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The basic idea is to prefetch all the pages on RecentChanges (or the ones that have changed since you last looked at them, which is available through something like Wiki:QuickChanges), scan them for link patterns matching CategoryFoo? or TopicBar? and then sort them into bins according to their categories and topics (a many to many sort). Then, you regenerate RecentChanges compartmentalized by category. More advanced scripts will allow users to filter out certain categories.

A loose example can be found in UseMod:RecentFilterIdea.

I wrote a script for WikiWiki that outputs to Wiki:CategorizedRecentChanges.

Predicted fallout if this script goes live for real:

-- SunirShah

[August 11, 2000] I've restarted the experiment with a script that will get around the server overloading logic. --ss

[August 13, 2000] I've terminated the experiment for good. No one was reading the page, even though it only lagged RecentChanges by a couple minutes at most. --ss

This experiment is now considered FAILED. Comments directed to Wiki:CategorizedRecentChangesDiscussion.

umm, there were a lot of comments below this, so i thought i might re-redirect some comments from RoleOfRecentChanges back over here? after all, many of those comments didn't have much to do with RoleOfRecentChanges in general -- BayleShanks

I've come to the conclusion that this shouldn't have been done in the first place. RecentChanges to me isn't as important as what's said. If changes were all important, then there'd be no point in storing content.

What the changes give you is a sense of what to look at next. But the whole point of a Wiki is that there is so much more to look at. It's deeper than the newest stuff.

Content, content, content. Everything else is marketing. -- SunirShah

See also Wiki:CategorizedRecentChangesDiscussion for some more down to earth discussion of the script.
some comments moved to WikiSubcommunities

... I have made some suggestions in the past, but now I don't feel that they fit well with Ward's MinimalWiki goals. I'm thinking about implementing "PersonalCategories" as a kind of ViewPoint-lite, however. --CliffordAdams

One reason for the relative lack of interest may be that categories serve a different group of people than RecentChanges. Categories are most useful for finding the old forgotten pages that were not included in the roadmaps. RecentChanges is focused on novelty and current discussion. The categories are like a library, while RecentChanges is more like a discussion group.

Another simple reason is that categories are rarely used, so they aren't a reliable way to find pages. As of August 14, 2000, only 1490 pages out of 11221 contain "category". Probably the most-used category is CategoryHomePage, with 272 entries. (I recently estimated (through random sampling) that about 1000 pages belong in this category.) CategorySmalltalk? is only on 4 pages, of which two are actually about Smalltalk topics. CategoryJava? is on 23 pages, with 14 of them Java-related. --CliffordAdams

I agree it failed, but I don't necessarily agree about the reasons. We might still be better off if the real RecentChanges page used that idea. More infrastructure for categories might help too. -- DaveHarris

This is true; perhaps the experiment only really failed because the script was too difficult and impractical to run off site. My statements about RecentChanges reflects my opinions, but then again, I'm the guy who keeps saying ContentOverForm.

But maybe the failure speaks more for what categories and topics do. They aren't remotely important as content identifiers. I think most people are capable of determining what a page is about by reading it. They are important as an IndexingScheme (TableOfContents, specifically). -- SunirShah

A semi-related idea can be found in [CocoaDev]'s chronological Topic (AKA category) listings; for example see [Cocoa:RecentTutorials] and [Cocoa:CocoaDiscussions]. Just place a reverse-index inline in a page, sorted by modification date. Wham. Instant category-filtered RecentChanges. Admittedly, not quite what the original proposal suggested.

The main benefit is that, while RecentChanges is very ephemeral, category-filtered pages can usefully display much more of the past. Other categories are more usefully served by traditional alphabetical indexes.

CategoryWikiTechnology CategoryIndexingScheme CategoryRecentChanges


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