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New users can be overwhelmed by an EditThisPage link, or simply turned away by a vandalised page they don't want to battle past. No matter how friendly the community, or fast their response to vandalism, loss may still occur, especially during persistent vandalism.
Therefore, I propose a mix of several existing ideas that might mitigate this, in concert with existing community friendliness and vandalism response. I will proceed from a few core ideas to some specifics of my exact scheme, so all the steps are clear and can be critiqued.
- Firstly (drawing on WikiAccessLevels and partly ignoring SimpleInterfaces), new users will be presented with a smaller list of options than usually available. Specifically, if they want to interact, a well-named and well-placed link (or two) will let them do so. Perhaps "See/add comments". No other editing options will be available.
- Secondly (drawing on StableCopy and DelayAction), to keep vandalism from a first-time user, only the last version of a page that was unchanged for at least a day ("stable" version) will be displayed to the first-time user. Clicking on "See/add comments" will show the current revision of the page.
- Proposition: the user will not know or care if a page has been vandalised, since he has no expectations from the name of the link.
- Proposition: if the page is interesting, the stable version will be interesting, and the user will follow the link if he cares to get involved; if not, little is lost and a lot gained.
- Hope: to provide the user with a good first impression and intrigue him to enter the site further.
- Thirdly (drawing on EasySubmission), the first exposure to editing Wiki pages will just be an "Add a comment" box that appends text to a page. Threaded conversations are not simple, not necessary, and not sufficient. This is attached to the "See/add comments" page.
- Fourthly, editing pages will be a clear link off the "See/add comments" page. Ideally, a "welcome to Wiki" introduction will flow past the user first, without losing where he was. The only thing keeping monkeys from using it: it's small.
- Proposition: interested people will find the link as they get involved, and still be able to comment if/when they initially overlook it, or if they do not wish to jump the barrier yet.
- Hope: to reduce idiot-spamming while using the interest of real people to get them involved, since there is a trivial "mouse-trail" to follow.
- Fifthly, the outer shell of the onion, once peeled back for a user, will rarely pop back (define rarely as best as possible!) and will always be easy to scrape off when it happens.
- Proposition: nobody will go nuts :)
I call this the LayeredWikiInterface scheme. (The numbers/ordinals are there to help commenting!)
See also the slightly variant SearchEngineCloak.
- Cookies and cream
- A draft of a simple LayeredWikiInterface implentation.
For the majority of users, cookies will work transparently, so we use them primarily to achieve the onion. When the user breaks the "I can edit any page" barrier, they spend some time reading the introduction, and either stay with the outer shell, or brave the new world of full-on Wiki. They never again get the cushioning of seeing old pages by default (unless they change their preferences).
The outer layer is achieved solely by URL, which will be chosen to support the illusion of the page/comments divide. (It's not actually an illusion, just a different view, but hey.) We don't want users without cookies to run into problems. Example:
- www.mysite.com/Wiki/InterestingPage - Shows the stable, historical page - note, not a diff!
- www.mysite.com/Wiki:Comment/InterestingPage - Shows the current page - note, not a diff!
The inner onion crosses the same base URL system, but in a Wiki way. Example:
- www.mysite.com/Wiki/InterestingPage - Shows the current page
- www.mysite.com/Wiki:Diff/InterestingPage - Shows a diff for the current page
For those users that don't have (or don't use) cookies but want to use the inner onion, a separate URL system works for them. They will have to be careful not to post links, especially off-site, to keep new users from prematurely breaking the layered interface. Also, if they follow links to the site, they will have to re-peel (repeal?) the onion. Tough cookies. Example:
- www.mysite.com/Wiki:Scary/InterestingPage - Shows the current page
- www.mysite.com/Wiki:Scary+Diff/InterestingPage - Shows a diff for the current page
Notes for possible, initial gut-instinct complaints:
- The example URLs are designed for a Wiki host with enough privileges and savvy to use some form of rewrite engine. This is not essential, it's just an example.
- The interface is designed to annoy as little as possible for the benefits it gives. I laugh at the possibility of an interface that will annoy nobody at any point. Mwahahaha. See? Anyway, I submit that subjectivity rules, but a better interface / implementation would be cool.
- LayeredWikiInterface, being inherently modal, violates HumaneInterface. Then again, so does having an "Edit" link.
-- ChrisPurcell (exuberant he's got to the end of this!)
I like this as a kind of SoftSecurity/EconomicSolution form of GatedCommunity/AccessLevels. Anyone can join the monastery, but we're located at the top of a hill. Still, it's an interesting climb, for the sort of people who'd get along well in the monastery. However, I do think this pattern could be generalised - for non-wikis, for wikis without EasySubmission, etc. This is all very specific and technical - I'm more interested in the underlying concept. --MartinHarper
StableCopy is (now) the current name; it's just a matter of defaulting to displaying the stable version rather than the current one. -- ChrisPurcell
An incidental bonus for the separate URI system is that the "current" system of pages can be kept hidden from Google. Spammers googling for "Edit this page" text won't find you. Any spam that gets placed but removed within a day will never find its way onto Google, even if the spider happens past at a bad time. PeriPeri implements a lite form of LayeredWikiInterface with these benefits - StableView. -- ChrisPurcell
- So we finally let the wiki spirit die and get to a hierarchical system? -- AlanMcCoy?
Why do you call this "hierarchical"? There are only two levels, and one can easily get from one to the other by following two links. It's just a layer around the wiki for those who don't want to delve deeper. -- ChrisPurcell
Chris my HierarchicLinking proposal would also do the same, but not a layer around the wiki, instead a layer around the page. This "layer" could later have multiple-deeper levels, step by step. Organizing wiki content would be much more flexible. "Flat jumping" links would be replaced by "hierarchical smooth links" (child,parent) or bigger jump links. -- TonyArmani
- I think you've missed the point of the proposal above. Try rereading the page. -- ChrisPurcell
See also: EasySubmission, HumaneInterface, MakeWikiMoreAccessible, SimpleInterfaces, WikiAccessLevels, StableCopy, StableView.
CategoryInterfaceDesign CategoryWikiTechnology CategoryUnimplementedWikiTechnology