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Shallow pages are pages that more or less describe or define what
their title already says. They are shallow and don't contain any
interesting content beyond the definition. Often they don't have any outbound links.
Especially bad are those
pages that create links to EmptyPages, MeaninglessPages, and
UnwantedPages, and FutureShallowPages. Even though one might put
emphasis on these words while reading the text, and even though these
terms look like cool concepts, consider what you would write on those
pages. Would it be a good essay -- or would it be a ShallowPage?
Occasionally you have a parenthetical statment you would like to make, like a footnote. Consider using a NamedAnnotation instead. That serves as an in between solution for a ShallowPage. You may then also refer to your shallow idea on other pages directly by your shallow name if you feel so compelled.
[ed: Note that at the current revision of MeatballWiki's script, we do not have PermanentAnchors yet, but we will eventually.]
We would really rather you didn't write shallow ideas though.
Contributors: BayleShanks, AlexSchroeder, CharlesMatthews, SunirShah, HelmutLeitner
Footnotes are just that: Footnotes. Stuff you can do without.
Therefore, avoid using footnotes as objects in your sentences,
as illustrated in .
If they refer to a word, put it after the word .
If they refer to a sentence, put it after the sentence. 
However, the exception to  is when referencing another corpus as an object in your sentence. For instance,  is an excellent search engine. Notes such as these are used when inlining the full text of a reference would be distracting. While in the given example here, writing "http://google.com is an excellent search engine," would probably be legitimate, it's not difficult to dream up longer examples, such as those commonly found in academic papers. E.g., "Based on other research, such as the often cited papers , , , and the sometimes controversial , dingbats do not fly."
See also StyleGuide
Reasons to create a Shallow Page
- the author feels, that a term should be explained in a non-redundant way on its own page
- but others feel that the term needs no explanation (or a few explaining words here and there wouldn't hurt).
- but it's not the mission of this wiki to create a dictionary - try the WiktionaryProject
- but it's not in the style of this wiki to hold shallow pages
- but the page subject may be off topic anyway
- the author thinks that a rough idea that he is struggling with might take shape with the help of the community
- but others don't like to have rough ideas thrown at them
Reasons to dislike a Shallow Page
- it's an element of low quality that doesn't fit in the high quality - essay oriented - picture of the wiki
- but others may feel different towards quality, perhaps think that the creative or brainstorming potential of a wiki should be more exploited
- the namespace of a wiki is even more important than the content of the pages, so it should be handled with extreme care.
- but depending on the wiki engine, the namespace of a wiki can be refactored just like the content of pages
Ways to react to a Shallow Page
- the GodKing way: Delete the page. Don't write anything else. Act quick and without explanation.
- This is a good way to get lots of bug reports saying "you have a bug: my page disappeared".
- the ColdBlanket way: question the right of the page to exist by adding DeletedPage at the front. Don't write anything else.
- but it may not be meant that cold at all, maybe it's just a "tell us more, you can do better than that!"
- At least one could write "DeletedPage: ShallowPage"
- the WarmHelpful way: add enough of your knowledge and experience to get the page out of the shallow status.
- but this makes only sense, if this is not a dictionary entry or the wiki in question has a mission where a dictionary fits in.
- but it may be a "shallow idea" that just doesn't deserved to be worked upon
- the ReactLater way in between (ReworkLater). Wait two days before reacting "cold" - at least for the first such page. Wait a day before reacting "warm". Both gives other contributors the chance to step in and take the lead.
- Writing as an art. Writing is an art form; writing on a wiki is an art form. Art is a balance between freedom and restraint. There may be no absolute rules but that doesn't mean that conventions are useless. We caution people to avoid writing shallow pages only when they are failing to write to their potential. We base our judgment on our collective experience and expertise, which shouldn't be discounted.
- Community standards. The attitude towards the Shallow-Page problem seems to depend on the wiki and community standards. It creates another border for contributions and contributors (just like OT and RealName). It's good to be clear about this in the mission and style statements of any wiki.
- Climate. The reception of a shallow page may depend highly on personal relationships. A warm reception shows friendliness and helpfulness and may be the preferred reaction towards known community members. On the other hand it may be the wrong with visitors, because it may encourage them to increase their production of shallow pages. (this is a bit paradoxical: in general we'd like to give new members a warm welcome)
- Roughness. The author of a shallow page should be aware that his action may be seen as some kind of roughness. If it is meant that way, he should reckon with and accept cold reactions. If he meant it as a stimulus to creativity and cooperation he should wait for the reactions to his first page, before creating further pages. If he gets a warm reception, it may make sense to continue, otherwise not.
- Technology. The psychological effect of shallow page creation depends on the ability of a wiki engine to delete pages. The original Wiki (before 2001) had no page deletion at all, misspelled and offending pages created high emotions. The ProWiki software allows immediate deletion by anyone, so almost no emotions are created. MeatBall is somewhere in between.
- (Incidentally, this page is getting to be Wiki:TooBigToEdit.)
- Is there a technical limitation (After all, this page has grown a LOT since the preceding concern was posted.) or does the comment simply address the difficulting of finding the location to edit, in the source?
- Many weeks later... still no idea if there is a technical limit, but this page (WikiMarkupStandard) can now be used as a 'yadstick' since it seems to be one of the biggest and just "keeps on growing".
- It's a technical limit of sorts if the CGI library is configured to reject posts over a certain size, or if it gets so darn big that posting it back times out before a reply is sent (not likely until you put War and Peace onto one page). Nowadays it usually just means that it's too unwieldy and cumbersome to work with.
- Wiki:TooBigToEdit seems based on opinions beliefs that 32k is an upper limit and that 16k is better. These opinions;
- Seem to have started with Lowest Common Denominator thinking.
- Are probably affected by the fact that many US users are still limited to 56kb dialup access, making large pages slow to load.
- May be exacerbated by the limited markup that is supported at c2.
Here, WikiMarkupStandard is one big example. Efforts at editing this page teach us that a major limitation to page size is the problem of finding the target location, when review the raw text markup.
I'm going to break the zen by actually discussing ShallowPage
, sorry :). A few times there have been references to "intentional communities" as well as some other less popular terms like "eco-villages". It was suggested that these terms be followed by a definition when they are used since many people haven't heard of them (including me, in the latter case).
However, wouldn't following a term with a definition each time it is used create redundancy?
I assert that if a term is really so obscure that it must be defined on this wiki, the definition should have its own page so as to avoid redundancy. This would be, however a ShallowPage.
Write as you would write an article for a magazine. Define terms as you use them.
Example from MakeWikiMoreAccessible:
- I see people making a lot of shallow pages to define terms; definitions are usually better explained where the word is used. English is powerful. Not to say I'm very good at writing.
Notice how the term "shallow pages" was used. -- AlexSchroeder
Yes, I think you're right. I guess if a term is defined often the redundancy matters, but in most cases it would be premature to set up a ShallowPage instead of putting in a few extra words once or twice. -- BayleShanks
Not sure I agree with the deprecation of shallow pages. That's correct, probably, for 'magazine' writing. But a wiki page is more than its content: it creates a node to which others may link; but also and crucially its backlinks can reveal one idea in several places. These things are assets in writing that gets closer to technical writing/encyclopedic coverage. -- CharlesMatthews
But then again, you can always search for keywords. You propose to use shallow pages as some kind of "canned search", but is it really worth the additional clutter? -- AlexSchroeder
I wonder. Better use one of my own pages as example: SenseisLibrary:Overconcentration really was shallow at first(version 1), since it just translated a Japanese term. It has grown a little, but isn't exactly deep yet. With one click on it I get eight backlinks, and a separate reference to the SenseisLibrary:Mistake path (PageTrail). With a full text search of the site I get 19 hits on 'overconcentration', which tell me something else (more may not be better). PageTrail here is a definition+list+link page - close enough to what I'd mean by a node; that's version 7 and it may have started out small. I can see well enough the argument against clutter - I think it amounts to keeping down the effort to know where everything is. -- CharlesMatthews
Writing is an art form; writing on a wiki is an art form. Art is a balance between freedom and restraint. There may be no absolute rules--indeed, there are some useful ShallowPages--but that doesn't mean that conventions are useless. We caution people to avoid writing ShallowPages only when they are failing to write to their potential. We base our judgment on our collective experience and expertise, which shouldn't be discounted.
Often people create shallow pages because they are writing a dictionary of sorts. MeatballWiki is a PatternLanguage. If you cannot (*) think in terms of identifying problems and then solving them, you will have problems participating here. Perhaps we should more pragmatically claim that MeatballWiki is not the WiktionaryProject
- (*) Note that I did not say do not. We don't expect perfection before joining, but we do expect BarnRaising--we're all here to teach and learn.
I don't have difficulty taking the point(s) and style comments, as related specifically to Meatball and its conventions. There does seem to be a tension between the 'emergent' (WhyWikiWorks) and an essay-led bias. -- CharlesMatthews
>> MeatballWiki is a PatternLanguage
> There does seem to be a tension between the 'emergent' (WhyWikiWorks) and an essay-led bias.
I think that characterization of MeatballWiki as a PatternLanguage is too narrow. For instance, it is also a place where we chat, discuss policies, politics, and cool new things. I do think there is value in the essay-led parts, although I also think the essay-led parts are primary. -- BayleShanks
I think his core observation still holds though- that there is a tension between 'emergent' and essay-led bias.
I want to add some new (unseen on this page so far) ideas to the mix:
- If Wiki [what do you mean? this wiki? WikiWiki? Ambiguous - see the StyleGuide] is not a dictionary, then where is our dictionary? For surely, we need one.
- Writing may be an art form, but we aren't always working to construct works of art. Frequently, we're just trying to communicate ideas. We'd like to use standards that communicate easily. If we define a concept with great detail on a ShallowPage, there is far less chance of mis-interpretation, then if we always try to say the same idea in new, terse, artistic ways.
- I have found that "others feel that the term needs no explanation" is frequently false. We frequently believe we understand exactly what the other person is saying, when in reality, we are grossly misunderstanding what they intend. Apparently simple ideas may not be served by "a few explaining words here and there."
- It is useful to distinguish between a ShallowPage that pops up from overzealous AccidentalLinking, and a ShallowPage that come about because people are trying to make a clear representation of what, exactly, they mean. ForExample?, this HyperText may LeadTo? several ShallowPages? that EndUpNowhere?. But a page like UnifiedRecentChanges could be used to make clear what you mean by UnifiedRecentChanges. Historically, many people have taken the term to mean what I would call UniversalRecentChanges?- collecting of RecentChanges for all wiki, and that mis-understanding has caused a lot of strife. There should be a ShallowPage for each idea. Again: If Wiki is not a dictionary, where is our dictionary? For surely, we need one.
- ShallowPages are excellent places to give context to where an idea came from, and what it's conceptual neighbors are.
Lion, I think that you are right in some ways, wrong in others. It's right that we need certain dictionary pages, but not in dictionary form. A dictionary typically doesn't explain or talk about misunderstandings and it is meant to include all, even trivial, words. If someone creates the page (Computer = technical device) than it's shallow in any context, no-one in a community can want such a page except if it is the explicit goal of a community to create a dictionary. To allow trivial dictionary pages in a normal community would just produce a lot of noise without the chance to close the door.
If you create a page about a simple term, but show that there are problems in its use, perhaps misunderstandings that can or should be resolved, well, then it is not a dictionary page, it is not in dictionary style, it is not shallow. You will have no problems in any wiki community.
The other problem is that some WikiEngines, like UseMod do not have good support for words as page names. One has to work around this. But one can solve related problems easily: the ProWiki software supports automatical linking of words too. See for example .
I agree that a page need not have an artistic touch. I'm astonished that this page seems to have got one. But it doesn't hurt if there are pages that show this dimension of wiki writing. -- HelmutLeitner
- Writers ought mostly to strive for quality entries. Some contributors may choose to write essay, or might fancy themself a journalist's approach. Whichever, entries should be clearly mission critical. Defining obscure terms is not the mission of Meatball Wiki so it is left up to those who job it is. Whatever couldn't be extrapolated by the Author and contributor's writing should be the responsibility of the reader to incorporate in their own mind. Wiki:Extreme writing is akin to Extreme Programming ; one assumes the role of design, writing, editing, and publishing in small increments; as further content is found to be needed, collaboration of members allows it to grow without having an initial delay before release; the goal is a precise, unbloated commentary on the subject, with powerfull access to linked resources ; there is no time for dilly-dally , starting what one doesn't intend to fully invest in- because too much time is invested in the performance and content richness of more intent entries.
Shallow entries, I for one view as a result of analysis paralysis, a condition of declining forthrightness and performance in light of internal analysis of perceived poor outcomes by the author. The course of prevention is to forsee a meaningful, punctual, if not utilitarian , outcome. Punctual not as in brevity, but as in the content richness and ease of use, less time is spent acquiring and disseminating the important parts,less time is then spent receiving and assimilating the wiki content by the community. Later the wiki entry is expanded upon as is seen fit, but in a similar fashion as the original authoring, in order to; provide content quickly, for that content to be worthwhile; to avoid the Shallow Page and encourage collaboration as is the goal in collaborative intelligence. When many people use information dense resources to quickly expound on already meaningful and precise entries the community thrives and WikiZen? is achieved.
A ShallowPage is the product of a writer of weak constitution and without pride in their ability to provide content of any value. WikiExtreme? is where the most ambitious writer collaborate in a busy community; where content creation is rapid, with high quality works being driven by streamlined research and creation rather than pokes at the community to make short of the work, or to introduce "some rough idea" that befell the ShallowWriter? so that there is a marker sitting on the cards as though someone is about to throw in some chips but can't get themselfs and their thoughts together enough to make a gutsy move. Unfortunately the pokes are not usually well received and they do deplete the Wiki in namespace (wordspace) as well as depleting the potential for serious collaboration by others due to the low quality of numerous initial entries that otherwise could have been content rich and therefore a magnet for meaningful collaboration. Be Extreme, discussion is worth some of our time, but creation of thought channels is likely a more fruitful way of using our tools.