User:JWSchmidt/Blog/27 May 2007
Back when I was working on a set of major portals for the content that was imported from Wikibooks, I went through the entire "School:" namespace, the entire "Topic:" topic namespace and most of the main namespace (see). I recently made a list of content development projects and I estimate that there are about 750 of them now. I am now working my way through the "Wikiversity:" namespace.
I'm interested in the idea of making the Main Page a useful resource for new visitors (see), so I need to become familiar with all of the Wikiversity pages that might be useful for new visitors. This task merges into the larger task of organizing all the pages that can be used for learning about Wikiversity at all levels (beginners, intermediate, advanced...see: Topic:Wikiversity). If we really believe in the power of learning projects, then maybe there should also be Wikiversity policy, a learning project about Wikiversity policies. I am very doubtful about pages such as Wikiversity:Introduction Overhaul Taskforce existing in the "Wikiversity:" namespace. If we put the Main Page back in the main namespace then there would only need be The Division of Wikiversity Learning Resources and sub-projects in the "Topic:" namespace such as Introduction Overhaul Taskforce.
Wikipedia has always had a bias against discussing itself in the main Wikipedia namespace. "The topic of Wikipedia articles should always look outward, not inward at the Wikipedia itself." There is w:Wikipedia, but there is not really much that a conventional encyclopedia need say about Wikipedia. Of course, Wikipedia is not conventional, so editors are always finding ways to include things in Wikipedia that would never be found in a printed encyclopedia. In addition to the main article about Wikipedia, there are a few others such as w:History of Wikipedia, w:Wikipedia in culture, w:Criticism of Wikipedia and w:Wikipedia community.
Wikiversity as an object of study
One of the first things I did at Wikiversity was start learning projects about wiki itself. If Wikiversity is specialized for exploring how to use wiki technology to promote learning, then we cannot ignore the need to have learning resources that are about Wikiversity itself. If we allow main namspace learning projects about Wikiversity (example) then what should be the relationship between those main namespace pages and other pages about Wikiversity in the "Help:" and "Wikiversity:" namespaces?
What if we had a general rule that says, "Make the "Wikiversity:" namespace as small as possible"? We started this process by putting WikiProjects in the "School:" and "Topic:" namespaces and not in the "Wikiversity:" namespace. Which other introspective pages about Wikiversity can take the form of learning projects in the main namespace? Should we have a strict definition of "Wikiversity:" namespace content restricting its pages to just policy pages?
At Wikipedia, w:Portal:Wikipedia redirects to w:Wikipedia:Community Portal. At Wikiversity, Wikiversity:Community Portal was quickly created and within a few week it was bloated with a bunch of links copied from Wikipedia. Many of these links remain red (I just fixed the link for "Administrators") and the "Community Portal" page is seldom updated. Right now it has a huge chunk of white space right in the middle of the page.
The idea of a "community portal" seems to go back to 2004, some 3 years after the Wikipedia project started. Early versions of the page actually had a section called "New to Wikipedia?", but the page has degenerated into an amazingly over-complex mass that only an addicted Wikipedian could love. Reproducing that structure at the new Wikiversity website was another abomination, similar to what was done to the Wikiversity Main Page. Wikipedians who know nothing about Wikiversity trying to turn Wikiversity into some sort of Wikipedia clone.
I've long felt that the "Wikipedia:" namespace was a mysterious mess where I can always expect to find more pages that I never knew existed. Since I have started going through the "Wikiversity:" namespace I have the same feeling about it. If you want to create a page and do not know where to put, the default dumping ground seems to be the "Wikiversity:" namespace. To make sense of it all we can use Portal:Wikiversity, categories, and navigation boxes (example).