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Prior to the creation of the TourBusChanges?, the process for ensuring consistency between each individual TourBus and the TourBusMap was for a bus driver (a maintainer) to manually verify each page. While this may be tractable due to the small number of pages involved, over time it's unreasonable to believe the maintainers would continuously verify the consistency of each TourBus.

There are three potential ways of solving this problem. The obvious first answer is to do nothing. This may be a viable option as the TourBus system is not high traffic nor a particularly interesting target for abuse (LimitTemptation). The chance of errors or attacks to disrupt the tour is minimal and probably ignorable.

The next cheapest solution is to assume that anyone with a TourBusStop will protect it from random interventions from outsiders. However, it may be unreasonable to assume that each and every wiki community will understand or care about the entire larger context in which their TourBusStop exists. They may only be mildly intrigued by the TourBus coming through their site, but not sufficiently engaged to be a watchful guardian.

The third solution is more expensive, but the strongest option so far. Since we assume the TourBusMap is consistent with the maintainers' wishes, and the wishes of all other stakeholders of that TourBus, and since the TourBusMap is really a full description of the TourBus system, we can use a familiar TechnologySolution to ensure consistency: RecentChanges. So, similarly to RecentChanges, we have constructed TourBusChanges? based on the TourBusMap.

Technically, this is very simple. The script merely scrapes each HTML dump of each TourBusStop in the TourBus once a night or once a week. Each session, the new version is compared against the old version looking for a relevant change. In fact, it looks to see if any external link from the page has been added or removed. By external, we mean http links that do not refer to the same system.

On the social level, this immediately creates interesting possibilities. For instance, it is no longer necessary to create explicit maintainers, instead letting them emerge. Each TourBus can be community controlled in much the same way wikis are community controlled. Also, it may alert the TourBus community here of other TourBus communities that have connected to their TourBusMap. [The assumption being there will be several TourBusMaps in existence, not necessarily ones we are aware of.]

On the technosocial level, if we just give away the TourBusChanges? script, this will encourage each individual TourBusMap to have the same format, making it easy to exchange TourBusMaps automatically. With good graphing software, making visual maps of each system will then be easier, which has a high cool rating.


TourBusMap technical requirements

The TourBusMap must now conform to some formatting restrictions, but they are rather flexible.

Each TourBus entry is defined as a list finally separated by a blank line from the rest of the text. The first line is the bus name. It must look like this (italics are filler):

From the rest of the list, any triple-indented unordered (bulleted) list will be used to determine which sites are on the tour. The last link on the line, provided it is the last text on the line, will be added to the tour:

Note that other list elements may be added, in particular indents to provide comments. So, a complete description might look like:

I suggest the ISO date format 2003-01-15 instead of 15 01 2003. Just so our eyes get used to it. -- AlexSchroeder

I've opted for the US Military format for now. It can be changed at will, of course. -- SunirShah

Not sure, but I don't know why Eclectic wiki had two changes, one saying why cublet was added, which I couldn't confirm, and the other saying that autonomous wiki changed as well, again I couldn't confirm. . . best, MarkDilley
So, BusManagement... is anyone going to prune the old changes? If not, I'll do it. How often do you want it pruned, and how much should be left? -- StephenGilbert

Well, has anyone looked at them? Mark is looking at the Eclectic tour, but what about the rest? -- SunirShah

TourBusChanges? is quite long. After spamming on that page some of the latest revisions seems to be lost now. There are lots of spam links from TourBus pages of other wikis on the TourBusChanges? page. It might be better if the script could ignore such links. Should such spam entries be removed from TourBusChanges?? --MarkusLude

I think you are right Markus, that script need not have the spam in it. If we can manually edit it, I will look now. Best, MarkDilley

A suggestion to whomever maintains the TourBus script (Sunir?) that the engine surround each change with [CopyEdit: ] (or perhaps [TourBus: ... ]). -- ChrisPurcell

Does anyone even read TourBusChanges? any more? -- SunirShah

I look at it exclusively for the eclectic tour... if I am the only one, I can easily rely solely on "driving" the tour... off to do that now, MarkDilley


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