User:JWSchmidt/Blog/28 February 2007

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28 Feb - Delete or develop?
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2 February - Portal cleanup done.
31 January - Reliable sources.
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14 January - The "Topic:" namespace
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12 January 2007 - Start of the blog
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24 October, 2006 - Wikiversity history
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17 March, 2004 - Semantic prosthetic
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Deletionists vs content development
Because of the differences in age and mission, Wikipedia has different problems than Wikiversity. However, there is always tension in wikis between the desire to remove useless and distracting pages and the desire to allow new wiki participants a chance to start editing. In the case of Wikiversity, it has been fairly common for some participants to create lists of topics for particular subject areas (example) or lists of lessons for particular topics (example). Many of these lists of "red links" were created at Wikibooks and imported to Wikiversity. I like to think of these lists as working proposals for content development. The existence of these lists of proposed learning resources with links to non-existent pages is one of the main reasons it made sense to turn Wikiversity school and topic pages into content development projects.

A potential problem with these lists of red links is that many visitors come to Wikiversity without having any idea what the red links mean, how to edit a wiki webpage, or what to do if they happen to click on a red link and suddenly see this:


Edit window.png



I suspect that many people just hit their back button. Other people make a small edit and Wikiversity has another stubby page. The first impulse of some administrators is to delete such stubs on sight. In contrast, I like the idea of using a welcome template on such pages. The template called {{Welcome and expand}} can be used to put the following on a stub page:

Please help

This page was created, but so far very little useful content has been added. Everyone is invited to help add educational content to Wikiversity. If you need help learning how to add content, see the editing tutorial.


In fact, I would like it if the MediaWiki software was configured to automatically add this template to short page with no category tag. That would have the advantage of automatically providing the creators of stubby pages with a link to a page where they can find out more about editing.

There has been off-and-on discussion of providing Wikiversity with a systematic way to mark links to pages that are under construction. This would allow people to avoid following links to stubs. Another idea is "soft deletion" which would turn undesirable pages into soft redirects to their content. The redirect pages would explain what is wrong with the page contents and invite people who want to fix that content to continue on past the redirect page. Other people could just turn around and walk away.

I do not see this as a matter of "deletionsists" vs "inclusionists", but rather as a need to find the best way to encourage visitors to become participants. If we remove red links and stubs then we remove what are functionally invitations for people to get involved with editing the wiki. Maybe we need a little template that could be placed above lists of red links. The template could explain what red links are and invite visitors to join in the wiki editing process.