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A page with a couple of lines of text, no links out (except perhaps to category pages and this page), up to one link in and no obvious way of growing. Unless someone can grow them, should they be cleaned up (by factoring their content into the single page they're linked from, then doing a MaintainMe/Delete) - or do they add something to the wiki as they are?
Currently, adding "LeafPage" to a page serves as a marker. It does not mean "this must be deleted". It indicates that in its current state, once the page drops off RecentChanges it seems it's unlikely to be seen again, and so it would be worth doing something to it. Adding relevant content is a good option. Other options like just adding a category, or proposing deletion of the page, meet with mixed responses: see points of view below. --AlexChurchill

Points of view:

MaintainMe - I can't find documentation to get that link to point to the right place :(

1. It's not healthy to trim LeafPages

(Not from another page, fresh thoughts --Vitenka)

I have a fear that if leaf pages are continually trimmed back then after a while the branch pages will begin to get too unwieldy.  With few 'light' pages that people feel easily able to add to the addition of stuff to the wiki would slow down.  It's also harder to find a new bit of discussion wihtin the context of a big page than it is in a small page.  Admitedly this content is light - but we're back to the 'lots of small make something big' vs 'you need to organise' argument.

PeterTaylor agrees: a LeafPage can function as a footnote, making the main text easier to read. Particularly useful when the footnote is, for example, a pun in the middle of a serious discussion.

Even the huge arguments have usually started off as small pages.

I see two things against leaf nodes though.  First, the creation of one blocks someone else creating one there.  Their leaf page may be bigger, better, funnier, more popular or whatever.  I don't like seeing leaves as territory to be marked out, but I have that instinct regardless.  Then again, the [Unreified links] page should be big enough for all of us.  (My recent spree was, indeed, started when I saw how big it was.  Though I admit to only stealing what I thought of as the choicer morsels)

The second is that it is easier still to create a new leaf page (by clicking a lovely blue question mark) than it is to edit a small page than it is to edit a large one.  New users are going to be more attracted by filling out when they reach the end of their little chain of links than they are to edit a pre-existing page.  Those specifically invited (Stormcaller sent here to ask questions about .cam and graffitti my CategoryHomepage) and long-time wiki users (we InterWiki out a lot - any stats on how often people InterWiki back in?) aside.  --Vitenka

2. LeafPages can be poor use of resources

MoonShadow doesn't object to leaf pages in general, just the ones that he doesn't see growing any time soon. There is a time limit for them to start growing - UnreifiedLinks can always be found, but once a LeafPage drops off RecentChanges it is lost and unlikely to ever get added to. So MoonShadow would like to spur people into either growing them or agreeing to refactor-and-prune them before that happens. For instance, until Vitenka added the question to OhWhatATangledWikiWeWeave, MoonShadow couldn't see a way of growing the page himself or a way anyone else could, so MoonShadow stuck a MaintainMe/Delete on it as an implicit "someone please grow this a little more if you want it to stay" request and a reminder to people that the page still existed (due to it getting booted to the top of RecentChanges again). Ultimately, MoonShadow's reasoning is that if LeafPages drop off RecentChanges without growing, the effect for most of them is much the same as being deleted, but without the corresponding garbage collection of resources.

MoonShadow also likes to surf - he gets depressed when he clicks on a link that only provides 2-3 seconds' worth of gratification and no outbound links; but that's more subjective and less mature, and MoonShadow wouldn't hurt a page over it. On the other hand, he sees a repeating pattern in the logs - people that come from search engines and browse generally read several dozen pages and set a bookmark (i.e. fetch favicon.ico) iff they don't encounter a page with no outbound links within the first 3-4 clicks after the initial search engine hit.

Quick interjection here - favicon.ico behaviour does not always imply setting a bookmark.  Mozilla variants, for example, always fetch it eventually to mark the tab with.  I think this is IE behaviour now as well, but can't check.  --Vitenka

That's actually a very good point.  I'm not sure going to a category is the answer - especially since I'd expect pretty much the same behaviour if they are taken back to somewhere they have been to if they hit a dead end.  Suggest adding to WikiEtiquette that it is good form to always provide at least one outgoing link (Are we big enough to yet to suggest that at least one link unreified and one that is reified?) and when you spot such a page, instead of adding 'delete' which sounds so final add some actual content, an outgoing link or two - or if you can't think of any some kind of plea for someone else to do so?  Also, the action=random page might be used as an outgoing link ;)  --Vitenka

I have always intended MaintainMe/Delete to be such a plea, but I agree - it sounds very final. - MoonShadow

Obvious suggestion - LeafPage as the category :)  Though it would doubtless be left to fester once a page stopped being a leaf by, for example - someone filling in SteamPunk, which is obviously going to be quite a large hub.  --Vitenka

PeterTaylor is struggling to see how the contents of this section fit under the title. MoonShadow's concerns seem to be more with disk-space and sociology. On the subject of namespace, though: a wiki isn't like a C program in the sense that a name does precisely one thing. Therefore can it really be said that namespace can be used up in a wiki?

3. LeafPages have information value

Emperor's personal opinion is that the odd LeafPage linked to in another item can be useful - even if there isn't a great debate on the ObscureThingy page, the fact that the wiki has a page stating what an ObscureThingy is might well be useful; particularly if there's a discussion that talks about ObscureThingys in passing?

I wouldn't describe such informative pages as content-free, though. Hm. Not sure the definition at the top of the page fits what ToothyWikizens don't like any more - some LeafPages are ok, and pages with lots of outbound links could conceivably be spurious although I can't think of any that exist on the wiki right now. Stuff probably needs updating to take into account discussions elsewhere. Which I guess is normal for a wiki.. - MoonShadow

That said, Emperor has never really seen wiki pages as bits of territory, so doesn't have the carving out of territory issues referred to above.

4. LeafPages can get lonely

Kazuhiko's general philosophy, and the main reason he occasionally goes off on a page culling spree, is that the only bad wiki page is one that is not connected to the rest of the wiki.  Such a page is effectively dead as it is highly unlikely that it will ever be found again.

With specific reference to LeafPages, I think pages should only be reified that stand on their own and which could be relevant to more than just the originating page.  Otherwise a sub-page or inline comment would be much more useful.  I personally find entering a page through a search or RecentChanges only to find that it is obviously intended as the continuation of a joke or concept on another page rather annoying.

Slightly off-topic but I will also admit to be vaguely confused as to why people are so concerned when a page comes up for MaintainMe/Delete.  If it is a useful page in its own right then say why the request for deletion is wrong and it will live another day.  If it isn't a useful page in its own right, let it be clipped.  Why try desperately to force a page's survival by adding random outlinks, categories or the like?

Personal answer?  I don't want something I have written being deleted.  By adding categories at the bottom when I write it (and when I remember to) I can prevent it.  Nothing more complex than that.  It is, largely, because of the evil soundingness of 'delete'.  I would agree that a JokeContinuation? page works badly if you come to it via RecentChanges without visiting the parent.  But OTOP putting the joke on the main page destroys the timing.  Contrawise, though - why is it bad for a page to contain a joke and then later to contain content, but not ViceVersa??  --Vitenka

See debate repeated 3-4 times both above and on other pages. Some LeafPages are such that they will never carry content. - MoonShadow

For the first point:  If something you have written (although possibly relevant to something else at the time) is now completely disconnected from the rest of the Wiki and doesn't stand on its own, honestly, why preserve it?  On the other hand, if it can stand by itself and falls naturally into a category, by all means link it appropriately.  All I'm objecting to is forced, meaningless, categorisation or the, completely pointless, random outlink that was suggested up in section 2.  If a page's only means of survival is one of these, it doesn't deserve to survive.  With exceptions, of course.  There are always exceptions, but you need a rule.
A LeafPage is a bit different from an OrphanPage though.  --Vitenka

For the second point:  If you really really want a joke continuation page, make it a subpage.  That way, people who hit the page will have a context to grab hold of.  Alternatively, make it a normal page but write the joke in such a way that it doesn't have to have the context from the main page.  --Kazuhiko
This is a fair point and I'll try.  --Vitenka

see also WikiEtiquette, CategoryPending, WhatIsWiki, ToothyWikiInternals, GratuitousWikiLinks..

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Last edited April 25, 2006 9:31 pm (viewing revision 32, which is the newest) (diff)