculative changes (i.e., a different branch) would be possible,  
> and
>   could be merged into the main branch.
> - Diffs could be generated based on a set of changes.
> - Diffs would be insensitive to non-visible changes in whitespace.
>   (Unfortunately the Wiki language makes determination of non- 
> visibility
>   hard.)
> If the first two changes above were made to the Wiki editing system  
> then
> the WG could proceed in the following limping manner:
> - Each change would be for a particular purpose.
> - Changes related to an issue would have the issue number in their
>   description.
> - Changes made solely for editorial reasons would so state, and  
> would be
>   flagged as minor.
> - Other changes would have a description of the purpose of the change.
> - Issue resolutions would just point to which documents were changed.
> - Publication would be approved for a document and not a particular
>   version of a document.  Non-minor changes to a document during the
>   publication process would have to be approved by the WG chairs.
> This proposed process is definitely not ideal, but appears to me to be
> acceptable and needs only minor changes to the Wiki editing system.
> (It turns out that it is possible for the WG to partly "implement" the
> first change, by requiring that all WG members change their  
> Preferences
> -> Editing -> Prompt me when entering a blank edit summary to on.
> Unfortunately, the way this preference works is particularly annoying,
> and much too easy to bypass.)
> Peter F. Patel-Schneider
> Bell Labs Research
Received on Tuesday, 8 January 2008 09:22:51 UTC

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