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Fwd: Editing in the Wiki

From: Alan Ruttenberg <alanruttenberg@gmail.com>
Date: Thu, 3 Jan 2008 17:45:59 -0500
Message-Id: <EDC799E2-50B2-4A9E-87B8-03E81C482690@gmail.com>
Cc: "pfps@research.bell-labs.com" <pfps@research.bell-labs.com>
To: "public-wiki-dev@w3.org" <public-wiki-dev@w3.org>

Begin forwarded message:

> Resent-From: public-owl-wg@w3.org
> From: "Peter F. Patel-Schneider" <pfps@research.bell-labs.com>
> Date: January 3, 2008 4:50:23 AM EST
> To: public-owl-wg@w3.org
> Subject: Editing in the Wiki
> 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 Thursday, 3 January 2008 22:46:13 UTC

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